I haven’t been asked this question in quite some time, but it was posed to me today.
If you’d asked me three years or more ago my answer would have been completely different. With my mindset now, honestly, I’m embarrassed by what my criteria used to be, and not only that, but I cringe to think about how much magic I missed out on as a result. So it was interesting to notice the difference in my response to this question today. Initially I laughed and said I don’t have a type. Then I explained that what matters to me above all is that a person is present, passionate, driven, yet mellow, open-minded, liberal and funny, but that most other details are peripheral as far as I’m concerned and don’t determine whether I’m drawn to someone or not.
In contrast, here’s what my type was for a while, circa 2012/13. I write this reluctantly and with a hint of nausea at my own former narrow mindedness. 6″2 or above, white, middle class, educated at a red brick university and not in a “fluffy” subject, strong and secure (boring) job, own property. Why, old Jaimie, why would you do this?! (More on that in a second.)
It’s ok, I forgive old me. But here’s what’s cool about the evolution of my “criteria”. It’s liberating. When we think about things in terms of checkboxes and restrictive criteria, we narrow our view, we narrow the opportunities that appear available to us, and we experience a narrower slice of the deliciousness that is life. Expanding – or even abandoning – set criteria sets us free to go with whatever feels right in the moment. This applies to any context, dating or otherwise.
What’s also liberating to recognise, is that my previous criteria wasn’t a reflection of who I really am or what I really want, it was a reflection of what my family told me I should have. My grandma still nudges me jokingly today about finding a nice white british husband. So many of our beliefs and thought processes are inherited through generations, educational and professional surroundings etc, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to re-evaluate. We can pick and choose what resonates with us and leave what doesn’t.
When we’re in the space of set criteria and rules, we’re coming from our head and closing off our heart space, and there is SO much wisdom in our heart. When I had unhelpfully specific criteria, I’d find reasons not to spend time with people based on very little evidence, rather than giving them a chance, then I’d wonder where all my glorious options were! Um, duh. I was also totally detached from my heart space and all the love and wisdom that lies there that I now have access to.
Here are a few other examples of disempowering criteria when it comes to the opportunities truly in front of us. Note, they don’t simply have to apply to others, this type of thinking is inextricably bound with your perceived potential for yourself too. Some of these are things I genuinely believed at some point in the past! Others are things my clients have believed in the past.
– My future partner has to be 6″4
– I can only date someone who works in finance/law and lives in South West London, zone 2(!!!!)
– I’m only attracted to people who are white.
– I can only work in marketing.
– I only want to work for multinational corporations.
– I’m only qualified to be an accountant.
– I’m only worth what I’m being paid right now.
– I can’t be an entrepreneur, I’m an employee.
– I don’t have time.
– I can’t have it all.
– I have to show up looking perfect or not at all (this one held me back from SO many events in the past and is total BS – showing up in your most vibrant energy is the most attractive thing you can do, whether or not you got dressed an hour ago or this morning!)
– I’m just not that confident/smart/[insert other adjective].
– I only like warm holidays.
– I only want to take beach vacations.
One of the ways to start diverting this thinking to a more empowering and beneficial place is to sit down with yourself and get super clear on what REALLY matters to you and what you stand for. Be really honest with yourself, and try and forget about what other people think for a moment. Try and suspend judgment about yourself too – everyone’s different. Own who you are, and your personal preferences, but be prepared to challenge yourself relentlessly in order to get to the core of why. Start by asking yourself some questions.
Let’s say for example, you’re thinking about dating and right now you feel like your type is men who wear bowties every day. What is it about the bowtie that excites you? Is it the gentlemanliness? If so, what is it about gentlemanliness that compels you? How does it make you feel? What else/what other traits/behaviors make you feel that way? Do bow-tie wearing and gentlemanliness really correlate? Can you come up with a different more open minded version of that piece of criteria to replace it? One that allows you be open to more of the amazing population?!
Example 2: you’re really attracted to people with a specific job title. Why? What is it about that title that’s so compelling to you? Could it be deeper than you think, and could you switch it out for the character trait it aligns with it? Let’s say your type is “teachers”. What is it about teaching that you admire? How could it translate to other careers? How might you be able to screen for it as a trait in a wider audience? And (this is my favorite question here) what could it be telling you about an unfulfilled talent within you?
Example 3: you feel like you’d love to be an [insert job title you don’t have right now]. Trust your intuition. What skills do you need to be good at that new job? Do you have them? If not, what skills are you using right now? How might they transfer to the new ones? What can you do to acquire or cultivate the new ones and get a foot in the door into the new field? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can bridge the gap before you leap.
I’m curious, do you agree with me about types and box thinking? What’s your “type” in dating, jobs or holidays? What do you notice about how it’s evolved over time?
Just remember, the thing is never about the thing. And so much more is possible for you than you might think right now. For help expanding your openness and liberating your thinking, reserve your free 60 minute session in my calendar using the pink “Book Me” button.