How to best respond to the accusation.

Picture this: someone (maybe you know them, or maybe you just met) asks you, “What are you looking for?” Of course, you’ve given this question much thought. You’ve learned that if you give the standard answer, no one will know more about you than the next person. So you take a deep breath, look them in the eye, and reply, “I’m looking for someone who says what s/he does and does what s/he says. Of course, all the basics too – someone with good character traits, who matches me Jewishly. And please, no smokers.”

And what response do you get to your thoughtful reply? Usually something along the lines of: “You’re so picky!”

Picky? They asked what you want, you thought about it, tried to articulate what you wanted clearly…and for that you get called picky? Some nerve!

What happens next? Some people just smile and take the hit; others mouth off and unload what’s really on their mind. I posed this question online – How do you respond to the accusation that you’re too picky? – and received over 30 responses. Some were funny, some sarcastic, some serious.

Let’s take a look at a some of the thoughtful answers to “You’re so picky.”

The long answer:

  • “I know myself and I have decided that these interests, whether primary or peripheral, are not negotiable. It is in everyone’s best interest that I shouldn’t compromise too much of my own interests or I will not be marrying the person I think I am marrying.”

The shortest answer:

  • Why give anyone the satisfaction of a reply? Just walk away and don’t respond.

The answers that fight back:

  • “Who are you to judge?”
  • “Yes I am! I’m also confident, charming, and beautiful – and you?”
  • “I’m choosy – making a choice for life.”
  • “I choose not to ‘settle.’”
  • “You’re too judgmental!”
  • “It is a big decision; you should be picky.”
  • “That’s why it’s called ‘finding the one.’”
  • “There’d be a problem if I wasn’t. Have you seen what’s out there!?”
  • “If I want your opinion, then I’ll ask for it.”
  • “I have an idea of someone who can babysit your kids. They have never babysat before, I’m not even sure if they like kids, and I really don’t know them – but hey, what’s a few hours? No? Well, as a parent, you’re being way too picky.”

The self-confident answers:

  • “Thank you!”
  • “I know myself and my needs. I don’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s.”
  • “I’ve worked on getting to know myself and this is what best complements me in my life.”
  • “Well, were you picky about who you married? If not…can I tell your spouse?”

The Imelda Marcos answers:

  • “We’re not talking about buying a pair of shoes here…I’m making one of the most important and, God willing, life-long decisions!”
  • “I think Cher Horowitz from Clueless said it best: ‘You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet!’ Picky isn’t always a bad thing; being unrealistic is.”

My favorite answer:

  • “My friend thought I was so picky when I was dating that she dragged me to see someone to figure out what I was doing wrong. After telling him about my life for a few minutes and expecting to hear more about how I was creating this situation myself, he just shrugged and said, ‘Nothing is wrong with you. You just haven’t found the right person yet.’”

I believe that what people are really saying when they say, “You’re so picky” is this: “It sounds like you know what you want. I don’t know anyone like that. Why not just settle for the guy or girl down the block that I know? S/he is nice and normal.”

Often people want to help, but don’t know how. And sometimes they hurt more than help. In addition, I know that people who really love you just want to see you happy, and seeing that you haven’t yet found what you want hurts them too. They have good intentions, but instead of saying, “Wow, it seems like you have your priorities straight and know what you want,” they blurt out, “You’re so picky.”

Jewish wisdom tells us to try and look with a good eye. Try to see where these comments are coming from. Realize that most people want the best for you, and just didn’t express themselves well at that moment.

Sometimes there is truth to “You’re so picky” charge. Too picky is when you lack the cognitive flexibility to explore, within reason, something that doesn’t fit every aspect of your criteria. Having preferences is normal; turning your every preference into an absolute is picky.

If you’re hearing, “You’re too picky” too often, investigate. My first suggestion is to make sure you know what you really want. People who aren’t sure what they want often just start to list things. The list can be long and is often not well thought out or prioritized. If that’s the case, you might sound picky, but the truth is that you’re just not articulating what you want effectively. Think before you speak. Who are you? What do you really want and how can you say it in a way that makes sense to others?

Judaism recognizes that our mouth has two gates: the lips and the teeth. Before you open your mouth to share about yourself, remember to be doubly cautious. If you’re really not sure what to say, remain silent until you’ve figured yourself out. And if you need help articulating what you mean, ask a loving friend to help you come up with what to say.

If, however, you have given all this real thought and have on your list things like, “I want someone who is a size 2,” or, “I want someone who has blue eyes,” then yes, you are being picky. If you prefer someone who is thin or fit, why not say that? (And if you prefer that, I would also hope you match what you are looking for!)

There are only a few genuine absolutes to your list. Many are just preferences. You can say you prefer X, while still leaving room for the possibility that your soul mate is not that. A preference leaves room for flexibility and options that are not on your list. If most items on your list are absolute, that’s counterproductive as it doesn’t leave room for something outside your box.

Has anyone ever said to you, “You’re so picky”? How did you respond? Hindsight is 20/20; if you didn’t like what you said, what would you want to say now, having thought about it? Let me know in the comment section below.

May you have clarity when you meet your soul mate, and may you be picky in all the right ways.

By Aleeza Ben Shalom

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