Up until a year ago, if you asked me what my type was, I’d tell you that my dream guy was tall and blonde, and that he had blue eyes. Odds are, you’d reply with a reassuring nod or some meaningless comment about how cute blonde guys are. This is just how society works — having a type of partner we “prefer” is common, and often, normalized.
For example, my friends always talk about only wanting a partner who towers over them, or even about how size contributes to their choice of men (which, by the way, makes no sense to me — what are you going to do, turn him down the moment you see him naked?). The point is, everyone seems to have a type: a checklist of the features they’re attracted to. And back when I was naive and foolish, I thought my chosen type would match the guy I’d fall in love with one day.
Let me take you back to my mid-teenage years. I’d never been in a relationship and had no idea what I wanted in a boyfriend. I felt immense pressure from others to decide what type of guys I liked, and received awkward stares whenever I said I didn’t know what my type was. “So, you don’t know what your type is, as in, you don’t know if you’re gay or straight?” people would ask. This question often led me to become self-conscious and confused — as if it isn’t “normal” to not have a designated type.
As a solution, I subconsciously created a type based on the shared features of a few celebrities I found attractive. Specifically, I’ve always loved Austin Butler (Sebastian from The Carrie Diaries) and Chord Overstreet (Sam from Glee), who are both blonde (or they were at some point in their careers), so, why not just say I love blonde guys? With that, I now had an answer to the age-old question: “What’s your type?” I felt like I finally understood which guys I should be looking for, until about a year ago, when I realized how backward my mindset really was.
My reality check occurred soon after I met the guy who is now my boyfriend. After meeting him through a mutual friend during our first year of university, we quickly became close. Throughout that first semester, we’d constantly make excuses to see each other, and talked for hours on end — the classic pre-dating stuff. After only a few months of knowing each other, we formed a bond I had never experienced before.
Even though there was definitely attraction on both ends, I initially denied my feelings for him. I didn’t want to risk losing our friendship, and he also didn’t match the specific type that I thought I had. Supposedly, my type was blonde guys who towered over me, and he’s brunette and stands only an inch taller than me. So, I told myself — and him, in an admittedly awkward conversation — that we were better off as friends.
Needless to say, I was mistaken to think that this was the right choice. The closer we got, the more I became attracted to him, and I soon found myself swooning and smitten by the guy I’d previously turned down. A month later, I decided to stop listening to these preconceived ideas I had about adhering to a certain type, and we finally started dating.
Now, I want to stress this: I was lucky in this instance, because my now-partner kept pursuing me even after I friend-zoned him. He very well could’ve given up on me and moved on — as many people do in this situation — which would have been a huge mistake, because it would’ve prevented a happy, loving relationship. We never would have ended up dating, all because I was too rigid and turned him down for no good reason other than that I was scared to venture outside of my specified type.
Now that you know it’s possible to find a fulfilling relationship with someone who’s not your normal type, here’s why I decided to erase the concept of having a type altogether.
There’s Too Much Emphasis on the Physical
If you have a type when it comes to casual hookups (as in, people who you have little emotional connection to), then go for it. That is to say, if you’re just looking to release your sexual desires without much commitment or romance involved, you probably don’t need to feel pressured to expand your type right away. But as someone who hates hookup culture and wanted to find something long-term, having a type created major limits and made me skeptical when I did begin falling in love.
For me, someone’s values, personality, and forming a strong connection is what matters the most — not their hair color, height, or any other aspect of their appearance. And unfortunately, today’s definition of a type usually refers to looks — therefore, the more important aspects of long-term relationships, like having an emotional connection, get pushed to the side. At least, that’s what happened to me.
Once I decided to look past my rigidity with my usual choice of crushes, I began to feel attracted to my partner. As soon as I told myself, “It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have the same features as Austin Butler,” the relationship had room to grow. Because, believe it or not, you can be attracted to someone who is your same height or doesn’t fit in with the line of your past partners; as long as you have a strong connection and you keep an open mind, anything can happen.
It Creates Tunnel Vision
Prior to ditching the idea of a type, I’ll admit, I had a bad case of tunnel vision. I was so fixated on finding someone who would look like my celebrity crush, rather than someone who I had a genuine connection with. However, had I just kept an open mind and searched for someone whose personality fit mine, I would’ve saved myself a whole lot of confusion and anxiety over whether to start a relationship or not. Not to mention, I also would have prevented the risk of him moving on without me. Instead of fixating on the fact that he didn’t fit my type, I should’ve just focused on our compatibility.
Rachel, a recent graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University and current student at George Brown College, feels similarly when it comes to searching for compatibility. “People are often nervous to drift away from their so-called type; I see this with my friends all the time,” she says. “Instead, I try to be open-minded when it comes to finding a partner. I used to stick to the same type of guys, but now I think it’s important to just go for whoever piques my interest rather than finding a partner that fits my specific type.”
Rachel agreed that her change in mindset led her to find a loving relationship. Instead of shooting down anyone who didn’t look like her type, she simply searched for someone who made her happy — and in my opinion, that’s all that really matters.
It’s totally possible to have a standard for the person you want to date while still remaining flexible and open-minded — AKA looking past any superficial judgements, and instead, searching for the qualities that matter (for me, it’s respect, intelligence, and humor that matches my own). And sometimes, it means taking a chance on someone who you wouldn’t normally go for.
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding love
When you catch yourself questioning whether someone fits your type or not, try asking yourself, “so what?” So what if the guy you’re falling for doesn’t have the same body type as your last significant other? So what if his hair color isn’t what you typically go for? Does that really mean you can’t still have a passionate, loving relationship? Because the fact is, you can still be attracted to someone who doesn’t match your type, and opening your mind a little bit more could lead to love.
It’s hard not to look back at myself a year ago and roll my eyes. I almost missed something amazing for a totally superficial reason, and I let my stubbornness get the best of me. I’m so thankful that the relationship ultimately worked out, and I’m grateful to have gained valuable insights — specifically, that clarifying a type can actually inhibit the ability to find a relationship.
The next time someone asks me what my type is, I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say, “whoever I’m attracted to.” Maybe I’ll give them my list of qualities I look for in a partner instead, like witty humor and a proper knowledge of consent. I truly believe it’s possible to honor your preferences while still finding someone you love — so it’s about time we just ditch the idea of having a type.
Rachel, 21, George Brown College