Single? Check.Good-looking, without trying too hard? Check. College graduate? Check. A few years older than me? Check. Likes to salsa dance? Check.
You would be forgiven for thinking this was a dating list! But in fact, it's what we we do with other women all the time. We have this picture that the someone "who gets me" is most likely going to be "just like me." And so we friend-date looking for the other woman whose life experiences and life interests are as close to mine as possible.
We'll dismiss someone because they live on the other side of town. Pre-decide that we probably won't be great friends because her kids are a few years older than mine. Rule out anyone who's married if we're single, or vice-versa. Confirm that we don't have much in common because you're in management for a big company and she's selling jewelry at art fairs. Or, and we've all done it, determine that based on her picture, you can be pretty sure you won't have much in common.
The Consequences of Checklists When I first launched GirlFriendCircles-- we didn't show you the photos or the profiles of the women you were going to meet. For this precise reason. We are incredibly judgmental. We didn't want to risk you not hitting it off with another woman because you read that she likes the opera and you don't. We wanted you to experience each other as people who change, not as though our profiles are comprehensive and static.
But you wanted to know more beforehand and we soon realized that perhaps we weren't avoiding the judgment as much as were only delaying it (which still has some merits! LOL!). Here's a portion of an email I received this week from one of our GFC GirlFriends:
"Sometimes when meeting new people and getting to know them I sense that there is some internal checklist that they reference in order to determine how valuable it is to continue talking to me. It can sometimes be less of a conversation and more of a 'banter' of sorts, each party going back and forth to see how many checks this other person gets. I've just recently started noticing this a lot, and it actually gets really distracting for me because I start to realize that this other person isn't really talking with me - they're comparing me to their checklist!"
Not only is that not fun for either party, but I'm not so sure it's even super effective.
Grateful Our Checklists Didn't Work Several years ago, I was sitting around with some girlfriends talking about how lucky I was to have married the man I did, when one of my girlfriends pointed out that I would have never met him on match.com which had been the source of many of my dates. And she was right since he was beyond the age that I limited in my searches. Which obviously ended up not being a deal-breaker since I did marry the guy, but had he asked me out online, I probably wouldn't have given him the chance.
And in that theme, the girls who were married all started reflecting why their husbands wouldn't have stood a chance either based on online queries. For instance, one girl is now married to an incredible guy who makes a great living, but she would have ruled him out before meeting him because he didn't have a college education. Which she thought was a non-negotiable for her. Obviously not. And another would have ruled out her husband because he's the same height as she is which in real life wasn't a problem, but if she had been searching she would have only dated taller than 6'. And the other, who happens to be vegetarian, would have only considered other vegetarians but ended up meeting her carnivore husband and realizing how minimal of an issue that was for them.
Know Your Checklist: So assess your needs: If you have a full circle of meaningful friends but just wish you had someone to jog around the lake with you on weekends-- then by all means, be picky and only "friend-date" for runners. Or if you love your friends but just need someone else who is pregnant at the same time as you-- great-- find that expecting mom.
However, if you're truly looking for life friends, relationships that will go deeper as you put in consistent time together, then please believe me that sometimes the friendships that can prove most meaningful are the ones where you hold yourself open to being wowed by someone unlike you. And research shows that while most of us are happiest with 5-10 friends and that most of us have 0-2 that we'd consider confidantes-- then that means you have several openings that can be filled with various amazing women.
The morale of the story? Put qualities on your checklist such as someone who affirms you, respects people, brings laughter into your time together and shares honestly. But hold loose the "stats" that you think are so important, for you just might miss out on someone who could have been your BFF for life. Not worth it.
Trust me on this one, for I assure you that I wouldn't want to be doing life without my husband. ;)