“Just because love don’t look the way you think it should, don’t mean you don’t have it.” — Leslye Walton, “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender”
By Dawn Onley
My friend, Adisa, once said something to me that was life changing. It was so simple yet profound, and at the time it altered how I thought about dating.
He said many people have a “type” of person that they are naturally attracted to, but sometimes that type may not be a good fit for them or having a type at all may be excluding them from better options. His point was that if a person really wanted to figure out what was going wrong in their dating life, than he or she needed to be open to the idea of “interrogating their preferences.”
Up until then, I had never seriously given much thought to the topic. I just knew that I liked what I liked. In fact, most people – if they’re honest — will admit to being drawn to certain characteristics in a potential love interest, such as a person’s physical features, personality, educational attainment, sense of humor, sense of style, their spirituality, religion, race/ethnicity, their principles and values, political affiliation, view on the world, success, ambition, geographical location, and on and on. For me, a big one was his ability to just man up and take care of stuff.
But within these preferences, there’s a lot of subjectivity. A lot of our “need to haves” are really just “want to haves” in disguise. The reliance on these preferences may even be hindering success.
Adisa, who also happens to be a psychologist, says he’s heard women say they will only date men who are a certain height and he’s heard men say they are only attracted to women who are a certain size. These are all preferences. These specificities can be changed. What this conversation did for me was it forced me to ask myself how much of this really mattered? Even more importantly, were my preferences hindering me from finding true love?
I had never considered before that I could expand the things that I found attractive in a man. Actually I never gave it much thought. I liked what I liked and that was the end of that discussion. Adisa helped me to see that this wasn’t the end at all.
I now believe that many of our preferences are negotiable – not all, but many. I began to see great benefit in challenging a few of my preferences to improve my results — preferences like his height, his career, even where and how I would meet him.
I share this to encourage my single sisters out there dangling a long list of preferences like I use to have to give this a try; to loosen up a bit on the “requirements.” I also want to encourage my single brothers to expand their definition of beauty so that it includes more than meets the eye. You just may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
I’d also like to encourage you all to consider this poignant Wayne Dyer quote: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
I’m a witness. It’s the truth.