We pick up our phone everyday, see the same pattern of emoji-laden iMessages from the same seven people. When we head to the bar, we’re drawn to buy a drink for the same kinds of people — the pierced girl, the prep, the bookish nerd, the rustic leather jacket clad bad boy. Our types are something we’ve all accepted having, something we even laugh about. Maybe that’s not as peachy keen as we think it is.
A recently released study by Aalto University indicates that people have a tendency to communicate with the same kinds of people again and again. Through tracking mobile phone patterns, researchers concluded that we’re all just wading in the same talk bubble of the same people, the same genders, and same ages every damn day. And it’s restricting us; communicating in identical groups stymies new ideas and information from circulating. It also leads to dating déjà vu: that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach where you recognize a current date is nearly identical to your ex and they keep talking about It’s Always Sunny nonstop. Oh, crap. They even chew in that same obnoxious way.
Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s true for dating. Trust the physicist. Here’s how to get out there and meet someone completely off-type.
1. Throw out your check-list.
If you can’t find a slim apartment-owner with a hypoallergenic pug, a career in new media, and a graduate degree, it’s probably because your check-list sucks. Most of those demands are unrealistic, but they’re also a bit boring. A new relationship won’t challenge you if it ends up being exactly what you sought out.
2. Say “yes” to someone who you’re not initially attracted to.
“I will only date brown-haired brown-eyed men over 5’11” with a hipster aesthetic.” Please stop. You’re not doing yourself any favors and with every rejection of a person who doesn’t exactly fit your strict physical requirements, you’re limiting your dating pool considerably. Date the buck-toothed kid with freckles. Try a blonde. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how little an exact look matters once you find your match conversationally.
3. Get a hobby that scares you.
Why does the thought of walking the Appalachian Trail frighten the bejeezus out of you? How come you won’t take a slot at an open mic night to grace a crowd with your terrible stand up? Acting against your own hobbies and making yourself mildly to very uncomfortable will put you in close contact with people who actually enjoy those kinds of things. Which is exactly the type of people you aren’t talking to right now. Bonus: cool new hobby.
4. Check out new venues.
If you only go to your favorite local hang outs, you’re only going to see the same 12 different guys. Challenge yourself by going to an avant-garde exhibit alone or to a show of a band you hardly know just to dance by yourself. You’ll be shocked at just who wants to boogie alongside.
5. Get set up.
You’re the only one stuck in the revolving black hole that is your type. Your friends probably wouldn’t mind it if you didn’t date a wounded musician for once. Take them up on their snark and ask them to probe their friends and coworkers for a date for you, even if you’re opposed to set ups. At the end of the night, the worst that can happen is free booze.
6. Get online.
The best way to meet someone who you feel like you would literally never bump into on the street is to find them where you won’t physically bump into them: on the internet. Online dating profiles provide you with the skeletal information of people, the broad strokes. Enough to make a snap judgment, and luckily for you, enough to pick out people who don’t love Lorde nearly as much as you, and that’s okay. Contact them.
7. Travel more.
Getting out of your town or even your time zone can do wonders for the mind. A brief affair with someone who you have very few commonalities with can make you realize you can be attracted to anyone, even someone who barely speaks the same language. You can bring that knowledge home along with an affinity for Peruvian cuisine, or you could end up with in an unbearably romantic long distance relationship with someone halfway around the world.