Rule #1. In order to engage me in courtship, you must be some form of Christian.
I know this one is going to bug a LOT of people. To each his own, folks, but it is important to me to know that you can go to church with me and have an understanding and appreciation of my faith. You don't necessarily need to be the same denomination, but essentially, I need to know that we believe the same thing and can raise children that way. Not important ten years ago; critically important as I sit here listening to Pandora, attempting to drown out the ticking and tocking of my biological clock.
Relevance, you ask? I'm happy to comply. During my "date" with Mr. Banderas, he asked me about my faith. We'd touched on the subject before but only via text, which is an awkward way of expressing a commitment to anything, honestly. He clarified that he was fine with me sharing my story as long as I wasn't a Bible Beater, of which I am not. If we've met, you know that I have no place beating anyone with a Bible. I shared my unique story cautiously at dinner (keeping in mind the golden rule of avoiding politics and religion, at least until you know the person's last name) and he shared his...or the lack thereof. Although he'd marked "Christian: Other" on his profile, Mr. Banderas pretty much stated that he is without religion at this point in his life. He didn't say that he believes in something and just doesn't practice, which is acceptable and understandable. A lot of people go through ups and downs of commitment, including myself. Sometimes that Sunday morning alarm clock is the worst sound I've ever heard in my life. But, I always eventually come back around. He said he has no religion. This, my friends, is a dealbreaker. As much as I'd like to think I can see around that trait, I know that eventually, on down the line, it will play a major role in whatever decision I'd make about him. Granted (I'm sure you've thought of this), I'm not dating him and could be great friends with him. But, to commit to a relationship with someone who so honestly shared this fact with me at the onset is unlikely and destined to cause anguish. I know this about myself, one of the few things that I can unhesitatingly state about what I'm looking for.
Rule #2. You must be a non-smoker or seriously committed to quitting.
Again, probably going to stir up controversy. Although, I would never tell the love of my life that I can't be with him because he smokes, he better be prepared that I'm going to nag him until he quits. It'll kill you, people. Remember the Shards o' Glass popsicle commercials? Watch and learn.
Rule #3. You cannot be better on paper than you are in person.
I'm not just filling an empty space at the other end of the dinner table here. I'd like someone who can engage me and who is engaged by me. Short and sweet.
Rule #4. You should be able to participate in 12-year-old boy style humor or at least handle it.
My friends and I often confuse people about our age. They can't imagine that a group so vulgar and immature in their humor can possibly be in their late twenties/early thirties. That's just who we are. If you can't go with that flow, you're probably going to be uncomfortable in my group.
Rule #5. You should make a moderate attempt to look presentable.
Hmm...how can I put this? You don't have to be metro-sexual, checking every strand of hair in the rear view mirror more often than you're looking at the road or adorned in the latest haut couture runway styles. I don't even have a preference for a particular style: preppy, redneck, outdoorsy, goth, whatever your choice is fine with me. You don't have to spend a lot of money on designer brands or fabulous shoes. Heck, I don't. I would just appreciate some fashion choices that a). fit, b). aren't dirty, and c). don't look like you borrowed them from your grandfather. (And before you ask, yes, I have witnessed all three of those...sometimes at the same time.) That's all I'm asking. Basic skills your momma taught you before you started kindergarten. I get the whole "This is me expressing myself" thing, but I don't buy it. I think a lot of "fashion" now comes from sheer laziness. And if I'm respecting you enough to put effort into how I look, I expect the same. Effort, friends, that's all I'm asking. And effort usually doesn't mean that your shirt's original intention was to be a barrier between your sweaty armpits and another shirt. Note to men: Women notice how you dress. We especially notice if you look nice and as though you put at least two minutes of thought into your outfit.
Now, don't send me hate mail about my inflexibility. I don't think any of these requirements are unreasonable. To my fellow gal pal readers, do you agree? What rules do you/did you have when screening dating material? To the gentlemen in the audience, same for you. Please comment with your "Rules of Engagement." I would love to hear if this is one element of the battle of the sexes that we agree upon or if one of the reasons we are so clueless about each other is because we're each expecting totally different things. I'm thinking it's the latter, but we'll let the jury have some deliberation time!