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Q I hear a lot of conflicting advice: some people say it’s very important to have a detailed “checklist” of all the things   you want with respect to a partner, while other people warn me that a checklist not only doesn’t help, but can hurt your chances of finding someone. So what do you think? Is a list a good or bad thing?

A As a matchmaker and dating coach to highly selective men and women searching for their partner, I can tell you that this is a very common question among commitment-minded people.

In my opinion, creating a list can be a productive asset in your search for a life partner if done with a mindset that serves you; and can be a counterproductive liability in your search as well. I think that is one of the reasons there seems to be so much conflicting advice out there. So let’s talk about what I mean by that.

I strongly believe that gaining a high-level of clarity regarding what kind of relationship you seek is an important starting point in your search for a partner.

For some people, a list can serve as a constructive tool in gaining and maintaining a high-level of clarity.

If you do choose to create a list, make sure it’s a list which will serve you by expanding rather than limiting your pool of potential partners.

How do you do that?

Ask yourself three questions:

First, ask yourself the “why” behind every item on your list

For example, if your list says your partner must have a certain degree or be part of a certain profession:

•    Ask yourself exactly which qualities underlie that particular requirement

•    Could it be that you associate a certain level of intellect with those professions? If so, keep in mind that the level of intellect you seek may be found in partners working in a wide variety of careers, including those which require less formal education.

•    Perhaps you associate those degrees with a proven ability to work hard or persevere—what other accomplishments may indicate these abilities?

•    Ask yourself whether the why speaks to your own needs, as opposed to your perception of others’ expectations.

Second, ask yourself—who or what do I have to be to attract a partner having the qualities on my list? Consider that finding the right partner involves being the right partner.

Third, since happily married people have often found their spouses in packages different from that which they envisioned, make sure your list does not foreclose the possibility of a partner in an unexpected package.

Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio, a monthly lifestyle show.

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