Sunday, December 11, 2005

Set in Type

Recently, I had more than one conversation about "types," as in "s/he's not my type." In this context, it's not about "I only like hedge fund managers" (although sometimes it is). When you say "type", it's all about physical type. "I like blond guys," or "I like thin girls," or "I'm not attracted to Sephardi men," or "I'm into petite women." Thinking about my past relationships, I am unable extrapolate a single type. I'm sure that my single sisters do have "types" of guys they'd prefer to date, like an Amazon wishlist of items they've ranked in order of which they'd like to receive first. But it's only men who I've heard say, "well, she's not really my type, so I don't think I'll call/write/email/contact/go out with her." Before you men get your Brokeback Mountain Underoos in a bunch, let me say that there were one or two JDate profiles/blog entries by men that pissed me off inspired this post, and I acknowledge (as I did above, hello...) that women do it too. But I began wondering if maybe men (and ok, women too) need to be a little more flexible about physical type. Especially when considering a first conversation or a first meeting. What do you guys think? Can we be attracted to people of varying physical types or are people really "set in type"?


ron s miller said...

A happy in shape woman is my type.

Caryn said...

Interesting topic. If I told you my "type," or rather what I *think* my type is, and then compared it to the guys I've been out with, they wouldn't match. Does that mean it didn't work out with them because they weren't my type, or I really don't have a sense of what my "type" is? ... Related: What I've been puzzling over lately is how much of your "type" do you have to have figured before you meet your match? Can I really know what I'm looking for before I find it? I've seen so many successful relationships with two people who were "exceptions" for one another ... and if we're really looking for the one who breaks all the rules, what good are the rules to begin with? ...

Anonymous said...

I was just reading the wedding announcements in the NYTimes this morning, and the "Vows" column featured a couple who knew each other through their spiritual pursuits, but wouldn't date because neither were the other's type. Until they realized that only pursuing their "type" was a misleading red herring.

The psychologist Harville Hendrix, in his book "Getting the Love You Want," states that pursuing a "type" is based in the unconscious' desire to find a surrogate parent figure. Singles enter into romantic relationships with such "types" with the (unconscious) expectation that the partner then love them as the parent never did.

I think this all comes down to knowing yourself and what you have to give in a relationship, rather than what you're going to get. And looking beyond packaging.

Dr. Janice

Needsabetterjob said...

In terms of marriage, the type of person is more important than meets the eye.

If you join a synagogue and participate, there are people who like to have guests at the Shabbos table, and those who don't. This needs to be
looked at prior. Also a person's materialistic needs and demands are very important. Does one want to live in a small NY apartment or a house in the burbs, and if so, what type of house? This is important bec. most people, look at their first house, as just that, and look forward to a better second or third house, while some people, are content w/ anything and do not wish to move again. This can create friction and depression even, depending on the extent of the sub-standard housing and how it affects the one who desires a more spacious and beautiful home. This is just one example that you have to examine when considering a marriage partner.

In general, in Israel, the people who live and moved there, are less materialistic than the Jews in the US.

Panama Joe said...

Men are just more visual then women. As a guy, you can like a girl for her personality all you want, but if you're not physically attracted to her, she might as well be your sister.

Trust me, I would change this if I could.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. First you hear that men marry a woman like their mother (referred to in the Talmud I believe as "Oedipus, Shmoedipus"). Except when they don't.

My dad married a woman, my mother, who was quite unlike his mom. However,
1. They both thought he was a bargain and would put up with his bullshit, to a certain degree.
2. Both mom and dad had similar financial aspirations (i.e., none).
3. Seems both members of the couple should be at the same place on the handsome-ugly scale. Money will perhaps only compensate for ugliness for a short while. This is where JDaters try to bend the rules, it seems.
4. While what other people think is not doubt important, most happy couples I know really want to please each OTHER first and foremost. The hell with the rest of the world, amen.

Anonymous said...

Does "type" refer only to physical type?
If so, how specific is this? In other words, is there a difference between wanting someone with red hair and someone with hair you love to run your fingers through? Someone with perfectly straight teeth or someone with a smile that makes you melt?
When people say someone is not their type, what they are really saying is, "I am not interested." It's code. Kind of like "I'll call you" is code.
I've met guys who are totally my type looks-wise -- rather, I find them very attractive to look at -- and then I speak to them and want to flee. What a shame.
And it's most certainly the case that a short, plump, schlumpy, unshaven Orthodox Jew with bad skin and a yarmulke is the farthest thing on earth from my type -- I am not observant, and Jewish in name only, and I prefer guys to be tall and skinny, all other things being equal -- and I am totally head over heels with this guy.
I think the whole "my type" thing is a crock.

Anonymous said...

My "type" of man is someone who is interested in me.

Anonymous said...

Huh? "Type" equals physical appearance only? Since when? It also applies to personality - in fact most guys I know use it more for personality than looks. For example, a friend wouldnt go out with a fairly shallow kindergarten teacher - though she was really cute - because she wasnt his type (he is a pretty intellectual type of guy). Another friend wouldnt go out with a serious, conservative professional because she wasnt his type (he conversely likes the simple, ditzy (ie easy) girls).
We can all think of 10 hot celebrities we'd love to be with, and betcha that everyone's list would have those of varying physical looks (blond, bunette, shorter, taller etc). So noone is beholden to an exact physical type, but we generally go for people of similar personality types.

Jennifer said...

"As a guy, you can like a girl for her personality all you want, but if you're not physically attracted to her, she might as well be your sister."

Swap the genders and you have me. I've tried to force myself to be physically attracted to guys not my type. And I do mean, FORCE myself dsepite the nausea. I was so miserable and ran away at the end of date (literally in some cases) from those guys because I was so uninterested in them.

Yeah, "my type" usually turns out to be jerks in a few years. But forcing myself to date people I don't find remotely attractive has yet to get me to find them more attractive. There's guys I know of that I would have a crush on if I just found them attractive. I don't, so...that's it.

Drew_Kaplan said...

I'm totally agree with Panama Joe. There've been women who have personalities for which I would totally go, were it not for their lacking in the looks department.
I think I may have contributed to your (Esther's) inspiration for this posting (especially since I may be picky), but I hope it's for the best.
In yeshivish-speak, I would say that looks are me'akev (basically, a prerequisite).

Esther Kustanowitz said...

You know, sometimes I'm sorry I ask these questions at all...

On paper, I've always liked what my mother's generation would have called "goyishe looking men." But none of the guys I've dated have looked anything like the tall, blonde paradigm. The tallest one was 5'8, only one of them had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was his personality that I fell for, not his face.

I do believe that you can't force attraction. Sometimes it just isn't there, and that can happen even if the person is really good-looking (which is why a phrase like "lacking in looks" really steams my chulent). Attraction is undefinable. Type, in the way I meant it, is physically specific. And I believe that people use it as a crutch to excuse viable candidates from competition even if their resumes, and indeed, even outer packaging, is perfectly acceptable.

I think there are only certain things about which one should be rigid. Obviously it's a different line for everyone; for me, one of the major dealbreakers is if the guy is not Jewish. But I don't view that as a type, rather as a long-term compatibility characteristic.

What tangled webs we weave, in our minds and in our hearts, as we search for companionship.

Anonymous said...

Geez, somewhere I've written volumes on this. There's lots of different 'attraction' theories, but it comes down to versions on some simple timeless elements:

1.) Availability. Why did that brilliant successful gent fall for that mildly attractive but young and naive shop girl? She was there and available to and for him.

2.) Friendliness. 'She/he was the first person who took me seriously and listened to what I had to say'. A generation or so ago (and earlier), that often was enough for a match for life. A chance encounter at the soda fountain leading to a longer series of compatible discussions a bit later.

3.) Attractiveness quality. This ranges wildly, but surprisingly we Do have fairly common expectations for beauty in both males and females. (If not, the advertising industry would fail within nanoseconds, ditto for most visual media). This is the hardest quality to predict or quantify. Sometimes beauties don't age particularly well, no matter how much effort or expense is thrown at the project. Sometimes the plain guy or gal improves greatly with some age and wisdom and knowing how to dress & apply some makeup. Many Hollywood actors grew up as 'ugly ducklings'.

It's my contention though that this quality, given a decent floor of expectations; (NO, I'm not going out with that knuckle dragging dreadful looking half wit friend of yours), is quite malleable. Most folks' dating histories will prove this out. They range widely, and most will tell you that while they do have some preferences (boy, do I like them....), lots of others will do just fine given different qualities and expectations.

Given high marks in other areas it's not at all uncommon for very successful relationships & marriages to come from yes, 2 wildly incompatible partners on a common scale of attractiveness. All things being equal, looks fade the farthest and fastest, a good personality, or good fortune/personality/profession generally are more stable longer.

4.) Personality or maturity. (This is apart from friendliness/ or approachability). People who know who they are and what they are about are attractive. People who have matured past their childhood issues, pain and hurts are attractive as potential mates. People who are funny and who can laugh at themselves are attractive, if for nothing else but for conversation.

People who have relatively 'stable personalities', are attractive for a number of good reasons. These may not be immediately apparent, so CPA's sometimes have a hard time impressing dates, and bi-polar drug abusing musicians (to use an overly worn example), may have all the babes flocking to them for periods of time.

Like many others I had no particular physical type I was looking for in a mate. I did know that she had to be smart. This was later upgraded a bit to brilliant, as I was sick of trying to relate to women who had little idea of what I was talking about. I was also attracted to a slightly different sort of personality too, pretty easy going with few 'issues' common to the gals that I was used to dating. In this I was going against the type of some of the women I grew up with. My wife is the least likely to be a 'drama queen' (about anything) than any women I know. I appreciate that, and it does keep things very simple at home.

But everyone comes to their own combination of who they find attractive, and who's likely to remain in the 'batter's circle' given some limited number of qualifications and desires. I still say these can and should be flexible, and with a different combination of rigs one should be able to land some sort of catch. I see it happen often enough! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

Caryn said...

Esther, great points. My way of phrasing what you said in your comment is distinguising between a preference and a dealbreaker. I'm still not sure which qualities are which for me, personally. Also, nice work calling out people for using type as an excuse to not seriously consider someone. It reminds me of how I'd always get crushes on unavailable men -- which was a self-defense mechanism that kept me from really allowing myself to experience something vulnerable.