That’s a dealbreaker – dating checklists as guides to relationships


Anyone who watches the Tina Fey created comedy series “30 Rock” may remember the comedy sketch “Dealbreakers,” in which Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, creates a talk show to inform ladies when a habit or characteristic of their significant other is a “dealbreaker.” An example of a Lemon dealbreaker is when someone makes you act crazy, or as she eloquently put it, gives you “sexually transmitted crazy mouth.”

While the episode makes light of these relationship restrictions, it does bring to mind the idea of dating checklists — a list of dos and don’ts for a person’s ideal future significant other. For some this list might be a definitive description while others might see it as more of a general guideline.

Kati Krieg, junior in English, said she believes that dating checklists are meant as the latter; that getting stuck on specific traits could end up hindering the growth and self-development within the relationship.

“If we stick strictly to our checklist, then we can tend to box ourselves from a lot of different options,” Krieg said. “Everyone is growing and maturing every day and it’s those unexpected aspects of life that allow us to do that. If we are so stuck on certain things, then we can’t be open to change or the truth of the person we are with.”

There are several ways a dating checklist can be initially created or influenced. Some of the items may be shaped by the media or celebrities, or drawn to resemble the characteristics of individuals like parents or friends. Emily Berger, senior in marketing, said her checklist developed directly from her own dating history.

“The more different types of guys I’ve dated, the more I’ve figured out what I do and don’t like,” Berger said. “I’ve become a lot more picky and won’t just settle for someone who doesn’t meet a lot of the qualities I’m looking for.”

An Aug. 16 CNN article by Sarah LeTrent explores the concept of dating checklists and if they actually help or hinder the process of finding a successful relationship. In the article, Los Angeles clinical psychologist Seth Meyers makes the case that a checklist for preferred characteristics like honesty and intelligence is natural and healthy. Meyers warned, however, that a checklist focused on a person’s physical, professional or financial characteristics wavers over the line to the superficial side.

“Know for sure what your dealbreakers are,” Meyers said, in the article. “Some people get caught up in, what I call, the ‘picky problem,’ meaning they create a checklist that is so rigid, hardly anyone makes the cut.”

By Meyers’ standards, it would appear that Danny Joe, senior in secondary education, has a healthy perception about his dating checklist. Joe said that as his checklist evolved, it has become more focused on the potential partner’s motivations of goals and life.

“A college degree or the pursuit of one is nice, and something I look for, but as long as there is a direction to life and something they’re working toward, I’m happy,” Joe said. “They also need to be fairly intelligent, which is pretty vague and ambiguous, but it works for me because it allows for multiple intelligences to factor in. Then, obviously, there has to be physical attraction, but that is at the bottom of the list, at least for me.”

Joe said he is cautious in his avoidance of using his dating checklist as an end-all be-all scenario, a concept shared by Krieg. She said prior to her current relationship with Tim O’Connor, sophomore in music education, she had a checklist that, among other things, put necessity on honesty, happiness, interest in the arts and a tendency to be a bit cliché.

Krieg also said it wouldn’t have hurt if the guy was tall, dark and handsome either. Now, two years into dating O’Connor, Krieg said she is lucky to have found a near perfect model of her list.

“The thing that I took away from the relationship the most with checklists is that everything on your list won’t always be met perfectly,” Krieg said. “There will be times when the dedication to the relationship has to be overtaken by school or work, and there are times when fights are going to happen and that not all of the list is met. The key, for me at least, is knowing that I love the man for everything that makes me love him regardless if the list is being met at that time.”