Do you have a man type? I think I do. I didn’t used to have a type. I think I just started noticing that there were similarities in the men I was attracted to. It’s not so bad, but it can be very limiting if this generalized attraction consistency becomes a restrictive guideline for deciding if you are interested, or attracted, to someone. You could dismiss someone just because they didn’t fit into your type and totally miss out on someone who is still HOT, but you were too blinded by your own “preference.” We are creatures of habit. We will go for the same just because it is what we are used to. But we could totally be missing out on something new and different that is just as good or even better!
This hit me while I was meeting up with a casual long-term acquaintance for brunch. I had met him while I was in grad school. He asked me out on a date but I didn’t take him seriously mostly because of the age difference, because I was crushing on someone else at the time, and he was an undergraduate student at the same school I was a graduate student. And even though a distant part of my brain recognized that he was attractive, my attraction shorthand recognized that he didn’t match my type.
So, what is attraction shorthand? It’s where you designate a set of features as attractive and decided to zone in on anyone that met those parameters. The problem with attraction shorthand is that its EXTREMELY LAZY. There is actually no thought involved. You are not actually engaged in the process. You screen out and are dismissive of anything that falls outside, and then you make it super easy for someone who fits the profile to waltz right in your life without the normal day to day tests that determine whether someone is interesting, attractive, or worthwhile enough to get to know.
So, getting back to that young whippersnapper, who as far as I was concerned was a high school student – ok, not really, but you get my frame of mind – I totally dismissed him, but he kept tabs on me for the next several years. I offered friendship at the time and wasn’t really sure if he could swing it. I kept smacking him down. Do you want to get some coffee sometime? I don’t drink coffee. Happy New Years! I don’t celebrate the holidays. Want to meet up and hang this saturday? Ugh. I’ve been working 7 days a week and get home way too late. Wanna do something this weekend? I’m sooooo tired.
Contact was intermittent over the next few years. But I felt bad for smacking him down, if only because as a Dominican-Puerto Rican graduate school educated person, there aren’t that many Dominicans (he is) rolling around in the higher education system. (I expect this to change over time, and I have seen huge improvement. But still, there is a higher education gap.) So, finally I was ready to actively test the friendship waters. After sending a rather harsh sounding email about how I am strictly interested in a platonic friendship and that I will not entertain anything else, we scheduled a brunch meet up. I decided to go to the gym beforehand. I came in my gym pants, oversized cashmere striped sweater, lugging my gym gear in my longchamp duffel-like bag. Hair in a messy, fly-away top knot, skin slightly broken out. I am all business as I walk to the popular tourist attraction spot – 15 minutes late – and then – eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…that slow increasing inner cringe as you are walking to something you were so NOT EXPECTING.
Apparently, the “highschooler” grew up…into a MAN (RAWR). Now, I’ve rarely seen him in person after I graduated, so our communication was either by phone, text, or email. I had done a pretty good job of brushing off his meet up requests without actually rejecting him flat out because I was interested in a friendship but wanted to kill any romantic inclinations in the lad’s heart. Boy, was I internally slapping myself silly.
During the brunch it became obvious to me that I was attracted to him. Did he magically grow into my type? NOPE. For whatever reason, the blinders were off. Shorthand attraction had been disabled. (Plus, let’s get real, he was now in his late twenties – big difference with a college junior). I was able to process this attractive man in front of me without dismissing him. I was all sheepish throughout the brunch and EMBARASSED!!! The thoughts in my head? Why did I have to come right after the gym? Why didn’t I push this back for another couple of weeks so I could have lost more weight? Why didn’t I wait ’til my skin was in better condition. Why did I wear this oversized cashmere HORIZONTAL striped sweater that made me look even BIGGER!!! Why the hell am I lugging this overstuffed gym bag?
By the end, I was so amused at the irony. Even more amused when I found out he had a girlfriend. The overeager boy was gone. In front of me was a rather cool-faced, impenetrable attractive man who WAS ONLY interested in friendship. Yes, folks I laughed on the inside. Totally and completely bemused.
Attraction shorthand…turn that shit off folks.
*A little more complicated because of the age difference and the fact that I was mooning over someone else at the time of initial meeting. But you get the gist.