April 30, 2022

Preference VS Requirement

Their Proper Time and Function

I began my career as a Jewish matchmaker almost two decades ago. Much in dating has changed over those years. It’s not that dating changed in a vacuum, apart from everything else. Dating changed as technology changed, as the family unit changed - but mostly - it changed as we changed.

The dating scene doesn’t structure itself independent of us; we form it - it morphs as we morph. And as a new generation of daters comes on the scene, they bring their tech, their experience of relating, and their ideas of family and sex with them. Where meeting and getting to know a partner once happened organically and the relationship developed at a slower pace; we now date around busy schedules, shorter attention spans, and new ideas of what it is to be a “family”. We moved our work online and took dating with it.

Something else also evolved, our inability to accept and embrace different viewpoints. Or should I say, devolved? I see more people remaining single - people who claim to want a partner and relationship, yet flippantly swipe by single after single in the micro-focused search on the one who fits their list of requirements. Well, we all have our preferences, don’t we? Indeed - but in the past, we were much more accepting of different viewpoints and perspectives and more open to compromise; today we are very, very rigid.

Everyone has preferences; there is nothing wrong with preferences. In fact, it’s a good idea to define what your preferences are so you can spot them in a potential partner. It’s also a good idea to define your least favorite qualities in a partner. Yet you must also understand on both an intellectual and emotional level that love requires flexibility, understanding, and respect for another’s point of view. To go into the world with the ability to love only those who are copies of you, well, this love is very small. This love is so small and flimsy that the instant a viewpoint changes or a slight difference in perception arises, this love disappears. It is not a love that can be trusted to last forever.

A forever love demands flexibility. A forever love demands the embracing of change, growth, development. Nothing is static in this world; everything changes. You are changing, and will continue to change when in a relationship - the same is true of your partner. A healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship accepts differences and embraces change. A healthy relationship wants change, wants growth of the other, wants to evolve toward more awareness, more acceptance.

Requirements don’t embrace change. Requirements are the antithesis of change. Requirements have the expectation that things will not change and if they do, the relationship will be on shaky ground or over.

A healthy relationship has boundaries and the only requirements are honesty, faithfulness, respect, and kindness. None of those requirements will be revealed in someone’s profile. You will only find out if someone possesses those traits by spending time with him or her. The focus on requirements comes after you begin dating - not before. Dating is how you learn whether or not the other person meets your requirments.

The stuff that comes before dating, when you decide if you get on a call with this person - that stuff doesn’t need to focus on requirements. Look at the info in the profile and unless there is something BIG that screams “not a match!”,  put requirements aside. Be open to talking to anyone and everyone the universe brings your way. The questions to ask yourself after the call in order to decide if you want to go out on a date should be: “Is this person respectful?”, “Does he/she listen and seem interested? Do they have a positive outlook?  If yes, you make a date where you'll discover your shared interests, experiences, and perspectives while being attentive to signs that this person may possess those important “requirements”.

Don’t focus on height, location, age, education, marital status, has/wants kids and other such categories when deciding whether or not to communicate with someone. If the person is shorter than you like, outside your city, or a few years older - schedule a call anyway. If you “click”, those differences won’t matter and you’ll have a great story to tell about how your soulmate was nothing like what you expected.