Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Ladies and 'perfect man' lists

By Audrey Irvine, CNN
It is good to have a list of essential qualities you want in a man, but leave off the fluff, says Audrey Irvine.
It is good to have a list of essential qualities you want in a man, but leave off the fluff, says Audrey Irvine.
  • Many women have a mental list of all the characteristics they want in a soul mate
  • Matchmaker calls singer Chili "picky" because of so many items on her list
  • Women confuse essential and fluff items on lists, columnist says
  • Nothing wrong with having standards, but don't make a grocery list, she says
  • Dating
  • Relationships

Audrey Irvine is a senior assignment manager for CNN. Her experiences in the dating world inspire her "Relationship Rant" column. Check back every week for her take on dating and relationships.

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- A lot of women have one, have updated it and added to it, but most never get rid of it.

It's that infamous "list" that a woman subconsciously carries around in her head, that has all the characteristics that she must have in her significant other. If you check "the list" and he's hit each mark, then he must be your soul mate, right? Oh ladies, get a grip!

A recent conversation with a girlfriend about "the list" led to a discussion about singer Chili -- who is one-third of the popular girl group TLC -- and her quest for love. Apparently Chili has an upcoming show on VH1 where she has turned to a matchmaker and the comforts of reality television in search of her soul mate.

In the trailer for the show, Chili fires off her list of requirements to the matchmaker.

Wow, I thought my list was bad, but she easily named at least 15 items. It was a trailer, so there may very well have been 20, but they cut it for the sake of time. The matchmaker deems her "picky" and encourages her to loosen up a bit on the list. An even funnier moment comes later in the trailer when Chili's friend, well-known rapper Missy Elliott, comments that Chili's perfect guy is not out there, so maybe she should date Jesus.

This got me thinking -- if Chili, who I feel is beautiful and seems to be a stable, normal woman, has such a comprehensive list and doesn't seem to want to compromise, what does that say for the rest of us?

How many women become slaves to the list? Is it really necessary to have this laundry list of prerequisites, as if men are either auditioning for a part or applying for a job? I know I wrote an earlier column about deal-breakers, but that's different from creating a recipe for a man as if you are making a cake. Let's go with that analogy.

I'm not a huge baker, but I do know there are certain ingredients that have to be included in the cake or it just won't work. So, flour and baking soda are must-haves. Every woman needs to have her list of must-haves and not waver from them.

Now, must-haves are not the shallow things a lot of women choose, like height, car choice and salary. Must-haves, to me, are things that have to do with someone's character, like spirituality, relationships with his family, or how he handled a previous breakup.

Too often, women create an image in their heads of what this man should look like, sound like and be like, and get so obsessed with it that when the person you need is standing there, he gets sidelined because of this insatiable desire to check items off the list.

So, back to baking that cake: You make sure you have the necessary ingredients and then if you are able to add that hint of vanilla or shaved nuts on top of the frosting, it's considered a bonus. Many women get the must-haves and the bonus items all mixed up in their heads, creating a delusional and unrealistic search for their soul mate.

Now on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have some friends who have reached that desperate place where they haven't met anyone who matches "the list." So they have revised the list to a point of insanity.

One girlfriend of mine said she could date any man who had a pulse and could put a sentence together. Slightly extreme, yes, but she's allowed herself to be a victim of her list for so long, she's beyond compromise at this point.

Reality show or not, I wish Chili all the luck in the world finding that special someone. It is rough out there these days being single and maneuvering the craziness called dating.

There is nothing wrong with having standards, even thought it sometimes gets you thrown in that "Oh, stop being so picky!" category.

However, until women realize that finding love is not about checking items off a grocery list, know that someone else might walk right past you while you are checking off items and swoop up that available man who has what you may actually need.

At the end of the day, you can't curl up at night and share your hopes and dreams with a list.