Ten years ago, I tried to get back into the dating pool after being unceremoniously kicked to the curb by my Narcissist. I was new to dating, having been in my abusive relationship for almost a decade and I realized very quickly that I had a lot to learn.

I had an epiphany one night after one of my dates, even though I had no interest in seeing him again I found myself very concerned and preoccupied with whether or not he liked me and wanted a second date.

A few months later, I thought I had gotten much smarter and I created a list of things that I was looking for in my potential mates. They were things like appearance, jobs, did they own their own home… and I started seeking out people who claimed to have those things.

The next thing I knew, I was involved with a guy with a great body, a great car and who claimed he made six figures. I soon found out that he had a terrible temper, he’d never been married, had nothing nice to say about the women in his life and at thirty-seven, he still lived with his parents.

Back then if there was chemistry and they liked me, I jumped right in. A lot has changed over the years, especially my qualifying process. I sat down recently with someone I greatly admire for her self-assuredness, and we discussed what she looks for and what makes her head for the exits. You can find some of her wisdom in my blog Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: Is it Possible?

Me: When you meet someone do you have a qualifying process?

G: I definitely categorize them very quickly. Do they have a job? Have they ever been married? What’s their living situation like?

If they don’t have a job I pass immediately. I’m not interested in supporting anyone. If they’ve never been married – that tells me they have some kind of relationship issue. Either they’re commitment-phobes, emotionally unavailable or they just have problems that keep them from establishing a lasting relationship. If they’re living at home that tells me they can’t take care of themselves and I’ve already got kids, so no thanks.

Me: What are some other things you look for?

G: Do they own their own home? That’s huge for me. It tells me that they are responsible. That they can pay their own bills and take care of themselves. I don’t want to be somebody’s mommy. If they’re a renter they’re out. That may seem harsh for some people, but at this age, I want someone who’s got their shit together.

If he changes jobs a lot – he’s out. Even though I don’t want to be part of someone’s baby mama drama, the fact that he has been married before and that he has kids tells me that at least he had the faith to take a chance. If he doesn’t live near his kids, I’d question that too.

How long did they wait after their divorce to start dating again? Why did it end? Is their house or car messy? Can they clean up after themselves?

I scrutinize everything. If they say they don’t drink I’d wonder why. Are they a recovering alcoholic? I’m not interested in taking that gamble. If they aren’t currently not driving they’re out.

You can tell a lot about a person’s dating profile too. If they post a stupid picture they’re out. If they post they went to the school of hard knocks, I’m not interested. I’ll look at how they dress and what they’re doing. Do they brag a lot in their profile? That tells me they’re insecure. Can they keep up a conversation? If they can’t formulate a sentence I’m not interested.

Me: What is most important to you now?

G: Is he emotionally available? Though you’re not going to pick that up right away. Are they financially stable? Are they emotionally stable? Can I trust them? These are the things that stand out to me the most.

Me: What do you do if a guy takes too long to get back to you?

G: It’s definitely a flag. If he takes too long, I just delete and move on. I’m not interested in games and I don’t give a lot of chances.

Me: Do you worry about cutting someone off too quickly? Do you ever regret being so hasty?

G: No. If I cut them off it’s because they gave me a reason and I don’t second guess it.

Me: Do you have a checklist?

G: My process is more like a system of gates. There are some aspects of a person that aren’t going to reveal themselves right away, so it’s more like, okay you got through this gate, now there’s this criteria. They may get through the first five, but gate six will stay closed until I have some more information.

I look out for everything, every reaction, how they handle every situation. Everything is a test. How do they treat the waiter? How do they speak about their ex? How are they with their phone. Is it constantly going off? Are they getting back to me in a reasonable time frame? All of these things are important.

Choosing a partner is the most important investment you’re ever going to make so you need to take your time and you need to be sure. I’m perfectly happy by myself so as the saying goes, ‘I’m single and you’re going to have to be pretty fantastic to change that.’

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