Originally posted on Bustle
It’s easy to fall into the pattern of dating the same kind of person over and over. If you’re on a dating app and quickly swiping through profile photos you can just notice a simple thing like hair color or a certain kind of job and swipe accordingly. It seems almost efficient, right? Well, dating your “type” may keep things simpler, but it doesn’t necessarily get you the relationship you want.
If you find yourself sticking to the same type of person when you date, it may be time to break out of the habit. And the truth is, a lot of have a type that we go back to again and again — even if we don’t realize it — but dating someone who isn’t your type has a lot of benefits. “Look at some pictures of ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends, think back when you dated them,” dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. “Do they look the same or have similar characteristics? What types of activities did you both enjoy? If more, often than not, you see a pattern of everything being similar except the names, then you definitely have a type.”
You may find something that attracts you, a certain hair color or job or interest, and, without meaning to, you find yourself drawn to it again and again. But if your type is too specific, you may just be setting yourself up for making the same relationship mistakes again and again. That “mysterious” type you like may just be emotionally unavailable. Maybe you love someone who has a high-powered job but constantly get annoyed at the amount of hours they work.
There’s a lot to be said for dating outside of your type, but it can be scary to break away from that pattern — so here’s how experts say you can get started.
1. Be Aware Of Your Type’s Flaws
Firstly, there’s a good chance your type hasn’t been working for you — so remember that. “If you have dated several of one type without long-term success or dissatisfaction with the depth of relationship, it may be time to expand your horizons,” Carlyle Jansen, author of Author, SexYourself: TheWoman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms , tells Bustle. “It may be that your type is not really good for you in the long run. Think instead of values and qualities in a ‘type,’ rather than a look or profession.”
If you find yourself being drawn to your type, remember why it didn’t work for you — what problems keep coming up in your relationships? Knowing its shortcomings will make it easier to move away from your type.
2. Use Dating Apps To Your Advantage
Taking your time and actually considering the people you’re looking at dating can really help you from just auto-piloting to your type — and dating apps are actually great for that. “When we see someone at a bar or in a speed dating event, we must make a rash, pressure-filled decision on whether someone meets our needs and our own jitters can affect that decision,” Chris Armstrong, relationship coach and owner of Maze of Love, tells Bustle. “Sitting online gives us time and removes the immediacy and nervousness of making a decision.” So don’t rush with your first instinct, try to make a more thoughtful choice.
3. Be Prepared For It To Be Weird
When you date outside of your type, it may feel like trial-and-error— especially at first. “Dating takes repeated effort; accept that,” Gina Stewart, an online dating coach and founder of Expert Online Dating says. “Accept that things may be frustrating and not go exactly to plan. If the idea of effort and trying over and over terrifies you, you don’t really want to be with someone because relationships require effort, too.”
4. Accept That It’s Partly In Your Head
If you find the idea dating outside your type frustrating, remember that there’s a lot at play that has nothing to do with what we think our type is. “I do not believe we have a type,” zen psychotherapist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. She takes it straight to science to explain why that is: “In evolutionary psychology, all research points to [the fact that] we actually seek out someone who will boost our immune system and help us to create offspring, even if we don’t want to have children.” So try to give up control — a lot of what we’re attracted to is hard-wired in us anyway.
5. Think Of It As A Comfort Zone
“Everyone has their dating comfort zone: a collection of wants and needs that, when met, minimize the angst and pressures that come from dating,” Armstrong says. “Our comfort zone has largely been shaped by attraction, chemistry and past experiences.” But remember that it’s OK to be outside of your comfort zone — that there’s a potential for growth there.
6. Focus On What’s Been Missing
When you’re dating outside your type, use it as an opportunity to try and find what’s been missing in past relationships. “The number-one mistake peoplemake when dating is continuing to go after their so-called ‘type,'” relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle. “Try entertaining the thought of dating a person who isn’t your type, per se, but who actually seems like an interesting, kind, fun, successful human being.”
If everyone you’ve dated in the past never made time for you, keep an eye out for someone who’s warm and open. If you feel like you couldn’t get them to define the relationship, focus on looking for someone who’s upfront about what they want. Imagining someone with characteristics you’ve been looking will make the idea of someone new a lot more attractive.
7. Don’t Overthink It
Finally, don’t limit yourself by insisting you won’t date anyone who could possibly be “your type“, because that will end up just as limiting as dating within it! Breaking outside of your type is about keeping things flexible and seeing what’s really out there and feels right based on your needs, rather than just a knee-jerk reaction or what feels the most familiar.
Dating outside of your type can be scary at first, but it can open you up to a lot of opportunity. Focus on what’s really important and what’s been lacking in your past relationships — because that’s really what you’re looking for.