If you want to find the man of your dreams, you must first be clear about what that means.

When I ask women what they are looking for in a man I get answers like, “Hmm, well he has to be nice, tall, handsome, have a good job…someone I just click with, have chemistry with” or something equally vague along those lines.

While those answers are not bad, they aren’t focused enough to ensure that you won’t waste time with the wrong man. You can “have chemistry” with many men who are “nice, tall, handsome with a good job” but be totally wrong for you. If you depend on your “feelings” to lead you in relationship matters, I guarantee you will be sorry.

Don’t misunderstand, feelings are important. I want you to have attraction and chemistry. But I don’t want you to lead from that place; depending on “clicking” and “chemistry” to tell you who you should date. If you do, those same feelings may confuse you, prevent you from spotting red flags or you’ll spot red flags but ignore them. Or worse, you’ll try to explain them away or plot ways to change them because he gives you butterflies.

Define the Man you Want

On a piece of paper you are going to write three lists.

List number one consists of six qualities your man MUST HAVE. Without any one of these you will stop dating him. They are that important. Deal breakers. This is not the place to write down givens like “nice”. Of course you want someone nice. Be more specific. What six qualities mean so much to you that without them the man doesn’t stand a chance?

For example, what if you are a practicing Christian and you’ll want your husband to share your desire to raise your children in the faith? That could be a MUST for you. Then later when you feel chemistry with the non-believer or devout Jew you can save yourself time and heartache by not getting involved. You won’t ignore this MUST by following your “feelings” and imagining you can convert him later.

Or perhaps like me you were involved with a pessimistic person whose dark cloud was so difficult to live with you now have “Optimism” on your list because you’ve experienced first hand how someone’s world view affects everything else in life.

List number two consists of six qualities your man MUST NOT HAVE.

If he has any one of these you will stop dating him. Deal breakers. Again, be specific to your personal needs and personality. This list is usually easier because as we go through relationships and experience difficulties that break us up, we grow in clarity about what we don’t want. Most people can just rattle them off but write only the top six.

List number three consists of ten qualities that are VERY IMPORTANT.

These may or may not be deal breakers. That will depend on the totality of the relationship, the weighing of all the man’s qualities. If he possesses many or the right combination of qualities on your Very Important list, you may realize that the ones he doesn’t possess no longer matter so much. Or you both may be willing to meet halfway on a few.

Let’s say “Loves to Travel” is on your list. If the man doesn’t share your wander lust, but you both are willing to compromise on the amount of travel in such a way that is satisfying, it may not be a deal breaker.

Additional Thoughts

You may be tempted to increase your MUST/MUST NOT HAVE lists to more than six. This is a mistake because before you know it, you will have constructed a perfect person who could never exist.

Your MUST/MUST NOT lists help you narrow deal breaker qualities specific to your personal needs so you don’t waste your time dating a man who makes your knees weak but is a complete introvert while you MUST spread your social wings. Don’t fool yourself, you may enjoy the spotlight at first while he quietly hangs back, but imagine a lifetime of stir-crazy when you marry him and your recluse never wants to leave the house.

When you date a new man, let him show you who he is naturally while your ears and eyes are at attention.  Don’t tell him about the lists and don’t interrogate him in order to rush to judgment. I find that men tell the greatest truths in jest and casual comments.

If you pay attention, and act accordingly you will be spending time with the quality men you desire.

And that will put you closer to the right man, your man.