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?

How Does Personality Affect Relationships? 

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.

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. 

Birds of a Feather vs. Opposites Attract

Many people turn to 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.

Similar Personalities in Relationships 

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.

two shadows jumping together

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.

Big Five or Five Factor Model In Relationships

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.

Five Factor Model

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.

Different Personalities in Relationships 

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.

magnets attracting

How Opposite Personalities Can Make a Relationship Work

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.

Attachment Styles and Personality 

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 these ideas, I highly recommend that you take my free personality quiz. 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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“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.

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

Theodore Thudium

Theodore is a professional psychology educator with over 10 years of experience creating educational content on the internet. PracticalPsychology started as a helpful collection of psychological articles to help other students, which has expanded to a Youtube channel with over 2,000,000 subscribers and an online website with 500+ posts.