Is Being Too Picky Ruining Your Love Life?

Is being picky a good thing or a bad thing in dating?

Look, if there’s one area that’s worth being fussy about in life, it’s your relationships. A relationship is a big commitment; they require time, energy, emotional investment – all commodities that we don’t want to spend too easily.

So when it comes to love, be as picky as you want.

But does that mean we should be picky at every stage of the process? No!

What most of us do is get too picky too soon, when in fact, at the beginning of the process (when we are single and looking), we should actually be totally unpicky.

Welcome to your next boyfriend? (Photo: Wiseacre)


I know this sounds weird coming from me. I’m the one always harping on about living up to your standards, and never expecting second-best; how can I now turn around and tell you not to be picky?

I’ll tell you, because there is this frustrating pattern, and it can be summed up pretty simply: people are using “being picky” as an excuse for sitting on their asses and waiting.

I see this with my guy friends all the time when we go out: “The problem with me” they’ll say, “is I’m just so picky”. And then they turn to other excuses: “All the women here are just shallow.” “These girls aren’t my type.” “I need girls who are fun/smart/deep/ have a different look.”

Whatever the guy’s excuse, he’ll decide that (a) none of the women in the place have what he’s looking for, and (b) he now has a go-to excuse for NEVER SPEAKING TO ANYONE.

And this isn’t just a guy problem by the way. We all make generalisations about people so that we can excuse ourselves from taking risks.

We’ll think to ourselves: “Well, he’s not my 100% perfect guy, so he’s not really for me.” And we’ll often use this as our excuse EVEN IF WE’VE NEVER EVEN SPOKEN TO HIM!

I know this kind of behaviour because I’ve done it myself a million times. I would look at that one woman at the party I wanted to speak to, avoid conversation with her the entire night, and then in my head I would make up some lame excuse about how she was probably shallow anyway because it made me feel better about not taking a chance.

But look, I know most of us GENUINELY ARE PICKY. And that’s fine. But we have to be careful what we are picky about.

When it comes to love, be picky. When it comes to meeting people, NEVER be picky.

The reason is twofold:

1) Great people are EVERYWHERE

There is no-one who couldn’t use having another great person in their phonebook.

What’s more, some of the most cherished relationships (including romantic partners) I have ever had in my life were people I initially never would have thought I would have been interested in. But suddenly when I let go of my prejudices and gave them a chance, I was completely hooked on their personality.

Never fill in someone’s personality with your eyes! The right person rarely jumps out at us immediately.

How tragic would it be if we let our ideal partner slip away before they ever got a chance to show us how perfect they are.

2) Being judgmental is an unattractive quality

Being picky too early makes us come off as judgmental, and that’s a person no-one wants to be around.

If a guy proves to be an idiot, then lose him. But at least give him a chance to prove he’s not.

Remember, it’s hard to see the good in people when you’re only looking for the bad.

Question of the day:

What are two things you MUST have in a guy who date? Let me know in the comments below as we’d love to hear your thoughts.

195 Responses to Is Being Too Picky Ruining Your Love Life?

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  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Matt, I absolutely adore your article ! Its makes so much sense, and it teaches us that being truly picky and having high standards should actually appear in the next stages of the relationship.
    Although I have a question that is directly related to being picky too soon, and that’s been tormenting me for quite a few months now. I don’t want to get into the details of it, but it’s just that I have an opportunity in front me to begin a relationship. I’m 24 years old, and he’s a 41 year old divorcee with two kids (7 and 9 year olds maybe). This guy seems to be really awsome, to the extent that he could be my dream guy. But honestly, I don’t wanna dive in and give it all a shot when I actually feel like I’m not step-mon material. Because I do realize that kids should come first. The problem is I want a family of my own, I don’t want to be the other woman. I want my first child to be my soulmate’s first child too, as cheesy as it sounds. Plus I feel that I’m too young to be dealing with this whole situation. I’m not judging him, I’m just thinking that this whole situation is not for me. But why do I feel bad for not giving him a chance? Pleeease tell me what you think Matt, am I missing an opportunity here? Or should I just live my youth, and look up for other opportunities?

  2. Ely says:

    1. He needs to be professionaly ambicious.He needs to have goals in life.
    2. He needs to be fun.

  3. Evelyn says:

    1. He must be a Christian like me.
    2. A good sense of humor.
    It also would be nice if he were within 35-60 years age range, since I’m 42.

  4. Guest says:

    People need to focus on inner characteristics of a person rather than so much on the physical appearance of the person (height, weight, looks). You should feel attracted to someone physically, but remember in the long run it’s the personality and the commitment that keeps a married couple together in the long run. Sometimes it is necessary for men or women to water down their standards in order to get married. You can’t have high standards and be demanding, because no person on earth is perfect. Every person has flaws; weaknesses and strengths. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and look for someone who can be your strength to your weaknesses. People need to focus on inner qualities. Unfortunately, you got many males and women who are overly picky and turn down very good people simply because of their looks, height, weight, education, job, salary, or something and say “that’s not my type” or “I will find the perfect guy or girl.” They reject so many good people and many do regret later on when things get hard for them finding a partner. Look at the Chinese women in China the women are called Left Over Women if you aren’t married by the age of 27 years old. Many men say the women are picky and materialistic wanting a man with high salary, own a home, tall, handsome, etc. If people remain picky the truth is sooner or later they will learn the hard way.

  5. Jet says:

    I can’t help but notice the comments sound like they could be from men. I guess we are not SO different after all?

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  7. Karen Harding says:

    Totally CLEAN
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  8. Brett Cravaliat says:

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  10. Linda says:

    Being trustworthy & a kindred spirit. I hate to sound ‘shallow’ but it’s WORST turnoff for me when the guy’s poor oral hygiene jumps out (instead of good quality)!

  11. Malin says:

    I tend to be very visual – forever checking guys out wherever I go. The other night my brother introduced me to his flat mate. I took one look at him and had already decided I wasn’t attracted to him. Nevertheless, we started having a conversation. We got on really well. As the evening progressed we kept coming back to each other. I felt more and more drawn to him, there was this immense magnetism. He hinted at being interested, but I was too taken aback to respond. When I got home I was kicking myself for not having been more forward. Although I wasn’t attracted to his looks and he didn’t do or say anything to make me fancy him, the chemistry was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before…

  12. Angela says:

    My top two traits I want most in a man is:
    – Attractiveness. Usually its physical attraction for me. I just want to like what I see and want to kiss/lust for them.
    – A good heart. I want a guy, who is at the core of his being, deeply cares for my well being and others. I want that “nice” boy.

    (third one)
    -Sense of adventure. I know you said only two. But this is the ideal guy for me. A nice, attractive guy who wants to go out and experience the world with me. Someone who rather live life than simply exist.

  13. Angeli says:

    Well, I am actually picky when it comes to guys because as i have realized that when guys are courting me, they are not my type-of-guy. What i am really looking into are:
    1. First, The guy should mature enough not just mentally but also physically. I tend to get attracted to guys who are 10 years older and above. For me, it’s a bit exciting and fun to meet guys not within my age bracket.
    2. The guy must be independent from his family yet he is deeply oriented with them.
    3. I like intellectual guys yet will listen to me no matter how knowledgeable he is.

  14. Giu says:

    Wow!! I’m the picky type definitely, so it’s difficult to come up with just two things! So, as rebel as I am, I chose 3 :

    1) Maturity

    2) He has to be smart (hate a conversation with a guy who can only talk about the weather, and there’s no substantial chat at all, plus I can’t stand shallow and self-centered dudes)

    3) He has to keep me guessing somehow, keep a bit of a mystery (that’a why I’m innitially attracted to older guys most of the time)

  15. tambi says:

    1. complicity
    2. adventurous

  16. filecity says:

    happy, god loveing, hard working, loveing

  17. Kristina says:

    1) education- he must be smart a d not stuffy about it
    2) direction- he needs to know where he is going in life…will he be able to support a family and how will he make it work.

  18. Amaris says:

    My friend introduced me to you! And I know you may not read this, but I’ll put it anyways.
    1. Communication is so important. Between actually being able to talk with each other and conflict styles, communication is dire!
    2. Attractiveness. I’ll admit I have a bit of a shallow side, but heck, I try hard to look good, and if I’m not attracted in anyway to someone, it really wouldn’t work out.

  19. Katelynn says:

    1) i feel so shallow saying this, but for me i have to be attracted to them physically at least in some respect.
    2) He’s a good person. Someone who always tries to do the right thing.

  20. sally says:

    1. He should be a good person,
    2. He should make me feel like i’m the only one in his life (and mean it)

    But about d article i had few doubts… I know a guy and i know he has some habits i dont like or cant tolerate, and sounds fake to me most of d times…so should i still giv him a chance or m i just making excuses or hung up to my ex?
    As in where to draw a line and how narrowly should u filter out d guys u date??

  21. Lk says:

    1. I need to feel safe in his arms–so the strength of his arms must match the strength of his character.

    2. The more I talk and the more he truly listens, the less I will want to talk and the more I will want to act (as in DO and BECOME)–for him, with him, sometimes without him.. but always because he has made me want to be my best self.

    And in return, . .

    I will learn to truly communicate to him how much I appreciate the strength of his character and the safety of his arms around me.


    I will challenge and support and encourage and love him from my heart and with my actions. And he will experience greater joy and achievement than he ever thought was possible.

  22. Burcu says:

    Make me laugh and feel sexy .

  23. Sofia says:

    Although I usually answer this question saying “he has to be “hot, tall, preferably blond with gorgeous blue eyes, incredibly fashionable, beautiful hair and delicious scent (in other words, Scandinavian!!),” deep down inside I most appreciate:

    1. intelligence: both academic and emotional. This includes much such as: academic/professional achievement mixed with ambition and drive, etc but also sensitivity.

    2. kind altruism: he definitely needs to be one of those “I want to make this world better–want to join me?” He doesn’t need to be necessarily a doc (like me–well future!) or a philanthropist, he just needs to do something with his life that is not only fulfilling to him but that also contributes to the advancement of society and the relief of pain among the most disadvantaged.

  24. Emily E says:

    But Matthew, how about a fate? We see that so many people are desperate and trying so hard to get a guy? But sometimes, even in movies, that real love happens when you are not looking for it… When you are not trying hard or getting headache and heartbreak trying to figure it out, sometimes that’s what brings the two… I mean, sometimes when you’re not doing anything, no approach and nothing else, he already had seen you and prepared himself to present himself… Do you believe in fate? Or should we take that fate to our own hands?

    • esther says:

      I do agree with you…as i was reading, my mind went back to all of mine relationships…and all of them happened without me making expecting anything or making an effort.
      I met all of them casually (fate), by chance really.

      I guess everything Matthew says is to act the way we already do when we are not expecting to find anyone, this way when we meet that guy by “chance” things happen naturally…and by happening naturally it works.

  25. Maddie says:

    I don’t mind talking to any guy because I am very friendly, there is this guy who always points out my imperfections and I don’t like him anymore… Is this being judgmental?

  26. madyha says:

    well i am prickey thats why may be am single yet
    i guess a decent personality and the way he talks and communicate is important and yes i notice dressing also :p

  27. Sarah says:

    He has to
    1. Not just be in it for a hookup or just to prove he can get any girl he wants
    2. I have to be attracted to him in some way
    3. He has to be respectful of ME and my feelings, thoughts and opinions (doesn’t mean he has to agree to all of them – but just respect them)
    thats all :)

  28. Candace says:

    He has to have:

    1) good sense of humor
    2) be willing to challenge me about things. Not in an argumentative way, but I wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t challenge me. That’s half the fun :)

  29. Petra says:

    A guy that’s not afraid to take initiative. I can’t be doing all the work, I’d like to be swooned once in a while..

    A guy that takes the time to get to know the real me, not just the “superficial” me. If you know what I mean. Someone who wants to connect with me, but not cling onto me. Let’s me be myself completely.

    And this will all be returned to him ofcourse…

  30. Rachel says:

    1. I have to enjoy being with him, be able to have an enjoyable conversation with him. Even if I don’t think he’s attractive, if I can have that much of an enjoyable conversation with him, I’m already partway on my way to falling in love with his personality.
    2. He needs to care about me.

  31. Dawn says:

    My most important requirements:
    1. Family type, love to cook
    2. Mature/ Understanding

  32. Alhanouf says:

    1/ not to give up in the relationship so fast
    2/ honest and trust worthy

  33. Figure 8 says:

    Two things:
    1) A guy who’s absolutely passionate about something in his life and who’s actually doing something with his life. Someone who would challenge me and let me grow.
    2) Kindness in men is a massive turn on!
    I don’t really care for initial attraction. When I first met my ex in a college science course, I didn’t think I’d ever want to date him or even give him a chance. It didn’t seem like we had a lot in common. Once I got to know him better though, I seriously fell for the guy. There was so much depth in him. He will always have a special place in my heart.

  34. Ketty says:

    Lovely post! always love your writing piece. Well for me, those two things are :
    1. Respect to women and treat them well
    2. He is an open minded

    Especially if he has different culture with me. Open minded and respect are highly needed.

  35. Jessica says:

    My 2 must haves are

    1. Follow through – the bold assertiveness that got you to come up to me for a number or conversation….dont let it stop just there…follow through.

    2. Cultured/diversity — whether it is in educational background, religious, travel, experiences. Having someone understand things on a whole world mentality and realizing theres more to life than a 50 mile radius.

  36. Lucy says:

    Hey Matthew! Good post! The two things I need in a guy is:
    – Initial attraction (I need some sort of spark in personality or in general)
    – Good self-confidence/esteem/independance. Not cocky, but happy confidence.

  37. N. H says:

    I get attracted to a guy on my date if: 1. He is well-dressed and shaved.I mean the one who seems physically attractive. Then;2. I`ll try to discover his personality and habits. But I must say, all these 4 days of dating I`ve felt lost! i just liked and loved one out of all the dates, but then he turns out to an alcoholic, so I said no to him too.

  38. fouzia says:

    well, first, it depends on the aim of the date ;)
    since I’m looking for a deep and serious relationship, he has to be a mature, inspiring and down to earth person, enjoying a stable and successful carrier (trust me I’m not looking for someone to provide for me, but that’s becoz a guy character is highly attached to his carrier) that is: carrier issues= personality troubles

  39. Princess says:

    How can you limit it to just 2 things!!! He would be praying for me ( that is soooooo romantic!)and He would exhibit the qualities of faith, hope and love EVEN IN ADVERSITY. You often learn alot about somebody through their reactions to tough things in life. I’m desiring a gentleman with a positive mindset, regardless of the circumstances – be they amazing or difficult. Self sacrifice would also be imperative. It would be an added bonus if he likes cricket!!! lol

  40. Natasa says:

    He has to have an air of mystery around him. I always find myself drawn to the unusual guys, the ones who don’t reveal every side of themselves to everyone. And he has to make me feel safe, like my secrets are safe with him.

  41. Andrea H says:

    After chatting with a guy a few times I would go on a date with him

    1)If I could sense that he has a balanced approach to life and we share an interest.

    2) He must be courteous.

  42. a c says:

    Good public service Matthew H!

    Earlier, I’d listed “Wit and Respect”. Now a small edit. Sorry, but I have THREE:
    1. Compassion. Most important of all, IMHO!
    2. Confidence. Not to be confused with the desires of the ego. The lack of this quality can cause much suffering for so many.
    3. Wit. Not to be confused with sarcasm, borne of anger/depression. Wit can be very elusive. It points to intelligence, temperament…

    But geez, what of Honesty, Compassion, Fun, Open-mindedness…

    A note on the concept of “chemistry”: it’s not borne of “magic” ladies. It just feels that way at first glance. It’s your sub-conscious self that has immediately sensed/honed in on the presence of those important qualities you are seeking in a mate. Your intuition works faster than your conscious self.

    An interesting notion: The qualities you seek in others, you already have (or value the most) in yourself…

  43. Jessica says:

    1- balanced, meaning he’s sweet and caring but he’s also strong and dynamic, and fun to be with.

    2- open minded and tolerant of people that are different.

    3-I have to be attracted to him.

    I know this is more than 2, but they are essential to me.

  44. Julia says:

    This is definitely a tough question for me. I’m a full-time student with no real social life, except for the occasional lunch date or dinner date with a friend or classmate. To top it all off, I have the dating experience of a 14 year old (I’m 21). So, I often find myself liking a guy simply because he’s good looking and shows some interest in me, without really delving deep enough to see if he’s really worth talking to or not. Obviously there’s more to the story, but this is the big picture.

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