How your Personality affects your Relationships

How your Personality affects your Relationships

Many websites and blogs on the internet support the idea that the best couples the ones where both people are extremely similar. Hashtags such as  #CoupleGoals enforce this idea by spreading images of couples happily sharing in the same activities, perfectly in sync with one another. But do relationships really work out best when they’re between two people with identical interests and personalities?

To answer this question, many people have argued between two well-known expressions: “birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract”. These two contrasting expressions challenge whether or not conflicting personalities will make a relationship more or less fulfilling and long-lasting. Let’s start by talking about “birds of a feather flock together”, which is the idea that the best couples are the ones perfectly in sync with one another.

Many people agree with this side of the debate because they originally connected with their partners via their similarities. In fact, debaters on the side of “birds of a feather” will sometimes go as far as to argue that people cannot form friendships or relationships with others who don’t hold the same values and views as them. Researchers have found that people tend to distance themselves from others that don’t adhere to their beliefs. Researchers have also found that strangers are more likely to “hit it off” when they connect on their similarities rather than showing off attributes that make them unique.

It’s also argued that like-minded people will find great satisfaction in their relationships because they have a lot of common interests and activities to share. It’s also known that people are often more attracted to others in similar situations as them, with many successful relationships starting after people met at work, school, or a religious ceremony.

When it comes to the Big 5 personality traits, one example of similarities being a good thing is that two agreeable people are usually a great match for each other. However, although two agreeable people will be a good match, two disagreeable people will struggle to make any decisions together. This is an example where having similar personality traits with your partner can start to create problems.

To avoid these problems, two disagreeable people might be better off finding a more agreeable mate if they don’t want to struggle every time they need to come to a joint decision, which starts to bring us towards the side of “opposites attract”. Another example for this is that two dominant people might have a constant power struggle, and therefore may be better off finding a more chill and submissive partner to complement their personality.

So if problems sometimes can come up when couples share certain personality traits, does this mean that opposite personality traits will usually be more favorable?

Actually, YES! It does! Although successful couples often have similar attitudes when it comes to things like religion and politics, it’s been found that the most fulfilling relationships tend to exist when people have differing personalities. Decades of studies support this, and have found that couples with similar Big 5 traits tend to be less satisfied with their marriages in the long run than those who don’t. One example of this is that couples statistically have better satisfaction in relationships where one person has a high level of conscientiousness and the other has a low level of it.

When it comes to finding someone attractive in the first place, finding similarities and common ground is an effective method to get a good conversation going. However, after we get past that first conversation, it’s often the differences between us that keep the attraction going. For example, an assertive perfectionist will find a chill partner to be relaxing. Someone constantly planning things and structuring their life will be attracted to a spontaneous mate who can make their life more interesting. Someone constantly late for everything will be impressed by a punctual partner. The reason these differences attract us is that we subconsciously hope that some of our new partner’s style will rub off on us. As humans, novelty intrigues us, and we’re motivated to learn from others.

Once you’ve gotten past your initial few months with your partner, your brains will stop releasing the same chemicals that they used to, and you’ll start to feel more comfortable in your relationship. This is when “opposites attract” really starts to kick in over “birds of a feather” since people often fall in love with the traits that make their partner unique from them. However, sharing some similar interests with your partner is still a good thing, and can give the two of you more activities to share together.

In the end, both arguments have many valid points, and whether or not two personalities mesh together well does often come down to a case-by-case basis, as there are many factors going into whether or not two people will remain satisfied long-term in their relationships. But I can say this: at the beginning of the relationship, similarities and common ground are the best way to first spark someone’s interest in you, and as time goes on, you’ll find that the personality traits you admire most about your partner are often the ones opposite yours.

Another interesting way that your personality affects your relationships is how your personality defines your attachment style to your partner. Studies have found that people with a higher level of neuroticism are more likely to be heavily attached to their partner and are more likely to be anxious about their partner leaving them. This also means they are more likely to attempt to avoid attachment all together, out of fear of rejection. People high in any trait other than neuroticism are much less likely to avoid attachment or be anxious about the partner leaving them after they’ve become attached.

If you’d like to see how your personality fits in with the ideas explained in this video, I highly recommend that you take my free personality quiz… link in the description. If you do, you will receive a personalized list of information that will help you to understand yourself and your relationships on a whole new level.

References:

 

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"Birds of a feather don't always fly farthest: similarity in Big ... - NCBI - NIH." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18179287. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

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"Predicting Relationship and Life Satisfaction From ... - ResearchGate." https://www.researchgate.net/publication/45706541_Predicting_Relationship_and_Life_Satisfaction_From_Personality_in_Nationally_Representative_Samples_From_Three_Countries_The_Relative_Importance_of_Actor_Partner_and_Similarity_Effects. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

"Relationships: opposites do not attract, scientists prove - Telegraph." 23 Feb. 2016, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/12170295/Relationships-opposites-do-not-attract-scientists-prove.html. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

"When you've got nothing in common: Relationship advice | Glamour UK." 23 Feb. 2017, https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/nothing-in-common. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.

What Makes You Click: An Empirical Analysis of Online ... - CiteSeerX." http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.61.4010&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

http://www.communicationcache.com/uploads/1/0/8/8/10887248/when_do_opposites_attract-_interpersonal_complementarity_versus_similarity.pdf

About the author 

Theodore

Theodore created PracticalPsychology while in college and has transformed the educational online space of psychology. His goal is to help people improve their lives by understanding how their brains work. 1,700,000 Youtube subscribers and a growing team of psychologists, the dream continues strong!

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