Do birds of a feather flock together or do opposites attract? With Valentines Day coming up, discussions in the PersonaBubble office have been dominated by talk of love and relationships, and this perpetual question has been at the centre of our debates. The team has been intrigued by this, as our experiences of similarities and differences in couples are very different, hence supporting different sayings. So, after endless disagreement we decided to look for the answer in our data.
What did we do?
In our study, we investigated how personality, similarity of the two people in a couple and relationship satisfaction all relate to one another. Over 900 UK and Irish, and over 9,000 US people in relationships filled in our personality questionnaire and rated how satisfied they were with their relationships.
What did we find?
The results were really interesting: we found a small but significant relationship between relationship satisfaction and personality similarities between partners. After having a closer look at the data though, other, stronger tendencies became clear. In order of importance, these are the things from our study that are most likely to make you happy in a relationship:
- You are an emotionally stable person (you feel you can cope well with life’s difficult moments)
- Your partner is emotionally stable, extraverted and self-controlled
- Your personality is similar to your partner’s.
In more detail:
1) Your Personality and Your Satisfaction
Our study found that people who are generally calm, confident and less anxious are likely to be more content with their relationship. Accordingly, we found that people who are anxious are more likely to experience dissatisfaction with their relationship. In particular, people who tend to be easily upset, react strongly to stress and are unable to cope with challenges in life are likely to experience relationship dissatisfaction.
Although emotional stability seems to be the trait with the biggest role to play in our relationship satisfaction, our study found evidence for other traits that are likely to increase our satisfaction. We found that people who are extraverts have greater relationship satisfaction. This suggests that if you are a person who is warm in nature and more socially outgoing you are more likely to be happy with your relationship than those who are not. Similar results were also found for people with more self control; indicating that if you are someone who is more organised, persevering and self-disciplined you are likely to experience greater relationship satisfaction than those who are disorganised, pay less attention to rules and regulations and who are quite spontaneous in their lives.
2) Your Partner’s Personality and Your Satisfaction
So we have talked about your personality and your satisfaction, but what about your partner’s personality? We found that if your partner is quite anxious or emotionally unstable, you are likely to be less satisfied with your relationship. On the other hand, we also found that if your partner is more extraverted and self controlled you are likely to be more content with the relationship.
Have you ever wondered if your partner is the main source of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the relationship? What is interesting is that we actually found that a person’s own personality appeared to have a greater link to their own satisfaction than their partner’s personality.
3) Couple Similarity and Satisfaction
Interestingly, our study found the age-old saying “opposites attract” to be somewhat untrue. We found that individuals who are more similar in personality to their partner experience greater relationship satisfaction. This was found across all types of couples, regardless of how long the couple had been together. We also found out that if one of the couple is satisfied with the relationship, it’s likely that the other will be too. These results suggest that being similar to your partner can lead to greater relationship satisfaction for you both.
If you’re not happy in a relationship, you might benefit from thinking about whether or not you are feeling happy in general, rather than blaming your partner. But if you’re not currently in a relationship, try to find someone like you, and ideally someone communicative, reliable and stable (if that sounds boring, you can try people with other personality traits, but don’t expect it to be a bed of roses).
Did your partner, or perhaps a potential one, come to mind when reading this? Sign up and invite them to PersonaBubble to start comparing your personality.