Have you ever met someone new and thought there was a certain something that while you couldn’t put your finger on, influenced the way in which you behaved around them? Are you consistently going out with the same ‘type’ of person, based in part on this intuitive feeling? While many individuals are in pursuit of a partner that has a similar philosophy of life, interests that are engaging and fun, and values that parallel their own, a specific ‘type’ seems antithetical to that goal. It may create an unnecessary filter based on arbitrary labels or physical norms that keeps people from finding compatible mates. Worse still, people may not even be aware they are using it. So why is it so hard to date outside of your ‘type’?
One interesting theory coming out of psychology research uses the concept of interpersonal transference. Transference isn’t just for the therapy room. It can occur within any relationship that influences us- including past ones. Social-cognition researchers use the term transference to mean our representations of others, and our encounters with them, which become our memories. When we encounter a new person that resembles this past significant other, we make assumptions about this new person based on our association with the past person. This inference is usually done outside of our conscious awareness- and can also be triggered outside of our awareness. It may be that a “type” is simply a nonconscious memory (or set of memories) of a role model or past relationship.