DATING DEJA VU?
Humans typically operate via behavioural patterns, this is particularly important when we make decisions, judgments, and acquire knowledge. Most of us have a preference for everything — whether it's a favourite colour, favourite restaurant, favourite brand of clothing; our lives are spent searching for and discovering the things we love, and when we finally do, changing these set opinions doesn't happen easily, even when it comes to dating.
HMM... THEY'RE NOT REALLY MY TYPE
When we date, I suspect at some point in our lives the majority of us are/were drawn to a certain "type" of person. In my teens it was all about the hoodrat "bad boys", in my 20s I liked tall, brunette guys who were in great physical shape with assertive, masculine energy. Now that I've reached my 30s, I've dated enough people to know what I definitely don't want. I've become a lot more open minded and can tell ya, looks can only get someone so far! Being selective these days has never been easier with the abundance of dating apps and websites, matchmakers, and singles events, all at our disposal— we even have the ability to filter by lifestyle, interests, and physical traits. While it's totally fine to have a type, it's worth looking back at your relationship success rate. Whatever your preferences have been up to this point, you may want to reconsider your screening prerequisites and recognise that dating someone who isn't your typical type can be quite beneficial. In fact, I've read through plenty of articles before writing this piece, and many industry experts say it can actually be the key to developing a meaningful, fulfilling relationship.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Well, I think he was on to something here because I remember going through a phase of having "revolving door" relationships (sometimes not even making the cut of a relationship, rather... a situationship). I was dating people with the same kind of looks and personality traits, over and over! Looking back, it was obvious this "ideal person" I was gravitating towards was anything but ideal. Hindsight is a beautiful thing isn't it?
I guess the issue wasn't so much the superficial aspect, you know, going for these fine ass looking dudes. The issue was my tendency to go for guys who ended up treat me like sh*t! Yes, we all know what happens when we ignore red flags, try to convince ourselves they'll change, pouring everything into their cups rather than our own... but why do we clown ourselves by continuing to put ourselves through the BS? And why does it take so long to recognise our repeating patterns? It's only taken me bloody 15 years! Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Natalie Powell explained that we're shaped by our own frames of reference throughout our upbringings and social experiences with others. The early attachments with our primary caregivers (usually parents) will form the basis of how we form relationships with others. We therefore go for "types" that are familiar to us – that is, patterns of interaction that we have experienced regularly before – even if these patterns aren't particularly healthy for us! For example, the combination of loosing my dad at quite a young age and growing up in "typical" Asian household (ie. not good at expressing emotions, not affectionate, lots of tough love) was always going to have an impact on me later in life. Without even knowing, I'd suppressed these deep-seated issues over the years and found myself developing a special talent for attracting guys who presented themselves as sensitive, successful, and super switched on (at first), only to reveal they were emotionally unavailable. I went on for ages not realising that I was dating the same kind of person who couldn't/wouldn't commit, or I'd be in a relationship (turned into a "project") where I was always focused on fixing them. My desire to be taken care of and have a reliable man in my life was the "goal" that took precedence above everything else, the attempt to seek a potential mate who could fulfil the "role" was often to the detriment of myself.
DATING A "TYPE" IS LIMITING
I must highlight, I'm not telling you to lower your standards or settle for mediocre, but being open to giving others a chance can only be a positive thing. Besides how do you know if you won't like someone if you're dismissing them right off the bat? If we reduce the dating pool to those who only meet our strict criteria, our odds of meeting someone who also possesses the personality traits that are crucial to lasting happiness will decrease. Based on my last few dates, here are a few other reasons to consider dating diffrently... ROOM FOR SURPRISE You might have the time of your life with this person, perhaps even discover a side of yourself you didn't know was there. Going for someone who isn't your usual type may expose you to new experiences, ways of thinking, and hobbies. A NEW "TYPE" Perhaps you'll find that this "other type" is better suited for you. I mean think about it, if you've been sticking with the same characteristics and qualities you're used to, and those past relationships didn't work out, there must be a reason why. Stepping out of your comfort zone could potentially lead to an amazing outcome. BREAKING OLD PATTERNS Sometimes taking a chance with someone can help you grow as an individual. I've always struggled with expressing my feelings, allowing a guy to take charge, and accepting compliments/gifts, but with the last few guys I've dated, they've somehow made me feel a lot calmer and comfortable in their presence. No anxiety or second guessing when it comes to their words and actions! Yay!
To my fellow daters, I'd urge you to open up your world to people who you haven't considered before. Perhaps you still need to discover what you want in a partner, and what's actually important to you. Either way, the dating process will always be a huge, valuable learning curve... just make sure you stay on the path that enriches your life. x