Close your eyes and imagine your dream date. Would you say that’s your type? Most of us have an idea in the back of our brain of what’s attractive, and we subconsciously move towards people who fit this criterion.

Superman caught my eye when I was young – certainly handsome and heroic are a heady mix. I dreamed my future husband would resemble Clark Kent with his dreamy dark hair, piercing blue eyes, quiet intelligence and thick muscled build. Staying true to my type, as a young woman I only dated men who fit this mold. But when my ex-husband, a dead ringer for Superman, departed into the arms of another woman and left me with two babies, I realized maybe my idea of the perfect guy was limiting my ability to meet a good man. Maybe heroes came in all shapes in sizes?

When I first met my husband, he was far cry from my usual dating type: on the smaller side, fair haired, slim and boisterous. He looked more like a skateboarder than a linebacker, and he was in ministry to boot, so exotic vacations were probably limited to missionary trips. Fortunately, I was at a point in my life where my heart was open, although I had the audacity to say to him on our first date, “I usually only date rich jerks, but it’s not working out for me. I’m willing to try something new, so dazzle me with your character.” And thank you Lord, Tim dazzled. I am so glad I took a chance and tried something different. It’s not that Tim wasn’t attractive to me (he very much was), but he was attractive in ways I had never placed much value in until God worked on my heart.

Maybe it’s time you opened yourself up to something different, too. If you’re willing to give it a shot, here’s how.

Get Rid of Your Type

When people ask me what they can do differently to meet the “one,” I always recommend thinking outside the box. Get rid of your pre-conceived notions of your type: color of hair, height, occupation, bank account and unreasonable standards of beauty. There is nothing wrong with desiring an attractive (to you) spouse, but a supermodel or a mogul with deep pockets might not make you as happy as a healthy and heart-beautiful man or woman with integrity and humor and intelligence.

Beauty fades, money comes and goes, but true character is a treasure to behold. Knowing the distinct qualities you want in a partner is one thing, but focusing on a type can hurt your chances to find love. Over and over again, I notice that those daters who are discerning versus overly picky are the ones who find a great relationship.

Try saying “yes” to different. Do you usually date skinny blonds? Ask out a redhead, a voluptuous brunette or dark-haired woman. Are engineers your thing? Find a gregarious teacher or a soothing therapist. Shake it up and dare to think about dating differently. Stop pigeonholing people into categories and start having fun meeting new people.

Go On Lots Of First Dates

Even if you live in a small town, if you widen the pool of people you are willing to date, you will have more options and, ultimately, a better chance at finding a relationship. Remember, you don’t have to date inappropriate people. I’m not suggesting you hit the bars or find dates in recovery groups; just consider different income levels and physical characteristics you wouldn’t normally consider. The more people you meet, the more chances at love you’ll have.

Hold on to the core values you find crucial and be open. Challenging yourself to date someone outside of your box will also help you learn more about yourself and interacting with different types of people will expose you to new qualities you didn’t even realize you wanted in a mate.

Join Groups Outside Of Your Interests

Many people will advise you to follow your passions and join groups you are interested in. I think that’s a great first step, but then get out there and do something really scary, like join a group you have no skill in. A willing heart to try something new is just as attractive as expertise.

My stepmom met my dad at a ski club event. Now, my stepmom didn’t know bunny hill from a black diamond run, but she was open to adventure and wanted to meet fun and vibrant people. My father was more than willing to help her learn, and they hit it off and were married a year later. Try a hiking group, or volunteer with a new ministry that’s out of your comfort zone.

Ask For Referrals

It’s hard to ask for help, but the more eyes we have out there, the better. Don’t just ask your friends in your peer group for referrals. Ask your pastor, look to your parent’s friends or get in touch with a mentor you trust. Let the people who know you best set you up with the people they respect and admire. You might be surprised at the results!

Although my husband and I met on our own, we were going to be set up by a ministry family we both knew and loved and had previously both asked for assistance in dating. When we met and connected before our arranged date, they were delighted.

The best match for you might look a little differently than you imagined, but it might also be the relationship God knows you need.

You may also be interested in Dating Discernment: How To Figure Out Who’s Best For You

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