What you need to know:
- And so couples who have different personality types also tend to be more successful in life.
Dating couples are often drawn to one another because their culture, education or similar values. But by contrast, we seem to deliberately go out of our way to meet people who have a different personality from our own.
Like a quiet individual is often attracted to a noisy extrovert. Or the doer, focused on the here and now, who falls for an imaginative dreamer. Or a planner, who always has to have everything organised in advance, chooses a partner who likes to keep their options open.
So if you’re successful at work, for example, then you’re likely to be driven, well-organised, meticulous and perhaps even a bit stubborn or obsessive. And so the chances are you’ll go looking for a date who’s more spontaneous, relaxed, warm and affectionate.
Both are perfectly reasonable ways to live your life, of course. But side by side in an intimate relationship, differences like those can cause endless conflicts.
So you find you’re forever frustrated by your partner’s apparent disorganisation and lack of responsibility, while they in turn complain about your inability to relax and let go. Just as an introvert can get annoyed by a chattering extrovert, or a planner gets irritated by their partner’s need for spontaneity.
Personality clashes like these are not easy problems to solve. Especially as we can’t stop feeling that our partner’s behaviour is deliberately intended to annoy us! That’s because we automatically assume that someone else’s behaviour is intentional, and discount the effect of their circumstances.
While we do exactly the reverse with ourselves! So if my friend fails an exam, for example, it’s because he slacked off during his revision. While if I fail, it’s because my teacher didn’t cover the material well enough!
So even the most committed couple can spend all their time bickering about their different personality traits.
And yet those differences actually make couples stronger. Just as workplace teams function better with a mix of different personality types. The aggressive risk-taker balanced by their more cautious colleagues.
The detail guy kept on track by the ‘big picture’ thinkers. And so couples who have different personality types also tend to be more successful in life. Because each sees the world in a different way, and combining their different perspectives leads to better decisions.
So stop trying to change one another! Personality’s pretty much fixed anyway, so you won’t succeed. Instead, focus on the positive aspects to your personality differences, rather than the downsides. And assume that when your partner says something that seems weird, it’s because they’re seeing the situation in a different way from you.
Not because they’re annoying or difficult. Successful couples learn to accept their differences and make the most of them, rather than getting trapped in endless battles.
So think like a team! Focus on understanding each other’s point of view, and put your strengths together, rather than squabbling over your differences. And you’ll be a happy and successful couple.