If you have been in the dating pool for long, like many other people who have only found love after several attempts, then you understand what having a “type” means. If you have dated more than one person, then you might find similarities between your partners. It could be you often date dramatic people or emotionally unavailable people. Sometimes it could be people with similar physical traits. Whatever your “type” of romantic partner looks like, here are a few reasons you choose the people you date.
1. Attachment Styles
Once a friend stated that she knew a man was bad news if she was attracted to him, and once she provided an analysis on some of them, it appeared there was some ‘truth’ to her statement. So how could it be that she could correctly predict the behaviour of men who had no connection to each other since she wasn’t clairvoyant? Our attachment styles predict the kind of person we’re most likely attracted to, thus making it look like we have a ‘type.’
As children, the kind of relationships we have with our parents or primary caregivers affects our attachment styles. If, as a child, your primary caregiver was emotionally absent or constantly broke promises, you build up a defence. You learnt not to rely on others and remained uneasy about wanting something from other people because you couldn’t trust them. You were always afraid that other people will not meet your needs, so you developed an avoidant attachment style. Unfortunately, even when choosing a partner, such people tend to choose emotionally unavailable people because they cater to their defences. This is why even when we know certain people are bad for us; we still pursue them because their traits align with our defences.
A person who constantly feels the need to be taken care of will often date controlling and bossy people. Such people date a particular type of romantic partner who seems to take care of them and dictate the direction of the relationship and sometimes even their lives.
Despite the common belief that opposites attract, studies show that people often choose those similar to them. These could be people who share an interest in the same hobbies or topics, people from the same religion, social class, level of education, or even have the same dislikes. The higher the level of similarity you have with someone, the more attracted you are to them.
Similarities play a significant role in the type of partner that we are attracted to as they form bonding points. This is why you’ll find artistic people dating other creative people. They may not be both painters, but they’ll be in the art world. It could be a musician and a dancer. This explains why celebrities date other celebrities.
Sometimes we are attracted to certain types of people because of our environment and our circumstances. If you only hand around a specific kind of people, you only have that group as your source of potential partners. Exposure plays a significant role in the type of people that we deem attractive. For example, if you grow up in an area with specific definitions of attractive partners, this forms a bias in your psychology. As a heterosexual woman, this could be a man who provides. Unless exposed to a different group of people who have different standards of an attractive man, you’ll most likely be drawn to men who can provide.
Proximity also determines the type of people we’re date. Studies show that we are attracted to what is familiar—seeing someone repeatedly can increase the chances of you feeling drawn to them. Repeated exposure to someone creates a feeling of safety around them. For example, a student is likely to date another student due to repeated exposure. The student feels safe and familiar with other students, increasing the chances of finding other students attractive.
Ultimately having a certain type of dating partner doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to end up with someone with the given traits. One can form a different and healthy attachment style even as an adult. Sometimes, the kind of person you are attracted to could reinforce a negative defence mechanism you developed to survive. In such instances, you need to identify the triggers that elicit this need and deal with it.
Having a dating type isn’t always a bad thing, and you can leverage your past mistakes. Dating similar people means you can quickly identify the things you typically mess up and make changes to form lasting relationships in the future.
Maureen Rita is a writer, creative and poet who focuses on issues that affect women, relationships and wellness. I’m constantly exploring the complexities of human experiences and I often challenge societal norms. I also love discovering African music, films, and art. You can
also check out my website on Home, Living and Productivity - www.kallistead.com.