When it comes to dating, it's not uncommon to steer yourself towards a certain "type," time and time again. You might find that you're naturally drawn to artistic people, or introverted people, or folks who are highly adventurous. And while that's great, some interesting things can happen when you
date someone who isn't your type, and step outside your comfort zone.
"Everyone has dating preferences," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "Over time those preferences can become more rigid and turn into a 'type,' which then can guide a person’s dating choices." It may explain why you've always had the same experiences, or some of the same dating problems.
By having a type, you may even be unintentionally boxing yourself in. "While
types are normal," Bennett says, "they can be problematic if you feel a great connection and are attracted to another person, but refuse to move forward because that person isn’t your traditional 'type.'"
It's OK if you can't help but be
attracted to certain qualities, but opening yourself up to the possibility of dating someone who doesn't have those traits can be eye-opening. Here are a few things that might happen, according to experts, if you choose to date someone who isn't your type.
You Might Unlock Hidden Talents
If you're used to spending time with people who gravitate towards the same activities, it may be fun to branch out and see what else is out there. Once you do, you may pick up a new hobby or two, and possibly even discover a side of yourself you didn't know was there.
"Having a partner who isn’t your usual type can expose you to new experiences and hobbies," Bennett says. "It might even help you explore and develop hidden talents that you never knew you had. For example, an athletic person might find [they are] actually quite artistic and vice versa."
You Could Find A New Type
"When you date someone outside of your type you often realize that there is another type that is better suited for you," Emily Lyons, founder and CEO of
Lyons Elite matchmaking, tells Bustle. And this is something you might never have realized, if you continued to stick with the qualities you're used to.
"People have an idea in their head about who they should be with, but when you step out of this comfort zone amazing things can happen," Lyons says. "There might be a good reason why past relationships with this type haven't worked before, because it might not be the best type for you!"
You Might Realize You Never Had A "Type"
By branching out and meeting new people, you might even realize you didn’t know your type at all, once you find yourself attracted to someone you didn't expect, Samantha Daniels, dating expert and founder of
Samantha’s Table Matchmaking, tells Bustle.
"A lot of people think they have a type and then it usually takes dating someone a little different to realize that maybe their type isn’t really their type," Daniels says, "or maybe they are disqualifying people who should really be contenders." That's why you
may want to push away certain "rules" you've given yourself, and see who else you can meet.
You May Snag More Dates
If you've been having a hard time finding people you enjoy dating, dropping the idea of a "type" can actually make it seem like you suddenly have a lot more options.
As Daniels says, many people have a list of "must haves" when looking for a partner, and that's perfectly fine. You might value someone who's a good listener, someone who's supportive, or someone who's outgoing. But beyond that, it's important not to be
"If you are too picky," she says, "you are just doing yourself a disservice and [may be] stopping yourself from finding the right person."
You Could Develop More Empathy
"While it’s normal to have a “type” when dating, it’s easy to let that turn into a stereotype about those you don’t normally date," Bennett says. You might, for example, decide that outgoing people will
never be a good match for you, simply because you're so incredibly introverted. You might assume you'll never see eye-to-eye, or ever have anything in common.
But what would happen if you gave it a try? "Dating outside of your type can help you develop empathy and respect for people you wouldn’t normally get to know," he says. "It can open your mind and shatter misconceptions."
You Could Develop A Whole New Perspective
Again, if you have an image in your head of what your "ideal" partner might look or act like, and only focus on people who match that description, it can end up being really limiting.
But by getting rid of any "selectiveness" that might be holding you back, Daniels says, you may learn that you can be attracted to other types of people — and potentially even meet "The One."
By dating outside your go-to type, and broadening your horizons, you might even come to realize those traits weren't so important after all.
You Might Discover More About Your Preferences
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
"Instead of boxing yourself into one kind of person, being open to dating all sorts of people will give you a chance to learn more about yourself and what you really need in a long term partner,"
Dr. Catherine Jackson, clinical psychologist and neurotherapist, tells Bustle. "Things you never thought you'd want or need."
You might be surprised to find that you actually get along really well with folks who are the
opposite of what you naturally gravitate towards, once you give them a chance. By dating someone who's different, Jackson says, you may even find they meet your needs in a more fulfilling way.
You'll Find More Balance
"Many times we date people who are similar to us,"
Michelle Terry, MA, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle. If you're outgoing you may be drawn to other outgoing people, because that's what seems to make the most sense, or what seems easiest.
And yet, "when you date someone you wouldn't normally be interested in, or who is very different from you, you may be surprised at how much more balanced you can become," Terry says. "If you're normally on the move all the time, dating someone who is
more of a homebody can encourage you to relax more. If you're not very adventurous but date someone who is, you might start trying new things more often."
You Could Break Old Patterns
"Unfortunately, you can be attracted to people who are unhealthy if you
grew up seeing unhealthy patterns in your family," Terry says. "It's going to feel 'normal' to you, even if it's destructive."
So, if the situations you've been drawn to so far haven't been working out, or if they've been turning toxic, it may be time to see who else is out there. "Dating outside of a 'type' helps us grow as individuals when we take a chance with someone different," Terry says.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with knowing exactly what you're
looking for in a partner, or valuing certain traits. And yet, so many interesting things can happen if and when you decide to date someone whose personality doesn't match your usual "type," that it just might be worth a try.