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If you’re like me, you’ve created the infamous list at some point in your life. You know, the list that you created when you were single that contains characteristics you want and/or need in a partner.

Love coach and certified professional counselor Joelle Lydon, MA wrote in the LinkedIn post “It’s Time You Ditch Your Dating List,” that creating a list can do more of a disservice than help you find a good partner. According to her, she missed out on a lot of amazing prospects by being focused solely on what she wanted from that list.

“When I dated without the pressure of needing to look for an individual who met my pre-formed qualifications, I realized how many amazing men existed,” she wrote. “And what’s more, when you remain present to who they are as is, you get to see their essence.”

I never pulled out my list when meeting new guys, but creating one did help me put things into perspective and made me really think about the qualities I truly wanted and needed in a future partner. Although I believe that Lydon makes a valid point, I still believe that at least defining what you want in a partner can help you sift through potential ones.

I have a friend who is trying to decide between two men. Both guys are very different and possess very unflattering qualities. Even though she feels that her Mr. Right is not a man with many of their traits, she is hopeful that at least one will eventually change to meet her standards. Sounds to me like waiting for the sky to turn green, but according to experts, it can happen. The change in behavior — not the sky.

Psychologist and success coach Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. explained in her article on Psych Central that a person can change if they really want to. “Though it’s true that ‘you are who you are’ and that your personality structure ‘is what it is,’ it’s not true that you can’t modify, alter, or tweak many aspects of how you behave,” she wrote.

I am not a fan of waiting on someone to “get it together” as I think it equates to time wasted. However, can waiting on someone to change for the better be a sign of compromising as opposed to settling?

Family therapist Sara Debbie Gutfreund created a chart that explained five things that people should not compromise on while dating, thus staying true to themselves: 1) Remain authentic. 2) Do not compromise your core beliefs or spiritual values. 3) Continue to nurture friendships while dating. 4) Be responsible for your own happiness. 5) Maintain a strong bond with your family.

There has to be a stark contrast between settling and compromising. The biggest issue in my friend’s situation is that she believes that she only has two choices. If that’s not settling, I don’t know what is.

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW, a licensed therapist, wrote that she hears women, and men, rationalize why they are still in a relationship they shouldn’t be part of, waiting for the other party to improve, thinking they can’t do better. “They say things like, ‘I know my relationship isn’t perfect, but at least he doesn’t yell at me.’ Or, ‘He really is a good dad.’ Or, ‘He will always be faithful to me,'” Gaspard wrote for Divorced Moms. “When I hear things like that, I am reminded that breaking up with someone is an act of courage.”

At the end of the day, no one is perfect, but one has to really figure out what characteristics they can live with and absolutely live without. We need to focus on the ones important to our set of values and our happiness, and not compromise or settle in those areas.

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