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So when she met her now-fiancé, Aaron, and he didn’t fulfill all of her criteria, she was forced to reevaluate.

In fact, some of his qualities were different from the ones she had on her list, such as his laid-back personality and the fact that he was just getting started in his career.

She says, “I had a revelation when my mom said, ‘I think Aaron is great for you because he balances you out so well.’ It dawned on me that without realizing it, my characteristics for an ideal man were really a perfect description of myself.” With that realization, Cristina shifted from a checklist mentality to seeing how she and her fiancé complemented each other.

She says, “If I had kept trying to check off all the qualities on my list, I’d probably still be out there searching.” But instead she chose to embrace his qualities—his humor, perpetual good mood, kind heart, and sensitivity—that make them a great match for each other.

“As I realized what I needed in a lifelong partner,” she says, “the focus shifted to how we dealt with the harder things: fights, arguments, could we enjoy each other’s company without external distractions.” She says she now values the fact that her fiancé enjoys spending time with her family and how compatible they are with one another.

After each relationship and even after a string of good or bad dates, take time to reassess the values that are important to you and what you are looking for in a relationship.

Like Derek, it’s easy to reduce potential dates to items on a checklist, and, when one criterion doesn’t match up, we move on to the next option.

Obviously we shouldn’t stop looking for someone who shares our values and those things that are truly important to us, but there are things we can keep in mind to help us prepare for compatibility and love when it strikes unexpectedly.These companies quickly realized that what we say we’re looking for is extremely different from who we actually end up dating.According to Ansari, with the subsequent ubiquity of online dating and apps such as Tinder, we find ourselves with so many potential matches—but more confused about what we’re looking for than ever. When he set up dummy profiles on several dating sites in search of fodder for comedy writing about online dating, he stipulated that he was looking for someone “a little younger than me, small, with dark hair,” but he observed that his current girlfriend is “two years older, about my height—OKAY, SLIGHTLY TALLER—and blond.Passing on a relationship with someone who doesn’t meet all of your criteria could mean that you miss out on a great relationship.Cristina’s story is one of a woman with an extensive list of criteria for her “perfect” match: athletic, type A, overachiever, highly intellectual, disciplined, well-established in a career, family-oriented, and spiritual.“I began to realize how much of the awkwardness and lack of chemistry came down to nerves,” Grace explained.

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