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the preview for Bravo’s upcoming reality show “Miss Advised,” internet personality Julia Allison boldly exclaims that she’s looking for a husband and has a 73-point checklist. I think we often use code words like “quality” to mean just those things, and that’s a shame, because to me the qualities that make a “quality guy” are value systems and beliefs, and how they’re put into action. I read those to a friend, who said, “Isn’t every woman looking for a guy like that?

When I heard that, my immediate thought was that I’ve never had a checklist, and even when I’ve set vague goals for the types of people I wanted to date, I’ve found that the universe tends to throw people in my path who are explicitly not the types I’d have said I was looking for, as if it’s testing me. ” True, those are broad enough to be almost universal, but at the same time, good luck to anyone who’s not a celebrity finding a man who possesses all those traits (and isn’t arrogant about it).

I also find the language around who’s “good on paper” disturbing at times. I would venture that if he does, maybe he’s a little too perfect.

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For instance, I tend to like big, cuddly guys, but every once in a while my eye is turned by a guy who’s tall and skinny.

When that happens, I pay extra attention because it’s usually some other aspect of him—his personality or sense of humor or career choice—that’s pulling me in his direction.

I’m not into him necessarily because of his body type, even though I know plenty of women who would be, but I could nonetheless see myself getting it on with him.

Any time that happens, it forces me out of my dream-like utopian fantasies about the “perfect” life and back to reality. In fact, I find it a little gross and, at first, thought it was strange because I’ve never been friends with a cigar smoker before, let alone dated one.

I remember that even if I wound up with someone who in every external way fit my “criteria,” they would still be their own person with quirks and habits and interests that I couldn’t control. Yet the more I hear about it, the more I’m intrigued, not by cigar-smoking itself (it’s still pretty gross to me), but by the camaraderie and social aspect of it for him.

Another example is my current boyfriend, who I’m in love and extremely happy with. I like that there’s a subculture surrounding cigars that I’m only finding out about in my mid-thirties.Before then, if you’d said the word “cigar” to me, I’d think “Monica Lewinsky.” If I’d seen “cigar smoking” as a hobby on an online dating profile, though, I might have kept on clicking. In her memoir , Ricki Lake reveals the qualities she was looking for in a guy that she listed in her online dating profile (these are verbatim): confident without being arrogant, self-sufficient, funny, intelligent, free spirited, believes the glass is half full, romantic, sexual, adventurous, physically fit and attractive. Does he care about what others around him—strangers and friends—are thinking and feeling?My point is, “quality” means different things to different people, as do even seemingly obvious traits like “funny” and “intelligent.” Is his sense of humor dry? I don’t think we can know for sure who we want ahead of time.It’s not like making a grocery store shopping list, where we can just pick a mate from a shelf full of similar but slightly different mates.

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