06/16/2014 02:52 pm ET Updated Aug 16, 2014

A Mentality Toward Dating That Keeps Love on the Checklist

Geri Lavrov via Getty Images

It's a typical first date. Girl meets boy for dinner. Girl likes boy, so before the check comes, she's already planning their wedding, naming their children and deciding whether they'll spend Thanksgivings or Christmases at her parents' house (p.s. it's both.) Later, when that perfect picture she painted on Day One starts to fall apart, she wonders, "How could I have ever let this man in my home? In my bed?!"

The most popular resolution to any bad break-up tends to be, "He's just from another planet!" And if you want to believe in the "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" philosophy, that's all well and good, but then, what do you do when you want to date on planet Earth?

Too much skin in the game will leave you raw.

Firstly, let's talk about that dating game mentality. Most men I know don't invest heavily in first dates; they tend to tread lightly and play it by ear. A lot of women interpret this as men having the upper hand in dating, being commitment-phobic or even worse, playing the field, but did we ever think we should be following suit?

How much can anyone really know about anyone else in the course of a few hours? And, are we being honest with our evaluations, or are we molding these men to fit cookie cutter standards that we think we want? This brings me to my next thought:

Just because we "want it all" it doesn't mean it's right for us.

We look to those archetypes of men, those poster boys that seemingly have everything we "need" as though we had some kind of invisible checklist: Job X, Car X, Assets X, but where are we getting the criteria for those lists?

I think it's that Prince Charming fantasy we've had drummed into us since we were little girls. It's the idea that a dance with a "perfect" stranger will save us from the world we knew, that dreaded "single-dom." Well, Cinderella may have needed a literal prince to take her from being a slave, but that's a pretty desperate situation. Why are we basing our lives on a "love story" that ends after marriage? We're not giving ourselves enough credit!

Mr. Right vs. Mr. Right, Now!

I've had a lot of amazing love stories, and some of them were even "perfect," but let's get real. Perfect is relative. When I say, "I had a perfect First Love," it's just that- perfect, for me, and furthermore "perfect" for the Me that I was then. Looking back, it would be crazy to want the same things out of a relationship that I wanted 15, 10 or even five years ago. I've got years more exploration, years of smiles and years of tears, and I've evolved. It only makes sense that my needs in a partner have evolved too, so why not seek someone you think you can evolve with instead of an end-all-be-all perfection? If you believe your man is a reflection on you, do yourself the service of being an amazing, changing human being.

Ladies, I'm not saying you should ever settle for than less than you deserve. What I am saying is that you need to realize what it that YOU truly need. Embrace the individual that is YOU, and understand that the individual that is HIM can come together and become something completely unique. Why settle for typical when you can have unique, and your own version of perfect?

Despite all the things the world will tell you that you should want, deep down I think we're all just looking for love. So love is really what should be on that checklist, and in case you need a reminder, love is respect. Love is understanding. Love grows. It's time to look for real love, real intimacy, and a real partner to get through it all. You deserve your own version of "perfect."

Good luck out there!