We asked a psychologist and a sex expert why people have ‘types’

‘He’s so my type’ is actually rooted scientific fact, y’know

Everyone has a type. Mine is mean brunette boys with beards and big dicks. Leonardo DiCaprio’s is women 30 years his junior. It’s a fact of life. There are certain types of people that you’re more attracted to than others. You might not have even stopped yourself to wonder why that is. Why do you like girls with blonde hair and dark eyebrows, or boys who are emotionally stunted, or both? Is it because of pheromones? Or parents? It’s because of my parents isn’t it. I knew it.

Actually, it’s loads of things. The Tab contacted Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari, a psychologist and relationship expert, and Dr Elle Vooght, sexual wellness doctor at Kandid, for their expert explanations.

You can sense out your ‘type’ from their smell… and their taste

Dr Vooght explains that everyone’s type has a certain smell that attracts you to them, so partly it is a biological attraction. And no, it’s not Dior Sauvage, it’s pheromones. She told The Tab: “Many people would have heard of the pheromone theory (or being attracted to someone based on their scent), but our scent is influenced by things such as our diet and hormone levels. Wholefood diets and females with lots of oestrogen (biologically signalling fertility) smell the best.

“Another big biological player is the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). MHC is part of our genetic code that helps the immune system recognise what is self and what is non-self. We can sense MHC as part of a potential mate’s scent and actively seek someone whose MHC is as different to ours as possible to increase the likelihood of having healthy offspring with robust immune systems.” So basically they smell good to you because of innate biological responses, because their biology is different to yours, which makes you want to mate with them.

Moreover, Dr Voogth confirms you CAN tell if someone’s your type just from kissing them: “We can also sense MHC in saliva, so kissing is a great way to test out compatibility.” So if you’re not sure if they’re ticking all the boxes, have a quick snog and see how your MHC levels are feeling. Mine feel high x

Someone being your type doesn’t guarantee chemistry

Even if a person is physically spot on for you, your “type” is not all about looks, so there might end up being no chemistry at all! Dr Kalanit told The Tab: “Even if I were to present you with ten of your potential ‘type’ of partner, you would have chemistry with only some of them.” This is the case because a lot of your type is formed around how the person treats you – not just how they look. Really, your type is more of an emotional thing and yes…

It is because of your parents

Dr Vooght confirmed that the relationships you have with your parents or primary caregivers will shape the kind of love you want to receive as an adult, saying: “Similarity makes for sexiness. Research has demonstrated that we are attracted to people who have physical and personality traits similar to our parents. This is because we often associate these qualities with positivity and safety, meaning we want to be associated with them.”

Dr Kalanit added that it is not always about positivity – sometimes it’s about hurt. She told The Tab: “You will subconsciously be attracted to a partner who has some of the positive characteristics of the people who raised you, and mainly some of their negative traits, especially the ones which hurt your feelings the most. You fall in love with someone who will eventually trigger your inner childhood wound, and you will want from them exactly what you didn’t receive from your parents, and that will be the most challenging for your partner to provide (we want the un-smiley face to smile, the person who doesn’t like touch to hug…). This is the paradox of attraction but there is a subconscious reason for that: to heal and grow from the past and to live in a mature loving and conscious partnership.” So it might be due to previous pain, but it’s all for the right reasons in the end. We stan self growth!

Just because they’re your type doesn’t mean the sex will be better

“Most research seems to lean towards that sexual attractiveness does not equal sexual experience. Obviously being attracted to someone is more likely to trigger the downstream effects of better sex (such as wanting to actually get into bed with them in the first place!) but the best sex comes from good open communication. It’s more important to have a partner who you feel safe with and empowered by that you can have those important conversations about “I like it when…” said Dr Vooght.

You’ll fall in love with someone who’s been through similar trauma to you

Dr Kalanit told The Tab: “We were all wounded in one way or another during childhood and we developed defensive and coping mechanisms to manage the situation. We tend to fall in love with partners who were wounded in relatively the same developmental stage as us, but their defensive mechanism is the opposite. So the one who needs space and withdrawal from stressful situations will fall in love with a partner who needs closeness and will want to talk through the stressful event.

“People tend to fall in love with the same type or exactly the opposite – which are two sides of the same coin. So the main issue or conflict will be the same. For example if the main childhood wound is about a parent who was an overachiever, the adult child will tend to fall in love with someone who is either an overachiever or the exact opposite, an underachiever.”

Even if someone isn’t your type, you can develop the same kind of attraction over time

Even if someone doesn’t check all your physical boxes, that doesn’t mean you can’t replicate the same level of attraction with them eventually. “Sometimes it can be a case of pure prolonged exposure to someone that life happens to put on your path. If someone is kind or you simply enjoy their company, their attractiveness levels grow, even if you didn’t think that on the first meeting. This is because our interactions with them cause a release of our ‘happy’ hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin, so we associate that person with feeling great,” Dr Vooght said.

Your type will not be the same for your whole life

As much as you think you will always be attracted to one type of person, this simply ain’t true, and searching for this ‘type’ of person can be redundant. Dr Kalanit said: “With every relationship you can grow, heal and develop. We are attracted to someone who is the ‘mirror’ of our emotional development. When we heal, grow and develop we tend to fall in love with people who mirror our emotional developmental state.”

Dr Vooght added: “It’s important to not get held down in the rigidity of seeking ‘your type’. Humans are wonderful adaptable beings. It is likely the person you are at 21 is not the same person you were at 18; it’s normal for what you find attractive to change. As we learn to understand ourselves, it’s likely that we seek someone who will just ‘fit in’ with our lives. For the most fulfilling sexual and dating experiences, it would be beneficial to strip away expectations and preconceptions. Enjoy living in the moment, you never know what life will throw at you.”

Brb gonna date a nice blonde boy and see where it takes me. Good luck with your types everybody!

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