When it comes to dating, it's not unusual to be attracted to a particular "kind" of individual. Perhaps you're drawn to people of a certain physical form, such as taller people or brunettes with curly hair. Or maybe you're drawn to a certain personality style, such as someone who is more reserved than extroverted and has hobbies and interests that are similar to yours. With the abundance of dating apps and websites at our disposal—many of which enable filtering by lifestyle and physical trails—being selective has never been easier.
However, whatever your interests were up to this point, you may want to rethink your screening criteria and realize that dating someone who isn't your normal sort can be very beneficial. It may also be the secret to developing a positive, satisfying partnership, according to experts.
We'll go into why we continue to repeat ourselves when it comes to relationships, as well as five explanations why mental health experts recommend breaking the cycle and dating people who aren't your type.
Why Do We Date the Same Type?
According to experts, there are several layers to why we are drawn to a particular form. According to Dr. Shannon Curry, a clinical psychologist and Director of Curry Psychology Group in Newport Beach, California, pairing up was a way of survival rather than finding love and desire from an evolutionary viewpoint. "Life was brief and harsh in the early days of human creation." Those who chose stable, good, and capable male partners who could provide security and access to resources were more likely to survive." Curry adds that those who chose stable and fertile female partners (plush lips, symmetrical face) were more likely to continue their genetic legacy.
Then there's a person's personal past to think about. Curry says, "We also prefer to choose partners based on our early interactions with parents or other primary caregivers." According to Curry, these formative experiences shape our sense of self-worth and expectations for others' behavior, which we bring into adulthood. Genesis Games, a Miami-based Licensed Mental Health Counselor, adds that these individuals are crucial "Parents, stepparents, grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, and even nannies may be biological or stepparents. The absence of one of these adults can also leave an impression on us and affect our personality style."
"We understand that we are deserving of love and that we can trust others to treat us with care and compassion," says Curry, if we grow up experiencing warmth and affection. On the other hand, we can regard this as natural if we are surrounded by pain and fear. Our brain, on the other hand, prefers shortcuts from a neural standpoint. According to Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today, it's human nature to "seek out trends and work according to them."
Finally, Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and chair of the psychology department at Albright College, writes, "We probably end up dating similar kinds of people because we do have a type, because we attract a certain type of person, and because we just happen to be in circumstances where we meet a certain type of person more frequently."
Why Is It Important to Break the Cycle?
It's limiting to date a "form." You restrict the number of people who might possibly be right for you if you only date a certain type of person. Although you shouldn't lower your expectations or feel like you're settling, you should keep an open mind and give other people a chance, even if they don't fit your typical dating profile. After all, you never know who you'll strike up a conversation with, whether they're your type or not. "Statistically speaking, if we reduce the dating pool to singles who meet strict physical and monetary criteria, our odds of meeting someone who also possesses the personality traits that are conducive to lasting happiness.
You're making a snap judgment on others. In a similar vein, if you only date people you think are your ideal kind, you're passing judgement on them before getting to know them, which is particularly easy to do with online dating. And, in today's app and online dating world, where a potential match's details can be scarce, you might be losing out on finding someone truly special by judging them against those strict criteria.
"You can open your eyes to the fact that what is familiar is not always nice until you are consciously aware that dating people who are your type does not lead to happiness. Enable the relationship to develop and become more comfortable with change rather than passing fast judgments "Diane Strachowski, Ed.D., a psychologist in California, agrees.
You're caught in a stalemate of a partnership. Another explanation why dating someone who isn't your normal type is beneficial is that it will help you break a negative relationship trend. You may not even know you're dating the same type of person over and over again, such as somebody who can't or won't commit or whom you're attempting to repair. "However, if you've had a history of messy, deceptive, hostile, or uncaring dating interactions, I would strongly advise you to seek help from a licensed mental health professional," Curry says. "A knowledgeable and professional therapist may assist you in resolving underlying problems that may be impeding your ability to have the relationship you want."
You'll push yourself out of your comfort zone. Although searching online profiles for a particular "look" has become an easy way to navigate through thousands of choices, Julie Ingenohl, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Glastonbury, Connecticut, says that "when we repeatedly opt for looks first, we lose out on the big picture." Who is this mysterious figure? What are their best qualities as a person? What kind of soul do they possess? "Will they treat me fairly?" says the narrator. "Scan until you find someone who is not your usual type," Ingenohl advises, particularly when it comes to online dating. Continue to examine their photo until you see one appealing attribute, then click to read their profile. You will begin to retrain the brain in terms of how it perceives beauty in this way."
You may not be sure who is "right" for you. It's true: Your personality style may not be the best fit for you. It's important to keep an open mind when searching for someone who shares all of your interests, has a similar history, and/or is exactly like you. Taking the time to examine previous relationships and search for parallels, according to Lear, is the secret to maintaining an open mind. As an example, "Is it true that I'm drawn to guys who come on strong at first but then disappear after a few weeks? Do I continue to pursue men who are more distant and aloof than I am? "Lear proposes.
The Keys to a Satisfying Relationship
Curry cites the work of psychologist Ty Tashiro, who described personality characteristics that are correlated with relationship satisfaction, such as high levels of agreeableness (kind, tolerant), emotional stability, and lower levels of novelty-seeking. "While these qualities may not seem to be as enticing as a combination of good looks, money, and adventure, Tashiro's research has found that couples who rate their partners higher in the stable stuff have the highest levels of intimacy and sexual satisfaction," Curry says. According to Curry, psychologists John and Julie Gottman have studied couples for more than five decades and discovered that when partners are attuned to each other's needs, intimacy and sexual pleasure are enhanced.
Understanding the attachment style can also be beneficial. "People who approach relationships from a secure dependent [attachment] feel that they are worthy of love and that they can find love," Games says, referring to Sue Johnson's work and attachment theory. What does this look like? Says Games, "They communicate their needs and wants clearly. They're open about their dealbreakers and confront red flags head on. They also extend grace to their partner and give them the benefit of the doubt." Additionally, people with a secure attachment style know how to balance their lives as a couple and their own life outside of the relationship, says Games.
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