Stay or Go: Score the guys you date with the TAO Hotness Checklist

Lately, I’ve been enjoying Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, published in 2011. The Nobel Prize winner has compiled an impressive amount of science behind how we make decisions, and why those decisions are so often faulty.

He also takes pains to show us how to bypass the faulty circuits to render better decisions. For example, evidence shows that simple but straightforward checklists work a lot better than complicated but fuzzy subjective evaluations.  For example, Dr Virginia Apgar figured out over breakfast one day that a systematic assessment of five variables of a newborn – heart rate, respiration, reflex, muscle tone, and color – and three scores (2, 1 or 0 depending on the robustness of each sign) can determine whether a baby required intervention or not. The Apgar Score has since been used millions of times and has saved the lives of countless babies.

The Apgar Score is great because it’s fast, simple and leads to action. Pink, squirming, grimacing, crying baby with a pulse of 100 and score of 8 or above? Healthy baby! No worries. Bluish, passive, floppy baby with a weak pulse? Take her to the intensive care unit stat! The checklist clarifies thinking and saves precious time. Checklists are such powerful tools that Atul Gawande wrote a whole book about them called The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

Reading this, I thought to myself, “Is there a simple set of criteria a woman could apply to someone she’s dating to determine whether she should continue or not?” And so I came up with the four-item TAO Hotness checklist:

Score the following three questions on a scale of 2 (always or nearly so), 1 (sometimes), or 0 (seldom or never):

1. Talk: Does the conversation between you flow effortlessly?

2. Answer: Does he return communication in less than 24 hours?

3. Ask Out: Does he make requests for your company in advance?

Add up the scores to those three questions (maximum= 6; minimum= 0).

Score the last question on a scale of 1 (yes) to 0 (no):

4. Hot: Does his presence physically arouse you?

Now multiply the cumulative score from questions 1-3 by the score for question 4.

I believe the guys will roughly fall into these categories:

  • If the score is 5 or 6: Continue dating this fella. He is most likely a keeper.
  • If the score is 4: Borderline situation. Give it one more date or one more week.
  • If the score is 3 or less: Time to move on.

So, for example, if a guy always calls you back within a day (2), asks you out most of the time (1) can talk to you for hours without lulls or boredom (2) and turns you on (1), his score is a 5. You should keep on seeing him.

Notice how if the same guy had everything going for him but does not turn you on, his score is 0. You’re looking for a guy to date or marry, not a brother. Do yourself and him a favor and let him go.

Notice also that the score for physical arousal can only count against a guy, not for him. Why? Because one of the main reasons good women stay in bad relationships is that the sex is good. With the score being only 1 or 0, that aspect of the relationship doesn’t get weighted too much.

Also notice that the other questions have to do with the affection flowing between you and the quality of the intellectual connection. That covers the three areas of connection you need for a relationship to flourish – head, heart and groin, if you prefer.

Now what I invite you to do is to test this system against some guys you’re dating or have dated. What scores do the guys get who didn’t work out? How about the guys you did end up dating for a while? You may also notice that the scores change – perhaps higher in the beginning, then diminishing as interest wanes.  Put down your results in the comments section below.

Categories: Dating for Women

20 Comments on “Stay or Go: Score the guys you date with the TAO Hotness Checklist”

  1. Raymond

    Your approach to quick checklist is wonderful. I want to apply this to my life. But your application to compatibility is freakin’ awesome. And scary too. I know how to talk and listen and keep the energy up, and romance well, but when it comes to returning communications…. when I’m interested, it’s a quick return. When I’m not, it’s not. Your checklist is totally accurate. Please write a similar book for men.

  2. Cassandra

    Spot on. Myself came up with a similar checklist. Not for the sex alone. The brain and non sexual emotions must come into play.

  3. Dr. LaVigne

    Hmmm…a guy can become a thousand times more attractive and desirable as his depth, compassion, emotional receptivity, sense of humor, intellect and joie de vivre are revealed. I am after more than infatuation…I want the slow burn!!!

  4. Cindy

    Does the question about whether he turns you on or not really a deal breaker even if he still scored a 5? I can’t say the sex is bad, actually really good at times. Do I look at him and want to rip his clothes off? Not really but and I can assure you I don’t talk with my brother like I do with my boyfriend. Can’t the real physical desire come later on or am I wasting my time?

    Thanks Dr. Ali. You rock!

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Cindy — great question! Notice that the question does not address intensity, but whether he turns you on at all. The point is that I don’t want you to go down the path of courtship with someone who’s not sexually compatible with you. Sounds like this guy turns you on somewhat, and that’s often enough to build on. –AB

  5. Doctor

    Good maths. Specially the last one with multiplication (and not adding) so that if the score of last question is zero, everything becomes zero.
    A guy! Great! Scores 5 on the first 3, 1 on the last one…(ya, ya, I know what you’re thinking,…!). Ok seriously. He arouses when he touches me non-sexually….So far so good….yes?

    But he has a virus.
    Do I stay or do I go?

    P.S. How beautiful of Dr. LaVigne to put it! Yes, sure, we gals want all that too! Not just blood flowing down there.

  6. Jane

    Wow… wish I’d had this tool 30 years ago ….. didn’t know what a quality relationship looked like or felt like … or even that I deserved one! Sex always got in the way ….

  7. Karen

    Spot on. My now husband? a 5. The guy before? a 3. And I had a couple “6 until question 4” dates before that (I had talked myself into going out with them because they were “great on paper”).

  8. Lauri Lumby

    Ali, another GREAT reality check! Holding out for the top score is a MUST…no more bargaining or waiting or wishing or hoping he’s going to show up. If he’s not a 5 or 6, dump his ass! ;)

  9. Nancy !

    Thumbs up ! (Ditto for the *slow burn*)
    Still, is there a thing as being too objective ? I’m having fun with a guy but he has financial and varying unresolved issues. He’s got talent and issues — borderline and I know its not going to last. Taking it one day at a time, should bounce. Thanks !

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Nancy – the whole point of the exercise is to simplify things so you can make good decisions with a clear mind. Otherwise you bring in too many data points and subjective things, and you’re not sure what to do. Simplify!

  10. Michelle

    The only problem with this quick assessment. Is my ex boyfriend got a ‘5’. But I figured out he doesn’t really like the person I am. But everything else between us was great. LOL So forward ….

  11. Bbhh

    How does it work for a long distance relationship? When he was with me, perfect scores. He is now in another country with time difference for several years. Still try to connect, but hard. Any guidance?

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      BB – That’s simple: a long-distance relationship is no relationship at all. He can’t take you out, he can’t come over, so what’s the point? And what’s this about “time difference for several years”? How long has this been going on? Go local, girl!

  12. Karyn

    Great tool! Yes we need to simplify…many of us tend to over think, causing us to ‘over stay’ the relationship….or even the early dating phase. As you’ve pointed out, it’s not doing anybody any favors. My guy – great on all the main points….AND the way he makes my heart melt just right (not too gushy) and our amazing stimulating conversation, mixed with laughter keeping it light…yes, makes me want to rip his clothes off. Luckily he feels the same.

    Now to see if we can figure out how to merge our houses, lives, etc…that’s a tricky part for some as we’re older. Frankly – it’s easy for me – tricky for him as he’s been so independent. No rush…we’ll see what happens….

    But the scoring tool? Brilliant dear Doc. xoxo

  13. NN

    I just don’t get the idea why to go to bed with anyone who doesn’t turn me on make me hot in the way I want to have sex with him.
    I have tried the way, and it just won’t work. Unless I get hot in his presence when I am with him, sex just won’t work – no matter what other good personal qualities he has. Therefore I can be selibate (and really frustrated) for ages (often over a year to 3,5 years) and then when I try someone not to my sexual taste it still won’t work. Every time I’ve done it, it hasn’t been worth the lowering my standards, no matter what how active, or how good conversations we have had beforehand – I just want to get rid of him when there is proven that there is no spark. What a let down, as sex hasn’t given me satisfaction – not even in a long relationship. I have tried that couple of times too.

    I value good sex, just as men do, and unlike most women I don’t think that friendship is what matters. Friends are the ones one doesn’t have sex with. Good sex makes me mellow.
    Relationship has to have regular good satisfying O producing sex, or it is not for me.

    Too bad only 1/50 -1/100 men are at all to my sexual taste, and sure enough they almost never have in free status, and they are always faithful to their spouse.

    Which means that out of 8 partners that I have had in my 44 years only 2 have been sexually satisfying the way i feel satisfied. All other 6 have been self abuse that I should have known to stay away from, as they were satisfied and I just thought that “friendship” should be enough.
    Never again that trap that wastes my life, I am rather single and frustrated than in a relationship that has no future but it is hard to break to leave. That hopelessness of dead end relationship is deadly.

    I guess I am a man, I want my partners to be in perfect health (=virile and pretty). And everything starts with that, rest comes after Sexual attraction works -or there is no relationship to start with.

    1. Rosie

      Yes of course sexual attraction is critical for a sexual relationship! Dr Ali’s point is that many of us get distracted by that into relationships that don’t work well in any other sustainable way, and that will kill the attraction anyway in time.

      If you are a man who finds you can’t attract the women you fancy, go do some learning! there’s plenty out there on how to become a man that high quality women (however YOU define that) will find attractive. Put some effort in and you will succeed. Dr Ali teaches men too.

  14. EVE

    As with many scientific tools of measurement, they can be used as a guide for evaluation. The one guy I tested had the T and A with mutual physical attraction. However, initially he had the O, then it faded. He got me hooked emotionally then backed off. Maybe there could be a letter for that or a timeline…thanks for the help!

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