magnifying glassBack when I was single, and before I got wise to my Mr Unavailable-loving, commitment-resistant ways, I regularly explained to prying friends, family, colleagues, the strange man at the bus stop and anyone who questioned my ‘selectiveness’ with men that, “I don’t think that there is anything wrong with me extending a little quality control to a prospective partner and if that makes me picky, then I’m picky.”

On reflection and the wonders of 20:20 vision provided by hindsight, I realise that I veered between being too picky and not picky enough – like many things that create issues with dating and relationships, I lacked a balanced middle ground.

I have a confession that I’m not proud of – seven or eight years ago, I went on a date with a guy that I met a club. Admittedly, he was unlikely to last too long as I thought he was too much of an eager beaver (yep – contradictory woman put off by a guy being ‘too nice’), a bit ‘vanilla’, and I couldn’t look at him for very long because he appeared to be constantly blinking. I have a vague recollection of watching a horror film called ‘Dolls’ as a child and the blinking reminded me of a bonkers porcelain doll and it distracted and unnerved me on the date. I didn’t see him again. The blinking wasn’t the only reason but truth be told, it’s the one that stood out…

Readers, friends, and acquaintances regularly tell me that they have ‘well meaning’ people in their lives who advise them that if they don’t want to be left on the shelf (yeah people still say that rubbish) that they need to stop being so picky.

‘Natalie, am I being too picky?’ they wail and as I look through the long list of Mr Unavailables and assclowns, I suspect that they have no boundaries hence no limits hence they’re certainly not being picky….at least with the guys they’re choosing to be with…

If you have a dubious relationship pattern littered with drama, ambiguity and pain with Mr Unavailables and assclowns, the likelihood is that you’re not picky about who you date – you’re very picky about who you don’t date.

How else do you explain the many men who’ve been discarded to the ‘friend’ or ‘too nice’ bin because they don’t behave dodgy and ambiguous enough to trigger interest and ‘sparks’?

There are a few ways that your quality control functions can be set to filter the men that you end up dating:

You have a list longer than your arm of ‘requirements’ filled with things to make potential prospects jump through hoops and making it super easy for you to rule them out, where you get to tell yourself that it’s not your fault that the dating pool is such low quality and how you’re waiting for the ‘right’ guy. You may come across quite exacting on dates and appear aloof and critical, and you may be saying stuff like ‘I can’t find a man who can cope with my success’.

You have on assclown and Mr Unavailable goggles. You ‘choose’ people that reflect what you believe about love, relationships, and yourself, and when you have negative ideas, you see and are attracted to people who ‘vibe’ with those beliefs. You’ll likely not even recognise a decent guy if he jumped up and bit you in the bum!

You overvalue the wrong things and undervalue the important stuff. This means with misguided ideas about values, you’ll likely attach yourself to someone who you’re actually incompatible with and you’ll fail to recognise the ‘value’ of more compatible partners. If you’ve heard yourself saying stuff like ‘I could never go out with someone who wasn’t into poetry’ or other such guff, think of yourself as guilty as charged.

You go on appearance. This can be looks or even money, but this is basically where you filter out based on superficial stuff. Someone emailed me recently and said that she can’t help it if she likes long haired men with dark skin and asked if she should continue to wait for one…. Others have emailed me saying that no matter how great the guy, without the chunky bank account, he needs to step!

You work off your libido. Women have long lamented how ‘some’ men are seemingly led by their penises but if you use how horny you feel or how much jitters/flutters/sparks etc to determine who you should be involved with, you’re actually guilty of exactly the same thing. You place too much credibility in your va-jay-jay’s ability to choose your partners.

If you are doing one, some, or all of these things, they are basically helping you do your ‘natural selection’ and helping you to gravitate to what you think works for you.

The more you use these reasons and attitudes to determine who you get involved with, the more signals you receive where you get to convince yourself that the position you’ve adopted is ‘correct’ and that your beliefs are valid.

This is why some women say stuff like:

There are no good men to date.

I have no choice but to go out with these assclowns because it’s the only type of guy that I’m interested in.

I can’t help what my ‘type’ is.

I need to feel attraction and that’s why I’m alone/still dating jackasses/surfing dating sites looking for The Ideal Man.

We wouldn’t have this amazing sexual connection if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re so compatible.

Men are afraid of my success/ambition/education/assertiveness.

If you have good dating habits, with boundaries, a reasonable level of self-esteem, personal security, and recognition of the importance of values, you’re probably not being picky.

If you have poor dating habits, little or no boundaries, a dating past littered with dubious partners/experiences, lack of personal security, and misguided ideas about compatibility, type, common interests, and a lack of awareness on the importance of values, you will veer between being too picky and not picky enough.

If you’ve made the decision to opt out of a dubious situation and are not prepared to allow someone to treat you poorly or convince you that your crumbs are a loaf, you’re not being picky – you’re being authentic and acting in your best interests.

One of the things you will come up against, whether you are single, or in a relationship and pondering whether to get out, or are already opting out, is so called ‘well meaning’ people who will tell you that you’re being ‘too picky’, ‘all men cheat’, ‘you won’t do better’, ‘he’s a good man’, ‘he just needs time’, ‘you won’t get a better offer’ and other such rubbish.

When people tell you that you’re being picky, more often than not, they’re projecting their insecurities and beliefs on you rather than actually thinking about you.

They imagine themselves in the same situation as you or even think of their own relationship, imagine being on their own without the ‘security’ of a poor relationship, financial or material trappings, or the ‘acceptance’ of their peers, and they quake, or even recoil in horror. And then they tell you that you’re being too picky.

Some people are more desperate for you than you are for yourself.

This situation in itself represents a difference in values. When someone tells you that you’re too picky while at the same time encouraging you to stay in and accept a situation that is detracting from you, it’s because they’re the type of person that places a high value on the security of any relationship, just as long as they have a man in their life. They have little or no personal security themselves and whatever decision you have made or are contemplating throws an uncomfortable spotlight on themselves – this is why I’ve had many women say that they have found that certain close friendships suffered when they stopped being involved in the drama of being with a Mr Unavailable or assclown. In these instances, the changes that these women made put them at odds with the friends who were comfortable where they were and didn’t want to see anything different.

Your thoughts? Back in part two.


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17 Responses to Am I Too Picky? The Tricky Issue of Quality Control In Dating & Relationships (P1)

  1. Pushing.Thru says:

    Fascinating, NML, are you a mind reader?

    I recently had a get-together with my best friend, at my new place – who tore it apart –
    “wouldn’t it be better if your flat screen was here? I don’t like these pillows at all…, zebra rug? wouldn’t be my choice”
    What’s this all about?
    I analyzed (obviously, isn’t that what we girls here do best?)

    Ever since i have gone 6 months of NC with my good for nothing EX AC who happens to be a friend of hers, her behavior has changed…
    “Your too picky” is her favorite line… as well as –
    “if i could love a guy that rarely works, smokes pot, and isn’t a great father…. someone decent CAN love you too, so stop thinking negatively”

    (??) What on earth does that mean? I have been making great progress here, does that somehow bother her?
    It’s almost as if she was nicer to me when i was desperate for love and attention from a toxic user than I am now, more confident and happy.

    Misery loves company – i’m not sure if i’m going off topic here NML, or if my comment even relates to your post – But i am now setting boundaries with everyone in my life – men, friends, family, toxic boss, and all.
    And – i just recently spoke to my mother and said something similar –
    “things will really hit the fan with some of my friendships when/if i settle down with someone wonderful”

    Which is so sad….

    • Drica Lima says:

      I think this is the case for many women..they are either dating an ‘ass-clown’ or they are too picky. Honestly speaking, I’ve been through both myself. But as long as one is consciously aware of what is going on in their love life, they stand the chance of breaking this habit and finding a healthy satisfying relationship.

      .-= Drica Lima´s last blog ..Taking His Place In The Relationship =-.

    • trinity says:

      @Pushing thru, I hear you loud and clear. Im also doing the same setting boundarys with friends and co workers.
      It occured to me, if im going to all this effort with NC and not allowing bad men in my life or allwoning them to manage me down. Then why am I letting friends? I guess I realsied this needed to be a whole lifestyle change not just with x assclowns.
      I realised that you can also have friends in your life that reflect the negative stuff you believe about yourself or people also.

      • katty says:

        omg, same here. I have cut a friend because she used to yell at me and put me down whenever her boyfriend and her had a fight. She only did it a couple of times, but it was enough for me to put her in her place. The result is we are not longer friends, and its sad but it was necessary. I feel very secure in my boundaries now that I am not worried about what people, friens will think of me. Life is too short to spend it with wrong people and letting them put you down.

  2. Movedon says:

    I would have to agree – misery loves company. I have found the same thing especially with other woman friends that are still trapped in the drama. Since I don’t engage or try to politely listen then change subject to something else – their attitude towards me seems to change to one of “so you think you are better than me” – at least thats how I read it. No I just don’t agree and chose not to get all wrapped up in things that really are small potatoes in the bigger picture. I am too relaxed for them. I don’t commiserate with them. I guess I speak my mind more regardless of how they feel about it. I won’t take on their personal posion so I guess that makes me not a “good friend”. I would beg to differ and the “friendship” seems to drift off. My guess would be that I no longer share the mirror with them. I like to call it lobster mentality – one lobster will pull the another lobster back in the tank if they try to escape.

    • Brand New Day says:

      Spot on Moved On…lobster analogy, drama queens and all. I too, at times, sense resentment, because happy independence is scary and threatening to some (usually insecure) people.

      I’ve noticed this with some of my “friends”, etc., too. Ever since I implemented my boundaries, gone NC with my AC and regained control of my life, there has been a shift in my other relationships…my girlfriends, family and colleagues. It seems that some people feel better about themselves when they hear how miserable your life is. It’s a good way to weed out unhealthy relationships or at least stop being a door mat. I’ve never been good at saying “no” to people. Now that I do, without (too much) guilt (still a newbie to this), I feel empowered and stress free. Whatever issues the people have around me, due to my regained self respect, is their problem now. Those who really care for you and your well-being will always understand and support you.

      Focusing on the bigger picture is what’s important…too right!

      • Happy Soul says:

        Brand New Day, I am agree with you 100%! Some people like to compare their lives with others, and even feel better when someone is not happy or miserable! I used to be so out of place when I was with AC, and my friends and colleagues used to say: “Oh, you poor thing…” and smiled…
        All changed now, thanks to NML, I became stronger and even dumped my AC after two years of rollercoaster and relationship with colleagues and friends changed too! When they asked me now, how I am? I just say: “Wonderful!”…You should see their faces:-) HaHa…

  3. Pushing.Thru says:

    @Movedon – Well said.

    In fact, it sounds to me like you have evolved, while they are still spinning they’re wheels, (no offense).
    This is another reason why i enjoy this site so much, I almost feel as though i’ve built friendships just reading these posts and saying whats on my mind every now and then. I feel genuine support.

  4. trinity says:

    Hi NML
    I realise that I veered between being too picky and not picky enough – like many things that create issues with dating and relationships, I lacked a balanced middle ground.

    This part got me, I think its spot on to what ive done in the past!!!
    You nailed it and often found myself thinking “if im so picky or to picky then how did I end up with such n such and that other guy’?
    This is food for thought :)

    Another thing that I think can get in peoples way is the “I can’t believe” tool. It’s often learnt from childhood. If you have been in danger, not felt safe or things were not consistent at home there is not much a small child can do. They have to learn to adapt to the situation to survive. This is where “I can’t believe” can come in. Rather then face a true horror when someone purposely neglected you or didn’t act in your best interest, to survive that situation you think “I cant believe” someone would purposely do that so they must have done that for another reason, i.e. not having a good day, personal issues, they didn’t mean to or 100 other reasons. You can carry this into adulthood. It’s almost like really saying you always believe the good in people but to your disadvantage. They didn’t mean to do that, why would someone purposely hurt me? It’s like putting blinders on to what a person really is. This can have devastating affects as not only are you allowing people to get away with things your not allowing yourself to express perfectly normal emotions to deal with what they have done.
    This means you have allowed people from early adulthood to cross over boundary’s constantly, which really means not having any in place.
    Another way of picking dubious relationships and staying way to long and ignoring the red flags is the “I cant believe”.
    “i cant believe he would really not act in my best interest especially after everything ive done for him, he just has emotional issues, he needs help” sound familiar !!!

  5. Michelle says:

    Great article! I’m guilty of being too picky and soooo not picky enough when it comes to ac. I found that the qualities I was holding out for where not the important things. I like the looks, body, money, motorcycles, excitment, etc… which led me to lots of roller coaster rides. I’ve been dating a guy for two month that I was ready to kick to the curb after the first date become he didn’t meet all of my criteria. I tried something new and gave him a chance. it’s going really well and he treats me like a queen…. keep your fingers crossed. I still think about two others (ac) and sort of miss the drama…so sad. Hoping I’m getting over my negative patterns. : )

  6. mE says:

    luckily i haven’t experienced the phenom of people wanting me to stick around with a jerk to make themselves feel better about what they’ve chosen to settle for. that’s so strange. i am gulity of thinking i know what i want based on the dreaded ‘common interests’ trap tho. i really needed to go through the last relationship to realize that stuff adds up to zilch when the guy is a creep at the core. one thing i am struggling with is the need to feel attraction. i met one guy who was decent, but cooled off and i think he felt my ‘on the fence’ vibes as i simply wasn’t attracted to him physically. i veered in my thoughts from wanting to give him a genuine chance (i went out with him many times and he was respectful and smart and great fun) to wondering if i just shouldn’t bother because i just wasn’t into him physically at all. even now after reading nml’s blogs, i don’t know if i was too judgmental or if i was just ”not able to help” who i’m attracted to. it makes me feel superficial on one hand, and then on the other i somehow feel that surely there’s a guy for me who in addition to developing something real with i’d actually love to see myself kissing or sleeping with. and the guy who cooled off has a right to move on with someone who accepts him totally, i realize. but i have become paranoid that my judgement is still very damaged from past a.c.’s…

    • SmarterNow says:

      @ mE – TOTALLY understand what you’re saying about the attraction thing. I have dated several really nice guys who had their shit together and were very interested, but they left me feeling so “blah”… I totally loved spending time with them, but the making out did nothing for me. Iin the past, I definitely had to kiss a guy to know whether or not I was attracted… and sometimes things grew out of that unexpectedly… in fact the EUM who caused me to find this site was probably the hottest guy I’ve ever dated, and I STILL wasn’t sure if I was attracted to him at first! But I feel like I’ve given numerous guys a fair shot (several dates and several kisses)… and most of them just leave me wanting to stay single. I have plenty of friends and family for emotional support… I need that SPARK to make it worth my time. I know NML will say that we are attracted to the people who mirror our negative beliefs… but I feel like I have made good progress in avoiding assclowns and engaging with guys who have things to offer… but STILL there is rarely a spark. It is so frustrating! I used to date guys who treated me wonderfully AND were attractive to me, so I know they are out there… it seems so depressing to not have that. Maybe it’s just a fish-in-the-sea numbers game?? There are not that many as you get older?? Which is depressing in itself…

  7. shae says:

    Well, Natalie,

    It’s difficult when the phone is not ringing, you’re middle-aged and the relationship is not working. It’s difficult to imagine yourself “out there” with lots of options.

    If I was Farrah Fawcett on the lawn of the sorority house and a line of guys two block long to just have a date with me, then… okay! Easy come, easy go!

    But it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a relationship. That’s why I’m going to keep myself out of relationship and simply enjoy dating for now. I’m gonna date as many men as I can to see what I like and don’t like, where I fit and don’t fit, how I act with this one and how it feels with that one, and I’m not gonna be a girlfriend until I have a ring on my finger, and it feels good.

  8. Alice says:

    Hi everybody, I hope I am not going off subject here, but there have been so many posts regarding friendships going sour when you are no longer with assclowns or other assh***s.
    This very thought kept me busy last night, and it is interesting reading your posts and NML’s article on being to picky or not picky enough!!
    Spent an evening yesterday with a friend of mine who I have known for over 25 years.
    She is a drama queen who likes to be centre of attention and who had a series of illnesses since the day I have met her. The latest one being that she has lost her voice 7 months ago and now she can only whisper. (Several doctor’s can’t find anything wrong with her)
    Our friendship is seriously going downhill for about 3 years now, about the time I left my narcistic ex-husband.
    I have learned so many things in those 3 years and my life is going really well now.
    Last night after seeing her for about 2 hours, I made the decision that I just can’t stand her anymore, I can’t handle her sour face and her constant cynical comments about everything any more.
    On the other hand, she says that I have become very hard in the last 3 years. I don’t think so, I actually think the opposite, I just can’t put up with all those negative people anymore.
    My feeling is, that she can’t handle that after all those years with all those assclowns in my life, finally I made it and finally everything is fine. Our friendship seems to thrive when my life is in chaos.
    But that will stop now, my life is going well and I need to do a major “springclean” !!

  9. Happy Soul says:

    Thank you for brilliant article…I am very fussy about my men, they must have a degree, financial independence, looks…blah blah blah. I met few guys, who were my “type”, but I was “putting” up with their cr@ppy behaviour, so it is mean I was not that fussy than? Goodness me…
    You open my eyes yet again, Natalie!!!

  10. Gina says:

    Trinity you definitely hit the nail on the head. I have been guilty of saying ‘I can’t beleive’ there must be something else to this, instead of taking shitty behavior at face value. I have gone through tons of emotional drama as a kid where I had to protect myself and adapt (not to dwell, but reflection lesson) … I never saw it that way and that is what I have done in the past, let people walk over my boundaries. I have to say I do put my foot down, but usually after I am emotionally invested and feel like a fool.

  11. Nilondoner says:

    I think I’m too picky. I’m no longer “not picky enough”. So one out of two… I guess it’s a good thing.
    For me it’s not the looks, (although I have to be sexually attracted otherwise we can be just friends) or the money, it’s the mind. I want someone who can challenge me mentally.
    Now I’ve got boundaries and principles and values. All good things and I wouldn’t give them up. But if a guy doesn’t stimulates my mind… I suddenly feel i’ve got nothing to say to him. I get impatient with the guy and consequentially feel guilty.
    Is this wrong? This is important for me. If you chose someone to spend a lot of time with, shouldn’t it be someone you can talk to and share ideas and thoughts with? Someone who can make you see the world from a different perspective?
    Am I really being too picky?

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Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.