Let me intro this by saying that I never made the list when I was in high school or college. I wish I would have but I never though of it. The point of it is to help teens think through what they’re looking for in someone. Way too often, after a couple breaks up, one or both parties say “I don’t know what I was thinking”. Well, hopefully this will alleviate some of those thoughts. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know what you’re looking for BEFORE you start dating someone?
I think students do have an idea of what they want in another person so let’s get it on paper! When it’s written down, it’s much harder to justify things because it’s right in front of them. They should make a list of things that this other person must have for them to even think about dating them. First though, the student has to be single and not chasing after someone. If they are, then their list reflects that person way too much (which isn’t always bad). With a clear mind, they can be more honest with themselves about what they want. Some lists are really long so I have the students go back after they make their “must-haves” or absolutes and condense it to 5-10 things that the guy/girl must have to even be an option. Now, the must-haves aren’t things like “tall” or “tanned” but things like “solid faith”, “respectful of my parents”, “extremely patient”, “caring” or “can lead me spiritually”. That’s the first half.
The second part is to make a list of deal breakers. Are there things that are unacceptable to you? Disrespect, addictions, deceptive… This list doesn’t have to be a certain length.
Believe it or not, one student did the list and realized that the guy she kind of liked didn’t make the cut but the guy that I was pretending to set her up with did make it! If students have a decent relationship with their parents, it can be good for the parent to make a list of the things that they would want their child to look for in a boy/girl. Students are often surprised that the lists are actually very similar. It opens up conversation to what is important in relationships. Even if they are too young to be dating in your opinion, this exercise can be very helpful in getting the conversation started.
I have seen that students settle for what’s good enough. I have used this concept to teach students that they are good enough to get what they are looking for. If some boy/girl doesn’t make their list then they know that they would be making a poor choice and they are better than that. This list is fluid. Things can be added or removed as they get older and value things differently but it’s important to change the list when emotions can stay out of it.
This is also a great time to get into what the Bible says are important virtues and values that should be looked for in another person. The intent of this exercise isn’t to show why a girl is better than a guy or vice versa, the goal is to establish a base for what God expects from His children in the relationship realm. If a guy is making progress in an area and is trying to improve, it shouldn’t exclude them from making a girl’s list. The same goes for a guy and his list. We have to be willing to extend grace but not if there is no growth or change in someone.
Lastly, sometimes students say that they don’t know if someone will “make the cut” because they don’t know them well enough. Then why would you date them? So, get to know them and what they’re all about before you just start dating them.