He’s not your type and that’s good

Single women are advised to be more open about who they date
Julia McKinnell
Illustration by Taylor Shute

A checklist of requirements may be your biggest impediment to finding true love, says Toronto-born dating coach Andrea Syrtash in her new book He’s Just Not Your Type and That’s a Good Thing. Syrtash coaches single women to consider the type of man they think they’re attracted to, then counsels them to work on doing things differently, such as dating a shorter man if they’ve always gone for tall, or an introvert if they’ve always liked the charismatic. “It’s not about throwing out your standards,” Syrtash told Maclean’s from her home in New York. “It’s about being more open.”

The now-married dating coach herself admits she was not at first physically attracted to her husband. “He wasn’t my type. I mean, he’s an attractive guy but it’s a funny thing,” she says. “I dated these all-American clean-cut, more conservative-looking guys, and my husband is dark. His parents are from Egypt. He didn’t come in the package I thought was my type.”

Syrtash connected with her husband, Michael, during a brief move back to Toronto. He lived next door to her sister. “He would walk into our house, put on my sister’s slippers and start making eggs without even saying hello!” Michael, she explains, “was a teacher, an improv actor and a drummer. His favourite T-shirt, which he wore often, was vintage—but not in a hipster kind of way. I believe it had a hole in the left armpit.”

Syrtash had broken up with her American boyfriend and made “a conscious decision to focus on my dating pattern. I realized that my head dominated my heart. I realized I wanted to be with a guy who made me laugh and was emotionally intelligent and spiritually connected. I wanted to be with a man who deeply understood and inspired me. I did not know what he would look like, but I knew how I wanted to feel around him.”

In the book, Syrtash gives the example of women who aren’t attracted to nice guys. “I think women view nice guys as weak,” one woman told her. “We love to know someone is strong, powerful and in control.” Syrtash writes, “The issue, of course, is that if you equate nice with weak, you will have a hard time respecting or feeling turned on by the ‘nice’ available men you come across. Repeat after me: nice and weak are not synonymous.”

When “Lisa” finally broke her old dating pattern and married a nice guy, she found it liberating. “With a nice guy, there are no games. There is no wondering: does he like me, is he mad at me? There is no self-induced torture, no If only I was thinner, prettier, more his type.

Not only that, says Syrtash, but when you date bad boys, “you’re sending the absolute wrong message to the absolute right guys. Do you know how many men tell me they feel they need to act like jerks to attract women? They see bad boys getting all the girls, and they modify their behaviour.”

Syrtash warns women, however, that if they do change their dating pattern, they should be prepared to meet the gremlins of their inner voice passing superficial judgment. On a date with a nice guy, that gremlin might say, “This guy seems too nervous. Turnoff!” Try the counter-argument on yourself, she says. “Maybe he’s nervous because he likes me. Besides, I’m not perfect either and if I don’t give him a chance, I may be missing a great guy.”

Syrtash admits she also used to hope her future husband would earn a lot of money. But then “a funny thing happened to me when I realized I was falling in love with a man who would never earn a six-figure income—I worked harder than ever and found the career of my dreams. Michael’s modest income was a catalyst for me to realize my professional potential.”

She coaches women to “book a date with a man who is shorter, balder, greyer or heavier than you. Take a risk. Stay open. Log onto a few dating sites and play with the parameters for height, age, income, and miles away. See who shows up. The ultimate dating challenge isn’t really about landing a certain type of person—it is about becoming the person you are meant to be.”