Not my type

Let’s take a sec to consider the notion of type.

We like to run with the idea that a certain “type” of woman (or man) is our ideal partner. I would guess this notion develops from our own experiences of attraction. It also grows far more from advertising and media than we realize. But anyway, I think the whole notion of type is actually way less useful than we imagine. A short story:

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Years ago, I decided I should likely end up with a girl who was small, slim, with dark hair and blue eyes, athletic, creative, and flavored with the sort of informal ruggedness and accidental charm that is mostly found on the women in outdoor clothing catalogs. Offbeat, quirky, low-maintenance, beautiful, you get the idea. I decided this woman would probably be who I’d want the most … and so this prototype became my type — the image of the girl that I was on the hunt to find.

Later, I met Nicole. She had some of the features listed above, but not many. In particular, she did not exude the outdoorsy-ness that I had decided was paramount for me. Thus, I filed her as not my type, and all other considerations about her appearance or character went out the window. She just wasn’t my type, so any other questions were rendered moot.

Let us pause here. Notice what happened. I categorically dismissed a woman because she didn’t fit the mold that I had arbitrarily determined for myself. After this decision, Nicole became somehow invisible to me, for several months.

Is that interesting to anyone else?

Several months later, I got a tip from a mutual friend that Nicole might be interested in me. This little tiny blip caused a sea change in me, because for the first time I was prompted to pay attention to this girl as a romantic possibility. So, we went on a walk, and we talked about real things for the first time. And I started to fall for her, like immediately. And I was shocked by that.

A skeptic might point out that maybe I was desperate for affection, and so when I learned Nicole was interested, I simply changed my standards to accommodate the opportunity. Thank you for your concern — that is an astute criticism, but it just isn’t what happened. Instead, within minutes of starting to know Nicole … I started to realize that she was beautiful. It wasn’t that I managed to find her beauty — it was not hidden — but instead that I had deliberately blinded myself to it, up to that point. Opening my eyes at last, I saw that she was hot. Hot. And the rest is history, and things have gone pretty well.

But over those next couple of months, I began to investigate why I had blinded myself, and the reasons were fascinating.

The first one was materialism.

I had long ago decided that any girl who was into fashion and beauty was probably shallow. Sorry, that’s the truth. And there was no way that a shallow girl and I could ever care about the same things. Well, Nicole runs a makeup company, and frequently looks impeccable. So I saw this about her, and decided that Nicole wasn’t the girl for me, because most likely she and I would have nothing in common.

Well, that was stupid.

As soon as I started to get to know Nicole, I realized what a fool I had been. She is fiery and brilliant and passionate, and cares about things in this world that matter to me too — what a surprise. True, she happens to like feminine things, but I don’t know why that should disqualify her from having a heart or a brain. I was bewildered by my own terribly bad profiling work, and began to dismantle the stereotypes in my head.

As I looked back on all the different kinds of women that had become catalogued in my brain over the years, and realized it had been a waste of time and attention to filter the world in this way. I’m a guy, and I’ve been told this is what guys do. But it’s unfortunate and shallow — ironically, probably as shallow as my mistaken impression of girly girls. This led me to my second point …

… which was insecurity.

As I dug deeper into the reasons for my self-induced blindness, I discovered there was an old, deep-seated fear of what would be required of me if I ever wound up with a girly girl. That is — there is hardly any risk for a guy like me to go after a girl who looks like she’s from an REI poster. Her interests would be easy for me to enjoy, and she would be into very few things that might put me into uncharted territory. We would rock climbing or get mediterranean food, play ultimate frisbee, bike through the city to watch an indie film at a local theater, etc. etc.. No wardrobe evaluation. No venturing outside my comfort zone. Or at least, that’s how the simplistic reasoning went in my brain.

By contrast, chasing a fashionable girl would bring all kinds of turbulence. I’d have to become hyper-hygienic, and learn how to dance and how to order any kind of drink, and how to make small talk at fancy parties, and I would have to learn to enjoy the downtown nightlife of Austin, and I would have to get used to dressing real sharp most of the time, and I’d probably have to ditch my minimalistic tendencies, yada yada yada.

None of those things are natural and easy for me. Most of that stuff outright scared me a few years ago, and a lot of it still makes me nervous and insecure. So, it turns out that my avoidance of girly girls was also a defense mechanism.

By purposefully teaching myself not to be attracted to that “type” of woman, I was protecting myself from danger, discomfort, and embarrassment.

… And that was stupid as well.

As I got to know Nicole, I discovered that (duh) she didn’t need me to do or be any of the terrifying items above. She liked me already, and for reasons that were far from any of this superficial junk I’ve laid out here. We’ve grown together and ended up extending each other’s comfort zones slowly, which has been beautiful. Meanwhile, I’m still not sure I would have ever gotten over those hurdles unless I had discovered that she was interested in me, first. Funny how stuff works out that way.

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A few months have gone by, and Nicole keeps getting hotter. It turns out that I rather enjoy a woman who likes to look beautiful, and I don’t care if she doesn’t like dirt in her teeth — I can go have adventures with other dudes and feel great about it. I just never knew I could be okay with any of this, because I had some garbage floating around in my brain that prevented such a discovery.

I thought Nicole wasn’t my type, but now I can’t imagine how I ever ignored her. So, I invite you to challenge your stereotypes. They’ll hurt you more than help you, so get rid of them. That’s my thought for today.

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6 Comments

  1. I guess it depends on what you mean by type. Common interests (sure, some overlap is necessary, but even this can develop AFTER the relationship starts as each person tries out some of the favored activities of the other) or appearance categories are overrated, personality type probably isn’t. Eye color, height, or playing sports are one thing, but low-maintenence or creativity could be important to some people for very good reason.

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