Life After Divorce . . . Do You Categorize People?

By Lindy Earl

There are signs all over the halls in schools these days that say, Don’t Stereotype.  I’m using the word categorizing, but it’s not too different.  First, please know that I disagree with these signs.  Why shouldn’t we categorize people?  It helps us to understand them.

For instance, if you meet someone who is incredibly buff and carrying a football, by categorizing him in your mind as an athlete, you now have a logical place to begin a conversation.  How is that a bad thing, if you want to talk with someone?

In dating, I believe we categorize, maybe unconsciously.  You can put people in a plethora of categories – by age, weight, education, looks, geography, or career, for instance.  When you do so, you are possibly categorizing them as Date Worthy or Not Date Worthy.

I don’t believe that’s wrong.  If you meet someone who you do not find interesting, or attractive, or geographically close enough to date, then you’re helping yourself make good decisions about whether or not to pursue a friendship that may turn into a relationship.  You can still befriend them, but you tend to immediately friend zone them.  That’s okay!

Now, when you do this, acknowledge that you are limiting yourself, your choices, and your potential mates.  Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying you should realize it.

I know guys who do not like to date anyone taller than they are, likewise women who like dating taller guys. That may rule out some absolutely wonderful potential dates!  But, we all make our own choices.

Sadly, I have known women who choose men by their income.  Again, this is very limiting.  There are great guys in this world with and without a large income.  What seems like an arbitrary demographic just makes sense to some people.  I know men who use the same rule, by the way – they just say they are seeking a woman who is financially independent. The point is, these people are looking for a significant other with a certain level of income.  That’s okay.  If that’s what’s important to you, then know thyself and live with your choices.

Actually, if you open yourself up to anyone and everyone, you may waste a large amount of time and suffer (a word I chose intentionally) through some really horrible dates.  Being an old fashioned girl, I want to date gentlemen.  If a guy is using foul language and treating our server better than he treats me, I’d rather not have gone on the date in the first place. If you’re on a date and thinking about how much you want to be home in your jammies, then you shouldn’t be out with this person!  Learn from your mistakes and limit your choices.

Limiting our choices doesn’t guarantee perfect dates.  It probably does guarantee fewer dates.  If you’re saying no in the first place then you’ll have fewer invitations. So be it.  Would you rather be on a bad date or no date at all? The choice is yours.

So categorizing people is a logical way to approach much of life, including dating.  Think about it, when you looked for a place to live you categorized by geography, school district, taxes, proximity to your job, then style of home, neighborhood amenities, etc.  Categorizing makes sense.

Just take a minute to see if all your categories are really important.  Also check to see if your categories are giving you a type that hasn’t worked out in the past, and consider if you should change some things.  For instance, I have a friend whose categories include motorcycles and taverns.  There is nothing wrong with these options and a lot of good men ride bikes and frequent bars. But, since she’s only met scammers and users in the past few years, I have to suggest that she open up her parameters a bit and be willing to invest some time in others.

Whatever rules or categories you may be using, consider how important they are to you.  Think about changing some of what you want, and definitely consider what you’re offering because you know the opposite gender has categorized you as well.

That’s Life After Divorce.

            Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.

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