I've been single for X years—why shouldn't I hold out for the perfect partner? People may tell themselves this common phrase to justify their chronic pickiness. Of course, pickiness isn't entirely our fault—studies have shown that online dating creates a sort of "shopping mentality" while swiping through dates and actually makes us more judgmental when selecting a potential suitor.
While there's absolutely nothing wrong with knowing your worth and searching for a partner who reflects that (you should do that), you can easily veer into "picky" territory if you refuse to even consider anyone who doesn't meet your list of requirements. In fact, licensed psychologist Seth Meyers categorizes someone as "extremely picky" if, deep down, they want to be with someone but can't seem to find the right fit because their list of requirements is so long.
You may fall into this category if "you have a habit of finding a range of faults in prospective dates," he writes on the eHarmony blog. "You sometimes focus on little things which end up causing the demise of the relationship, and you tell yourself you have a hard time meeting the right one for you because you're just so," well, "picky." In other words, you want the whole package or nothing at all and refuse to date anyone outside of it.
Amanda Chatel shares a similar story on Bustle, where she lists "wanting the whole package or nothing at all" as the number one sign of pickiness. "In college, I had list of the exact specifics that I wanted in a significant other. It was so detailed that it included bands that my potential mate had to like in order for me to even consider going on a date with them," she confesses. "Having a list so detailed and not being able to move even half an inch on it to let someone who might not be a 100 percent of that ideal person may not be the best strategy."
It's also worth noting that, for some, pickiness is actually a defense mechanism (for others, it's just having a clear idea of what one wants). But "if you are someone who is extremely picky, it [may] mean that you (unconsciously) work hard to find faults with prospective partners as a means of self-protection," continues Meyers, whether that be protection from a long-term relationship, vulnerability, or rejection.
While the first step in confronting this issue is asking yourself what you honestly fear in relationships, Meyers also recommends implementing a three-date rule. "Make a rule for yourself where you won't decide if you really like someone until you've had at least three or four dates with a person," he explains. "By giving your dates more of a chance, you will also find that you start judging others less and actually like the process of dating more."
When did you realize you were being too picky in your relationships? Share your own experience with us below.
Finkel EJ, Eastwick PW, Karney BR, Reis HT, Sprecher S. Online Dating: A Critical Analysis from the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychol Sci Public Interest. 2012;13(1):3-66. doi:10.1177/1529100612436522