What I Thought I Wanted in a Woman 9 Years Ago (and What Has Changed)

Nine years ago, I was 29 years old, and I was in full dating mode. I had ended two back-to-back, long-term relationships with great women, and after participating in several online dating sites, I thought I figured out exactly what I wanted in a woman.

So I did what anyone would do: I created a 25-question survey and linked to it in a blog entry.

This blog only gets a few hundred views a day, most of them for older posts and odd Google searches, so I was surprised when 133 women filled out the survey (results here). I think a few of them even ended up contacting me, which was very flattering.

Flash forward to 2019. While I feel like I haven’t changed much (except for hopefully some maturity and definitely some grey hair), my life has changed quite a bit. I basically gave up dating when Stonemaier Games started taking up 80 hours of my week.

But recently on a whim I decided to look back at the infamous survey to see what types of questions it contained and how I feel about them now. I no longer have access to the results of the survey, but the questions themselves are live. Below I’ll go through each question very briefly to show a summary of the answers I was hoping for in 2010 and if they’re still the same.

  1. Do you like cats? (2010 answer: yes; 2019 answer: yes) I still have 2 cats, and it would be exceptionally difficult to date someone who didn’t like cats.
  2. How much makeup do you wear? (2010: none or just a little; 2019: none or just a little) This is a bit superficial, and I respect that every woman finds self-confidence in different ways. But I also acknowledge that we all have weird things that turn us on or off, and makeup is a turnoff for me.
  3. Do you drink? (2010: every now and then; 2019: I don’t care) I enjoy having a touch of alcohol from time to time, but it’s quite rare–it’s not part of my social life anymore. So I think it would only be an issue if it were a huge part of my girlfriend’s social life.
  4. Do you smoke? (2010: no; 2019: no) I’ve never had any interest in dating a smoker.
  5. How tall are you? (2010: 5’7″ or less; 2019: 5’7″ or less) I’m sure it is possible that I could fall for a taller woman, but it is my superficial preference that she be shorter than I (I’m 5’10”).
  6. How old are you? (2010: 22-33 years old; 2019: in your 30s?) This question made me laugh, as it’s literally based on my age at the time I wrote the survey. I wouldn’t say that age is a particularly important factor to me at this point; rather, the tables have turned.
  7. You have 20 minutes before you need to fall asleep. What do you do? (2010: read in bed; 2019: read in bed) I read in bed every night before I fall asleep–it’s how I like to wind down in the evening. However, I wouldn’t call this a dealbreaker. I just don’t want a TV in the bedroom.
  8. Do you have a creative passion? (2010: yes; 2019: any hobby is fine) I think this was important to me in 2010 because I had dated a few women who had careers but no hobbies or passions they actively pursued. So, as someone with several creative passions, I sometimes felt like I was forced to choose between those passions and my girlfriend, whereas I think they may have better understood the satisfaction I derived from my passions if they had their own.
  9. If a boyfriend tells you he’s not mad, what do you do? (2010: believe him; 2019: believe him) I really appreciate when people take my words at face value, especially a girlfriend. However, I have learned that there were times that I said I wasn’t mad yet I actually was feeling something…I just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. So I think I could have responded more honestly in those tense moments as well.
  10. Over the last month, on average, how many times have you worked out or exercised each week? (2010: 3-4 times; 2019: 2-5 times) I appreciate when sometime takes care of themselves. Though I wouldn’t say this question is hugely important to me now, as I’ve learned that there are lots of little ways to try to stay healthy.
  11. What’s the key to a great kisser? (2010: awareness of the other person; 2019: awareness and desire) I think that pretty much sums it up!
  12. How much time do you spend at your boyfriend’s side at a party where you both know people? (2010: 1-39%; 2019: 10-30%) Parties aren’t a big part of my life now, so this question is more applicable to gatherings (like game nights). Honestly, at a game night, it’s completely possible that I may not end up playing any games with a girlfriend, and I’d like her to be okay with that. I still want to interact with her while other people are around–I just want to avoid clingy situations.
  13. Someone tries to join a group of people talking in a circle. What do you do? (2010: casually step back to give the person room to join the circle; 2019: same) This is an odd question, but it’s another example of awareness. I’m VERY attracted to women who are aware of the people around them.
  14. What temperature do you like to keep your house? (2010: 75-80 degrees; 2019: 68-74 degrees) My temperature preferences have significantly changed as I’ve grown older. I wouldn’t quite call this a dealbreaker, but I think there has to be some sort of common ground here.
  15. It’s game night. Which would you be most excited about playing? (2010: Settlers of Catan; 2019: SO MANY GAMES) This question made me smile too, as Catan was one of the first modern games I’ve played…and now I’ve played hundreds of games and have a vast variety of games to choose from at game night. The key for me is that because gaming is such a big part of my life, I really do think I could only date a gamer (or someone who is excited by the possibility of learning and playing a variety of games).
  16. Can you throw a Frisbee or football at least 25 yards? (2010: yes; 2019: what?) You gotta have a pretty good arm to throw a football 25 yards! I think I was hoping to find someone I could be active with in the park or at the beach. But that’s also what friends are for. I’d say that it would be nice to be with someone who can at least throw a frisbee, but the exact range isn’t important.
  17. Do you have–or want–a TV in your bedroom? (2010: no; 2019: no) Even more so in 2019 than back then, there are so many screens in our lives. I’d like to keep the TV (and the laptop and ipad and phone) out of the bedroom if possible. But maybe even that will change over time. I do like snuggling up to watch a movie…but I have a perfectly good couch for that.
  18. Which of these aspects of a relationship is the most important to you? (2010: conversation; 2019: conversation, sexual, compatibility) The “wrong” answer to this question was “compatibility (music, movies, etc),” though at this point I even see value in that. I love movies, and it would be a little difficult to date someone who really wasn’t interested in movies. I think the core idea of what I was saying in 2010 is I want someone with whom I genuinely enjoy talking about anything and everything; that’s still true today.
  19. What do you do if it’s late at night and there’s something on your mind regarding the relationship? (2010: don’t say anything until the next day; 2019: probably the same) The key here is that I’ve never, ever had a healthy or productive relationship-level conversation when it’s late at night and we’re really tired. It just seems disrespectful to the entire relationship to insist upon talking then. I’d much rather sleep on it and have a healthy, caring discussion about it the next day.
  20. How many tattoos do you have? (2010: 0-2; 2019: about the same) I don’t have any tattoos, and I’ve found my attraction towards someone starts to dip the more tattoos they have. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, and it’s a hard line to draw. So I’d say it really just depends on the woman.
  21. What would your friends say about you? (2010: that you’re a happy person; 2019: there are many answers to this) The key I was looking for here was that I had just gotten out of a long relationship with someone whose default demeanor was mopey and sad. I really struggled with that. I don’t walk around blissfully happy all the time, but I want to be with someone who is generally pretty positive.
  22. What do you do if your boss consistently gives you a hard time at work? (2010: vent to your friends, schedule a time with your boss, look for another job; 2019: take an active role in improving your life) I want to be there for my friends and lovers, but I’m not a therapist, and I don’t like being used as one on a regular basis. I think this probably stemmed from some specific relationships as well.
  23. Do you have irreconcilable rules about who you can or cannot date based on race or religion? (2010: no; 2019: no but…) When I was online dating, I found it instantly unattractive if someone’s profile said that they won’t date someone who is X race or they’ll only date someone who is X religion (or vice versa). It just seemed kind of, well, racist. I’m certainly interested in someone’s values, morals, and ethics, but I’m not going to entirely ignore them just because their faith or skin tone is different than mine–I want to get to know them first.
  24. Which of these sentences is grammatically correct? (2010: see the survey; 2019: good grammar is still important to me) As I discussed recently, I don’t care about typos (I’m sure there’s a typo somewhere in this post). But you should have seen the wording of some of the messages I received during my online dating days…. There are probably exceptions to this–there are some very intelligent people out there who don’t know how to properly compose a sentence–but good grammar is much more attractive to me than poor grammar.
  25. If we’re dating and I start to physically (and consentually) flirt with you while we’re watching a show that we’re both enjoying, how do you respond? (2010: enjoy the touch as you continue watching the show; 2019: enjoy the touch and tease back) Both back then and now, I really enjoy flirting and the sexual tension it creates, especially with someone I care about (and who cares about me). I like it to go both ways, and I rarely actually need/want it to lead to a full-blown sex-fest. This continues to be a preference of mine, though I definitely see the importance in having strong chemistry with a girlfriend.

Okay! That took a little longer than I thought, but if you’re still with me, thanks for traveling back in time to 2010 with me. I’m trying to think of any questions I would add to the list now. Oh! Yes. During those dating days, I found that I simply am not built for a long-distance relationship. Or even a medium-distance relationship. So that would be a dealbreaker for me. I also think I don’t want to have kids. That’s changed a lot over the years, and it’s not a responsibility I want to take on–I’m happy just being an uncle.

How have you changed over the last 9 years in terms of what you value in a significant other, perhaps specifically in terms of some of these questions?

3 Responses to “What I Thought I Wanted in a Woman 9 Years Ago (and What Has Changed)”

  1. Joe Pilkus says:


    That’s fascinating! I was married for 14 years, and over that time, I found that she was much more work-driven than relationship-driven. I loved going to work as I enjoyed both what I did everyday and my colleagues. However, it never (and still doesn’t) consume my waking hours. In my current job, while important, I’m not saving kids in Darfur or coming-up with the cure for cancer. I work generally 8-9 hours a day and due to my 90-min+ round trip to work, I also zealously embrace my annual leave. More importantly, I have a hobby which allows to me to meet new people, work with some of the best folks in the industry, and have a creative outlet.

    Following my marriage, I dated the same woman whom I had met at work and we had a wonderful relationship, but over time, I found that she too lacked a creative outlet and that she hadn’t really enjoyed playing games either. Now, my relationship of 14 months I have someone who is engaging and has a number of fiends and family members in my home town (Philly) and she enjoys gaming (while not nearly as much as me, but she has a better win record than me) and travel.

    Have my tastes changed…yes, most definitely, but I still look for some of the most basic things ~ are you a good, happy, educated woman, who happens to enjoy gaming?


    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks for sharing, Joe! I like the dual aspects of (a) a person’s changing tastes and (b) how we continue to get to know ourselves better over the years. I’m glad you found someone with whom you connect on many levels!

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