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Dating and Appearance

True or false: “You shouldn’t judge by appearances.”

Most people would answer “true.” That’s the politically correct response, to be sure. And it certainly is true in some situations. But what about when you’re dating someone new?


Imagine that a new restaurant opens in your neighborhood featuring cuisine you’ve always wanted to try. You make plans to check it out. The first thing you notice as you approach the place is that all the windows are smudged and dusty. That’s strange, you think, since it is clearly open for business. Stepping inside, you’re greeted by a hostess wearing no makeup, whose hair looks like a windblown haystack. Her running sweats complete the impression that she rolled out of bed only minutes ago. She offers you your choice of tables, but all the unoccupied ones are covered with dirty dishes. The floor needs a good sweeping too.

An establishment like that shouldn’t be surprised if it has a hard time attracting and keeping customers. It’s a clear case of cause and effect. In theory, the kitchen could be spotless. The chef could be a veritable Michelangelo of culinary creativity. But are you likely to take a chance and find out? Probably not. You’ll seek out someplace better tended—as well you should!

Yet people hoping to form lasting romantic relationships sometimes fail to see the connection between the image they present to potential partners and their rate of success. If others have a way of passing you by after a first look, here are some things you might need to tidy up about yourself:

Clothing. Don’t misunderstand. Your clothes need not be expensive. Some of the most fashionable people shop exclusively at thrift stores and consignment shops. The point is to be sure you are dressed in such a way as to always have your best foot forward. Resist the temptation to wear your tattered old sweatpants to the bagel shop Saturday morning, no matter how comfortable or convenient it is. Furthermore, be sure what you wear is clean and unwrinkled!

Car. Think back to a time when someone offered you a ride—and then spent five minutes excavating the passenger seat of dirty laundry, fast food debris, file folders from work, and who knows what other fossilized artifacts of life in the fast lane. No matter how apologetic the person was, what impression did you inevitably form about his personal habits and discipline? Now picture your own car (yes, the backseat counts). See any room for improvement?

Crash pad … uh, home. Tonight take a good look at the house or apartment where you live. Try seeing it through the eyes of someone visiting for the first time. What do those piles of magazines say about you? That sink full of dishes? The layer of dust on every surface? If you don’t like what you see, throw open the windows, get out the scrub brush, and get to work.

You never know who is watching or when romantic opportunity will knock. Make an effort to appear ready for today to be that day.