Why you should be dating people who aren’t your ‘type’

Dating outside your comfort zone could open you up to new opportunities, experts say. ZoneCreative/Getty Images

Do you feel like you’re dating in circles? That’s probably because you are – which might mean it’s time to shake up your approach to dating.

Sure, we all have “types” we gravitate toward — people whom we always seem to find ourselves inexplicably attracted to. But sometimes they just don’t work out, and maybe that’s because your “type” doesn’t match what you really need in a partner.

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So if you feel like you’ve searched, yet still haven’t found your equal among those who fit your typical type, it’s time to explore other options and try dating outside your comfort zone, say relationship and dating experts Shannon Tebb of Shanny in the City and Chantal Heide of Canada’s Dating Coach.

“You should think about dating people outside of your type because you have nothing to lose,” Tebb says. “You might be blown away by this person and shocked at how interesting, charming or intellectual they are. You might feel this unique connection that feels different and is exciting because you have entered the unknown.”

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“If you’re an adventurous type, then looking outside your type will give you the variety you love to tackle,” Heide adds. “If you’re seeking to grown beyond your emotional comfort zones and expand your life experiences, then you should definitely look beyond what you consider your type.”

And entering that unknown can also help you pinpoint further what you want and don’t want in a partner, which will help you formulate a stronger basis of what you seek in a relationship, Tebb and Heide say.

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But if you don’t think you have a type, think again.

“Studies have shown that generally we have a greater attraction for people who share obvious similarities,” Heide says. “We’re also driven by our instincts to seek what’s familiar and comfortable.”

Often our type comes down to someone who is similar to us in facial features, lifestyle (like foods, movies, outing preferences, etc.), sexual preferences and sexual lifestyle and future dreams and goals.

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This can be done on both a conscious and subconscious level, Heide adds. For example, subconscious attractions might include signs of strength and fertility, while subconscious attractions include things like looks or sexual preferences.

But like anything else in dating, the strategy does come with its own set of pros and cons.

Pros of trying new types

According to Tebb, dating someone outside your comfort zone forces you to ditch your “must have” list and it allows you to be challenged by someone who is the opposite of you.

“You can learn so much from dating outside of your type because you have no clue who they are,” Tebb says. “There is no comparison to the last guy or girl because their interests and hobbies might be totally different.”

It also forces you to try new things that were unknown to you before.

“You become less selfish,” she adds. “Maybe you ideally would never date someone with children, but then you end up falling for someone who is a parent and accept the full package.”

It also stimulates you in a new way intellectually. This has the potential to create such a powerful emotional connection that it might challenge those prerequisites you had with your previous type, Tebb points out.

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“Sticking to your types ultimately leads to fewer opportunities to grow and to gain a variety of life experiences,” Heide says. “It can also reduce your options and can make dating more difficult, because you’re narrowing your field of opportunities and decreasing the ability for the laws of average to work for you.”

If you’re too rigid in staying with your type, it means you’ll reject a lot of people, Heide adds, and you may be missing out on someone great

Another downside to sticking with your type? Sometimes you might be drawn to someone who is dysfunctional in similar ways to you, Heide says. This means you’ll keep feeding into each other’s emotional demons, and in that way you perpetuate them.

Cons of exploring new options

Of course, thinking outside the box does come with its cautions.

First, you may be asking yourself if you have a future with this person, and you might feel like your family will never accept them, Tebb says.

And if you have nothing in common, you’ll wonder why you started dating them in the first place.

“You fear you won’t look good together and be judged by others,” Tebb says.

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There’s also that fear that certain issues may arise, like financial stress, religious differences, etc.

But sticking to your type gives you that sense of comfort that exploring may not give you, Heide says.

So just be open-minded, Heide says. Embrace the differences, otherwise you’ll fight about them.

Be willing to feel uncomfortable, because discomfort and growth take you beyond your fear thresholds.

Lastly, be patient with yourself and new partner while you learn and grow. Growth comes with adjustments – so keep that in mind, Heide says.

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