“So was it love at first sight?”
The U.S. embassy official looked at me as he conducted my visa interview.
Thinking back to how my American husband and I met, I shook my head ferociously. “No!”
When I was on a few spiritually-related group conference calls with the person I’m now happily married to, I sometimes had to put the phone down because I couldn’t stand listening to him talk.
I did not hear harps playing when we first met. It was more like the eerie screech of fingernails scraping the blackboard.
My husband had a more favourable impression of me and thought I was cute. However, he’s more into emotionally expressive women—think the French artist type. So as a rational German lawyer, I wasn’t exactly his type, either.
Today, we are making up for this lack of lovey-doveyness when we first met. Just the other day, a stranger commented “You guys are so cute together” while my husband and I were waiting at the local IKEA.
That’s how I know from personal experience that love at first sight is dramatically overrated.
Of course, if it happens to you and you discover that you both happen to be the right partner for each other, great! Enjoy!
If it does not happen to you, know that love at first sight is not necessary to have the relationship of your dreams alongside real, deep and lasting love. In fact, the feeling of love at first sight can sometimes get in the way of us experiencing true love because it can be based on projections and unhealed wounds.
When we let narrow definitions of “our type” get in the way of real, deep and lasting love, we are depriving ourselves of what we truly want.
In heterosexual relationships, a typical example of that is the idea that the male partner should be taller than the female one. Over the years, I have known a few people who initially were concerned when their partner did not meet this criteria. Once they decided the height issue did not matter to them, they often went on to have a great relationship with the other person they might have otherwise excluded on paper.
Here are some ideas for how you can open yourself up to potential soulmate who may not be your type:
1. Become aware of the ways in which you are limiting yourself by liking a certain type only. Are there any common denominators between the people you generally find yourself attracted to? Are these the traits that are celebrated in your culture, such as in movies? If you find a common denominator, you could ask yourself how well it has been working for you to only date this type of person.
2. Explore what it is about your type that hasn’t worked for you in past relationships.
Often, a great strength in some circumstances can be a limitation in another. For instance, someone who can appear like an exciting first date, such as an emotionally unavailable man, may not be reliable and stable. If you feel a strong compulsion to be in a relationship with someone before you even know them, this may be reflective of projections, unhealed emotional wounds or trauma.
3. Check your preferences by going on a date with someone who is not your type.
If you always go for the same type (and haven’t yet found the love you want), it might be time to try something new. Think of it like being in a restaurant and ordering your favourite dish which looks good to you. If it also always causes you indigestion, you might eventually decide to try something else instead.
When you go on a date with someone who is not your type, you also have the potential to learn more about yourself. It’s possible that things you thought you didn’t like in a partner you actual do like now.
4. Pay attention to the subtle qualities in someone who is not your type as these can make a big long-term difference.
Things like a kind heart, deep listening skills, emotional vulnerability or reliability aren’t necessarily the things that make our heart race at first. And yet they are the qualities that can nurture our hearts in the long term. If your date is displaying any of these subtle qualities, it can be helpful to pay attention to that.
5. Keep your eyes on the prize—a person your soul can be happy with.
It’s also important to remember that the point of this exercise is not to find someone to settle with. It’s not to convince ourselves to end up in relationship with someone whose personality goes against our nature, just because they have some redeeming qualities.
The reason to engage in this practice is to open our hearts and minds to the right person for us, who we may otherwise overlook. Part of that process is also to learn how to identify those who are not right for us, using more discernment than before.
Real, deep and lasting love stretches our heart, soul and self-identity.
With these practices, we can get started on developing discernment and expanding our hearts right away, before we ever meet our soulmate.
This article was first published on Elephant Journal here.