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If you keep tripping over the same stone (ahem, person), as the Spanish saying goes, maybe it's time to pay a little more attention to what hasn't worked for you in the past. Think about your past relationships — do you see a pattern with the type of person you've been attracted to? If so, it's probably time to reassess if your "type" is working for you — or not.
We asked dating expert and founder of Latina x Love Magazine Sujeiry Gonzalez, also known as Love Sujeiry, about how to get out of that rut and be more open to surprising matches when you're out in the dating world. Keep reading for her advice on how to get out of your comfort zone when dating online, how to figure out what you really want in a relationship, and the number one question you should ask yourself to know if there can be compatibility with someone you just met.
What's Your "Type"?
First of all, how do you determine if you have a type? Get a notepad and go down memory lane, Sujeiry recommended. "Think back to your last three relationships," she said. "What do these exes have in common physically and personality wise? Do they have similar characteristics?"
She also said it's important to look at the dynamics within these past three relationships. "What dynamics played out when it came to gender roles, money, faithfulness, and communication?" she said. "Did they all treat you the same? Why did the relationships end? Jot down any blaring commonalities. If you find a common thread (or multiple threads), then you have a type."
How to Let Go of Old Patterns
Once you've identified your type, consider why you were attracted to them in the first place, as well as how they ended up not meeting your needs. Some people seem to date people who work in a particular field or look a certain way or are into a specific kind of music — but you need to identify your type at a deeper level.
"Let's say you have a type that is a bartender," Sujeiry said. "You fall for them over and over again. Yet you struggle with their career because your love language is quality time, and they are always working when you're at home. Or you love musicians, but they get a lot of attention from groupies, and it enrages you because you struggle with insecurities."
This is when you need to start looking outside your comfort zone. This doesn't mean trying to force yourself to date someone who is the complete opposite of your type. Rather, you want to look for someone who is going to better meet your needs. "In the end, what matters is that you are loved and respected and that you are in a healthy, reciprocal relationship," Sujeiry said.
OK, so you don't want to do a complete 180 — but where do you draw the line then when swiping right or left? Take that list of commonalities and be mindful of these character traits when dating again. It's easy to get lost in old patterns of people we're traditionally attracted to, even if that type of person has only caused drama, loss, disappointment, and heartbreak.
"If you're online dating, talking to a potential mate, or even on a date, pay close attention to what they say and what they do," Sujeiry said. "Speak less, listen more. Remember how those relationships ended and why you were unfulfilled. Eventually, you will be able to pinpoint your type from a mile away, and your type will turn you off, and you will turn them down. That's when you will be open to exploring other options."
Dating Outside the Box
For many people, dating people with a similar cultural background is a habit — and potentially a must have. Ask yourself: have I ever considered being open to other cultures? That can be an excellent place to start.
As Sujeiry said, being with someone from a different culture helps you broaden your horizon and get out of your bubble in more ways than you might expect. "If embraced, you can grow as a person and as a couple, as long as there is respect and understanding for each other's cultures and open communication about cultural traditions, customs, and expectations," she said.
But some challenges are particular to multicultural relationships. "Not every culture embraces interracial or intercultural relationships, which can make it difficult to connect to relatives and cultural traditions," Sujeiry said. "This is where you need honesty and compromises. You don't have to have the same relationship that your parents did, and you don't have to raise your children one way or the other. As a couple from different cultures, it is your responsibility to choose what you take and leave from each other's respective cultures. That way, you can build a relationship identity based on both of your cultures."
1 Question to Rate Them All
Ultimately, when there's true compatibility with someone, it doesn't matter if that person fits that "type" you're used to, ticks all the boxes on that list you made when you were getting over your last breakup, or shares a cultural background with you. Sujeiry said at the end of the day, what matters when thinking about if a new relationship has potential is asking yourself if you can see them as an actual friend.
"Not just an acquaintance, but a best friend," she said. "Someone that enjoys similar activities as you; someone that you can be open with and fully yourself without judgment; someone that shares similar values about money, love, religion, and family; someone that desires the same lifestyle that you do. Friendship is the foundation of relationships, and as they say, 'birds of a feather flock together.'"