Are you a good man picker?

A Dating Goddess reader wrote lamenting her string of dates who weren’t a fit. She said, “I am struck by how consistently poor my ‘picking ability’ is.”

How is your picking ability? Do you, too, have a string of first dates, but not second ones? Or you may have multiple dates, but nothing long term? After many go-nowhere first dates, I’m a pickier picker.

cottonMy grandmother was a cotton picker — she harvested cotton by hand on her family’s farm as a young woman. (We loved telling her, “Take your cotton-picking hands off that!”) She said there are ways to tell if the cotton is ready to be harvested.

If you’re having a string of first dates and few second or third ones, let’s apply some cotton-picking tips to man picking.

  • Do you know what you’re looking for? In cotton, you look for burst bolls (seed capsules). If you’re not clear what you want, you’ll go out with pretty much anyone. While I’m an advocate of meeting men who don’t meet your criteria 100%, there are some who are just too far afield to be a match. I now turn down 9 out of 10 inquiries I receive. If you’re not clear, read the posting on your boyfriend job application and start writing yours.
  • Is he ready to be picked? If the bolls aren’t open, you can’t harvest the cotton. If a man isn’t ready for a relationship, no matter what you do, he won’t do more than play around. Each man has his own readiness signals, but working to please you, talking about a future together and maturely discussing conflicts are good clues.
  • Are there indications this isn’t a good pick? Professional cotton farmers know crop problem signs. Although you’re not a professional dater, you know when you see insurmountable problems. Don’t ignore red flags. I don’t agree to meet with any man who uses foul language or poor grammar in emails or on the phone. If he doesn’t seem to know how to make conversation, dominates the discussion, or bashes his ex(es) or women, I decline a face-to-face.
  • Additionally, do you establish some mutual connection before meeting? If you go out with someone after only a few brief contacts, you don’t know enough about him to know if he’s a potential match. If you talk or email and ask some important questions, you’re more likely to find someone who’s going to be a fit. Don’t interrogate him, but if his view on important issues is intolerable to you, there’s not a match. Better know now than after spending more time exploring.

I believe every person I spend more than a few minutes with is a teacher. If you just dismiss the non-fits as cads, jerks or losers, you learn nothing. Why did you attract him to you? What is he there to teach you? If you don’t learn the lesson, you’ll keep getting more of the same until you do. So better sit down and ask yourself, “What did I learn from the encounter?” And saying, “Avoid losers” isn’t an acceptable answer.

Even if you learned to better identify what you don’t want, that’s a good lesson. It will help you discern what you want and notice when a guy has it.

Sharpen your picking skills and you’ll have better luck finding guys who are a better fit.

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4 responses to “Are you a good man picker?”

  1. joan Avatar

    Yes am also in the same boat….I always ask myself why?? Why???

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar


    That’s a good start. Now start looking for the lesson. What did you learn? How can you not repeat it?

  3. Jean Avatar

    I have found dating past 50 or 60 a trying experience at best. Most of the men I have dated have so many problems I am completely astounded as to how they have not been committed. I soon decided that I must try dating through a third party, one that can test your compatibility on more than 39 dimensions. I know you know the site that I am referring to. Well, I guess in my case one more Dimension should have been included before pairing me up with another bad choice.

    Hey I know women have their share of problems, but why do I keep walking into the Garden of Love only to come out with another lemon. Picking anything this day is an art form.

  4. Jean Avatar

    What I learned was to stay out of the Garden of Love and try hiking a huge mountain instead. At least that way even though you are alone, it will end with a better accomplishment in your life.