Dear Dr. Paulette,
I’m 32 years old and would like to meet someone, to get married and to have kids but I don’t want to settle. I know that I should be patient but sometimes I wonder if I’m too picky because I have high standards or because a part of me is afraid to commit. Do you see this a lot and what would you advise?
Yes, I do see this a lot, particularly in NYCJ I do think that it’s good not to settle down out of fear but it’s also important to be reasonable and to make sure that you aren’t sabotaging your relationship future for reasons that you aren’t currently aware of.
I recommend that you create a list of the 5-7 essential qualities you most want in a mate, as well as any deal breakers. To be sure that you are clear about your list, create a sentence definition about each quality. For example, if you want someone kind, you could define it as, ‘a man who cares about others feelings as much as his own.’ Then you would see if he was kind not only to you but to family, friends, the waitress etcetera. Then write out a few deal breakers, which are the things you will not tolerate in a partner. So, for example if you know you want kids, you would not marry someone who did not want kids. This list should keep you grounded and honest and in your case, you can’t make it 100 items. If he meets these main qualities you can get to know him for a while unless he has your deal breakers.
The reason for this process is that no one is perfect and we all have challenging qualities. It is probably too much to find someone with 100 terrific qualities so it will keep you reasonable and focused upon what matters most while allowing you to be open and to give things some time.
After a few months if you really don’t think that you are a good fit and have valid reasons to end things than break it off. This approach will allow you to work against your usual impulsive pattern to reject prospects and to be too perfectionistic early on.
If there is a deeper reason that you push people away, it could be a fear of commitment, a fear of intimacy, of losing your independence or something else. I would suggest therapy to examine what your core fears may be or, you can pick up a copy of my book, ‘Dating from the Inside Out’ published by Atria Books and available on Amazon—it has an Unconscious Dating section with exercises to help you learn about your particular defensive dating styles and the ways that you sabotage your love life so you can work to transform them.
My Best in Love,