How do we pick our partners, and what makes us attracted to this person versus that person? You might be surprised to know that who we date often hinges on our own unconscious biases. These preconceived notions are a result of a variety of factors that have left imprints on our lives. Dating bias is often inadvertent, we just like who we like, right? Well, not exactly. A deeper reason to who we partner with normally boils down to what we’ve been exposed to, what we are comfortable with, and what society deems acceptable or “normal.”
It’s uncomfortable to think about, but each person on the dating market carries considerable biases that influence when they swipe left, how they respond to messages, and whether or not they take the next step in promising relationships.
These biases limit dating prospects and keep far too many people from meeting their perfect matches. They exist within all of us, but that doesn’t mean we need to ignore or not address them. Becoming aware of implicit bias and knowing how to spot it, could be the first step in finding the love of your life.
Unconscious or implicit biases involve deep-seated prejudices that we might not even think exist. These arise based on our environment, including our exposure or lack thereof to different types of people and perspectives.
From the moment you were born to the last few minutes you’ve spent browsing the internet, every life experience has played a role in shaping your outlook. Like it or not, this worldview includes implicit biases that developed as you were simply living your life. Such biases tend to be stronger if you spend most of your time with people who look, talk, and behave as you do.
Unconscious biases don’t always make us actively prejudiced or racist, but they do impact our daily lives, and in this specifc case our dating experiences. This unnoticed bias can diminish our dating opportunities, create disengagement with individuals, and lower our possibility of ultimate fulfillment.
Implicit bias can take many forms in the dating world. Race and ethnicity are top areas of concern. This is discussed in “ The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance”—during the research work for this book, interviewees complain that they are “most judged based on their appearance and racial background.”
Statistical analysis presented in this book reveals that white men are four times as likely to send messages to white women than to black women—even when they otherwise have similar personality types, values, and interests.
There’s no question as to whether implicit bias impacts those who are unfairly stereotyped against but it can also be problematic for the very people who hold these biases. This problem prevents many people from finding their ideal match, simply because they avoid interacting with the best prospects.
But it is important to note that unconscious dating bias includes much more than just race and ethnicity. People will automatically write off potential good matches based on physical features and social achievements. Some unconscious biases surround:
Some level of bias is to be expected in the dating world, as even the most self-aware, well-intentioned individuals carry daily bias. With reflection and a lot of self-awareness, you can begin to make more informed, uninhibited decisions based freely on emotion and real information, helping you embrace the range of possibilities that await in today’s diverse dating scene.
First, you’ll need to determine the many ways in which you currently demonstrate bias. Think carefully about why you assume that certain people aren’t worth your time. Ask yourself:
Awareness is a key first step. However, it’s imperative to actively challenge your unconscious dating biases. Consider your preconceptions of what makes for a desirable match—and then focus on the following, instead:
A relationship coach can provide a valuable perspective to help you determine where you hold biases and how to be more mindful of them. A relationship coach will go beyond surface-level dating advice and deliver insight on true intimacy. This, combined with regular self-reflection, will help you challenge the biases you’ve previously taken for granted.
Heart Appeal offers a variety of dating and relationship coaching services. Our goal is to help individuals find and sustain long-lasting love. Our expert coaches are dedicated to walking individuals through past experiences, current dates, and what potential improvements could be made to achieve a fulfilling long-term relationship. We’re here to make dating easier and healthier. Ready to talk with a coach?
Hi, I’m Raghed!
Founder and lead relationship coach at HeartAppeal.
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