Woman writing
When I was 16, my "type" was a guy who drove a motorcycle, had two earrings and grunted when I asked him questions. I don't remember ever having a very deep conversation with this guy, but I remember how good he looked in a white T-shirt and tight acid-wash jeans (hey, it was the '80s). At 20, I dated a guy in my college dorm who was whiter than Wonder Bread and found my "Jewishness" exotic. He was a good kisser, and I liked that he found it endearing each time I argued that bagels were a food group, but really, I had nothing in common with him and I knew it.

When you're young and new to dating, a guy's cool factor or the way he looks in jeans may rank higher than how emotionally or spiritually connected you feel to him or that he brings out great qualities in you. At this point in your life, your criteria for a mate aren't usually based on how he would be as a father, a provider and a partner. In many ways, our teen years and early 20s are about exploration—learning who we are and ultimately making some mistakes from which we can grow. And yet, I meet so many women who are still hanging on to the "type" of guy they were attracted to eons ago. Most of these women have met new and diverse groups of friends who are different from the ones they chose as teenagers, or have embarked on a different career path than the jobs they graduated with. In many cases, their choices and their lifestyles have evolved.

So many of us get into a pattern in our dating lives, and our lives in general, in which we do things because we have always done them that way. We don't question our routine because it's comfortable (and frankly, who has the time or energy to find alternatives when things are okay?). We do what we know. We are creatures of habit, after all.

When we are living in this passive way, it is as if we are pressing the snooze button on our lives. We are almost awake—but not quite. (Isn't it funny, too, that sleep researchers say that pressing snooze a number of times in the morning actually makes for a more tiring day?) In this regard, we are not living consciously. And when we do not live consciously, we make choices that may not serve our best interests.

Love Lists
The list of criteria you are looking for in future mate should evolve as you evolve. It should not resemble the long list you draw up before you head to the grocery store or the checklist you give to your real estate agent when you are looking to move. For one thing, you are decreasing your chances of finding a relationship if your list it too long and specific; and another, you are taking all the romance and spontaneity out of the process of truly connecting with someone you have not met yet! I once heard a guy say that he could not describe his perfect woman before he met her, just as he can't describe a beautiful painting before he has seen it. Depending on your perspective, this guy is either wonderfully romantic or terribly cheesy...but he has a point!

What's on your must have/can't stand checklist?