10/30/2013 04:46 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Should You Keep Dating Him: The TAO Hotness Checklist

Lately, several of my female friends and readers have shared their ambivalence about the men they were dating:

"He's really nice, but he never calls."
"He's super sexy, but he can't really carry a conversation."
"We have a great time when we get together, but it's always last-minute."

I thought to myself, "Is there a simple set of criteria a woman could apply to someone she's dating to determine whether she should continue or not?"

As it happens, I've also been reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The Nobel Prize winner has compiled an impressive amount of science behind how we make decisions, and why those decisions are so often faulty.

He also takes pains to show us how to bypass the faulty circuits to render better decisions. For example, evidence shows that simple but straightforward checklists work a lot better than complicated but fuzzy subjective evaluations.  For example, Dr. Virginia Apgar figured out over breakfast one day that a systematic assessment of five variables of a newborn -- heart rate, respiration, reflex, muscle tone, and color -- and three scores (2, 1 or 0 depending on the robustness of each sign) can determine whether a baby required intervention or not. The Apgar Score has since been used millions of times and has saved the lives of countless babies.

The Apgar Score is great because it's fast, simple, foolproof and leads to action. Pink, squirming, grimacing, crying baby with a pulse of 100 and score of 8 or above? Healthy baby! No worries. Bluish, passive, floppy baby with a weak pulse? Take her to the intensive care unit stat! The checklist clarifies thinking and saves precious time. Checklists are such powerful tools that Atul Gawande wrote a whole book about them called The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

Reading this, I thought to myself, "Self, surely we can come up with a checklist for women to figure out whether they should keep on dating a guy." So I thought back on all the times when my friends and myself were really into a woman, and the times when we were lukewarm, and what we did differently. And I thought about the manifestation of that interest in a way that was easiest to spot and difficult to fake. The result is the TAO Hotness questionnaire:

Score the following three questions on a scale of 2 (always or nearly so), 1 (sometimes), or 0 (seldom or never):
1. Talk: Does the conversation between you flow effortlessly?

2. Answer: Does he return communication in less than 24 hours?

3. Ask Out: Does he make requests for your company in advance?

Add up the scores to those three questions (maximum= 6; minimum= 0).

Now score the last question on a scale of 1 (yes) to 0 (no):
4. Hot: Does his presence physically arouse you?

Now multiply the cumulative score from questions 1-3 by the score for question 4.

The guys will roughly fall into these categories:
If the score is 5 or 6: Continue dating this fella. He is most likely a keeper.
If the score is 4: Borderline situation. Give it another date or one more week.
If the score is 3 or less: Time to move on.

So, for example, if a guy always calls you back within a day (2), asks you out most of the time (1) can talk to you for hours without lulls or boredom (2) and turns you on (1), his score is a 5. You should keep on seeing him.

Notice how if the same guy had everything going for him but does not turn you on, his score is 0. You're looking for a guy to date or marry, not a brother. Do yourself and him a favor and let him go.

Notice also that the score for physical arousal can only count against a guy, not for him. Why? Because one of the main reasons good women stay in bad relationships is that the sex is hot. With the score being only 1 or 0, that aspect of the relationship doesn't get weighted too much.

Also notice that the other questions have to do with the affection flowing between you and the quality of the intellectual connection. That covers the three areas of connection you need for a relationship to flourish: head, heart and groin (or mind, spirit and body, if you prefer):

  • If the conversation flows, that means you have a good intellectual connection. Head, check.
  • If he calls you back quick, and makes plans with you regularly, that means he's thinking about you when you're not around. This means he likes you. Heart, check.
  • If his presence makes you hot, you probably have some sexual chemistry. Body, check.

Note that the questionnaire is most useful for the early phases of courtship, before you're an established couple, but if your boyfriend/spouse scores 3 or below, it may be time to think things over.

Now I invite you to test this system against some guys you're dating or have dated. What scores do the guys get who didn't work out? How about the guys you did end up dating for a while? Share your results in the comments section below.

For more by Dr. Ali Binazir, click here.

For love advice for smart, strong women, get The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible, the highest-rated dating book on Amazon for 157 weeks. Now available as book, audiobook, and Kindle ebook™.

For more good stuff for both men and women, visit the Tao of Dating blog or write to me directly

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