After doing a personality test, someone asked, “Which type would make a good match as a spouse for my type?” Not knowing what resource I’d recommend, I looked at the latest thinking on this and considered whether or not the saying is true: "Opposites attract, and then attack." I learned it is true, they do! And alikes, though easy relationships to start, don’t have much to offer each other and easily become ...BORING .
The Socionics approach provides a helpful guide on how to forecast the major ways relationships of the various paired combinations will psychologically develop. This approach is based on the personality typing work of Carl Jung, which we know today as Myers-Briggs Personality Types. At the same time, do keep in mind that as the MBTI® page on Facebook says,
While happy and functional relationships are found in all type combinations, and type differences and similarities are likely to be only one of possible sources of difficulty in a relationship, understanding the differences may help during trying times in a relationship.
The personality types of two people form the core of the relationship and that core can tell us various degrees of compatibility. Of course, the relationships between actual people are complicated by many different factors and life choices. However, Socionics can “anticipate the development in human relationships with incredible accuracy.”
Compatible or combating relationships
The Socionics approach has shown me that the question of compatibility between personality types involves more than oppositeness, or complete alikeness of type. The most compatible type to our own actually has some of both; some parts of the personality are in a sense opposite and some parts alike.
Not only that, but there are degrees of psychological compatibility among the various possible pairings of personality type. Socionics.com lists 14 different degrees of compatibility!
Those incompatible are:
These have more problems with their relationship than people with compatible personality types.
Those most compatible are:
These have less problems with their relationship than people with incompatible personality types.
(All 14 pairs are listed on a complete chart of relationships between personality types.)
So which kind of pairing, and thus which type, would make a good spouse?
Let's consider a few "degrees" of pairings as to their compatibleness, or the lack there of.
A look at five of these pairings: Conflicting, Duality, Identical, Activity, Mirror
Completely opposite types have difficult challenges
Conflicting Pairs of Personality Types
Least compatibility for long-term interactions
In the early stages of a relationship’s development, two people of complete opposite personality types can seem rather attractive, interesting. The other looks to have impressive abilities. Look out, though! As the relationship moves forward and initial problems come up, they mistakenly think that the cause of these problems is minor and can easily be fixed. NOT!
Opposite personality types can have the worst compatibility among all other relations.
ISTj - ENFp
ESFj - INTp
ISFp - ENTj
ESTp - INFj
INTj - ESFp
ENFj - ISTp
INFp - ESTj
ENTp - ISFj
They soon find that when further problems come up and conflict starts, the pair hits each other with arguments exactly in the direction where they can cause maximum pain! In return, the other partner may counterattack even more aggressively.
With every conflict these relations then become worse and worse. Such pairs are completely unable to protect and take care of each other's weak points which are so opposite to their own.
Best compatibility for long-term interactions
Pairs are ordered with the highest degree of compatibility first:
Two halves of a whole
Duality Pairs of Personality Types
Two people of “Dual” personality types have the most favorable and comfortable interactions of all the intertype relations. Dual partners are like two halves of a whole! They have complete psychological compatibility with each other. They will find that they understand each other’s intentions without any need to say a word.
This immediate understanding allows you to be yourself, without the need to adjust, saving both you and your partner a lot of energy! Your Dual partner will naturally protect your weak points and also appreciate the strong ones without asking for anything in return. Conflicts between Duals are very rare, and if there are any, they are normally short lived and solved without pain.
ESTp - INFp
ESTj - INFj
ESFj - INTj
ESFp - INTp
ENTp - ISFp
ENTj - ISFj
ENFj - ISTj
ENFp - ISTp
Surprisingly, it is difficult to notice your Dual partner among all the other types, and even easier to just pass them by. Only after being together for a fair amount of time do the partners start realizing how much they need each other.
There are at least two conditions for a successful relationship between Duals.
1. There has to be at least a minimal mutual attraction.
2. Most importantly, each partner truly strives for the same or similar things. This may include common interests and/or life goals, as two halves of the same whole must not repel or move in the different directions.
The more developmental stages completed by Duals in their relationship, the more unbreakable their relationship will be. If relations crumble, it normally happens in the first stage of the relationship.
Identical focus and view - like this pair of horses
Identical Pairs of Personality Types
Two alike people of Identical personality type have complete understanding between them. They see the world with identical eyes. They identically process received information. They come to identical conclusions and have identical perceptual problems. Identical partners usually experience sympathy towards each other, trying to support and justify each other.
However, Identical personality types have an inability to help the other in a big way. They each basically think the same way, having identical preferences for their focus on life. Identical pairs are, for example; ENTp - ENTp and ISFp - ISFp.
Although partners with an Identical type share a sympathy towards each other, the interaction quickly becomes boring. Unless partners have common interests, are working on the same project, or one partner has sufficient preponderance in new knowledge to benefit the other, all seems boringly the same. Identical partners may for a time receive new information from or about each other and so the relationship comes alive, but just for a short period of time.
Couple that enjoys the same activity
Activity Pairs of Personality Types
The two personality types of these pairs stimulate each other into activity. This relationship is the easiest and quickest to start. Interaction with an activity partner becomes surprisingly satisfying in the beginning, especially if both partners feel a mutual attraction.
Continuous interaction over a long period, however, becomes like an overactivation that can readily result in an overall tiredness of each other. It’s like getting too much of a good thing and the partners then need a short rest from each other. After a rest, though, they can enjoy a positive interaction once again. Without such breaks from each other, though, they find they negatively, instead of positively, stimulate each other. Therefore, the Activity pairs get into an oscillating rhythm of activity, rest, activity, rest.
When it comes to doing everyday life together, Activity partners often meet with many problems. An Activity partner’s advice can always be accurate, right on, but no amount of such advice will ever turn the other’s weakness into strength.
ENTp - ESFj
ESFp - ENTj
ISFp - INTj
INTp - ISFj
ENFj - ESTp
ESTj - ENFp
ISTj - INFp
INFj - ISTp
Why identify best-fit type?
Communication among Activity pairs always requires adjustments. One partner may think of it as too foggy and not concrete enough, whereas for the other partner it is too unrefined -- quite a difference in views.
Collaboration is also difficult, because Activity partners cannot predict each other’s behavior, even in what seems to be ordinary situations! Because of this, they cannot rely on or count on each other in full. Most of the problems that arise in Activity relationships are because one partner is always Perceiving (P) or taking in what life brings and the other is always Judging (J), drawing conclusions about it. Their approaches are opposite.
Birds of same coloring
Mirror Pairs of Personality Types
Two people of Mirror personality types experience a relationship of mutual correction. Mirror partners have similar interests and ideas, but a slightly different understanding of a given problem, and thus keep correcting each other. Each partner can see only half of one problem. Therefore these pairs always find interesting the other partner's different thinking.
Mirror partners are often very good friends. When they work together on the same project, their mutual correction and adjustment becomes a constructive criticism of each other.
Mirror partners can generally agree about setting near future goals, but they disagree about global aims. Also, these pairs usually lack a warm atmosphere between the two of them. The main discomfort in these relations is caused by the difference in Judging (J) and Perceiving (P).
ENTp - INTj
ESFp - ISFj
ISFp - ESFj
INTp - ENTj
ENFj - INFp
ESTj - ISTp
ISTj - ESTp
INFj – ENFp
What one Mirror partner considers solid and final appears incomplete and changeable to the other. This difference may often puzzle them, especially when they carry out mutual plans. It seems to them that the other partner simply didn’t get it (the main concept). Therefore, they attempt to correct each other's understanding, but usually are unsuccessful. So confident they are in their own understanding, Mirror partners can be involved in really hot disputes and can even come to blows for the sake of their own opinion.
This gives a taste of how when we know the mechanism of inter-type relations, we can potentially grasp problems created by the particular incompatibilities our own personality types will have with others. The Socionics inter-type relations shows me why I and a work colleague can so easily communicate. We are one of the above "Duality Pairs" and, as it describes, that colleague and I seem to know immediately what the other's intentions are behind the words said or things done.
So, I encourage you to take a look at Socionics to help you in your relating and relationship choices. Socionics can tell us, for example, which relationships will likely require a lot of energy to communicate and which will not. Relationships, of course, are impacted by many other factors in addition to our mental preferences, so I am suggesting this simply as one of the major impacts on our relationships.
Personality Type Matching
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on January 19, 2018:
Nikki, so very true! Thanks for sharing your specific example :-).
Nikki on January 18, 2018:
My parents have the ESFP-INTP duality, which from type alone appears to be a type that would run into conflict. But surprisingly, it works. They both enjoy enforcing rules and living "normal" lives. I think INTP and I generally think of someone highly scholarly who immerses themselves in books, philosophy, and the lifelong pursuit of ideas. Alas, this not be so, and my father is stick in the mud who wants to be "pragmatic" and "practical" in his every endeavor. His mother was an ESTJ and his father an INTP (hes more of what I perceive as being a true INTP, however). Just some interesting observations. It can help in understanding an individual if one looks to the parents personalities to explain certain traits or atributes :-)
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on February 07, 2017:
wba108, Helpful to hear your verifying experience on this particular compatibility of two MBTI types!
firstname.lastname@example.org from upstate, NY on February 07, 2017:
Me and my wife are mirror pairs, me an INFP and her a ENFJ. We do keep correcting one another, usually without a fight and its exactly true that we both feel that our partner just doesn't get it, so we try to correct each others understanding with little success.
Many psychology experts say the MBTI is of little value and not supported by solid science but it sure seems accurate to me.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on July 19, 2014:
What an amazing testimony! You story provides a wonderfully clear example of how the support of a psychologically dual relationship can help one in need of a safe relationship.
DesolateWanderer on July 19, 2014:
I am a female INTJ. My ESFJ dual pulled me out of a very dark place. My past made me a detached individual and I would hurt people who got too close to me. I was deemed (incorrectly) to be a psychopath by a psychologist after I poisoned and almost killed a student who was trying to be my friend when I was in Grade 2. I would have easily gotten away with it too, but decided to tell people just to see their expressions. After obtaining my Masters in law at the age of 16, I proceeded to use my degree to wield power and manipulate people. At 17, I lost my legal licence. Then I met my dual at a psych meeting. He was with his OCD brother, but had no mental issues of his own. I told him that I knew I was a psychopath, but he looked at me and said, "EVERYONE CAN BE CURED."(I responded by laughing and making an inappropriate comment). He did not leave me even then, no matter how much I tried to push him away. The first time I cried I was by him. It turns out I wasn't a psychopath, I just needed someone who made me feel safe. I hurt and manipulated people because I didn't want them to hurt or manipulate me (because of my disturbing past). It sounds extremely pathetic, and yes, I was pathetic. But he helped me face up to who I really was and did not give up on me when I needed someone most. Now I run an orphanage and legal help aid free of charge. Best of all, I'm getting married to my dual (yay!) People out there, duality is real. Not all duals match you, but once you find the right dual with similar values, there's no stopping what you can become.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on April 12, 2014:
Carrie Lee Night, Yes! So true! :) Glad you enjoyed this article.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on April 11, 2014:
Interesting. However facts may prove to be right, sometimes things just work without over analyzing :) love this hub. Thank you
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on March 09, 2014:
Yes, that would be interesting to get his perception, too. :) Also, there is an MBTI Step II, which breaks down each of the four dichotomies, e.g. E - I, into five sub-dichotomies called facets. It would be interesting for you both to take it and, if for example you are both INFJs, to see how your individual INFJs are different.
Ignorant Awareness on March 09, 2014:
Whenever I test myself, I usually come out as either INFP/ INFJ (today I'm leaning towards the latter). When my partner tested himself (first time today), he also came out as INFJ -that makes us 'identical', right? (although our 'IN' percentages were pretty different)
Here's where it gets interesting, though- I just took a compatibility test (based on only MY perceptions of us). Although I still remained an INFJ, he was as an ESTJ- that would make us a 'duality' pair!
We get along incredibly well (nearly 4 years now), but aren't TOO similar- so whose perception of my partner is more accurate, mine or his?? (Now I'm curious to see what would happen if HE were to fill out the test, according to his perceptions of me!)
Dya from India on November 08, 2013:
Nice one :)
David McKenzie from Canada on May 20, 2013:
I love the pictures of the birds and horses. They seem so much happier than the human couples.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on April 01, 2013:
pumpkincat, How interesting to hear your experience of being married to your identical type! Having such a close connection of perspectives but then almost "drown" when stuck is quite a contrast, isn't it. Yes, INTPs are quite complex analytical thinkers and perceivers, and so I can imagine what you say about how important your actions are seen to be. Good points about the time needed apart in order to gain a wider perspective. Right--better suited than not, as long as you are aware of the limitations and pitfalls!
Courtney Rhodes on April 01, 2013:
I am an INTP and I married an INTP. You can imagine some of the conversations, laughs and wonderful experiences we've had. He is so much like me..in fact it was love at first sights... 12 years ago! But when we get stuck in a rut, it's bad. It's like drowning only to have someone that cannot swim jump in to save you. However, the analogy I have given is unlikely to occur if both partners are truly INTP's, in reality the situation will be much more complex and the fate of the universe could hinge on the actions of the INTP's.
My husband and I have spent an enormous amount of time together without fighting, more than any couple I have ever met. Detaching yourself from an INTP partner is very difficult given the particular personality! In conclusion, it is necessary, i f two INTP's are to remain in a long term relationship/marriage, to spend time apart yet still take time to embark on a variety of projects , strengthen our ESFP traits and if all fails try to walk away with greater understanding of human behaviors so as to not make the same mistake twice. Thank you for this hub. INTP+INTP pairings are rare, its good to know that we are better suited for each other than not!
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on November 26, 2012:
wbaq08, hey, this is really great to hear you can think of examples from your own life of these different psychological pairings. It is so amazing how different people relate depending on their personality type.
email@example.com from upstate, NY on November 26, 2012:
This is fascinating, I love it! I can think of examples of every pairing you've mentioned. I'm an INFP and my best friend was an ESTP and our relationship went just like you mentioned, we we're 2 halfs of a whole! I also have a good friend and my own brother who is an ESTJ and as you mentioned, things started of great but we do have to watch out for conflicts!
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on October 01, 2012:
cre8tive hermit, hi! I mention near the beginning of the article that Socionics.com lists 14 different degrees of compatibility. This article refers just to seven of those. Check out their website for the compatibility of the esfj and infp.
cre8tive hermit on October 01, 2012:
what about esfj and infp?
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on December 06, 2011:
Wonderful, CloudExplorer, that you are such a leaner. I can relate to you and your wife, as my husband and I are an Activity Pair, too.
Mike Pugh from New York City on December 06, 2011:
There's a great deal to learn from a resource such as this hub you've made I will share it on my sharing tools I have developed.
Me & my wife must have the personality type you stated above as being Activity Pairs, we both are very active in our lives & together in the participation of many activities, but we also lack in helping one another on improving our weak points.
Great hub here voted up for useful, awesome & interesting
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on March 24, 2011:
Good to know it is helpful/useful. Yes, something everyone should learn ... plus how to manage our personal finances :) Would be great if that was taught to everyone, too.
Katie McMurray from Ohio on March 24, 2011:
Very interesting and helpful, everyone should learn this along with reading and writing, people skills and understanding is highly over looked. Great job! Thanks :) Katie
epigramman on September 29, 2010:
..well you to tell you the truth my personality type has changed significantly since I started reading your hubs of varied interests ..... and for the better I may add!