A dating expert encourages women to ditch their checklists and be open to meeting men outside their comfort zone.
- Delaina Dixon, BettyConfidential.com
"He's just not my type!" If that's the exclamation that comes out of your mouth every time you meet a guy you like but he doesn't fit your "dream man" criteria, and you're still single, Andrea Syrtash would like to have a word with you.
The dating expert has written a new book, He's Just Not Your Type (And That's A Good Thing), and in it, she encourages women to widen their scope (and ideal mate checklist!) and be open to meeting men who seem outside their comfort zone. In other words, consider the idea that Mr. Not-Your-Type could become the love a lifetime. After all, that's what happened to her.
"I fell accidentally in love," confesses the former commitment-phobe. "I dated some very successful and accomplished men, including some whose names I can't mention." Then Andrea met her now-husband Michael, a New York City educator. Their friendship soon blossomed into love. "I married this goofy teacher that I totally was not looking for, and I've never been so happy in love."
As Andrea points out, "We don't always wind up with the guy we thought we would be with, or the person we pictured in our head," and that's OK. "I want to encourage women that if they feel strongly for someone who may not add up on paper not to be afraid of those feelings because pursuing it could lead to a great love and life partner." With this in mind, we decided to talk with Andrea about her book, and the thinking behind it:
What inspired you to write this book?
"Ten years ago a friend called me crying and told me that she'd fallen in love. She was totally freaked out because the guy wasn't her type, and yet she was really happy. She was having these great emotions for someone and questioning it. So many of us overanalyze who we're dating. I realized that the right match is about a feeling, not a thought."
What's the biggest mistake you see women making when they date?
"A lot of women date the potential of a man, not the person. It's a wonderful quality a lot of women have, that we think guys can be changed or come around if we're there long enough. But we need to learn to read their actions, not their words. It doesn't matter if he's promising you the world. If you're not getting what you need, that's your clue to move on."
In your book, there are three types of non-types to date. Can you break them down for us?
"The first is the departure non-type, which is completely opposite from your usual choice. You may say 'I only like extroverts,' and then you meet an introvert, or 'I only date Republicans' and you hook up with a Democrat.
"The superficial non-type is the guy who, on the most superficial level, doesn't add up on most women's checklists because he's too short, too bald or too fat - not the tall, dark and handsome guy who's on everyone's list.
"The circumstantial non-type may add up on paper, but his circumstances don't. He may be great, but he's divorced, or has kids, or is from a different religion or lives across the country. In all these cases, when the guy doesn't add up but we have strong feelings for him anyway, we doubt ourselves. We say, 'I don't know how I should feel.' If you want to be around him and you're happy and he brings out the best in you, why are you questioning it? Go for it."
How do you get excited about dating someone outside your comfort zone if you're not normally attracted to those types of men?
"Take baby steps. Be open to the fact that your non-type can come in a different package than you imagined. Everyone is entitled to deal-breakers, even superficial ones, like not dating a guy under 5'10". But I encourage you not to make the laundry list too long. In the book, you get to pick five must-haves and can't-stands, so you better pick them well. When you have to narrow down your must-haves like that it might lead you to choose 'family values' over 'blue eyes' or 'never been married.' It's important to note that none of the women I spoke with, who ended up with guys who weren't their type, feel they settled in any way. They all felt more in love than they ever had in their life.
Are there any things you should do before you try dating someone who's not your usual type?
"First, get clear on your dating patterns. Do you always date guys who cheat on you or do you only like bad boys? Be conscious of your patterns and then break them. Get clear on your core values and seek out someone who aligns with them and respects what's most important to you.
"Second, challenge yourself. You have your love roadmap of what you're looking for, but you don't want to fill it with must-haves, like 'he must have never been married' or 'he must be this height.' If you have too many must-haves, you're setting yourself up for failure and closing yourself off to some guys who may have been a wonderful match for you.
"Last but not least, build your dating life around what you love. Once you've committed to new patterns, you will literally have to be in new places to meet those men. Think of where you might meet a guy who shares some of your interests and values: book clubs, a lecture series, sporting activities you enjoy. Even if you don't meet a man, you'll have a good time and your best you will shine through. There's nothing sexier than a woman who is confident and sure of herself."
Tell us: Have you ever dated against type? How did it go?
"TV DivaGal" Delaina Dixon is an entertainment journalist who writes about television and celebrity life. You can read more of her work, with her own dash of DIVAness, at her site www.DelainaDixon.com.
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