05/21/2013 11:46 am ET Updated Jul 21, 2013

Making a List and Checking It Twice, Gonna Find Out Who's Naughty and Nice

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"You are not very romantic, Joanna. Do you really think a list is how we fall in love?" I answered this question with a big resounding YES. And the public proclamation that I need a list. A list of exactly what I want in a partner.

I'm not creating this list out of thin air. I plan on having as many dates as possible and from each date I will take away at least two qualities that are necessities in a person with whom I plan to spend my remaining years. I'm telling myself that this list will guide me to the right person. Or at least I'll know him when I see him. The unconscious is a powerful force. Making my needs conscious, aligned with my unconscious, and putting them on a shopping list hanging on my fridge is the way to go. Right?

I had a lunch date the other day with a successful lawyer. Let's call him The Judge. He was an engaging conversationalist, but tended to dominate the conversation a little too much. I chalked it up to his being a lawyer and a desire to impress me and let it go.

Anyway, things were rolling along relatively smoothly and the lunch itself was very good, as was the venue he chose. I kept thinking, he's not my usual type... not long and lean and blue-eyed and sexy, but then who is besides the object of my fantasies? We know where that went... Any way, the instant The Judge smiled, he reminded me of the husband of a dear old friend. This man did a good job of putting my friend in an early grave. Husband was and probably still is a needy, ego driven, smug son of a bitch. And his smile was exactly the same as The Judge. Exactly.

From that point on, it was hard for me not to see past that smile. I read control and ego issues and the quality I hate the most in another: manipulation. Not fair, you're thinking. You didn't take the time to know him. Correct. Which is my whole point. If I can't get past the smile, I won't be able to see him fairly. So the first thing on my list is a smile that eases and soothes, one that assures and tells me he's looking for connection, not approval. Big difference.

I dated another guy once and on the second date he wanted to see my most current test for STDs. Second date. Did I look like I had something? Was sleeping with him and his gorgeousness a done deal? The guy was a stand up comedian and not a particularly successful one. He was an average talent who had a way with the ladies because of his looks. Tall, fit, blue-eyed, he fit the bill. I was attracted to him. He was romantic, amusing, energetic. So far so good. And then he popped the question. Goodbye, Mr. Gorgeous. I need a guy who sees me as the precious wacko I am. One who never takes it for granted I have an STD or that I'm about to sleep with him, thank you very much. So, my second quality on the list is someone who has tact. Tact tells me the person is a grown up.

Finally, I dated another guy several years back. Let's call him Red Flag. We had spoken on the phone for weeks while he was in New York City visiting family. We so hit it off with long, brilliant discussions about contemporary theatre. He'd just finished directing his first feature film. I picked him up at the airport. He was cute, funny. Not tall, not lean, but it didn't matter. We had so much in common. He invited me over for dinner the next day. This was it, I thought. He's great. Then he turned on his film for me to view and disappeared towards the finale into the other room. The final scene in the film shows a man torturing a woman in his basement. Guess what? I got out of there like someone had lit a bonfire under my ass.

To sum up... 1. A great smile. 2. Tact about STDs. 3. A guy with enough good sense to not show a feature with a serial killer trapping women in the basement on a first date. Three things. Is that a lot to ask for? Being single in Los Angeles or anywhere requires a list, folks. Start making yours.