A couple in bed, the woman shrugs her shoulders, the man wears a paper bag over his head

Should you date out of your league?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - August 4, 2011

We don’t really talk about it, but everyone has – or should have – an idea of their dating ‘league’. But should you ever date someone who’s out of your league?

You’ve seen it a thousand times in films – a hot girl gets together with a very ordinary guy (usually a ‘nerd’) and through a journey of discovery she learns to love him and realise looks aren’t everything.  A fun idea, and great to watch with a big tub of popcorn, but that’s not really reflective of everyday life.

The fact is that no one wants to be in that couple. You know them. They’re the couple you meet where you wonder ‘how the heck did he/she end up with him/her?!’ She might be far richer than him, or maybe he is more obviously attractive than her. Or perhaps one of them is just far, far more enigmatic and engaging than the other. But whatever the combination, no one wants to provoke that reaction when they turn up somewhere with their partner.

This might sound shallow, but relationship equality is actually very important. If a couple bring equal amounts of positive qualities to a relationship then they will be more stable, and ultimately happier. Does this mean that when you’re searching through your matches you should dismiss someone you deem to have a better job, a better life or a better body than you? No, but you should bear these five principles in mind:

1.    Relationships are about making deals
This might sound a bit clinical, but bear with us as this is the best way to explain this concept. A relationship is like a business deal. When you’re looking for a partner you want someone who brings as many good qualities to the table as you. You might be able to do different things for each other too, but the partnership needs to be mutually beneficial. No business would accept a partner that doesn’t bring much to the table, why should you?

2.    Assess what you bring to the table
When it comes to relationships, what qualities do you offer? If it helps, write an honest list. This isn’t an ego-massaging exercise so don’t just list your positive qualities, but neither is it an ego deflating exercise so don’t just list your negative points either. By knowing exactly what you offer in a relationship you can make a more informed decision about just who is in your league.

3.    Learn to read people quickly
As well as being self-aware about your own qualities, it’s important that you can assess a potential partner’s qualities quickly. Some people are very obviously great at sports, naturally funny and creative, but most people have more subtle qualities – and some more than others. If you can identify these qualities, or lack of qualities, quickly you’ll be able to assess whether you really are looking at someone out of your league or not.

4.    It’s not just about hotness
When we talk about someone’s positive qualities we’re not just talking about whether they look good on the beach or not.  Yes, your average bar conversation referring to someone as a ‘10’ or a ‘5’ will be focused solely on looks, but that’s not what meaningful relationships are about. That rating doesn’t take into account the subjectivity of looks, or the person’s sense of humour, dependability, intelligence etc.

5.    Make sure everyone’s a winner
Both people in a relationship should feel like they got a great deal. No one should feel they’ve been conned in their choice of partner. You should feel like a winner for choosing your partner, and your partner should feel like a winner for choosing you, it’s as simple as that.

Ultimately it’s not a simple question of saying ‘that person is out of my league’ or ‘I’m out of that person’s league’. It’s about evaluating each person you come across and working out whether or not you’d make a great partnership. Looks will always be part of the decision, we’re not going to deny otherwise, but you’re fooling yourself if that’s as far as your assessment goes.

Do you think you’ve ever dated out of your league? Tell us in the comments below!