The Number One Mistake You're Making In Dating

Is there such a thing as a "type"? I asked nine relationship experts to talk about dating your type, and though they all had different takes, it seems as though type-based dating is a bad idea, especially if you have been unlucky in love in the past. First off, if you're dating one particular type over and over and things aren't going well, it might be because you've fallen into a type trap. As Vivica A. Fox recently told Khloé Kardashian on her talk show, Kocktails With Khloé, "the biggest problem I've probably had is that I dated body parts for way too long." Sounds like she has a type! (And how refreshing and down-to-earth it is to hear such a high-profile, classy act come clean about her own dating trials and tribulations.)

"Type" is tricky, according to the dating and love experts I tapped, including a relationship coach and psychic medium, two psychotherapists (including one of the zen persuasion), a telehealth counselor, several love and dating writers, a relationship coach, and a life coach. They all had a lot to say about dating within or without type specifications, and they all had different opinions about the whole thing. Here are nine different takes on dating your type, including reasons you should consider dating outside your usual box.

1. There Is No Such Thing As A Type

"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," she says. So if there is such a thing as a type, it's not a predilection for blue eyes or lots of tattoos — it would be something more along the lines of DNA, and that's a lot harder to articulate.

"A type is a preference, and preferences change from day to day or mood to mood," Paiva says. "Choosing someone based on a mood swing or temporary desire is not a good idea, nor does it often last." If you find someone who you're attracted to but isn't your "usual type," perhaps they're appealing to you on a pheromone level, or something along those lines.

2. Don't Base Your Type On Looks

"A type is often based on looks alone," Carlyle Jansen, author of Author, Sex Yourself: The Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms , tells Bustle. But that doesn't usually go very far. Basically, Jansen points out that choosing people based on looks won't take you very far. "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," Jansen says. "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." So if you must go for a type, go more for kind and honest, not long-haired musicians.

3. Break The Pattern Of Dating Your Type

If you tend to fall into dating the same kinds of people over and over, in a word — stop. "People do talk about dating your type, but I think it is the wrong way to go, and a pattern to be broken," BetterHelp telehealth counselor and psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "When we pigeonhole ourselves with a certain type, we miss out on many people and opportunities that might actually be a better fit than what we assume is right for us." Keeping an open mind will make things a lot more fun for you, and afford you a better chance at finding someone right for you.

Especially if things haven't been working out for you by dating the same kinds of people over and over. "This is especially something to consider if it keeps not working out when we choose the our type over and over again, and it keeps not working," Martinez says. "At that point, we might want to consider that what we thought we always wanted may be dead wrong." Thinking that you only have one type probably won't get you very far.

4. Type Or No Type, It's Likely You Can Find Similarities In Your Exes

"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." Even if it's not a good idea, and even if technically science would be against typical looks-based types, we still do tend to date the same kinds of people over and over, he says.

Van Hochman even shares his own type with Bustle. "I looked back pics of my ex-girlfriends and the similarities were undeniable," he says. "All at first glance looked like very girly-girls, but then upon further reflection I remembered the adventurous activities we enjoyed and the swagger they all had and were unquestionably just like one of the guys but smelled much better," he says. Ultimately, he concluded that his type is a “lipstick tomboy." Good to know! So perhaps once you identify your usual type, you can work on breaking through and trying to date other sorts of people.

5. Types Should Be Based On Personalities

"Yes, I believe people should have a type, but it shouldn't include physical appearance or hobbies," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "Types should focus on personality aspects and values." So as far as Rogers is concerned, there is nothing wrong with having a type — it just needs to be deep. For example, if you're an artist and you know you'll do best with similar people, more power to you. "Girls who know they want to date someone creative in order to better complement their personality would be considered to have a 'type' — they like creative" people, says Rogers. "But that's because it is a value oriented specification — not a preference in eye color."

6. The Term "Type" Is Outdated

Perhaps that's the problem — "type" is a somewhat antiquated term, and it usually refers to someone's visual or professional preferences. "'Type' is for what kind of movie star you’re attracted to," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences , tells Bustle. "The person who is really your type has some common interests and ideals, good character, trustworthy and loves you." So if you're with someone who shares your interests and ideals, has a strong character and is totally, madly, deeply in love with you, guess what? You're with your true type.

7. Types Are A Mistake

"The number-one mistake people make 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. Leave your type in the dust, she says. "Ask yourself, 'How has going after my type worked so far?' If the answer is not so good, then start thinking outside the box." If you always wind up dating actors, try to just give someone a chance without asking what they do.

"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," Sansone-Braff suggests. "By the time you're out of your teen years, you really should have learned that it’s not what’s outside that counts, but what’s inside that counts; so stop judging people by their looks alone." When you meet someone, close your eyes and try to tap into their personality — not their looks. "Stop worrying if he’s cute, or how tall or short he is, or whether she has blonde hair and long legs, and start looking for a mate with substance, style, and a whole lot of soul."

8. If You're Obsessed With A Type, That Is A Problem

"Boxing oneself into a type is a big mistake in dating," Nicole DiRocco, dating and relationship coach for executive women, tells Bustle. If you are single and dead-set on finding a certain kind of person, that might not work wonderfully for you. "While easy and familiar, it's limiting and restricts the person's pool of available men or women."

Echoing other dating experts, DiRocco says it's best to date based on the way someone's personality shines through. "I encourage my clients to get crystal-clear on their values and focus on how the man makes her feel and treats her," she says. "In this way, expanding outside of her type allows for the relationship she desires to reveal itself sooner." So if you're set on a type, let it go — you'll have a better shot at finding someone actually worth your time.

9. You Probably Do Have A Type

"People do tend to have types, especially if they live in homogenous communities," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. She defines "type" as the pattern you've typically followed in your dating history. "Your type is the similar pattern in your dating behavior," she says. "For instance, if you keep dating married men, you’ve got a type — married men." Let's all hope that is not your type, for your heart's sake. "If you keep dating wealthy men who are conservative, you’ve got a type." Definitely not my type. "If you keep dating people from a particular racial or religious group, you’ve got a type."

If you have one and it's going well for you, no problem, she says. "Types are fine if you’re happy and healthy, but if you keep winding up in unhappy situations, dating outside your type is an excellent way to expand your dating pool and your experiences," Masini says. Very wise.

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