After my foray into "Dating Like a Guy" I decided I needed a dating makeover. I needed to reexamine what, or who exactly, it was I was looking for. The problem is, when you're looking for something you usually don't find it - it's when you're not looking that you often stumble upon love. But how would I know that I've found love if I don't know what it is I'm looking for? When I was 16, I made a list of qualities with priority rankings (yes, another Excel spreadsheet), so I decided now was the time to reassess my preferences and their respective point values. My list consists of a few physical attributes and dozens upon dozens of social, mental and emotional attributes. As I purveyed the list I realized some of the qualities and their quantities were not applicable any longer for the person I am today and for the person who should complement me. I'm still adamant about wanting a man taller than me, but his having a head full of hair is no longer important. Whereas before I didn't even have religion on the list, now "Jewish" not only takes the top spot but is a make-or-break item. Meanwhile, "successful" dropped down a few notches, although "motivated" is still important. "Conversation" and "humor" climbed pretty high, while his ability to cook or clean lost some points. Good with kids, affectionate and polite are still of high importance but owning a car or home at this time is lower on the list. Everyone - my mom, my sister, even some friends - told me I was being ridiculous. But I've held steadfast to this list for more than 10 years and for good reason. Time and time again I've been blindsided by good looks or pedigree and have lost sight of what's important: intelligence, the way he treats his mother and what kind of future he's looking for. If he doesn't want to get married and have children then it's better for both of us not to waste each other's time and to cut our losses now. Every time I get burned by a smooth-talker I resort to my list and tell myself I won't let it happen again. Every time I wonder why he's not calling or not interested, I look at my list and comfort myself with the fact that he was missing some of the more imperative qualities I want. Every time I get frustrated with J*Dates and blind dates, I remember some of the more essential items on my list and hope the next guy I meet might have those character traits. It may not be necessary to actually write down what it is that's important to you in a mate, but it may help to keep you on the right path. Be careful though, you don't want to make a list so narrow that no one can possibly meet your qualifications, or so broad that every Tom, Dick and Harry (or rather Shmulik, Yankele and Moishe) fits the bill. A list is there only to keep you from falling for those suave players who don't have your best interests at heart... and to help you get back on the horse after you inevitably get burned in the dating game. Timing is everything when it comes to finding your chosen one, but if the right man or woman comes along at the wrong time you need to make it the right time. The qualities that are of utmost importance to you - not how much he loves football or if she surfs, but rather his loyalty or her dedication to raising a Jewish family - should be ingrained into your subconscious. Lowering your standards - removing an item from your list or adjusting its value - should be done as you grow as a person and after you spend a lot of time trying really hard to find that special person. The older you get, the more open you may be to dating a man who's been divorced or a woman who has a child, you may be willing to relocate or willing to explore the idea of camping and mountain climbing. I've also learned that what I'm looking for in a mate are qualities that I myself must encompass. How can I expect a man who is Jewish, tall, handsome, smart, well-mannered, social, funny, etc. etc. to be interested in me if I don't offer him the same in return? I want an equal, not someone whom I feel is above me nor someone whom I feel that I'm too good for. To me, giving up on finding true love is not an option, but reevaluating what true love means changes with each failed relationship. You can learn more and more about yourself with each relationship and knowing who you are and what you want. And that means hopefully you'll be able to recognize someone who meets your standards when he or she comes along.