What You’re Attracted To Probably Isn’t Good For You: An Argument For Why We Need To Stop Dating Our “Type”

October 9, 2019  |  

Young couple holding hands while walking at home

Source: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty

After a string of failed romances, as tempting as it may be to ride off on your bad b*tch carpet and say, “It was them, not me,” at a certain point you have to look at the common denominator in all those relationships: you.

It’s easy to diss your ex for what he couldn’t do or couldn’t be. It’s enticing to look at his flaws and blame him for the demise of the relationship than to take a mirror to your own behavior. When a relationship ends, it’s important to not only heal from the things you ex did to you, it’s also important to question what you allowed and why. Whether it was repeated cheating, infidelity, verbal abuse, lack of sex or too much sex, or even financial and career incompatibility, you will miss the lessons of your life if you don’t sit and ask yourself, “Why was I okay with that for so long?”

I bet if you laid out all the personality traits and characteristics of all your exes you would see a pattern. For me, I saw that I was drawn to emotionally aloof men, who were financially/career insecure and who were a little too cold/not so keen on affection. In some of these relationships, I allowed myself to be verbally berated. Many of these men were so insecure, that instead of dealing with their own inherent lack, they used me as a stepping stool so they could momentarily feel powerful by standing on me. It’s important for us to acknowledge our victimhood, but we can’t live there. I saw a simple meme the other day that said “What you are not changing, you’re choosing,” and it stopped me in my tracks.  Our relationships do the work of reflecting back to us exactly what we think we deserve. From this perspective, the mental trap of “victim” can become “survivor,” as you empower yourself to make different choices. Forgive yourself for accepting less while committing to more.

Once you’re aware and ready to move forward towards healthier relationships, you have to consciously stop dating your type. “Your type” hasn’t worked before, so it’s time to try something new. Dating someone who isn’t what you typically go for can be  mentally confusing because you may not be as drawn or attracted to them, initially. When you’re used to trauma, trauma is sexier than calm. When you’ve become accustomed to being treated badly, being treated well can make you feel uneasy, suspicious. If you’re used to guys living a fast life, a buttoned up suitor may come off as “corny.” The first few times you go on dates with someone “not your type,” you may moan to your friends that you don’t feel “chemistry.” But keep in mind, chemistry quickly diminishes in longterm relationships, and what you are left with is the bare bones: character, lifestyle, and personality. If you continually date men who lack in the areas that are important to you because of pure attraction, you’re going to get the same results over and over again. Not dating “your type” may just be what you need to find the love of your life. Feel free to unpack the “why” of who you’re attracted to with a therapist. They are skilled at helping you understand the choices you make, and they are also helpful in giving you tools to rewrite your path.

Before you start dating again, make a list of your non-negotiables, and honor that list. For me, I asked for a man with a 1) steady job and steady income,  2) who was more affectionate than cold, 3) who had a degree like I did, 4) who was passionate about fitness, 5) who was modern in the way that he respects shared household duties in the case that we both have full time jobs, etc. I had to refer to this list when I started falling for someone who was, in effect, my “type.” This person actually checked off so many boxes, but there were a few things that I know fundamentally, I don’t want. It was really hard to fight against what my heart wanted–hell, it’s hard to break your own heart in advance before the issues you foresee actually manifest. But please remember, the sweet spot is for the brain and the heart to work together. It’s going to require both important parts of you lining up in agreement to make an informed decision about your life mate.


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