Do you have a physical “type”? When was the last time you checked that out?

What's on _your_ checklist?

What’s on _your_ checklist?

Do you have a physical “type”? That’s great! You know what you like, which certainly cuts down on wasted time on dating apps. Maybe you thought I was gonna slam on having types, haha, NOPE! We are TOTALLY allowed to have preferences, to let our eyes drift where they will.

I’m not even going to argue about where physical preferences come from, because a) they aren’t universal and b) they can change over time within an individual and within a culture, so in the end it DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER about histocompatibility theories or universal standards of symmetry or my mom didn’t breast-feed me, I DON’T CARE. Human beings have minds, and therefore we can be mindful, if we want.

Why would you want to be mindful about your preferences for partners’ physical characteristics? Well, three main reasons:

  • you want to broaden your options for dating/sexing/marriage/Netflix
  • you are a suspicious bastard (of any gender) who doesn’t trust anything that seems that “obvious”
  • you are a curious sex geek, game for any experiment

If none of those apply to you, then this article is not for you. Please check for your personal belongings before exiting this article. The rest of you carry on…

Start by picking apart what you currently like. Why do you like it? “Because” is not sufficient. I mean, it is sufficient, but for the purposes of intellectual curiosity, it’s not. What do you like about brown eyes, or red hair, or tall lanky dudes, or big tits? How do they make you feel? Who do you know and love already who fits your type? What associations do you have with a particular physical trait? What associations does society have with a particular physical trait?

Personally, I go on high alert when something in my sex/kink life dovetails or in some way syncs up closely with cultural expectations around sex or gender roles or appearances. I definitely stop and look at it. So, for example, when I realized that I really liked to be submissive, I took a GOOD LONG LOOK AT THAT. Why did I like it? What was I getting out of it? Was I taking care of myself in necessary ways? When I realized that I had never had sex with a fat man, I was like, “Whoa, that’s interesting. What’s that about, if anything?” And I went out and began cultivating appreciation for and awareness of the big boys. Your preferences matching up with society’s—around race or body size or heights or abilities or gender presentation or whatever—is not just a coincidence. Yes, you are a special fucking snowflake, but not so much that you can resist the societal pressure, and everyone else can’t, C’MON.

Once you’ve pulled apart your existing preferences—don’t worry, you can go back to them, but they might not feel quite the same anymore—now you go out there and look at something besides those. You can pick a characteristic specifically different or opposite from your usual preference, or just go broad-spectrum: everything that is not my existing type.

Start with tumblrs or appreciation blogs, pictures online. NOT PORNO, just normal candid photos. And then move on to watching people, in action, out in the world. (It is slightly easier when you go with someone supportive of your quest.) Watch people, in lots of different places: shopping malls, parks, cafes, beaches, the dance floor. Not in a creepy way. Learn to get your visuals in a glance, WITHOUT BEING A CREEP. Non-creepy people-watching is a skill that can be developed.

Observe how different bodies look different doing things, how red looks against different skin tones, or how a dress shirt fits across different musculatures. No judgment, you’re just noticing things. If you are artistically inclined, try taking a sketchpad out and capturing some of the looks, just what is there. If you are more of a writer, you can do the same thing in words. Your writing will be incomplete, but it will help push your mind to take in what is in front of you. No judgment at all; in fact, if you find yourself starting to apply judgments to people’s appearances (things like “that’s ugly” or “that doesn’t look right”), take a breath, push it out of your mind, and just keep observing.

After you’ve done this active observing for a while—you’ll know when you’re ready—take any restrictions off your dating site profile. Just do it. Just for a week at a time, if that stresses you out. But do it, and look at your respondents through your shifted lens. When you go out to a club, or whatever your usual dating pool is, keep those observing eyes open.

What if you wind up getting legitimately interested in someone who is not your (previous) “type”, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T TELL THEM THAT, AT ANY POINT. As a pickup line it is hella offensive, and with someone you are already involved with, it is jarring as fuck. If something about this awesome person that you are interested in is a stretch for you and your libido and your ego, then that is on you. Do the work in your own fucking head, and when you feel like you’ve reached the point where that thing that makes them not your type is just a characteristic and not something to strive mightily over? YOU STILL DON’T NEED TO TELL THEM. Give yourself a little gold star IN YOUR MIND, and get on with enjoying their company for all the awesome reasons you have found.

And if your type is still there, in your head or in your crotch, wherever it resides? Now you’ve got context for it, and you’re coming back to your thing. Go on. Enjoy it. (You still don’t need to go on about it, though.)


I think you might be my type, the type of person who likes intense conversations about sex and bodies and love and ambition and ART. The type who likes to see that stuff written about. The type who, if they have money, believes in putting a bit of it where it can really do good, like as a patron pledge over on Patreon!

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