More Than a Dating Checklist: What Matters Now

03/03/2015 05:19 pm ET | Updated May 03, 2015

The days leading up to my senior homecoming dance were looking just like every other high school dance season: my dress had been picked long before my date. My friends, desperate to make sure I was part of the night's festivities, posted a list of potential date qualifications on my locker. Thus, "The Great Aubrey Date Search" began.

This list became my go-to checklist for dating, and it was something I referenced often during my college years:

The Great Aubrey Date Search
If you, yes you!, meet these qualifications, you may be eligible to take Aubrey to the dance!

  1. Must be male.
  2. Must be human.
  3. Must like girls.
  4. Must be 5'9" or taller.
  5. Must be Christian.
  6. Must be chiseled and toned. (Because, you know, after two kids and no gym membership, I totally have the perfect body...riiiiiiiiiiiight.)
  7. Must not smoke.
  8. Must not drink. (I was a goody-goody!)
  9. Must be somewhat attractive.
  10. Must not smoke. (This was, and still is, one of the most important ones, hence the double mention. Also, I think my friends were running out of ideas and really wanted to hit ten.)

How this list makes me laugh now! Fourteen years, one failed marriage, and two beautiful children later, I know that relationships are about so much more than meeting the requirements on a checklist.

As I prepare for a date today, butterflies in my stomach, I am reflecting on the things that actually matter. It's no longer about that checklist -- it's about understanding, about compassion, about mutual respect.

Rather than asking a guy to meet the requirements on my checklist, I am asking him to understand these things:

  1. Know that I am difficult to love...but so worth loving.
  2. Being a mother will always come first. Accept that. Join in on this parenting adventure and embrace it. It too is so worth it.
  3. Fool me once, shame on you. You don't deserve, and won't be given, the chance to fool me a second time. Life is too short to spend it with those who don't respect us enough to be honest.
  4. Talk to me. Never be afraid to share how you're feeling, even if your words may cause me pain.
  5. I'm here to enhance your happiness; I'm not here to make you happy or save you.
  6. I need you to respect my insecurities. They do not define me, but they sometimes haunt me.
  7. I am damaged. I have been hurt. I don't need you to fix me; I simply need you to be gentle and understanding of my emotions.
  8. I am scared. Things didn't go so well last time around. That fear sometimes disguises itself as defensiveness, and it may take time to crack my tough exterior.
  9. I don't need you -- I want you. I will never again put myself in the position to need someone. If I am with you, it is because I want to be with you, because being with you enhances my happiness.
  10. Don't smoke. Seriously, that's just gross.

Relationships aren't about what looks good on paper; they're about something so much deeper. They are about the day-to-day interactions, the way we make each other feel, the way we enhance each others' lives. I don't know where today's date will lead to or where future dates will lead to, but I know that dating is a journey, one whose success cannot be defined by a series of requirements on a checklist.

How about you? Do you have a checklist for potential suitors, a list of qualifications to be met? What do you feel is important to share with someone you are dating?