“As you create your top-ten list, consider each item as a category rather than defining it as an individual behavior. For instance, rather than listing: “someone who has good credit,” use the category of “someone who is financially responsible.” After stating the category, you can elaborate on the general personality characteristics you are looking for by listing specific behaviors such as “works hard, shows patience, acts confident, likes themselves, and laughs easily,” “someone who pays their bills on time,” or “someone who has a savings.” Be sure to consider personality patterns, such as empathy, personal responsibility, and self-control, which will make for better and more fulfilling, long-term relationships than with someone who is hot, has a nice butt, or makes a hundred thousand dollars a year. Attraction, chemistry, career choices, religion, and desire for children are important areas of potential compatibility, but you also need to look deeper to the emotional and personal characteristics that form the deeper foundation for these trait. For example, look for someone who is not only a member of your religion but someone who is spiritual and active in applying the religion to his/her life, or someone who is not just thin but cares about being fit and maintaining healthy living practices. Such scrutiny is important. Someone who is a doctor but acts unethically will not remain a doctor for long, and someone who is thin now but has poor self-control overall may not be thin for long. Situations and circumstances change during a lifetime, but character and personality traits will generally remain the same.
“Once you have defined the qualities you desire, remember to prioritize them with a top five that are non-negotiable and the last five being qualities that are important but perhaps works in progress—meaning the person already values and is working on such qualities before they start dating you.
“Complementary to creating this list, you’ll need to also identify less attractive qualities or problems that you could accept. No one is perfect. You may find someone who has the qualities you are looking for from your top-ten list but he/she may also have thinning hair, a gummy smile, a chronic illness, depression, anxiety, child abuse issues, children from a previous marriage, etc. This is not settling; settling is compromising on your top-ten list. If you start now to recognize and accept some issues as being acceptable (versus the ones that are unacceptable), you will be more realistic, wise, and mature during the dating process. After all you’re no perfect either.”