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Online daters, just how judgey are you?

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Beth Cook is a personal coach and writer. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

The most interesting thing about online dating is that it makes you confront your prejudices. Yes, we all have them. But like you, I’m pretty good at pretending that I don’t.

In fact, I pride myself on being one of the most adventurous daters on the planet—giving anyone I find the slightest bit attractive a shot. I don’t have a type, and I never will. Despite all that, though, I am not immune to prejudging people when it comes to the side column on OkCupid.

This make-or-break side column is where you let curious viewers know basic facts about you and your lifestyle: height, weight, body type, ethnicity, diet, smoking/drinking/drug use, religion, astrological sign, education, income, and feelings about pets and offspring.

Cruise down someone’s side column and you will suddenly have a litany of questions to answer about what you really want, what you really don’t want, and what you’re willing to put up with.

Could I date a vegetarian? Someone who rarely drinks? A fire sign? Someone who “might” want kids? A cat man?

Sheesh—just when I thought I knew exactly what I wanted!

I ask myself how these people would feel about my steak obsession, wine-o-clock at Chez Beth, my watery emotional nature, my certainty about parenting, and my allergy to cats?

If they were okay with me, would I be okay with them?

I guarantee if I met a charming man in real life and found out that he was a vegetarian, I’d think to myself, “Oh, well! Nobody’s perfect!”

But when it comes to online dating, I don’t feel so forgiving. I find myself searching for exactly what I want: a meat-eating, wine-drinking, kid-desiring dog lover. After all, isn’t that the luxury of having thousands of resumes at your fingertips?

I’m not proud of my behavior. And this is exactly why you don’t hear me sing the praises of online dating. I hate how it makes me judgmental.

The trick here is to know the difference between a deal-breaking trait and one you can get used to. This is your (and my) homework assignment, my friends: decide what your dating blueprint looks like. It’s kind of like house-hunting; make a list of the few things that are absolute musts, and be flexible on everything else. Once you figure out your non-negotiables, your online searches will become a lot less perplexing (and you won’t have to feel judgey at each stage of the game—huzzah!). 

As for me, I could probably live with a vegetarian or a fire sign, but there is no way in hell I could shack up with a cat.

Photo by Suzy Duke/Flickr