During my run today, I was passed by a group of male cross country runners of high school age. Clad in tastefully-short shorts, some in shirts and others without, they zoomed past me into the approaching darkness, muscled legs moving together in deliciously unsynchronized unison. I found myself grinning and not minding the view as their skinny bodies morphed into a neon blob in the distance. It was a throwback to my high school years of dreaming about lanky runners.
Now, of course, I like to think that those days are over. But, I have to face the facts: I, Wanda Dick, have a type, to some extent.
Human beings like things in boxes and categories, setting us up to naturally look for a pattern in our sexual partners. It’s comforting to think about one’s “type” as a screening tool when the sexual world is your oyster, and to dismiss those we’re not interested in as just “not my type.”
I’ve unfortunately fallen victim to this, try as I might to avoid preconceptions of what I look for. Still, I've nixed romantic options right off the bat with frat guys and bearded blonde men because they didn't fit my type. Perhaps my reaction is based on mere physicality or a lack of hookup experience beyond my usual banger type. But either way, my sexual brain hasn’t always been as open as I’d like it to be.
It’s undeniable that I feel an immediate attraction to certain physical traits in my partners. But to what point are sexual types our be all and end all? To what extent do we follow such repeated patterns with our partners?
I’ve surprised myself with the types of people I’ve found myself with in the past six months. Wednesday mornings have found me banging on a sink eye-to-eye with a guy two years my senior who was different from what I had known before—everything from his vastly different extracurricular interests to his bulkier, muscled body. And though I wouldn’t have expected it, our sex turned out to be a lot better and more mutually satisfying than with many of my previous partners. Our differences made for interesting debate and conversation, and his body felt like an entirely new playing field to me. His stronger arms meant shower sex could actually work, that he could bend and carry my body in ways I hadn’t experienced with my previous string beans.
A few months ago, I surprised myself by having my first one-night stand with someone vastly different in background—and largely unknown—to me, with his rollicking laugh and desire to go into comedy. As we made out on bar stools late on that June night, he pulled back to look at me, his hand on my knee.
“You’re so my type,” he whispered. “I wanted you right when you walked in.”
I can’t say I had felt the same for him; he just wasn't my type. While he, in his own words, was giving in to his typical experience, I was deviating from my own.
I swallowed my fears again later that summer when I, for the first time, felt something romantic for a girl. Nervous and feeling like a fish out of water, I asked her out on a date—a girl with cropped blonde hair and a fern tattoo on her arm. I was continually shocked throughout our experience together, but there was also relief in this utterly unknown territory. I noticed things I hadn’t before in my relationships with girls—the flutter of eyelashes, the seductive shape of lips, and the tiny moments of tension.
The summer continued to prove experimental and I decided to keep pushing into unknown territory. It wasn’t merely sex or a partner or a specific thing I was hoping to accomplish, but instead it was getting outside of my comfort zone. And far beyond my limited experiences with relationships and boys who ran long distances.
So here’s my advice: acknowledge your type and preferences if you have them. Know that they might exist. But challenge yourself when you start adhering strictly to those types of people. Heck, get a Tinder and look at the whole spectrum of humans out to swipe. Talk to a new type of person who intrigues you at a party. Don’t always look for what you know.
There’re a lot of rewarding romantic and sexual relationships to be had, and they won’t always come in a package you recognize. So next time, don’t hold back: open it up.
– Wanda Dick