By Tamar Caspi Shnall
When you’re looking for something, you usually won’t find it — it’s when you’re not looking that you often stumble upon what you’re looking for, in this case, love. But how would you know you’ve found love if you don’t know what it is you’re looking for? That’s why one day a long time ago I made a list of qualities I wanted in a man. People make fun of me for this list, but I made it when I was 16, and interestingly enough not much changed since then. I wrote down a few physical attributes and dozens upon dozens of social, mental and emotional characteristics. The only thing that was altered were the priority rankings I gave each item. As I got older, “Jewish” took the top spot and “successful” dropped down a few notches. I was still adamant about wanting a tall man, but his having a head full of hair didn’t really factor in as much anymore. Conversation and humor climbed higher, while the ability to cook or clean lost some points.
Everyone — my mom, my sister, even some friends — told me I was being ridiculous, but I held steadfast to this list for more than 10 years and for good reason. Time and time again I was blindsided by good looks or pedigree and lost sight of what was important: intelligence, the way he treats his mom and what kind of future he’s looking for. Every time I got burned by a smooth-talker, I would resort to my list and tell myself I wouldn’t let it happen again. When I met my husband, I mentally checked off the categories he satisfied, and wasn’t surprised that my intuition and confidence that I knew what I was looking for led me to a man who does indeed meet most of my criteria.
It may not be necessary to actually write down what it is that’s important to you in a mate, but it may help to keep you on the right path. Be careful though; you don’t want to make a list too narrow so that no one can possibly meet your qualifications or too broad so that every Tom, Dick and Harry (or rather Shmulik, Yankele and Moishe) fits the bill. A list is there only to keep you from falling for those suave players who don’t have your best interests at heart — and to help you get back on the horse after you inevitably get burned in the dating game.
Timing is everything when it comes to finding your beshert, but if the right man comes along at the wrong time how will you know before it’s too late? The qualities that are of utmost importance to you — not how much he loves football or if she plays video games, but rather his loyalty or her dedication to raising a Jewish family — should be ingrained into your subconscious. Lowering your standards — removing an item from your list or adjusting its value — should be done only after years of trying really hard to find that special person. The older you get, the more you may be open to dating a man who’s been divorced or a woman who has a child; you may be willing to relocate or willing to explore camping and mountain climbing.
To me, giving up on finding true love was not an option, but re-evaluating what true love meant changed with each failed relationship. You can learn more and more about yourself with each relationship, and knowing who you are and what you want means, hopefully, you’ll be able to recognize someone who meets your standards when he or she comes along.
Tamar Caspi Shnall recently married a Dallasite but has 15 years’ worth of dating advice to share! If you have any dating dilemmas you can e-mail her at: email@example.com.