Why Do We Have a “Type?”

Although Science isn't completely sure how we choose our “type,” there have been numerous studies and much research into the subject that has given birth to some interesting theories.

Some studies have shown that people tend to be attracted to like-minded people.  People who possess the same types of interests and style as ourselves.  This is called “Homophily,” which means “love of the same.” So if this theory were true, you would be drawn to someone with a similar socio-economic background, intelligence level and values as yourself.  An MIT study found that along with physical attractiveness, people also looked at the above similarities the most.  This may mean we desire to date “ourselves” or an idealized version of ourselves. A study done at the University of St. Andrew was performed where researcher, David Perrett, took a picture of the participant’s face and digitally changed it to look like that of the opposite sex.  When shown a “line-up” of different potential “hotties” and asked which one was the most attractive, more likely than not, the participant almost always chose their own “face.”  A little creepy, right?  Apparently, we want a mate who looks familiar, like a parent or ourselves.

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Another way science has tried to explain our “typing” is by what is referred to as “The Rules OF Attraction.”  This has mostly to do with our primitive side and physical attraction.  Women look for men with a strong jaw and a deep voice and men prefer women with a higher voice and both sexes prefer someone with symmetrical features.  Our primal subconscious urges us to mate with the person we have the best chance of having healthy offspring with.  Also pheromones, the scent we give off, plays a role in our attraction.  This can be a driver to a couple’s “chemistry” and alerts your bodies as to if your immune systems are matches. Crazy, right?  Since we don’t realize any of this is going on, we cannot and do not describe our dream mate by their symmetry or how they smell healthy, so this is a theory at best.

Traditional gender roles may also be a reason for our “typing.”  Women who believe and follow more traditional female gender roles are going to search for “manly men.”  They will tolerate more sexual aggression and coercion than a female who is more progressive in her thinking.  Same for a man, if he believes in traditional male gender roles, we will seek out a very feminine woman.  Having more traditional views on gender roles makes people look for certain qualities in the opposite sex.

Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, contends that there are four main personality types and although we may be drawn to similar personality types, it’s true that opposites can attract.  These four main personalities are based on neurochemicals in the brain and hormones and are as follows:

  • The Adventurer
  • The Builder
  • The Director
  • The Negotiator

While two builders may be very happy together in a laid back, schedule following relationship, the differences in the bossy director and the empathetic negotiator may prove to complement each other and balance out to a happy relationship as well. Most people will fall into more than one group, but mostly into one category as a rule.  So this theory tells us that the narcissistic approach to wanting to be with someone with the exact awesomeness as ourselves isn't always the case.  Opposites do attract and can maintain a successful relationship.

Trying to break away from your “type” is healthy. Trying people with different traits and personalities can be an adventure and can help you better see what you are looking for and what you are not looking for.  If you are always choosing a specific kind of person and it’s not working out, perhaps it’s time to try something different.    Widening your dating pool and opening up your mind certainly can’t hurt.  In fact, you may find your “type” wasn't your “type” at all.