Selective vs. Picky and Setting Yourself Up for Failure With Dating Checklists

What's the difference between being selective and just plain picky when it comes to dating? I was a single and dating dad for quite a few years. I started out my dating years with high hopes and expectations. I knew I'd find the love of my life and I had very specific, pre-conceived notions of who was "perfect" for me.

This post represents a number of years of accumulated experience in dating and relationships. It attempts to dig into the differences between being selective and being picky and explain why our own expectations in dating may be what determines success or failure and ultimately our happiness.



    1. 1. having the function or power of selecting; making a selection.
    2. characterized by selection, esp. fastidious selection.



extremely fussy or finicky, usually over trifles.

What's the difference between selective and picky in dating?

On the outside, they sound almost interchangeable. Selective. Picky. Upon closer inspection we see the vast differences between the two. One has a more negative connotation to it while the other sounds a bit more refined; more justified.

Daters that are selective are more in-tune with what they seek. They know what makes them happy and know that anything short just won't last. Picky daters, on the other hand...they don't always know. In fact, they rarely know what they have to offer, let alone what they seek. That's not to say that they are not valuable or deserve to find what they are looking for. They absolutely do! They are just a bit misguided at best and delusional in many ways as FeistyWoman said in this comment.

Photo Copyright Daniel Ruyter

Unrealistic daters place themselves in an impossible dating situation where their own expectations will never be met nor do they align with what they are realistically capable of finding out in the real world. Unrealistic expectations and their pickiness also affects everyone they meet and date in that they are often left feeling unworthy and disappointed that they didn't match up to someone's expectations.

My observations tell me that this phenomenon is even more common as daters get older. We think that our tastes become more refined and we know what we want but there's a fine line between selective and just plain picky.

You should probably get my book.

Memoirs of a Dating Dad is a book I wrote about my experiences in dating as a single dad.

Sometimes crazy, sometimes meaningful, always insightful - all of my experiences in dating as a single dad taught me some very valuable life lessons.

Memoirs of a Dating Dad is ten chapters of hilarity, sadness, anticipation and disappointment - all of the feelings and emotions that are inevitable when dating in today's jungle.

Download my book from Amazon today and be sure not to make the same mistakes in dating that I did!

Here's a personal story of someone I dated with unrealistic expectations.

A few years ago, I briefly dated a woman in her early 40's. I use the term 'dated' here very loosely. At the time she was 10 years older than I was. Now, I think I'm a fairly decent catch by most standards and I'm certainly not delusional about my expectations for love, but this experience stood out for me and made me realize that not everyone's expectations are the same.

We met online and spoke on the phone a few times. Then we met in person for one date. During our three conversations and first (and last) date, it came out what she was REALLY looking for. She had a laundry list of qualities that she required her partner to have but I'd say she couldn't 'match' 3/4 of those qualities herself.

Half of the conversation was about those must-have qualities (aged 30 - 40, MUST make $100k per year, own a boat or jet ski, no kids, must not travel for work, MUST be close with family, MUST, MUST, MUST...) and the other half was about how frustrated she was with dating!


I'm not a statistics guy, but do you have any idea how rare that combination of man alone would be? I told her straight up what I thought the real problem was; it didn't go over so well. She wasn't meant to be schooled about dating, certainly not by me, anyway. But I was only out a few conversations and a short dinner so what did I care? My ego is fairly strong and remained intact after this experience and I had her to thank for a very important lesson learned.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments about being selective vs picky and unrealistic expectations in dating. Leave a comment below!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This