When looking for a potential partner, are you drawn to, or attracted to particular characteristics, such as physical appearances and qualities, in them? You may not even be attracted to that person. If your answer is “yes”, then these are the signs you should look out for, according to social worker and psychologist Leepile Thebe and counselling psychologist Siphumile Nqoko.
What does having a type mean?
According to Thebe, people generally refer to having a type in order to classify characteristics that are deemed attractive from a potential intimate partner. ”This differs from person to person as it is highly influenced by various factors such as cultural and personal values, how you were socialised as a child, expectations of others and self, as well as on individual personality traits that develop over time.”
How do you know that you’re dating the same type?
Nqoko explains that you become aware when you find yourself experiencing the same relationship problems repeatedly, but with different partners. “From a psychological point of view, people are drawn to others or keep dating the same type because their defences have been influenced by their earliest childhood relationships with parents or caregivers.” She adds that there is a likelihood that you will be drawn to people who pose traits that will speak to your unconscious internal world in adulthood as a result.
Why could this be?
Your early childhood relationships with your caregivers are a foundation of how you relate to others, and your expectations of relationships in adulthood. Past attachment patterns, cultural beliefs, societal expectations and socialisation are the biggest influencers on how you generally relate to the world, and also informs part of your decision-making. You are more likely to seek partners that will refabricate the same emotional climate you were exposed to.
Could this pattern be detrimental?
“Having a type is not a bad thing. However, you should be concerned if it causes you to be in unhealthy relationships,” Nqoko says. She adds that it is important not to blame yourself for this, but realise that you need to make certain changes to break the cycle of being in unhealthy relationships repeatedly. Thebe agrees, saying, “A consistent pattern of being in relationships with people who pose uncomplimentary traits has consequences.”
How can you avoid dating the same type?
Thebe says you should ask yourself the following questions:
- What not-so-good qualities of others am I repeatedly attracted to?
- What traits or qualities are harmful to my well-being?
- Are my expectations of others realistic?
- What characteristics did they seem to look for in me?
Nqoko adds that you need to be aware of the bad qualities that you are attracted to. Once you know your relational patterns, then you’re able to start making different choices about who you come into relationships with.