When I decided I wanted to write a consumer guide to dating, the first name for the book that popped into my head was “But I Don’t Like His Shoes!” That’s because my friends and I refused to date a guy if we didn’t like his shoes. During my many years on the dating scene – I was one of those girls about whom everyone asked, Why isn’t she married? I nixed guys from my dating list for a lot of not-so-great reasons. There was the guy who slurped his yogurt. The guy who was maybe a little too attached to his mother. And forget about the guys with the ugly shoes.

As I began researching my book, by then titled How to Shop for a Husband, I decided to conduct an informal poll of my friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Had they ever refused to date a guy for a too-picky reason? “He picked his teeth with the corner of the chopsticks wrapper during dinner. Gone,” my roommate from college, Doryne, recalled. “His pants size was smaller than mine,” my high school friend, Bonnie, said with a shiver. “He’d never heard of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” my friend from junior high, Roz, recalled. “He wore sweatpants with elastic ankles – like Bill Cosby wears,” my producer, Michelle, reported. Okaaaaaay. I began to see a pattern. Pickiness was a real problem.
How to Shop for a Husband

Then I remembered a story I had done on the consumer trend of customization. We are a generation that wants what it wants the way it wants it. Venti soy latte with a shot of hazelnut, half caf, anyone? We believe children should customize their own teddy bears at Build-a-Bear, we want to assemble our own playlist on our iPods, and we certainly like our coffee prepared with specificity. Well, guess, what? We’re also picky – I would argue too picky – when it comes to picking our spouses. Wait a minute, you say. Don’t I have a right to be picky? I’m not expected to (ominous music, please) . . . settle. Am I? No. I don’t think you should settle. But to be a smart consumer in what I call the “Meet Market” you have to know exactly what to look for. And forget about the trivial stuff.

In my book, I help daters make a PGHM Shopping List (that stands for Perfectly Good Husband Material, duh!). Perfectly Good Husbands may wear ugly shoes (at least until you make “after-purchase repairs” and fix their shoe wardrobes), but they have friends, are good to their parents, are kind to animals, and have all the “options” that are perfect for you.

I learned that social scientists have been studying what attracts people to one another, who makes a great husband, and what makes a marriage last. In my book, I share this information and more because I’m sick and tired of watching my friends waste their time on stuff that doesn’t really matter. I know I wasted a lot of time being too picky. So consider: Are you too picky for your own good?

Janice Lieberman has been the consumer correspondent on NBC’s Today Show for over ten years. She is also a contributor to Reader’s Digest. Her book, How to Shop for a Husband, written with Bonnie Teller, is available online and in bookstores nationwide.

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