Just Your Type?
Dating isn’t easy, is it? First you’ve got to find a guy you would consider dating, then comes getting to know him. If you’re interested in a long-term relationship someday, the next step is probably figuring out whether your new fella has what it takes to turn dating into something longer lasting. How do you know when you’ve found someone with whom you could share your heart and your life?
Amid the characteristics and interpersonal differences that make us as different from each other as snowflakes are from one another, some stand out as more important than others. You’ve probably heard guys say something like “He’s just my type!” when seeing someone who fits a particular mold – usually physical. Blond and buff, with a great smile? Or tall, dark and handsome?
Truth is, physical characteristics are part of what attracts us to someone – maybe the most visible stuff, and what grabs our attention initially. But someone who screens potential partners based solely on physical attributes is probably not paying attention to what will really make him happy. There are lots of attributes that make a boyfriend unique.
I think these variables can be divided into three categories, depending on how important they are to us. Some things you’re looking for are essential; some are desirable; and some are nice to have. What you put into each category is up to you, but here’s a start in looking at this paradigm:
Essential characteristics. These are the “deal-breakers” of romance; if they aren’t there, this isn’t going anywhere. This fundamental stuff includes whatever you need to know you would be safe physically and emotionally with the guy. Things that go here for most healthy people would include honesty, trustworthiness and other character things.
A special spark – what some people call chemistry – is also essential. Equally important are the things that aren’t a part of your guy’s life such as physical violence or active drug or alcohol addiction.
Desirable attributes. Most people want a certain commonality of interests and hobbies. The two of you need compatible (but not necessarily identical) values. While desirable attributes are very important, there may be areas where you may cut your guy a little slack if special circumstances exist. If he’s unemployed that might concern you, for instance, but a stable employment history would make that less of a concern. Financial problems wouldn’t necessarily rule a guy out, but a history of financial irresponsibility would likely have a negative impact on your own life.
Stuff that’s nice to have. Most physical characteristics live in this category.
You may want to take out a sheet of paper, divide it into three parts and make a list of your own. Where would you put religious beliefs, education level, economic status, geographic location? For some men, none of these attributes would be important; for others, they might be essential.
Finding the right balance among the three categories is important. If your tendency is to be so picky that you have a very long list of essential characteristics, don’t be surprised if you never find someone who can fill the bill. But not recognizing that some requirements are non-negotiable for you can lead to wasting a lot of time – or letting denial cause you to end up in a string of unsuccessful relationships.
I have been licensed by the State of Georgia as a professional counselor for more than 25 years. My areas of specialty are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, anxiety and depression. My passion is helping people build happier lives and stronger relationships.
I know it isn’t always easy to talk about problems. My approach to counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate. If you have questions, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about working together.
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