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Contra-dating: Daring to Date Differently

"Maybe it's time to spice things up and take a little detour from the usual?"

I've always wondered how you can find love using a dating app. Can a swipe truly determine your romantic fate?

We all have a dating pattern: in a perfect world, the date looks like a dream (similar to how Simran from I Hate Luv Story feels), is intelligent, and possesses every other quality we believe we value. They meet eyes across a crowded room. Time stands still. As they walk towards each other, they hear a slow song playing in the distance. Ring the wedding bells and watch as they ride away into the sunset. The credits roll at the end. Sure, we have all seen the movies. In a perfect world, finding love at first sight and living happily ever after would be written into the movie script, but that does not happen in real life... Does it?

Contra-dating: Daring to Date Differently

Given that dating these days is as simple as logging into an app, one would think your soulmate was just a swipe away. In many cases, however, this is not the case. In fact, finding Mr. or Ms. Right is more difficult than ever.

This is where "contra-dating" comes in. The term, coined by the dating website Plenty of Fish, refers to consciously dating someone who is not your usual type or someone you would not necessarily consider compatible, rather than seeking a partner who meets your usual standards. Contrary to the common adage "staying in your lane," contra dating promotes curiosity, transparency, and an appetite to break free from "types". You simply express different interests than you usually have to date outside of the bubble you've become accustomed to.

We all have certain expectations of our potential partners, whether it's about their appearance, lifestyle, or interests. In an age when situationships, ghosting, and breadcrumbing define the dating game, seeking a genuine connection is almost impossible. When someone does not meet any of these standards, we immediately rule people out as a potential partner, even if they do share a few significant traits, such as their core ideologies. More so since we date the same types of people, fail to learn from our mistakes, and end up heartbroken. If you limit yourself to dating people who tick all the boxes, even if only superficially, you may miss out on forming a genuine connection with someone you previously overlooked!

For example, in the film The Ugly Truth, Abby had a long list of characteristics that a prospective partner should have because that is what would have made him similar (and perfect) for her, and she did find a guy like that, but there was no spark between them; instead, she fell for a man who was different from the men she usually dated but shared some core beliefs. Consider this: wouldn't dating be more interesting if you could be surprised by the other person when this person could broaden your horizons and tell you something you didn't know before? When looking for a partner, you're more welcoming to new things and find value in things you haven't always done.

When it comes to making connections with others, it's critical to concentrate on the feelings and vibes they bring into our lives. Instead of focusing solely on physical appearances, it is critical to consider how somebody makes us feel and the energy they emit. We can make more authentic and fulfilling connections by focusing on feelings rather than appearances.

While there are no specific drawbacks to contra-dating, there are a few things to consider. Even though the point of the trend is to venture into novel dating territory, you should not abandon your dealbreakers or non-negotiables. It's not quite the case of 'opposites attract'. For example, suppose your potential partner has opposing political or societal views, thoughts on having children, work-life balance, or sobriety that are important to you. In that case, you should not be willing to bend over backward to ignore these issues.

It is still crucial to be around a person who shares your values and viewpoints. What if they aren't as into Taylor Swift as you? Probably OK. What if they want to have children but you do not? You should probably reconsider this matchup.

After all, having opposing priorities and underlying values can lead to conflicts and dissatisfaction on both sides in the long run. Exploring beyond your typical romantic inclinations can lead to fresh opportunities and enrich your love life. By adopting contra-dating, you can break free from limits and connect with people with different viewpoints and experiences. Of course, it won't always work out, but hey! If you do not try, you’ll never know, right? In the end, love has a way of surprising us when we least expect it.


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