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This post is part of a series about my own personal dating experiences before I met and married Marc.  I may be a newlywed now, but just a few years ago I never thought I would be anything but single, and I hated it.  When I was struggling I didn’t feel like there was anyone who could truly understand.  I was single, I didn’t want to be single, but I also wanted to be happy in my present life.  My goal with this series is to give people who feel the way I felt hope, no matter where their lives might take them.

If you’ve been single for any length of time and were looking to no longer be single, you’ve heard it.  The dreaded question and the even more dreaded response.

“Why are you single?” (Worst question ever.)

“I’m just looking for the right person.”

“Maybe you’re just too picky.”

Okay, let’s put this to bed right now.  No.  Just no.

Those who tell you this are mostly trying to help.  They think that by letting you know the potential error of your ways you will change those ways and realize someone you’ve either already met or are about to meet is actually perfect for you.  Then you can fall in love, get married, and have babies.  As one is supposed to do.

So often people think there has to be a reason a person is single.  Something that can be pointed to as an explanation.  Something that single person has the ability to change.

Because just being single with no distinguishable “why” is really hard for many people to understand.  Including the single person.  I know I was swimming in a sea of WTFs as I watched the years of my own singleness go by.

But was I too picky?

Hell no.

I heard this so many times before meeting Marc.  One instance so clearly sticks out in my mind.  It was a work colleague at the time, who is a wonderful person and always wanted the best for me.  We were at a work function and he asked about my dating life.  I told him I wasn’t really seeing anyone but that it was okay because I was really trying to find ways to make myself happy on my own.  And that was the truth.  I knew only I had control over my own happiness.

But that wasn’t quite enough for him.  He looked at me very seriously and said, I think you’re just being too picky.  Then he compared me to someone we know who was older than me and still single herself and said that he didn’t want me to be like her.  Again, he meant all of this in the kindest way possible.  But it did make me start thinking about what it is to be picky.  And why it matters so much to everyone around us.

Of course, there is always such a thing as actually being too picky.  If you have a non-negotiable laundry list of qualities a partner must have and they include things like: he must be 35 years old, a Pisces, an honored doctor who specializes in rare diseases, he spends weeks building schools in Africa, has one dog (preferably a chocolate lab named Wally), works out six days a week, is 6’3 ¼, has a BMI of 20, only wears custom tailored suits, drives a hybrid SUV, knows how to cook, and volunteers at an animal shelter on the weekends while also finding time to read to underprivileged children… then you are too picky.

But if you are thoughtfully taking into account the qualities a potential partner has then you are doing exactly what you should be doing!

The divorce rate is actually dropping steadily in the United States because people are being pickier.  Millenials have been driving the trend, with many opting to finish their educations and start careers before walking down the aisle.  Why does that matter?  In many cases, the more experiences a person has had, the more they understand and can identify whom their ideal partner would be.

Being picky is your right!  You aren’t just selecting a pair of shoes or a wallet, this is the person with whom you will be spending insane amounts of time.  You’ll come to know their idiosyncrasies, what side of the bed they prefer, if they leave their dirty clothese next to the hamper instead of in it, how they handle stress, and what makes them truly happy.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to compromise on any of that.

When I was still dating, I did have a list of non-negotiables and I still stand by them.  Though for the right person a couple of them were bent.  The person I dated had to be a non-smoker, a casual drinker, 6’0 or taller, never been married, physically fit/healthy, and employed.

The smoking issue was a non-starter.  I think it’s a gross habit, and I don’t want it around me or a potential family we might build together.  I didn’t want someone who drank himself into a stupor every day or weekend.  And while he did not need to have the abs of a Hemsworth, I did want to know he cared about health and took care of himself.  I also preferred he have a job and was able to support himself, because I wanted us to feel like equal partners.

As for the other qualities, they could be relaxed depending on the right person.  I’m 5’11 so I really wanted to be with someone taller than me.  It went beyond vanity.  I have always been so much taller than friends and most people around me that it has led to constantly feeling big.  It was never about how much I weighed, it was just the way I felt.  So, dating someone shorter than me always made me feel uncomfortable and disproportionate.  I realize this can be seen as a bit petty, and for those women who have no issues with the height of their partner, I am jealous of you!

Then there was the divorce issue.  I preferred a man who hadn’t been married because in my fairytale mind I wanted us to do all of that for the first time together.  In a perfect world that would be our reality, but I was open to the alternative.  For the right guy.

Enter Marc.  He checked off nearly all of those boxes, except one.  He was divorced.  But he did have an English accent, so could that just even things out?

I definitely paused when I came across his profile on Match.  I was so tired of online dating and had poured over pretty much every profile that fit my criteria, and nothing was working.  Then Marc popped up in my email of daily matches.  He seemed perfect, until I saw he was divorced.  I admit, I had to think about it.

After about a day I decided, why not?  Maybe it would be best to actually meet him before passing the ultimate judgement.

So, we met in person (after about ten days of emailing) and while in the beginning it nagged at a corner of my mind, I enjoyed being with him so much that soon it didn’t matter at all.  Plus, we all have our own stories that are not included in an online profile or even a first date.  No one is as black and white as they might seem on paper.  By getting to know Marc I was able to understand all of the things he had done and accomplished and the “why” behind the decisions he’d made along the way.

It was his character that won me over in the end.  Not the details on his profile.

But I was still picky.  And you should be, too.

Being told you are too picky is often more about the person saying it than it is about you.  No one knows you better than you.  People will want to give you advice or find ways to help along the way, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually helpful.

As they say, you do you.

And when someone asks that ridiculous question, “why are you still single?”, you can give them an honest answer.

Because I’d rather choose what I want in my life than settle for what I don’t.

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