I used to say that I didn’t have a type. Whenever anyone asked me the question back then, I’d repeat the same thing: As long as he’s funny and he has a great personality, that’s enough for me.
The first time I was legitimately confronted with the question was on the last night of a press trip a few years ago. I was a fresh grad just getting started in the industry; the youngest in a group of writers who’d been at it for years. We had just gone through three days of togetherness, and over drinks, the older folks in the group steered the conversation towards relationships. Everyone took turns telling stories of heartbreaks and giant what-ifs, and we all listened and gave advice. I felt like I was at a retreat.
When it was my turn to speak, I thought I was safe; my inexperience meant I had nothing to contribute to the conversation. But after a bit of egging, I told them about the ambiguous situationship I had with a guy and how that promptly ended a week prior to our trip. They told me not to worry, that there would be more fish in the sea, pun intended (we were staying at an island resort).
Then they started thinking of who to pair me up with. ‘So ano yung type mo now?’ they inquired, And when I gave them my standard answer, they wouldn’t back down. ‘Don’t you have any celebrity crushes? Friends you find cute?’
I didn’t think much of that night up until a few weeks ago, when I had a weird flashback moment while watching the Netflix series Dash & Lily. Based on David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s Young Adult (YA) novel, the series sets off after a girl named Lily leaves a notebook filled with dares on a bookshelf at The Strand in the hopes that the right guy would take her up on them. Dash is the teenage boy who finds it, thus beginning a romantic correspondence via written exchanges in the notebook.
Seeing the lanky, clearly emo Dash lecturing a bookstore employee about proper book placement was enough to make me hit pause for a quite-sudden realization because oh, dear God — this was my type.
Dash’s character brought me back to high school and how the YA novels I enjoyed often had leading men who were dorky-yet-mature for their age. I did a mental round-up of the kinds of characters and celebrities I was fond of growing up. My initial roll call brought up Michael Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries (book and film versions), Cody from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Logan Lerman in literally everything he was in from 2012 to 2015, Dr. Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds, and Cam in 10 Things I Hate About You. Special mention goes out to Nick Jonas, my first-ever boy band bias.
All these years of me denying that I had a type, and now I was seeing them all lined up and staring at me squarely in the face, in all their dark-haired, lanky, pale glory as if to say: Yeah, you definitely had a type.
Because I was subconsciously associating these character traits with a certain look, I ended up gravitating towards people who fit that look in real life. Ok, so this guy has a mop of dark brown hair and plays the guitar. Who cares if he doesn’t fix cars? He’s basically Michael Moscovitz! Do you think he’d build a robotic arm for me?
Unfortunately, most of the real life people I’ve met who look like that are softbois with commitment issues and not Michael Moscovitz. (This is not a judgement. It is a fact). Establishing that I did, in fact, have a type during those years also became a reminder not to live life hung up over stereotypes reinforced by Hollywood.
Growing older, my type has turned into more of an in-joke with friends and not something I take too seriously. Seeing how much fiction and pop culture influenced my relationships and perceptions of people concerned me at first, but then I realized that you can get the best of both worlds this way. I can take cues from real life and fiction!
In the years since, I’ve encountered more complex characters, both in media and in life who have taught me a thing or two about the kinds of people I want to be surrounded with. Moving forward from the surface-level stereotypes, it helps to think of what draws us to these fictional characters. Is it their personalities? Their looks? Their interactions with other characters?
After all, real people are much more nuanced (even if they are softbois with commitment issues).
Header art by Chia Basan
Gaby is the full-time Editor of Underdog and part-time (ok, also full-time) stan. Her brother says that she is only cool on paper and much of her time is spent trying to get her dog to notice her. More of her work can be found in Young STAR, CNN Philippines Life, Rookie, and Twitter publication @tybutdisagree. Tweet her @gabyabbyy.
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