I had a type for who I wanted to date when I was younger, so much so that if you lined up my exes, you could mistake them for cousins.
Then I grew up. I still dated men that were my type, but when I started living abroad and getting into my late twenties, I found myself straying from those characteristics in a partner.
My type for men suddenly became more fluid, until one day I realized that maybe this belief system wasn’t actually serving me.
Having a type is like having a checklist—it’s bullet points of what your ideal partner should be like, ranging from physical characteristics to childhood upbringing to personal beliefs. If someone deviates from the checklist, then that means they’re not right for you.
I blame dating folklore and watching shows like Sex and the City a bit too much for making us believe this dating habit is healthy. While it’s good to look for morals and other internal qualities in a person, a checklist beyond that could be holding you back from finding someone great.
Today, I’m with a man that’s very different from the type of guy I insisted on dating in my early twenties. Back then, I would’ve looked past his nerdy demeanor and thin physique. Now, he’s the man that makes me happiest in this crazy world.
Letting go of my dating type was the best decision I ever made for myself.
Here are a few reasons having a type could be doing you more harm than good in the world of love.
1. It focuses too much on physical qualities
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine from high school. She told me about a man she met through a group of friends.
“He’s incredibly attentive, always texts me back, and is really sweet,” she explained, “but he’s just not my type at all.” I inquired what she meant by that and was met with a slew of his physical characteristics.
While attraction is part of the equation when it comes to dating, believing it is only created through physical characteristics can severely limit your dating pool.
Opening yourself up to people that look different from your previous romantic partners could mean relationships that are unlike anything you’ve experienced in the past. Plus, studies show that certain qualities in a person, ones that take getting to know them better, will increase their attractiveness to you.
2. You can’t actually know what you want until you’ve experienced it
You may think you want someone spontaneous like you. But actually, a person that’s a bit more grounded and practical may be the perfect balance for you.
Our brains can’t determine what makes us happy until we experience it. Our current beliefs are just shaped by past experiences and what we see from people around us and in the media. There’s no way for us to know what all could make us happy.
Your list may be comprised of qualities you may think would make you happy, but you’re closing yourself off from qualities in a person that could make you exponentially happier.
3. You’ll never come across a perfect person
Perfectionism and dating never mix well; all humans have their faults and slip-ups. If your checklist for a partner is too specific, you’re going to be continually let down when no person meets all the marks. What’s more, “perfect” isn’t even a standard that any person could achieve.
We’re all imperfect human beings. But love is about finding someone that cares for us regardless of those imperfections.
Just like you wouldn’t want to be held to a strict, high standard by your lover, the same goes for how you view your partner. Allow for some wiggle room in who your ideal partner could be. Feeling unconditionally accepted in a relationship creates the strongest bonds.
4. Your type is going to change constantly
So why bother?
Like I said earlier, you don’t know what you want until you experience it. Dating is all about trial and error. You may think you love a person with a ton of energy, but when you date someone like this, you realize it’s pretty exhausting.
If you realize your type has changed over the years, chances are it’s going to change again. So if this notion is so unstable, then why bother hanging on to it?
There are some parts of your type you should hold on to, though
Not every part of a type is holding you back from love.
Qualities that focus on someone’s character and morals should still be upheld. If you’re kind-hearted and value the same in a partner, then by all means, continue to pursue these characteristics.
I never let go of the fact I needed a partner that made me laugh and could laugh at themselves. Life is too short not to be laughing along the way.
But there’s a difference between placing too much attention on superficial qualities — looks, status, wealth — and wanting your partner to be a solid, likable person.
The takeaway here is this: Be open to being surprised. Don’t allow a checklist you created years ago to keep you from experiencing something new in love.
If you haven’t found someone that’s right for you yet, then maybe your type is what’s holding you back.
Go and date out of your comfort zone.