My current boyfriend is not my type at all. After a string of Millenial Pablo Nerudas, Cajun poker players, and at least one saxophonist who lives in a treehouse, I was taken aback to find myself compelled by a cyber security consultant with a penchant for lifting and who drives a responsible Chevy Equinox.
As a dating coach, I’m abundantly clear on the fact that more often than not, our dating patterns are unconscious. We blunder about repeating history with our choices and behaviors, expecting to see different outcomes and not understanding why we aren’t. I wasn’t fully aware that I even had a type until I took stock and realized that the overwhelming majority of my former flames have been a grungy, anti-establishment Sonic Youth worshippers with accents. Oops.
There are many unknowns on the quest for love, so it’s understandable that we seek some sense of control in the familiarity of dating people who remind us of those we’ve dated before. But in sticking to a type, we run the risk of having each relationship be a watered down reference to another. Which is pretty much the least romantic thing I can think of, aside from Juan Pablo’s season of “The Bachelor.”
If you’re still not convinced, stick with me.
Summer is the time to try new things.
’Tis the season to throw caution to the muggy wind and do things you wouldn’t normally do when the sunshine and the aperol spritzes don’t have you feeling some type of way. Like wear culottes. Or say yes to a rendezvous with someone who doesn’t resemble all of your exes. “I met my girlfriend on a beach trip with my friends last summer,” says Joe, 27. “She’s not someone I usually would have gone for, but there was something about relaxing at the ocean that made me more open to getting to know her than I probably would’ve been if I’d met her in my everyday routine. It’s been a great relationship, and I’m really glad I gave it a chance.” The dog days are for enjoying yourself, and there are few things more enjoyable than strolling and sharing gelato with someone unexpected.
You’ll break unhelpful patterns.
“There is a high probability that ‘having a type’ is holding you back from the relationship that you want,” says relationship coach Theora Moench. That’s why she favors embracing the unknown in love, which means “letting go of past assumptions about who we think we want to date, usually because our old selves have picked bad matches in the past.” Maybe you think you want someone career-driven, but you keep choosing partners who are more committed to their work than they are to you. Or maybe you’ve always seen yourself with a free spirit, but you’re tired of being dumped when the spirit to move somewhere new compels them. “By repeating the same patterns over and over, you’re not even giving yourself a chance to succeed,” says matchmaker Amy Van Doran. “Clearly whatever you’ve been doing hasn’t worked for you, so why not try something new?”
You’ll challenge your biases.
In my professional experience, I’ve noticed that when someone only wants to date one type of person, it’s usually because they’re overly concerned with how their relationship looks from the outside. “After college, I started to notice how judgmental I was being of anyone who wasn’t part of my elite liberal arts bubble,” says Laura, 28. “I don’t think I would have dated any of the people I have in the last few years if I hadn’t checked myself and realized that my assumptions about people who didn’t go to a ‘prestigious’ university were not nice or accurate, and were also really limiting my love life.” Challenging your biases about groups of people is a surefire way to improve your love life, not to mention become a better person. “As a Christian, dating a Pagan girl exposed me to a lot of people I normally wouldn’t have met,” says Barrett, 23. “It really broadened my world and helped me develop empathy.”
You’ll open yourself up to more possibilities.
Expanding your options in dating isn’t only more realistic than trying to build-a-bear a partner, it’s also more fun. “I realized that having a type created the fantasy that there’s a magical guy who’s perfect for me. This caused me to deny everyone else a chance,” says Rose, 23. “There have been plenty of great guys who were into me, and I said no because of superficial reasons.” Instead of creating an extensive list of must-haves that limits your options, dating coach Tripp Kramer recommends using three and only three non-negotiables as a guideline to filter out people you know it won’t work out with. These can be “anything from a personality trait to a value [someone] holds,” he says. “Any more than three and you’re trying to find a unicorn.”
It’ll be an adventure.
Think about it — would dating really be any fun if it were predictable? If you’re craving an adventure this summer, save the airfare to Montenegro and Like someone outside of your wheelhouse of experience instead. Better yet, fall for that person and then go to Montenegro together. Double the adventure, double the fun.