Natural Type Partners

Natural Partners

How did arrive at the conclusion that certain type pairings are better than others for partnerships? Through empirical evidence, research, and a thorough understanding of the sixteen personality types and the personality functions that drive them.

Research conducted on married couples shows that there is a definite trend in types that are attracted to each other, and in type combinations that have the longest lasting relationships. Our understanding of psychological type helps to see that these types typically have the same dominant function, but with a different attitude.

In Jungian terms, "functions" refer to the four core traits: Intuition (N), Sensing (S), Feeling (F), and Thinking (T). The term "attitude" refers to the direction of the function, i.e. Introverted (I) or Extraverted (E).

So, for example, a person with a personality type of ISFP has a dominant function of Introverted Feeling, meaning that Feeling is the dominant function, and its attitude (or direction) is Introverted. A person with this personality type is likely to be most attracted to, and fit best with, a person that has Extraverted Feeling dominating their personality. Extraverted Feeling dominates the personality types ESFJ and ENFJ. We therefore determine that the ISFP's natural partner is the ESFJ or the ENFJ.

Our natural attraction to people who share our dominant function, but who use it in a different direction works very well for us. We not only flip-flop the Introverted or Extraverted trait, but we also flip-flop the Judging or Perceiving trait. In this way, the partner that we choose for ourselves will have a very different approach to dealing with the world. If we are laid-back and indecisive, our partner will be structured and decisive. If we are reserved, our partner will be outgoing. For all of our apparent differences, we will share a common vision of what's truly important in life.

For people whose personality types are dominated by Decision Making functions, (i.e. Thinking or Feeling), their ideal partners will include both Sensing and Intuitive types. Some people have trouble communicating effectively with people who do not share their same preference for Information Gathering. So, if you have a very strong preference for Sensing or Intuition, you will need to give the personality type with the same preference a higher value as a likely natural partner. For example, an ISFP who strongly prefers Sensing will work best with an ESFJ, rather than an ENFJ.

Although we believe firmly that this model works well to help in finding and maintaining healthy relationships, it is important to remember that it's just a tool. We offer guidelines to help you understand the kinds of things that you value in a relationship, rather than guidelines that you need to follow strictly. Two well-developed individuals of any type can make a relationship work. And work is a key concept here! There is no such thing as an effortless relationship.

Interestingly, this 2017 study, published in Social, Psychological and Personality Science, concluded that the top three reasons people in a dating relationship choose to stay in a relationship are 1) good personality match, 2) emotional intimacy, and 3) enjoyment of the relationship. Married individuals choose to stay for 1) emotional intimacy, 2) investment in the relationship, and 3) logistical barriers to leaving, i.e. family/children/divorce complications. This difference in reasons for staying together in short-term vs. long-term relationships might make one assume that personality compatibility becomes less important as a relationships ages, or that human nature takes over after the newness of a relationship fades, causing people to get complacent and take their partners for granted. Whatever the explanation for the different reasons for staying together, it's clear that long-term relationships require work and dedication to get through the rough patches of life, and that while having a good personality match might make that process easier, it's no guarantee of success.