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‘Would I Want to Date Me?’

Give Your Love Life a Boost with Some Honest Self-Appraisal.

“Know thyself.” Nobody knows for sure which ancient Greek philosopher first uttered this famous phrase. But whoever he was—Socrates, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, or a list of others you’ve never heard of—he has the honor of authoring one of the most widely quoted aphorisms of all time.

Sadly, it is also among the most ignored. Although it’s certain he didn’t have modern dating in mind at the time, the phrase is especially helpful when applied to the process of finding and keeping a romantic partner in life.

The truth is, most people approach dating like big-game hunters on safari. We imagine the perfect partner prowling out there in the “wild,” waiting to be captured. We become experts on their habits and habitat.

As beneficial and fun as that can be, it is only half of what it takes to win the real prize of lasting romance. Having asked and answered the question “What do I want in a partner?” it is then time to take up the more important (and more difficult) task of wondering, “Am I the perfect partner for someone else—or as near to it as I can be?”

Let’s be clear: This does not mean asking yourself if you look like someone who could appear in InStyle magazine. That pop culture version of “perfection” is not the idea at all. Rather, we are recommending you take a 3-D look at your life—your personality and priorities—to assess your strengths and honestly address your weaknesses. Like most things worth doing, the potential benefit is proportional to how hard you are determined to work at it.

Here are some places to start digging:

Attitude. This word has a lot of uses: to describe resentful or antagonistic behavior in someone; or to express that sense of self-confidence and style many people bring to everything they do. Essentially, attitude is your overall temperament, your demeanor and disposition, the way your personality looks from the outside.

Everyone enters adult life with a particular outlook—optimistic, skeptical, trusting, or guarded. But that doesn’t mean you are stuck there forever. It is possible to consciously alter the way you see the world and interact with other people. But why should you? Well, the fact is, some attitudes are easier to be around than others. When dating, your potential partners want to know how you view life. Do you think the glass is half full or perpetually half empty? Are you humble or self-centered? Laidback or uptight? Take a snapshot of your public persona and ask yourself: Would I be attracted to me?

Lifestyle. Here is where the self-assessment rubber meets the road. The nuts and bolts of how you live day to day say more about who you are than a hundred late-night philosophical conversations. This is where your potential partner will learn things like your relationship to drugs and alcohol, your attitudes about money, whether your house is tidy or trashed, how you spend your free time. You can be certain your date is examining these things and more, so why not try to see yourself through his or her eyes beforehand?

Goals. Dating, especially when you’re considering a serious relationship, is the art of mental projection. We visualize what life would be like should we choose to live it together. But that isn’t just guesswork. Your goals today are predictive of where you and your partner might be headed in a long-term relationship.

Here’s the most important question to ask yourself: Do I have specific goals or am I treading water? We are not talking about lofty, pie-in-the-sky ambitions unlikely to ever be accomplished. But a healthy vision of achievement and self-improvement is a clear sign that you won’t settle for a stagnant future.

Appearance. True, just a moment ago we pointed out that self-assessment goes much deeper than your looks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stack the deck in your favor by doing the most with what you’ve got. Research shows time after time that a top dating turn-off is “poor hygiene and grooming.” Take pride in your appearance…and potential partners will take notice of you. Put your best foot forward every time you leave the house and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

When dating, everyone is searching for the X-factor, the elusive spark that ignites lasting romance. Consider the possibility that this isn’t just magic after all—but also the ripe fruit of “knowing yourself” and being the best you can be.

So, would you want to date you? Why or why not?