Let’s suppose you can describe the perfect man/woman for you. You might even be able to explain why he/she is your ideal. What you’re doing is tapping into yourself and projecting your image of your other half onto a blank screen. Fair enough. That involves you knowing yourself to some extent, which is a great start. I’d say that’s step one.
I propose that step two could be getting to know the type you’re seeking before you even try to find him/her online. You see, when you know yourself, you have some knowledge of what goes with what in your personality. Imagine that you’re uplifting and fun-loving when you fall in love. Well, you’re also probably very upset and avoidant when troubles show up. It’s this yin and yang that’s really important to understand about the man/woman of your dreams. That’s what allows you to be one step ahead in knowing the questions to ask and the ways to handle what you find out.
You might say to yourself: I want a man with a great sense of humour, a lot of ambition and frankly someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass what other people think of him. In this, you’re looking for a Passionate Adventurer.
- You need to bear in mind that there’s probably a big difference in a man who is capable of the odd funny line and someone who has a hilarious but scathing view of the world. Both come from a particular perspective or slant on life, but a lot depends on how deeply he holds it and how much vigor he puts into it.
- If he has gone to a great deal of time and trouble to develop his views, he may truly and deeply believe in them. This man could be very offended if you don’t know and respect where he stands on things and why.
- For all mildly to seriously humourous Passionate Adventurers, respect is enormously important. You might not have to agree with him about everything, but you very likely will have to keep his thoughts and feelings in high regard.
- Just like not all Passionate Adventurers are hilarious, they’re not all highly ambitious. You may have found a man who appears to have the earmarks of success, but somehow just never gets off the ground. On the other hand, your guy could be driven, forward moving and powerful.
- If he’s ambitious, he likely has confidence that he’s on an amazing quest. He tends to believe in himself and courageously go forward.
- He may have an incredible ability to understand how people and processes work because he can see life from different angles. This allows him to have diversity and creativity in his approach to moving onward and upward.
- One very important factor in making a Passionate Adventurer ambitious or not is the extent to which he’s willing to play somebody else’s game. It’s pretty much a given that a person who seeks success has to do this at least some of the time. Your guy may or may not be up for that, on principle.
On not giving a rat’s ass:
- Let’s imagine you have the most agreeable and passive of all Passionate Adventurers. He might quietly and mildly dislike some of the ways of the world and the people in it. As a result, he simply pulls back and does his own thing. On the other hand, if you have a man with a mission, he could go into full-on fight mode.
- Believe it or not, this man’s ability to not give a rat’s ass about what others think of him is due to the same reason he’s mysterious: There’s a tiny bit of him that he keeps for himself. It’s enough for him to have his own approval.
- Plus, his pride is a big factor here. He’s generally offended by people who don’t take the time and trouble to get to know him and believe in him. That makes him feel misunderstood and disrespected. He probably finds it absolutely intolerable to be stifled, controlled, scrutinized or interrogated.
- Thus it’s very important to know what pushes his buttons and how far he tends to go as a result.
As you can see, it’s greatly to your advantage to know ahead of time what all is involved in the characteristics you seek in another person:
- You can develop questions for him/her that allow you to cut to the chase in determining if he/she has what you’re after.
- It may be possible for you to work smoothly with an individual because you realize where the trouble spots are and you know how to get around them.
- You might even be able to develop an online profile pitched towards attracting the type of your choice.
My theory of love attitudes produced the above-noted information on the Passionate Adventurer. There are also three other types: the Gripping Dramatist, Sensible Compromiser and Joyful Diversionist.
Perhaps I should explain a bit about how I developed my theory. As an individual and couples psychotherapist, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time explaining why love problems occur and trying to solve them. I have essentially studied love along with the individuals experiencing it.
I decided to figure out if it’s true that love is different for everybody. So, I kept a piece of paper in my desk and jotted down the definitions of love as I heard them from my clients. I quickly realized that I needed four pieces of paper: I was hearing that there are four different views of love. I labelled them love attitudes.
Essentially, a love attitude is a set of thoughts and feelings that determines how you think, feel and behave when you’re in love. You can’t see your love attitude clearly unless someone or something brings it to your attention. Most people need to take my test or read the full descriptions of all four love attitudes to figure out which one is theirs.
By the way, it can greatly add to the online dating experience to know your love attitude very well. That’s step three.
For your reference, here are brief descriptions of the love attitudes from the perspectives of people who have them:
- I am a Gripping Dramatist lover. I’m a pretty serious-minded person who is aware of the dark side of life. I feel as though life and love haven’t treated me very well. When I fall in love, I end up in a gripping drama: I’m afraid I don’t deserve to have somebody fall in love with me and yet I want to believe that I do. I go through a painful game of he/she loves me he/she loves me not. That overwhelms me with emotion. At times, I feel terribly vulnerable, which makes me sensitive, intense and volatile. I can go into an all-out panic or I can be really fiery. Sometimes I say and do reckless things. I can be extremely controlling in my environment and towards others to make up for how out of control I feel inside myself. All of this pushes and pulls my lover and me. It can look like my lover is rejecting me even if he/she is not. I can end up sabotaging my whole love relationship.
- I am a Passionate Adventurer lover. I’m a courageous person; life and love strengthen me. When I fall in love, I believe in myself and I see myself going on a passionate adventure. It’s a great opportunity for me to explore, using my lens on the world and my sense of humour. I’m confident enough to make split-second decisions and go forward immediately. That’s all part of the adventure for me. I don’t like anyone or anything interfering with my spirit for adventure. I can’t stand it to be bored, fenced in or cornered.
- I am a Sensible Compromiser lover. I’m a warm and comforting person; I generally run my life so that I feel safe and secure. When I fall in love, my way of life is a sensible compromise. I really, really dislike disappointments. It’s very painful for me to disappoint myself because I’m shocked and upset that I let it happen. I almost feel like I betrayed myself. I do my level best to avoid letdowns and setbacks: I don’t set high expectations, go to extremes or have wild and crazy emotions. I even minimize romance and passion. When the inevitable losses occur anyway, I’m very realistic and practical. I reckon with them and settle for less than I had before. My way works for me, so don’t try to rush me, push me or change me.
- I am a Joyful Diversionist lover. I can be as happy, self-indulgent and in-the-moment as a child at play. When I fall in love, it’s a spontaneous and glorious high. I’m in my element: I feel young at heart, I’m in love with love and I’m escaping the difficult stuff of life. Because this feels so wonderfully different from the monotony of regular daily life, I experience it as a joyful diversion. I have every confidence that my lover and I will be able to keep our love strong and thriving. I really don’t want anybody to rain on my parade: Telling me I need to grow up, that my feelings of new love will end and that I should accept this dose of sobering reality.
There’s a lot more that needs to be said than what’s reflected in these introductory statements; your love attitude is pervasive and runs deep. You might be surprised by the insights you gain about what is lovable and not so lovable about you. In many cases, what you actively dislike about yourself is the very thing that your lover finds hard to take. The detailed descriptions of your compatibility with each of the love attitudes may be really useful. As well, you’ll probably be relieved to find suggestions to help you deal with the less than lovable characteristics you and your lover have; individually and as a couple. These aren’t included here, so instead of making this part step four, let’s make it a bonus item.
‘Why Love Succeeds or Fails’ tells you exactly that. What makes love relationships stand the test of time and surmount all sorts of difficulties is a combination of how much love the two people feel for each other and how much problem-solving ability they have.
Understanding the love attitudes and how the love-matches work will help you:
- You’ll have a very good idea of what you can do if you want your love relationship to succeed.
- You won’t burn out the love between you in frustrated attempts to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it.
Here’s wishing you love and the wisdom to handle it well.
- Letter to the Editor: Toronto Life, July 2015
- Reflecting on Tinder