(And why you might be sabotaging yourself with your answer!)
By Suzanna Mathews
When looking for someone wonderful to be a life partner, every one of us has preferences. Asking, "What are your must-have's and non-negotiables? What are your preferences?" are always part of my early-stage conversations with new matchmaking clients.
It's human nature to
have age preferences, attraction preferences, communication preferences, and conflict-resolution preferences. We also have cultural preferences, personality preferences, political preferences, and religious preferences. Who we spend our time with and get close to reflects a great deal about us, so it makes sense that our preferences would form a bit of an invisible rubric -- a set of criteria by which we're selecting the people we want in our lives.
We have these preferences (some of them you might even call biases) because of our life experiences and our values or beliefs. These are reinforced through familial and societal patterns and it’s often difficult to change these tastes, particularly later in life.
However, in order to
a. do our job well as dating coaches and matchmakers and
b. to serve you as a whole human, and
c. give you the highest probability of success...
...sometimes we will encourage you broaden your criteria and include more meaningful qualities. We may challenge you to date outside your usual “type.” Sometimes, this is in regard to age, race, or faith. Sometimes, this is in regard to varied hobbies and interests or lifestyles.
Not everyone is immediately open to this. It can be uncomfortable to examine our own biases; sometimes the fear of the unknown is too much or ideas about what other people will think creates pressure. But we ask you to examine your beliefs and preferences -- and why you have them.
Attraction is largely a biological and genetic phenomenon. We are usually attracted to people who possess enough familiarity to feel safe but enough difference to feel novel and inspire curiosity and interest. Of course, the brain has the veto power to “reject” someone, and often those standards of rejection have been shaped and influenced through parental conditioning and societal conditioning.
Knowing this, let’s ask: How many of your preferences are founded on your insecurities? How might it empower your selection process to heal those? How many of your preferences are founded on your unconscious biases -- ones you haven't examined or chosen mindfully? How many are founded on superficiality?
It is not our job, per se, to psychoanalyze you, but it IS our job to invite you into the full growth experience we offer. It is our job to invite you to expand your possibilities. Often, that means relaxing the 20-point checklist and asking you to be real, be present, and be vulnerable with another human being -- even if only for the length of a coffee date or a glass of wine. If you are intrigued by that, we can help you create relationships with people who are "just enough" like you, but different enough to be intriguing to you.
We are asking you to open up your heart and mind and give the personalities and souls of the people we bring to you priority above shallow outer preferences. An easy "hack" to remember is to strive for chemistry that’s about a 6-7 on a 10-point scale and compatibility that’s a 9. Because sometimes – as we have personally discovered ourselves -- the most perfect person shows up in the package you least expect!