we like the same things!
November 13, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Been-waiting-for-a-girl-like-you filter. Will I never find my "type"? Does it matter?

I am a walking cliche. I know this. My long-term ex and I have split, it's a year later, and I'm thinking a lot about choices -- partner choices, specifically, and wondering how much a lack of chemistry fed into the end of the last relationship (which worked in lots of other ways). If I tried to explain my "type" to anyone I know, they'd look at me like I'm a puzzle with missing pieces, because my ex was nothing like this and she's the only person they've seen me with. So two questions for you, really:

1) How much does "type" matter and should I just try to forget about it?
2) What experience have you had going against "type"?

Specifics: Personality-wise, I like strong, capable women. Physically, I like somewhat androgynous women -- I find a boyish haircut to be a particular turn-on (but am not attracted to boys/men), and my ideal would be someone my height or close to it. Result: I have excellent taste in gay women. It's always been this way. I bat maybe 9 in 10. (eventually dating a couple of these women, rather complicatedly, but that seems like the path to self-punishment)

It's in turns amusing and frustrating. The kind of woman who seems to be attracted to me tends to be very feminine and "traditional". What can I do? I get that internet dating makes sense in theory given that it seems to excel at uniting members of disparate groups, but I'm doubtful.

How important is chemistry? Are my particular tastes simply too unrealistic, given social norms?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (39 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Serious question: is it possible that you're attracted primarily to women who don't seem attracted to you?
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:17 AM on November 13, 2012 [22 favorites]

There can be a huge chasm between what you believe is "your type" and the people you might actually click with. It's very possible to click with someone who you never thought you would be attracted to. That's the funny thing about humans and their emotions.

I always suggest that people just relax and stop hunting for a bullet-list. Doing so blinds one to many more potentially amazing possibilities. Just get out and meet all sorts of people and let nature take its course.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:25 AM on November 13, 2012 [21 favorites]

Chemistry is important, but not as important as common goals, a common world-view and being compatible.

If the gamine/tomboy is your type, there are straight women out there who are ready to date you THIS MINUTE!

I've always been attracted to my gay male friends. I like a big burly guy with a soft side. It took a LONG time, but I hit the motherlode with Husbunny.

He's a big, burly guy who is completely comfortable being soft with me. I just melt everytime I'm with him.

That said, take time to know women of all descriptions if they interest you in one way. Sometimes you'll find that someone has grown on you, but basic chemistry is important, you should be attracted to your girlfriend.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:27 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's very possible to click with someone who you never thought you would be attracted to.

My wife was not my type, until we got together. Now she is literally my type. She gets a hair cut, that's suddenly my new favorite, she gains weight/losses weight that becomes the kind of woman I like. Hell when she was pregnant I was all about pregnant ladies.

The reason for this, I think, is that “type” is all about stuff you can learn in couple minutes or even seconds. It’s all stuff on the surface that we are biased towards because of positive associations. I have extremely positive associations with my wife, so people who look/present like her are given secret extra points in my brain.

On a basic level, unattainable is also tres sexy.
posted by French Fry at 7:32 AM on November 13, 2012 [49 favorites]

Share your problem with queer friends of any gender who are likely to have much better gaydar than yours. There are definitely lots of straight women who have trouble getting straight men to see them as potential partners rather than assuming they're gay. Especially if you live in a large city, but even if you don't, online dating is likely to be especially productive for you as you can easily get a sense for the things that you appreciate and have orientation spelled out for you from the get go.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:33 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm in my mid forties and engaged to a man whom I would have never dated in my mid twenties (he's nerdy, geeky, short, slightly effeminate, a loner like me, and from the upper middle class, and he puts ketchup on all of his food, all strikes against him in my twenties). The first couple of dates were kind of 'eh' because there wasn't an instant chemistry, but after the third date, we seriously hit it off and now were engaged. So yeah, he's not what I would have considered my type, but he's certainly the guy for me.

See, somewhere in my late twenties I gave up the whole idea of having a "type" because the guys I thought I wanted weren't really bringing what I needed to the table. There was always something lacking though they hit most, if not all of the item on my "ideal guy" list. So I threw the list away and just started dating guys who were vaguely interesting.

It turning into an interesting experiment in finding what actually did click for me. Physical attraction is part of it, yes, I'd never date I guy who repulsed me, but it's not everything, I learned to look beyond the "ideal" and try to find what's underneath the"'less than ideal" to see if there wasn't something there that could make for a good relationship. It also leads to dating a variety of people which makes life pretty interesting. And, you may find that what you think is your "type" right now isn't what you want at all.
posted by patheral at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Are my particular tastes simply too unrealistic, given social norms?

There are heterosexual women like you describe everywhere where I live (Washington, DC). If your question is whether you should abandon that "type" because they aren't available in society as a whole, I would say no.
posted by OmieWise at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife is unlike any of the "my type" girls I dated before her.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I tend to think that individual people are way more important than type. If you're looking for a partner, you probably want someone who want something similar out of life (both immediately and long-term, if you intend the relationship to be long-term). So a woman who is more feminine and traditional may be right for you in that sense, even if they're not the person you're immediately attracted to.

Having a type is fine, but the type has to be based around what you're actually looking for in a partner; if you want to have brief casual relationships, then a physical type makes sense. If you're looking for a long-term partner, then a "type" based on mutual goals makes a lot more sense. As an example, I know a woman who is desperate to settle down and have kids. She also has a very specific physical type she's looking for (tall, muscular, black men). The result is that she selects for physical type, and has been in a string of mediocre relationships with guys who aren't looking to settle down and have kids and leave when it becomes clear that that's what she wants.

Is it possible that my friend will find the settling down and kids muscular black man of her dreams? Of course, plenty of guys like that exist, but for the time being she's making pretty miserable choices because she refuses to look for what she actually wants. I'd say what you should do is figure out what you actually want, and look for that, rather than focusing on "type."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:37 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I get that internet dating makes sense in theory given that it seems to excel at uniting members of disparate groups, but I'm doubtful.

I'm not totally clear, but are you implying that you haven't actually tried online dating and are doubtful in theory? If so, you have absolutely nothing to lose by actually trying it.

Also, where do you live and how is the, for the lack of a better term, hip young people scene there? Here in Brooklyn, you just described a combination of looks and character that is quite plentiful. Wabash, Indiana probably not so much.
posted by griphus at 7:37 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of heterosexual women like that. You may not be looking in the right places, is all.
The places I tend to see the most of those are veteran ladies and ladies what like shooting ranges. Don't know if those are dealbreakers for you, but thought I'd throw it out there.
posted by corb at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2012

Chiming back in to state that my wife is unlike anyone I ever thought my "type" was. Yet, we seemed to click deeply immediately. We've been married 32 years, and I can't imagine spending that time with anyone else, yet I still wouldn't consider her "my type". But, she sure is my mate, in the absolute best, amazing, most intimate meaning of that word.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:39 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

While "types" do exist -- having been attracted to large guys who balance out my large self -- both of my last two partners have fit my type but been VERY different. And more importantly, both have come about because I consciously moved past my "this person needs to fit XYZ" criteria.

From a previous comment: I was talking to someone about "dealbreakers" in a relationship and mentioned how, before meeting my husband, I'd been adamant about what I wanted: a well-educated, financially solid guy who had no history of substance abuse in his family and had a great relationship with his parents.

My husband was none of those things (at least, not educated in the traditional sense), but I realized that he had all of the end-result qualities I'd hoped to find by setting out those criteria: intelligence, care with money and spending, vigilance about overindulgence, and a lot of caring and compassion for those around him.

HOWEVER... it took a little time for me to find out these things, including learning about his situation, reacting to it and ultimately deciding that I was okay with it. And now I am the most stupidly happy I've ever been.

There was chemistry when we met, but it was mainly a sense that I wanted to know more about this person. (Also, I am socially anxious at parties and latch on like a damn barnacle when someone seems to like me. So who knows.)
posted by Madamina at 7:39 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, yeah, giving too much credence to a predefined "type" of woman just delays the inevitable "wow, I've been single/in unecessarily complicated relationships for way too long and should probably broaden my horizons" epiphany you will hopefully soon get.
posted by griphus at 7:39 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife and I both agree that are we were not each others' "type." But we met, hit it off immediately, and have a fantastic relationship, better than I ever thought could be possible.

She told me after we were engaged that her friends even commented that I didn't seem like "her type." She told them she had always chosen "her type" previously, and it never worked out, so why not try something different. I glad she did!
posted by The Deej at 7:40 AM on November 13, 2012

"My wife was not my type, until we got together. Now she is literally my type. She gets a hair cut, that's suddenly my new favorite, she gains weight/losses weight that becomes the kind of woman I like. Hell when she was pregnant I was all about pregnant ladies."

I too work this way, hell I consider it a super-power, but not everyone does. OP, if you do not work this way, that is a really good and helpful thing to know that is in no way indicative of anything wrong with you. Being honestly attracted to your partner is extremely important, so please don't feel pressure to assume you will acquire attraction for a potential partner when you won't necessarily.

That said, as you go about your search you might want to also keep in mind something that scody once said that I think remains the best relationship advice ever given on askme:
"Yes, absolutely. I have a master's degree, publish art books, and have lately been reading the collected letters of Samuel Beckett for fun. My boyfriend -- who is, just as you describe, "smart, but not a brainiac, and has every other quality you would want in a man: kind, generous, funny, hard-working, full of character" -- didn't go to college.

We recently celebrated our five-year anniversary -- the longest relationship for either of us. It's the happiest, healthiest partnership of both of our lives. I wouldn't trade him for all the Ph.D's in China (nor any of the over-educated brainiacs I dated before him). It did require some recalibration on my part regarding what's truly important to have in common -- namely, that qualities (kindness, loyalty, honesty, etc.) matter more than things and preferences (education, books, music, vacations involving museums vs. cabins in the woods, etc.). Or, as my brother-in-law put it: "having things in common is overrated. Having each other in common is what's rare."

Here's a little story. About a year or so into our relationship, an ex-boyfriend (and the guy I'd been carrying a torch for since -- I am not kidding -- the Reagan administration) moved to L.A. He has a Ph.D, teaches art history, and -- from an intellectual standpoint -- appears to be my perfect match. We started hanging out again and discovered -- scarily -- that our old chemistry was, well, still pretty fizzy. Long story short, he eventually offered to leave his wife for me if I would leave my boyfriend for him. "Come on," he said. "Do you really want to be in a relationship where you'll never get to discuss Walter Benjamin after sex ever again?"

And suddenly, right there, I had my answer: all due respect to Walter Benjamin (who I totally love), but fuck that. Anyone who would ask me to participate in breaking the hearts of two other people in order to discuss critical theory naked is missing too many important qualities for a good relationship. I immediately stopped flirting with the fantasy of running off to intellectual heaven with my old flame, and very firmly went back to the real world of warmth, safety, commitment, and love with the best man I know.

Best decision I ever made."
posted by Blasdelb at 7:45 AM on November 13, 2012 [28 favorites]

I've had awesome experiences going against type, physically. I try not to get wrapped up too much in the packaging, though I do think outward appearances reflect personality to a degree. But in your case, I know lots of strong, capable women who present as ultra feminine. I also know androgynous types who are insecure and needy. If a certain appearance is a turn on for you, that's fine, but in the interest of being more open minded, you may want to divorce the this look=this personality thing.

Going against my type, personality wise, has always been crap. But personality is tied so closely to goals, values and lifestyle that it only makes sense. I have had good luck expanding on my type, though: I always had a thing for guys in bands, to give a cliched example. What did I really like about them? Passion, creativity, sociable, cooperative and collaborative. So, the poet who spent time doing writers' workshops and readings or the carpenter who volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and had a kickball league also had these traits. It's about being open to thinking outside the box and finding your type in unexpected places.

Just be open to lots of new people! Even when I dated against personality type and it went pear shaped, I got a better understanding of what I actually want and need in relationships.
posted by peacrow at 7:47 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

There can be a huge chasm between what you believe is "your type" and the people you might actually click with. It's very possible to click with someone who you never thought you would be attracted to.

Seconding this; whenever I start thinking I've developed a physical "type", invariably the person I next end up getting involved with is exactly the opposite of that type. All through high school it was the tall, think guys with dark hair and eyes that turned my head, but my first boyfriend was a short stocky platinum blond with blue eyes.

I wouldn't think of it so much as a bullet-point list of characteristics, but as an inexplicable x-factor, that determines who you're attracted to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on November 13, 2012

I used to have a list like yours, but it always evolved and kept shifting, so I finally decided it was counterproductive. For example, I used to think that I'd never date anybody more than 8 years younger than me, but lately it seems almost all of the women who show interest in me are almost a decade younger so it's hard to avoid. Similarly, I never thought "intense efficiency" would be one of my top desired traits, but after my last relationship I found that I really admire the ability to achieve things in a disciplined and pragmatic way.

It's OK to have things you're looking for, but be open to other possibilities as well. You never know how much something can appeal to you until you've tried it. The "list" should never be a deal-breaker - personality compatibility is far more important.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:51 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking a lot about choices

Stop doing that. Seriously. There is no way to predict who you will click with. Just spend time with people you enjoying being around, and resolve to be happy no matter what happens.
posted by COD at 8:12 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

1) How much does "type" matter and should I just try to forget about it?

Type only matters for the first hour or so, if that.

2) What experience have you had going against "type"?

Much better. It's like anything -- there's more of interest outside the range of your own experience than in it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:12 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having a type is fine, provided two things are true:

1. you define your type fluidly based on actual desires you find yourself having (ie people you meet and find yourself attracted to, or specific qualities you miss from people you've met in the past) rather than some fixed set of attributes that you think "should" be desirable, or that are the polar opposite of your ex just because;

2. you leave yourself completely open to the possibility that you'll meet someone that you desire who doesn't check off any of those boxes.

And yeah, you can tell your friends about your desires without worrying that they'll be confused because those don't match your ex, because you and your ex are no longer together, so that'll actually make sense.
posted by davejay at 8:17 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to only date my "type" and after a long string of breakups and getting my heart stomped on, I took a dating break. During this self-imposed dating break, I met new friends and even some new guy friends (who were not my type, so I automatically friend-zoned them all) and just relaxed being myself. Well, one of those non-my-type guy friends? Yeah, he's now my boyfriend of over a year, we live together and will get married eventually.

My "type" used to be dark, brooding, artist types. Oh my goodness, I loved the depth! I love the thinkyness! I loved their dark hair and dark clothes and that they were always thinking about something creative! But. None of them liked me enough for it to last - maybe it's because I'm too optimistic/not dark and brooding enough? Who knows...self imposed dating break it was!

I ended up with a big, happy-go-lucky, goofy, athlete, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

FWIW, I'm a strong, independent woman who knows her likes/dislikes and takes charge. We do exist you know, but I think the key is to get out of your "Not my type" environment and into one where we DO exist.
posted by floweredfish at 8:18 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

As others have said, you may be surprised at who you end up being attracted to. I had a list of characteristic of my "type". It covered all kinds of aspects of my idea mate (over 6 foot, must like cats, athletic/fit/goes to the gym regularly, makes me laugh, able to have intellectual conversations, not schmaltzy/cheesy, etc) and I was so sure those were the things that were "must haves" if I were ever going to be happy with someone in a long term way.

Yeah, well, then this guy came along. He was a co-worker and a friend. He was the opposite of so many of my list items. He is short, he hates cats and is allergic to them, he went to the gym exactly one time and never went again because he hated it so much, he was super affectionate and romantic and cheesy.... And fuck me, didn't I fall totally in love with him. He is everything I didn't know I needed and wanted, which yes sounds like a stupid thing to say, but it is the truth. He makes me suffocatingly happy in so many ways that all the items on my list totally didn't matter. He is better than the ideal partner I had created in my mind. Soooooo much better. He is seriously better than I dreamed. And to think, if I had stuck to my list I never would have dated him, and we wouldn't be engaged to be married next fall. :)

Bin your list, dude. Throw it out and just meet people and make friends. You'll be surprised how much all that stuff you think is important to your type doesn't matter, because when you click with someone it all just falls away. They become your list. They redefine your type. Some traits they may have, but others they may be the dead opposite. You just gotta go with it and feel free to feel how you feel about whoever. Don't restrict yourself by a "type".
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:22 AM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

As an adult tomboy and sometime gaydar thrower-offer, please don't stop looking. We're out here. Just don't be that dude who wants to be the center of his own John Hughes movie without getting to know the actual person and you'll be fine.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 8:27 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

My partner has a pony tail, a beard, and is a vegetarian and very spiritual. I swore those were all deal breakers, until I met him. Now I think those are actually all very awesome traits. So I don't think "type" really matters.
posted by ethidda at 8:29 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wonder if looking for a type is actually that you are looking for a replicate of a particular person from your past. Maybe you haven't let go of this person yet? My ex's dating profile showed that he was looking for a woman who appeared like me and did the things I did, as far down stating he was attracted to a woman who would move to a foreign country without knowing the language, which I had done. I really don't think he wanted to get back together with me as much as there was a shadow of me still in his mind that he needed time to let go of.
posted by waving at 8:41 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Type" is a complicated thing. people can change their appearance and fashion sense. Personality types and looks are in no way tied to eachother.

For looks- you have a thing for basically a costume. Boyish hair cuts and androgynous clothing. That's totally fine- but it's sort of a silly thing to pin your whole dating life on.

As for going off-type. I completely recommend it. Most of the boys I dated were loud, giant, filthy, fashion-opposed men, covered in tattoos and no jobs. I thought that it was just my "type."Then I met a guy who was on the short side, on the skinny side, who dressed better than I do and likes stability and commitment. I can't tell you how glad I am that I didn't blow him off because of some artifical bullet list I made up when I was twenty-two and really into the Misfits.

As for chemistry- you have no idea if you have chemistry until you spend some time with them. think about it- you can't have chemistry with a porn star. Chemistry is something you can feel and smell- it has nothing really to do with looks. "Looks" just open the door to finding out if there is chemisry there at all. "Looks" are just what gives you the push to ask the girl out in the first place. You will probably meet bitch tons of girls that fit your androgynous-type thing, most of whome you will have no chemistry because they don't want to get naked with you (for whatever reason).

So in closing- obviously ask out the girls you think are attractive- but widen the scope. Go out with girls that you think are attractive in general, even if they don't have your idea look. You may find that a strong, capable woman that you meet in a dress would be happy to toss the makeup and cut her long hair into a pixie- or that the long locks don't matter as much as how awesome her armpits smell.
posted by Blisterlips at 8:43 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Maybe you'd find your type by getting involved with some Critical Mass type stuff?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:44 AM on November 13, 2012

I think you should examine the extent to which this is a physical "type," or if androgynous women are simply a visual representation of the relationship dynamic you seek. You say, for example, that you like "strong, capable women" and that the kind of women that seeks you out is more feminine and "traditional." It sounds to me like you might want more of an equal partner in life, and thus seek out women that are more offbeat and less mainstream? Because that is a totally reasonable "type" to have, and I wouldn't compromise on it, especially since there are really so many women like this out there (especially in urban areas).

If these women aren't seeking you out, perhaps consider what signals you might be giving out, and what a strong capable woman would be looking for in a relationship. Would you be ok dating someone who makes more money than you, or having their career be the focus? Do you mind a truly equal division of chores? Likewise, consider that many many feminine-presenting women do have these personality traits, and you might be dismissing them based on their appearance.

FWIW, I'm a straight woman and am also specifically drawn to androgynous types. In practice though, it is really a personality thing; I like adventurous types that are open to most experiences and not caught up in gender roles. Appearance is really secondary to that trait, and I've fallen head-over-heels for more than one burly guy as a result.
posted by susanvance at 8:45 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Figure out what personality characteristics you think those signifiers like short hair and androgyny are stand-ins for. Then look for girls who have those characteristics, regardless of whether they fit your exact physical "type" or not. For example, I'm a laid-back, bookish, video game loving gal. I have a ton of lesbian friends, because we have a lot of interests and attitudes in common. But I like dudes. I have no problem with being mistaken for a friend's girlfriend, except when it is a guy I would like to sex up doing the mistaking. So I actually wear my hair a little longer and dress a little more femme just to help remind those dudes that might potentially be interested that "30-something, single, Subaru-driving, cat-owning librarian" doesn't always equal "interested in teh ladies."
posted by MsMolly at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2012 [8 favorites]

I am currently rocking a short hairdo and fairly androgynous look. I think I am smart, capable, etc. But I really have a hard time believing men like me the way I am currently (and, in fact, part of the point of my current appearance is to deflect male interest -- I am not currently up for a relationship). I typically get read as very feminine even without makeup, jewelry and so on and I have strong internal bias about what I think men like about me (but at the moment, it is not unusual for women to double check the sign on the bathroom door if they step in and see me). In the past, a male friend helped empower me to let go of some of that baggage, return to college, and embrace myself more fully.

So don't assume very feminine/traditional women wouldn't be happy to tone things down if they believed you really liked them without all the makeup, long hair, etc. The emphasis needs to be more on "god, I love your beautiful mind", but if they feel accepted, they may be happy to dump some of the trappings of femininity. It is extremely common for women to shave less and generally let things go a bit once they are in a secure relationship. I think a lot of women go along with the trappings of femininity because, hey, sex drive. (I know that was my motive when it came down to it. I mean, I would like to do just whatever the fuck but I always fear it will mean lifelong celibacy.)

Thank you for asking this. I think I need to go spend some quality time with my belly button.
posted by Michele in California at 10:33 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

As a tall, strong lady with short hair who is married to a man, you're WAY overthinking this.

One of the ways to avoid asking people out who don't want to date your gender is to meet more people in an explicitly "opposite-gender dating" situation, whether that's online or through fixups or at speed dating events.

Lots of gentleman-loving ladies with short hair and strong bodies in outdoors activities groups, too. Rock climbing is a treasure trove of us Amazon types.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2012

Once upon a time, many years ago, my wife and I thought it would be so cool to have saloon doors between the kitchen & dinning room in our first house. Lo, and behold, a house came available via some friends and it had saloon doors, exactly as we dreamed.

We were thrilled and it was everything we thought it would be, whatever that was at the time. Two years later, I took them down and burned them. We found them to be more annoying than useful or even decorative.

Turned out, with saloon doors and many other things there is a huge gap between the appeal of the idea and the appeal of the reality.

We all carry around in our heads a prototype (or list of attributes or however you prefer to catalog) of what we think the ideal mate would/should/ought-to be. It is very, very appealing but, like the saloon doors before we bought the house, a large part of that appeal is based on having never come hard up against reality.

Not only that but even if such a person existed, the odds of ever even meeting are astronomical.

I've known people who clung hard & fast to their ideal, unwilling to compromise on anything. They spent a great deal of time alone and either settled for far less very much later in life, or turned bitter with disappointment, or both.

The more pragmatic of us prioritize our preferences -- and let's face it, all those things on our "wish list" for a mate are simply preferences -- sorting them (hell, write it all down if you feel the need) into "deal breakers" "nice to have" and "essential". Try to keep the "deal breakers" and "essential" categories as small as you can stand because they are the most restrictive and inflexible.

The wish list/prototype/attributes catalog is never done*. You see a woman across the room and find yourself reacting strongly to her body art. That reaction goes on the list, in whatever category matches your reaction. (I recall as young man seeing housewives going to the pharmacy in house coats & curlers and that went right into the "deal breaker" column.)

Tip: for gawd's sake, never put physical attributes into "essential" or "deal breaker"! Hair color, body shape/type, etc. are fleeting. You may, for example, really really want a blonde but are you actually going to turn your nose up at the brunette who hits all the other "essentials" and most of the "nice to have" attributes? Hell, no!

Also, try to imagine the long-term wear & tear of all of those attributes you hold as ideal. They might turn out to be saloon doors.

*Until you are both off the market, that is.
posted by trinity8-director at 12:31 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know several others here have already alluded to it, but I thought this advice upthread was worth repeating: ...namely, that qualities (kindness, loyalty, honesty, etc.) matter more than things and preferences (education, books, music, vacations involving museums vs. cabins in the woods, etc.). Or, as my brother-in-law put it: "having things in common is overrated. Having each other in common is what's rare."

I too used to have a bit of a bullet-list: must like to travel, be a foodie, physically active, well-read, prefers books to TV, long-haired, maybe a little geeky, likes photography, a bit on the quiet side, etc. I dated a number of women who were a fairly good match to the list (including one or two who were basically a perfect match) and time and again, it failed.

Then I met my current girlfriend. On paper we're not that much alike - she's outgoing, rarely travels, not much into art or photography, loves watching TV, short-haired, and not even remotely geeky. And to be honest the first couple of dates I wasn't sure if it'd work out. But then I started to find that we meshed really well in other ways: we communicate well, share the same view on kids, get along well with each others families, both value being independent, rarely argue (and when we do it doesn't last long), etc. We've gotten around the differing interests largely because we're so independent - I go off and do my own thing on occasion, and so does she. The differences have also encouraged us both to grow a bit - she's gotten me to be more outgoing and to spend more time with my family; I've gotten her to get out of the house and exercise more, to try new foods, and have even managed to get her more interested in traveling.

So I guess my point is that while there's nothing wrong with having a "type", I would focus more on finding someone who has qualities you desire. Personal tastes and interests can change - being able to communicate well and find common ground is much more important.
posted by photo guy at 4:02 PM on November 13, 2012

I'm sorry, this just has such an easy answer. Get yourself on okcupid or any dating site, and go out with 30 women who are tall and have short hair. It's not like this is a huge mystery where you are looking for an unseen characteristic. You can even search on height.

Lucky you... a brief browse of okcupid will tell you that lots of tall short-haired women even have green dots which indicates they reply a lot. They probably don't get 1000000 messages like those who fit into the traditional magazine cover look.

Either this will find you the tall short-haired woman of your dreams, or you will get sick of dating tall short-haired women and look for something else. It just seems like you have such an easy next step to take here, whatever it leads to.
posted by kellybird at 4:33 PM on November 13, 2012

Bugging me: I don't like it that I used the expression about women "letting things go" after they get in a relationship. I meant it more in an emotional sense, not in the sense of letting their looks go to hell.

What I really want to convey is that women who are looking for a boyfriend will tend to bet the odds and try to conform more to general social expectations for what makes a woman attractive (and long hair is one such norm). But after they get in a relationship, a woman is more likely to let go of those generic social expectations and actively seek to conform to what her guy specifically likes.

For personal reasons, the hair thing happens to be on my mind a whole lot here lately. I remain torn between growing my hair out in part in hopes of getting a boyfriend again (because, again, most men prefer longer hair on a woman) and keeping it short because, although I feel (somewhat irrationally) like I look unattractive, I really like the carefree lifestyle short hair has afforded me. It is a lot more complicated than that for me, but I was just trying to convey that for me personally the main reason I think about growing my hair out is because I know most men prefer that, so it is the way to bet if I want to attract a man. I would be thrilled to meet a man who liked me and also could honestly sell me on the idea that his preference is for me to keep my hair short. I am assuming I am not the only woman on planet earth like that.

I hope that makes a little more sense.
posted by Michele in California at 5:18 PM on November 13, 2012

I find that people who get really hung up over type tend to have more miserable relationships because they're constantly comparing their partner to this laundry list of ideal attributes. It's one thing to have an immediate attraction to certain body types but when you frame it as ONLY having an attraction to those body types, you put yourself in a trap where you'll constantly be analyzing any atypical partner for other faults and be unable to appreciate them for who they are and how good they are for you.
posted by buteo at 9:24 PM on November 13, 2012

i'm your type, haha. definitely they are butch girls out there who like men.

chemistry is VERY VERY important and can change/cross the type boundaries, i think. i have felt a powerful attraction to a few people who would otherwise not at all be my type (if you described them to me sight unseen i would not have been interested...)
posted by zdravo at 6:18 PM on November 17, 2012

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