Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Picky

It is not a bad thing to be selective and know what you want.

Zenza Flarini/Shutterstock
Source: Zenza Flarini/Shutterstock

A lot of singles are given a hard time for their “pickiness,” but being “picky” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And when I say “picky,” I am not talking about the ruthless box-checking or creating lengthy lists of surface qualities you may want in a partner (i.e., height, career, perfect teeth) kind of picky. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s define “picky” as “being very deliberate and selective when considering a potential partner."

In today’s world of dating apps and online dating, it is especially important to be discerning and intentional. Apps are designed to keep you swiping, matching, and liking endlessly, oftentimes resulting in recklessness and impulsivity. This makes it hard to date mindfully and with intention—which is critical if you are seeking a healthy, long-term relationship.

While it is important to go into dating with an open mind, it is also important that you know what you are looking for in a relationship and partner. You know yourself better than anyone, so you get to decide what you need and want in a relationship. You also get to determine your "non-negotiables" or things that you are absolutely unwilling to compromise on. And no, this does not make you “demanding” or narrow-minded. You are entitled to your beliefs and values and honoring the things that are most important to you, especially when it comes to a partnership.

So, the next time you start to second-guess your “pickiness” or selective process, here are five reasons why it is absolutely okay to be picky:

1. Your intuition is your superpower.

Like I said before, you know yourself and what feels right or what doesn’t feel right. It’s like that phrase, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Trust your gut. If something feels “off” or “not right,” or things just “don’t add up,” you have every right to opt-out of a relationship or situation at any time. You don’t need a “reason” if something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable or bad about yourself. You don’t have to justify a decision that is best for you and your overall well-being.

2. You don’t have to settle.

When you have been dating for a while or feel the pressure of settling down, it can feel extremely tempting to “make it work” with someone just for the sake of being in a relationship—especially if the other person is "nice" or "checks all the boxes." It is also not uncommon to stay in a relationship with someone or date someone who is simply not great or makes you feel not so great about yourself out of fear. Sometimes it is out of fear of being alone or “single forever,” and other times it is justified by the irrational belief that "this is as good as it gets" or "I can't do better." Neither are good situations.

So if you find yourself staying in a relationship or situation out of comfort or fear or at the expense of your own happiness and potential future, don't settle. I promise you, there is a better and brighter future out there for you. You deserve to be in a relationship that makes you feel good and with a partner that adds to your life—remember that.

3. Your values and preferences matter.

I have received pushback for this, but I will continue to emphasize the importance of shared values with your partner. Do not hesitate to ask the hard questions and clarify if your values and those of a prospective partner align.

For example, you are allowed to want a partner with similar or shared political or spiritual beliefs. While it is often discouraged to talk politics or prioritize politics when dating, that is 100 percent completely up to you. If your political beliefs are important to you and reflect your value system and day-to-day life choices, shared political beliefs might truly matter. This goes the same for religion and spirituality.

However, if neither of these is of significance, then it may not be something you even need to consider. Other values or needs could include the importance of family or wanting children, lifestyle preferences, or long-term career goals. Ultimately, if you are seeking a healthy and committed relationship, it is so important that you and your partner share or support one other’s values and beliefs.

4. It’s your life to live.

If you are single or dating, I would be willing to bet that you have received unsolicited advice or feedback from friends and/or family—and it’s almost always from the ones that are married or have been in long-term relationships. Sometimes it’s in the form of a command: “Stop being so picky,” “Give them another chance,” “Stop asking them about _____,” or “Be more open-minded.” While they most likely mean well and their advice is well-intentioned, you are the one doing the dating, and so you get to decide what is right for you.

We sometimes internalize the beliefs or sentiments of others, especially those that are closest to us and whom we respect, but it is important to ground yourself back to what is important to you versus what may or may not be important to someone else. At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself and what you need in a partnership.

5. You have to think long-term.

While it is important to practice mindfulness as you date and to be in the present with a new partner or prospective partner, if you are dating in hopes of a long-term, committed relationship, you need to think big picture and consider the long-term implications. You can have the most amazing connection and chemistry with someone while at the same time wanting completely different things or having completely different expectations for a relationship.

It’s important to think about what your life would look like together. If you want children, would they be a good parent and co-parent? Are they going to be supportive and available when things get tough? Do both of your personal and career plans align, or do they interfere with one another’s? Things can and do change over time, and it is possible to compromise or learn how to be flexible, but there are limitations and situations in which another person might not be in a place to change or have the desire to do so.

And with that, I give you permission to be picky. You have the right to be selective and date with discernment and intention.