Still using your feelings to find a mate? Make a list of your two choices.

“I don’t know, it’s mostly about the feeling!”

I’m guessing you’ve heard this answer as much as I have, and sometimes it’s even the answer we give to others. What is the answer to the question – “What are your criteria for choosing a spouse?”

It’s amazing how love works. When people are shopping, they can usually tell us why the product is good and why they bought it, but when it comes to why we like the person we’re with, we can’t seem to tell you why, so we often use the word “feelings” to get by.

Indeed, choosing an object is certainly different from shopping. People are not commodities, and they are much more complex. Perhaps it is precisely because of the diversity and complexity of people that it is difficult to describe the strengths and weaknesses of a person in concrete terms; after all, it is easy to generalize, or stereotype, which is a fallacy of cognition. Therefore, answering with “a feeling”, although vague, is a safe answer in comparison, and retains many possibilities and room for imagination.

When we take the fuzzy safety card as our real answer, it usually reflects that we are not prepared to choose a partner and make decisions based on our fuzzy feelings. The result is that we find each other unsuitable again and again, break up, and have to start looking for a new partner, which has become a vicious cycle that we are most afraid of, but can’t escape from.

Therefore, we should practice crystallizing our feelings when making decisions. The clearer the “feeling” is, the more we know what we want and need, and the higher the chance of finding the right person.

Make a list of your two choices for a spouse, and turn abstract “feelings” into concrete conditions for choosing a spouse.

Neil Clark Warren, an American clinical psychologist, once proposed the concept of a list of conditions for choosing a spouse, which I think can be used as a concrete reference for “making your feelings clear”: if we think that shopping lists can improve the efficiency and accuracy of purchasing, then a list of conditions for choosing a spouse can do the same. He suggests two kinds of lists:

  1. a “must-have list,” which refers to what you feel is necessary in choosing a spouse. Perhaps for you, this might be a college degree, a love of sports, an understanding personality, etc. 2. a “can’t stand list,” which refers to what you feel is necessary in choosing a spouse.
  2. The “intolerable list” refers to traits or habits that you cannot accept in your partner, for example, you cannot accept that your partner smokes cigarettes, has a withdrawn and unassertive personality, or is overly enthusiastic about partying with friends, and so on.

Please note! These two lists are not meant to be a judgment of a person’s qualities, but purely as a reference for mutual suitability. The contents of these two lists vary from person to person, and what is on A’s must-have list may be on B’s can’t tolerate list. For example, if A lists “willingness to live with parents” as a must-have list, B may put it on his “can’t tolerate list” because he knows that he finds it difficult to get along with his elders.

So what are the benefits of making these two lists? First, it keeps us from meeting people aimlessly. “Getting to know people” is very important in choosing a spouse, and making a list helps us to set the scope of our contacts and avoid blindly approaching the people we want to meet with a needle in a haystack. Secondly, it helps us to make a judgment on whether we want to continue the relationship or not in the early stage of getting to know each other. For example, if you put “love of the outdoors” as a must-have list, but the other person obviously likes static activities at home, or even somewhat resistant to outdoor sports, then you can avoid the dilemma of realizing that they are not suitable for each other after investing a lot of effort and time.

Each person’s list of conditions for choosing a spouse is different!

How do you make a list of the “must-have” criteria for choosing a spouse? Think about what you value in an intimate relationship. The reason why these criteria are created is based on our understanding of ourselves from the outside to the inside, from shallow to deep, such as interests, personality, habits, upbringing, values, and so on, and also rooted in our past interpersonal interactions of self-feedback, so that we know what qualities of ourselves and the person with whom we are with, it is easier to maintain a stable relationship, so that each other can spend less time and effort in dealing with conflicts.

You can start by writing down all the qualifications you can think of (the more specific, the better) and then selecting the top 10 according to their importance. There are two main reasons for suggesting a list of “10:

  1. If too few items are listed, the differentiation between each condition will be too small, and the filtering function of this list will be reduced, and it will be meaningless.
  2. too many items listed tend to become trivial, even taking into account some non-essential conditions, distracting us from the really important parts.

Next, you need to review the 10 conditions again, and rank them from first to tenth in order of importance to yourself, in order to clarify your self-worth again and find out what’s really important to you.

In the same way, we can make a list of 10 conditions on the “Intolerable List”. Knowing what you want is important, but knowing what you don’t want is equally important. There are some conditions or traits that don’t fit with you, or different needs and values, and these differences can lead to constant conflict in an intimate relationship, causing repeated crises and challenges in the relationship. For example, you must have heard your friends and relatives say that “they can’t stand certain behaviors or traits of their significant other”, should they ask the other person to change? Should you ask the other person to change, or should you just give in and go along with it? This is where the importance of making an “intolerable list” comes in. With this list, we can make the right judgment based on our own needs at the early stage of getting to know the person we’re with, and avoid this kind of dilemma in the future.

Although there may be some similarities between the two lists for each person, both the must-have list and the intolerable list are definitely very personal, as each person grows up differently and does not value the same things. Both types of lists require a lot of effort to talk to the self and organize and comb through one’s own life experiences in order to be more complete. Therefore, you should never copy and paste other people’s lists directly into your own list of qualifications for choosing a spouse just for the sake of convenience or to save effort.

There will be a separate article on what to look for and how to consider what to put on these lists before making them.

How do you choose between the two lists of criteria for choosing a mate?

Some people may ask, “So the other person needs to fulfill all 10 criteria to be considered a suitable candidate for a relationship?”

Maybe it’s not that easy to fulfill all 10 conditions, so I don’t think all of them need to be fulfilled to be considered suitable for a relationship; if 4-6 of them are fulfilled, and the conditions in the top of the list are also fulfilled, then I think it’s okay to give each other a chance to try. However, if even half of the criteria are not met, and even the top ones are not met, then I would suggest more observation. In other words, the more conditions on the “must-have list” are fulfilled, and whether or not the conditions at the top of the list are fulfilled, can be used as an important indicator for deciding whether or not to date.

What about the “intolerable list”? In my opinion, as long as one of the conditions is met, it’s best to stop and carefully consider the development of the relationship. Even if the other person meets the 10 conditions of the “must-have list”, my advice will remain the same because it’s something you can’t tolerate! It’s hard to turn a blind eye to something that makes you uncomfortable or miserable! You may choose to ignore it for a while, but eventually it will come back to haunt you and put you in a dilemma.

Since it’s something we can’t live with, we also have to practice respecting ourselves and listening to our inner voice, and never ignore its importance.

If you always feel that you are often in relationships with unsuitable people, these two “must-have lists” and “intolerable lists” may help you get out of unpleasant intimate relationships as soon as possible, so that we can no longer be led by unspoken feelings, and through the process of self-talk and clarification, we can find out our own needs and expectations in a more systematic and smarter way.

Ready? Get your hands dirty and start writing down your own two lists!

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