What You Learn From Dating Outside Your "Type"

If you think about it, we date the wrong guy or girl 99 percent of the time, because it's essentially every time until we find the one that's not. Sure, some exes are far worse than others, but I can't say I haven't learned a ton about myself from the slew of frogs my Mom told me I would inevitably kiss. (She did fail to mention how good of kissers some would be, though. And of course those are always the harder ones to discard.)

I digress.

Here's the thing, though: dating the wrong person is completely different than dating someone who isn't your type. In fact, sometimes getting fixated on a type in the first place is what can keep you single when you're looking for love, so just like anything else in life, it's good to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to potential mates.

But hey, I know what you're thinking: I know what I like, why compromise? We all have deal-breakers — I need to date someone who's funny. But think of it like when you try a new workout class, and it's a dance class — and you suck at dancing. You give it a shot, and before you know it you're having fun and you're hooked. How do you know what works for you unless you try?

So that's what I did, I went out of my way to date guys who were not my type. And here's what I learned.

1. It Was Challenging In A Really Good Way

This felt like I had been taking spinning for a long time, and finally went to my first boxing class. It's like you use an entire new group of muscles — albeit it mostly mental muscles — when you date a guy who isn't your typical type. You don't know what to expect, and it's kind of awesome. I enjoyed the keeping me on my toes element of it all, and it's fascinating to learn about new personality quirks and traits. Not just from them, but from yourself. Speaking of...

2. I Learned New Things About Myself

I like to think I know myself pretty well, that's one of the best parts about not dating in my 20s anymore. So when a guy who isn't my type makes me learn something completely new, I have to tip my hat to him. In this case, I've long known I was a fan of the arts — I love going to plays, musicals, concerts comedy shows, what have you. But when I dated a dude who quit his job to be a comedian, it forced me to become part of it more than I even realized I wanted to; before I knew it, I was doing an open mic. This is just one tiny example, but the fact is, dating a different type can make that happen — and nothing is more exciting than realizing you can still surprise yourself.

3. I Learned More About What I Really Wanted

What I want in some aspects changes all the time. I think I know, and then I change my mind. But in the grand scheme of things, I try to keep some sort of road map. What helps solidify the relationship thoroughfare in said road map is dating against type. Veering off on different route only makes you more sure of the one you're winding. Some of the pit stops —read, guys I dated — I made only made me more sure of that. One of the biggest things I learned is that dating against type doesn't change the biggest challenge in dating: timing. And I'm just not going to push the boulder by myself with anyone. [Cue powerful woman song!]

4. .... And What I Didn't Want

Sometimes, I try foods I used to hate to see if I like them now. It pains me to think if I didn't do that, because then I would never have had the harmonious relationship I do now with avocados. But when I try to force salmon on myself, I remember why we don't get along. Similarly, dating against type can be a great way to reaffirm what still leaves a bad taste in your mouth (no pun intended); some deal-breakers just stand. And the best part is, you don't feel as guilty sticking by them, because hey, you tried!

5. I Remembered The Cardinal Rule: Never Ignore Your Gut

I have this terrible habit of being too loyal. This isn't a humble brag; it can very well work against you when dating someone who's not your typical type. Or just dating in general. I have this inner-desire to make it work. But the truth is, if you feel it's off, it probably is. Don't try to prove something to yourself — which in this case could be, "See, I can date different types!"— it's not fair to either party.

6. I Discovered May Not Actually Have A Type After All

Unequivocally the best part of this entire process is finding out your type isn't your only type. Or you don't even have a type. It really turns things on its head, because you open up an entire new world of options, and even better, just get out of your own way. I loved finding out I don't have to have the things I thought I had to have.

7. Except I Really Do Need Someone To Be Able To Laugh At Themselves

And, if I'm being 100 percent honest, also be pretty witty. Because in the end, I just want to laugh with someone for the rest of my life. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Images: Liz Newman/Giphy