‘What’s your type’ is probably one of the most annoying questions to encounter on the dating scene. You always feel like you’re being put on the spot to describe that elusive person of your dreams when I for one never actually know what they look like. Sure, tall dark and handsome wouldn’t go a miss. Neither would Zayn Malik on a plate. But I’ve always felt under pressure to be on the prowl for a very specific person who fits an imaginary mould I haven't created yet.
Dating apps are a minefield for this. Having to put into actual, interpretable words what you're looking for in another human being terrifies me, and I know that even if I managed to do it, I'd probably end up swiping right to the exact opposite of what I'd decided was my type that day. It happens. And according to a new study, I'm not the only one ignoring that list of perfect partner criteria.
Researchers studied 42,000 online daters in Australia between the ages of 18 and 80 and it turns out that even though people did specify what they were looking for (hair colour, eye colour, education, body type, personality, political views and religion, to be specific), two-thirds of people ended up contacting those who met just one, or none of their preferences, reports The Times. Figures.
It’s not all that surprising if you think about it. Because whether you're looking for casual sex or the big L.O.V.E, when you put time into working out who the perfect person will be and then venture into the world of online dating with your tick list in hand, even though there are thousands of people literally at your fingertips, your very specific version of Mr or Mrs Right is normally a hell of a lot harder to find than you thought. So you stray from the list and cast your net a bit wider. It makes sense.
Stephen Whyte from Queensland University of Technology and one of the co-authors of the study in Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking said: ‘People are more than happy to initiate contact with potential love interests that bear no resemblance whatsoever to “Mr or Mrs Perfect”.’ So, maybe we're becoming less interested in this idea of a having to know precisely who that special person will be and are behaving more openly online than we might have previously thought.
Dating coach and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings said: ‘Not only are online daters less selective than they initially say but . . . they’re less picky than before online dating. That’s because it’s not possible to tell as much from a dating profile as when you strike up conversation in a bar . . . so people are more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt.’
This definitely doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. There's never any harm in relaxing the rules a bit and giving the opposite of tall, dark and handsome a chance. Don't think of it as lowering your standards, we all deserve to find the person of our dreams and have the happily ever after blah, blah, blah. We should think of it as opening yourself up to more chances at finding the person of the dream you might not have had yet. How's that for romance?
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.