Being single has its advantages, one of the greatest of which is that you have all kinds of options, possibilities, and experiences with different people in front of you. So, while you're looking for "the one" you can — and should — have a good time getting to know people you probably wouldn't meet or spend time with otherwise (especially if you are online dating; I definitely went out with a number of guys I probably wouldn't have met if I hadn't been on Dating can be a fun, interesting learning experience — but only if you approach it that way and don't take it too seriously.

I was single for a little more than three years and dating all sorts of different guys helped me figure out what wanted in a partner. I had to work my way through quite a few guys I thought were perfect for me before I found the right one. That's the thing about dating — you can go into it with all kinds of preconceptions, but in the end it teaches you a lot of what you really need, not just what you think you want.

Truthfully, I think most of the suggestions below work for either sex, so it doesn't matter if you're gay or straight — but since I'm a straight lady and don't know what it's like to be otherwise, I'm going to write from that perspective.

1. The Guy Who's Just Like You: When you've had a bunch of bad dates in a row, you start thinking about how awesome it would be to date someone just like you — someone who loves the same music and movies, who studied the same thing in college, someone who is passionate about the same causes, who never argues with your opinions on politics. You'd know just how to talk to them when they were upset, what kinds of gifts to give them, how often they want to have sex, and how they like their coffee, because it's the same as what you like. I dare you to try it; if you don't get bored pretty quickly, it would be a surprise. While it's great to have some things in common with your beloved, when everything's the same it's not very interesting.

2. The Guy You Wanted in High School: When I was 16, I had a pretty specific idea about the perfect type of guy for me. Because I didn't date then, I didn't get the chance to go out with that guy until I was in my early 30s. My friends couldn't understand why I was so enamored of this special fellow (who they found immature and odd), and it took me a few months to figure out that it wasn't the current version of myself who was going to shows again, partying until 5 a.m. and listening to music in bed all morning with this guy, it was my high-school self who never got a chance to date him then. It totally got "that guy" out of my system, and I had fun, so it was well worth it. But let's just say my tastes have changed since I was 16.

3. The Much-Older Guy: May-December romances are pretty common in Hollywood, but I haven't seen many of them among the people I know. If anything, I lean toward dating slightly younger guys — but dating an older guy can be a great learning experience. Seeing the world from another generation's perspective up-close and personal makes you think about what you might be like if you'd been born at a different time. It's also a great way to learn about books, movies and music that came out before your time.

4. The Much-Younger Guy: As I wrote above, I tend to date younger guys, but then there's the much-younger fellow. These guys tend to be a lot of fun, and make you feel pretty youthful in the process of hanging out with them, which is a definite bonus.

5. The Artist: Musicians, painters, filmmakers, writers; dating one of these guys is like a mini master-class in whatever it is they're into — I haven't yet met a creative soul who wasn't so into their work that they weren't eager to share it with someone they were dating, and that's fun. (Spoiler alert: I ended up with one of these guys, but I dated a few from each category first!)

6. The Guy with the Hot Car: I happen to love vintage cars and sports cars (and especially vintage sports cars), so I loved going on a couple of dates with guys who had great vehicles, and then bugging them until they let me drive the car, which let me show off how well I can handle a standard transmission. And when else will you have the opportunity to drive a bunch of cool, different cars? If you're not into cars or driving though, you could give this one a pass.

7. The One Who Reminds You of Your Ex: Dating a guy that's a lot like your ex can be extremely useful for remembering why you broke up with that person.

8. The Complete Opposite Guy: I went out with two different guys who had qualities on my deal-breaker list, just to test my short-and-sweet list. In short, these dudes reinforced my "can't" list and made me realize that the things that are important to me matter for a reason.

9. The Great-on-Paper Guy: This fellow will remind you why all the lists in the world of great guy qualities don't really matter much if you don't connect with the person sitting across the table from you. Dating this guy can be hard, because you might try to convince yourself that he is right for you. He seems perfect, but something is missing. You've got to let him go because we don't live our lives on paper.

10. The Mega-Wealthy Guy: We've all heard that money doesn't buy happiness, but it can be hard to believe that when you've got $4.92 in your account — again. Money seems to make everything easier, and certainly more fun. You can eat out if you don't want to cook, hire someone to clean, and have some pretty fabulous vacations. But ... you're still stuck doing those things with someone you may not compatible with. In the end, it's better eating pasta in front of Netflix with someone who you're really into.

Have any type to add to this list? Please share in the comments!

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

10 guys you should date before you find a partner
Dating can and should be a learning experience so shop around.