Have friends and family told you that you’re too picky and this is why you can’t find or keep a relationship? Do you find yourself compromising your own standards when you date? Maybe you have committed to a relationship that you weren’t entirely happy in, because you didn’t want to be “too picky”, and alone?

Let’s face it, as a single lady or man over 30 you’ve reached a point in your life where you absolutely know what you don’t want. You have failed relationships and painful break ups behind you, and you’re not going to settle at this point in your life. Why should you? So you have your list of all the no no’s, the turn offs and deal breakers. Everything, from bad table manners, height, weight, sense of humour, family background, teeth, personal hygiene, infidelity to education.  Right? But is your list moving you towards a meaningful relationship or holding you back from one?

Let’s start from this: having high standards and being picky are not synonyms. Are your High Standards (non-negotiables) and preferences (things you’re picky about) all grouped together onto one long list? If they are, you don’t give great people a chance because of that extra long list. On the other hand, if your standards (core needs) aren’t met, you won’t be happy after the excitement of a new romance has settled down. So a question to seriously consider is what are your fundamental core needs in a partner.

It’s worth taking the time periodically to reflect and be honest with yourself about the standards you live by, those you want in your future partner and for the relationship. They will include: values, faith, morals, principles, relationship and life goals, emotional health and stability, lifestyle, passion in life, bad habits, financial independence and security (one of the top 3 causes of marriage break-ups is money), views on children, intellectual compatibility, honesty, temperament, personality, communication style, and attachment needs.

Attraction and chemistry are always important, and can grow with the process of connection, given the chance. The instant spark is usually just infatuation, which without substance will die quickly. It’s long-term chemistry that keeps a relationship alive – and worth investing in. Emotionally mature, relationship-ready ladies and gentlemen are clear about their non-negotiables. This is balanced with a healthy self-awareness and realism of themselves, and the standards they are bringing to the relationship table.

Meanwhile, above your core standards are your wants – the little habits and preferences. They occupy too much space: looks, physical attributes (blue eyes, model looks, six-pack), hobbies, good table manners, travel habits… They shouldn’t be deal breakers. Bad table manners or always being 30 minutes late can be annoying, I understand.  But isn’t one of only two or three “annoyances” worth overlooking in a person if they have more significant positive traits? Is anyone perfect?

Awkward dance moves are not a non-negotiable

Choosing a partner based on your superficial “wants” act as barriers keeping you from a long- term committed relationship. A real and lasting relationship consists of imperfect elements too! Paul C Brunsen, a leading coach and matchmaker, describes the inability to separate needs and values from wants as “Type Hype”: “Beauty and wealth. Education and class. They all sound good on paper, but you can meet the most beautiful, wealthy, educated aristocrat of your dreams and they could be an amoral beast. To get the love we want we have to learn how to move beyond “types” and look for love based on common “values” and complimentary “personality.”  Love doesn’t come from “type hype.”

Now’s the time to do your TYPE – Tune Up. Here are some TIPS to make the best quality match for you.

1.  Start a new List. Separate your absolute non-negotiable standards (needs) and your preferences (wants). Ask yourself if I meet someone special tomorrow, what seven high standards will be enough for me to be very happy with him/her.

2. Separate which annoying habits can be influenced and which ones can’t. Bad table manners and superficial issues don’t mean someone won’t be a good long term partner. A bad temper and rudeness can’t be changed. The calibre of both is very different and shouldn’t be in the same category.

3.   Understand that the traits you don’t like may actually be a good complement for you. Someone being too quiet and laid back when you are very chatty, loud and highly energetic, might just be a complimentary balance unless you want someone exactly like you!

4.   Ask yourself “Why?” Are you reacting to something that has more to do with you than them?  For example, maybe your date hasn’t made plans and shows up and asks you. “What would you like to do?”  This indecisiveness might be a turn-off because you resented an ex for not doing the same. Avoid unfairly imposing these expectations on the person you’re dating and in the relationship.

5.   Learn your core personality type and attachment style.  It often takes an unbiased objective person to help you identify blind spots. Do you need to adjust and be flexible in some areas to be compatible with other personality types?

If you find yourself on the picky side, give another person a chance and discover who he/ she is on the inside before dismissing them too quickly. If they don’t meet your core standards; move on quickly. Finally, be patient with the journey, have fun, be pro-active and open- minded, which will generally attract people to you.

Further reading:

Your high dating standards are attractive

Can my dates smell the desperation?

Dating someone who has different political views

Why some of us can’t find love

See more tips in Maria Christie’s closed Facebook community for women and on her blog.