Funny – I just planned to dust off this draft from a couple of months ago, and find I’m reading/listening to the book I referenced!
Finally, a post for both single and married people!
While it is probably obvious, us sexual beings don’t just have one type of person we are attracted to. In our mind or ideal world, we may very well have a person in mind, and may subconsciously lean towards that type, but it is far from a hard and fast rule.
I always liked the Kevin Smith movie Chasing Amy (it is sometimes on Netflix if you haven’t seen it) with Joey Lauren Adams.
While she identified herself as a lesbian, she was open (a crack) to the possibility of finding love with anyone. The movie fleshed out the relationship with Holden and Amy as they explored new waters (her not being a lesbian – though she slept with dudes before- and him dealing with her past).
Like Amy, I don’t think any of us are locked down to one type. I’ve dated a variety, from tall to short, artsy to engineer, from bi to straight-straight. In my mind’s eye, my ideal would be a petite, short, artsy submissive, clingy type. However, I’ve dated several varieties of that type and in the light of day I’ve broken up with those types of “ideals” for some reason (I hated them after awhile). Instead, I’ve made my life with a woman who is in many ways the opposite of my mind’s theoretical “type.” She’s a scientist type, my height, strong (far from petite), grounded, challenging, and ironically, she shut down her clingy nature at my request (early in our relationship) and I miss it some days. She’s also very artsy, very outgoing, and has many relationships that aren’t the easiest to navigate. In many ways she’s the same as me, but in others we’re totally opposite.
Holly and I were watching TED talks on Netflix and ran across Dr. Fischer’s (one of the individuals involved with development of dating site Chemistry.com) talk on love and fidelity. She also talks on this topic:
Dr. Helen Fischer, an anthropologist and consultant for Chemistry.com, tries to do in her most recent book, Why Him? Why Her?: Finding Real Love By Understanding Your Personality Type
In it, she constructs four different temperaments, based on hormones and neurochemicals, which explain why certain types are attracted to others.
Instead of just looking at things like socioeconomic background and basic interests, Fischer comes up with four main personality types. The Explorer, ruled by high dopamine levels, is a risk-taker, seeks adventure and novelty, and is curious. The Builder has high serotonin activity and is calm, likes schedules and roles, and is conventional. The Director is influenced by testosterone and is focused, analytical, and logical, while the Negotiator has high estrogen activity, sees the big picture, and is compassionate, altruistic, and imaginative.
People can fall into more than one type, but Dr. Fisher contends that while couples may have similarities, they also have traits that complement each other. In Fisher’s view, personality type doesn’t always follow the “like attracts like” situation—Explorers are drawn to Explorers, but Directors and Negotiators tend to pair up well, too
I’ve finally gotten to at least start listening to this book on tape this week after starting this post in October and have dug a little more into it – they even have a personality quiz at the end (on PDF for those listening at home on CD). Unpacking the above a little, you have both “birds of a feather flock together” only for Explorers to Explorers and Builders to Builders; and “opposites attract” only for Directors and Negotiators. She also says most of us have a secondary type, and that often those too complement each others. Dr. Fischer said we have all four types in all of us, but for most, one or two usually dominate.
Thinking about this the last couple of days, both Holly and I are both Builders. We get our life goals, base personality and structural issues on a very biological level where we don’t have to explain the foundation of our relationship. Like Dr. Fischer said – builders attract builders. As a secondary type, I am totally a Director. I like Logic and Control and Order being in charge, and am very left brained. Holly, while she may sometimes have to be in charge and Direct (at work), she is much more the Negotiator. She navigates tricky relationship waters, handing out advice that can be tough to hear, but is empathetic, sympathetic, creative, snuggly and has many right-brained sides I don’t have. So our secondary opposites attract too. Plus I am intoxicated by her physical appearance, which has lasted and not waned like others that attraction has flamed out after a short while. Dr. Fischer talks about this some too.
So our mind may have one type, but our biology and personality are often likely to have another. Just how it is. We can’t help who we’re attracted to, even if they aren’t our “type” on paper. Isn’t that funny? What’s your type? Did you marry that person, or someone out of left field? Give the Why Him? Why Her? book a read from the library or check out the TedTalks, it’s interesting.