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Sunday, August 1, 2010

What specifically do you not know you want?

In another article I recently touched on the concept of knowing what you want in a relationship. The idea is that there are two types of people out there; those who know exactly what they want in a relationship and will accept nothing less than an almost perfect fit, and those who may have preferences but for the most part will accept the idea of any type of relationship and are happy to define them as they come.

As a disclaimer I must let you know I fall into the second category. And although I mention there being two types of people I know that isn't absolute. There are other types out there though I firmly believe I'm talking about the largest two groups. For this article anyway, let's assume there are just the two groups; People who know exactly what they want in a relationship and that is all they will accept and people who are accepting of any type of relationship. Let's take a look at the two types.

First, those who know exactly what they want and will accept nothing but an almost perfect fit. These are the folks who maybe have a specific body type they want their partner to have. They possibly require employment or a certain level of financial stability, the ability and desire to have children, or even specific tastes in music, art, or travel. Sometimes there will even be a specific situation in their own life they want a partner to fit with, such as existing children or possibly a job that involves weird hours or extensive travel. They may have a laundry list or just a few key requirements. The bottom line however is that regardless of chemistry or attraction they will usually dismiss potential loves if the requirements aren't met.

Is this a good or bad way to approach relationships? I can see that knowing what you want in a partner is probably a positive. Really, why waste time with a blond haired man when you only like redheads? It gives you a consistent way to categorize and qualify (or, disqualify) potential loves. That said there are a lot of people out in the world who will readily admit they are happily involved in a relationship with someone who isn't their "type". I think it would be easy to dismiss potential loves because they didn't meet criteria and possibly miss out on a fulfilling relationship with someone.

Second we have those who are open to any relationship possibility and happily define each relationship they have individually. These folks may have preferences such as those mentioned above but they aren't strict guidelines. Maybe they like classical music and would prefer a partner who shares that interest but at the same time when a potential love comes along who is into say metal, they may appreciate the difference in taste. Though there may be specific situations in their life with which they would like a partner to fit they are flexible about finding alternatives and don't often have "deal breakers" upon entering a relationship.

Again, is this a good or bad way to approach relationships? On the plus side these folks will rarely miss an opportunity for a new relationship. By allowing for relationships with a variety of people who may not be ideal fits they constantly learn about people and relationships and expand possibilities. On the downside this approach to relationships may result in a lot of time spent in relationships that eventually fail. I personally think this type of approach works well with polyamory.

Though I think both types of relationship searches are valid it is the question "What do you not know you want" that puts me into the second category. Over the years I have learned a lot about relationships and personalities and I've watched my desires and preferences change based on what I have learned. Many times I have learned there are facets to a relationship that I enjoy but didn't realize existed. This has also helped me to know when I may not be a fit for someone else, particularly those wanting to fill a list of criteria. Being open to most any relationship potential has provided the latitude for me to learn those things, something which I'm not sure could have happened had I been following the first type of relationship approach.

Do I still believe it is good to know what you want? You bet I do. But I also believe that you can never know what you want until you have tried a few things and found you didn't like them. There has to be some basis on which to build.

How about you? Which category are you in? Are you the Meet My List type or the Anything Goes type? How has that worked out for you? Have any of you ever switched types? Are there other positives or negatives that you see with the two types?


  1. While I have a few deal breakers...honesty being the top of the list...I have to say...what's the fun in putting limits on things? How can you learn more about yourself that way?

    My boyfriend is much like my husband in some way and very, very different in other ways. And I find that I like that. I've had to adjust to the differences since I've been with Dirk so long. But the variety of their differences is a definite perk. Due to those differences, my relationship with each is different.

    I can't imagine I could ever limit myself by strict "types".

  2. ourquad,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I agree completely that putting limits on things doesn't help you to learn about yourself.

    I also think it is great that you not only recognize the differences between your loves but you appreciate them as well.