Q. I think a lot of people would love to know which types experience the happiest marriages together. I've read "Just Your Type" in which the Tiegers share their research. It's very helpful, but they don't share which types are happiest together. I would love to know which types are happiest with ENFPs and which types ENFPs are happiest with. Please share this information if you have it.
A. Hi April,
You are spot-on with your hunch—a lot of people do want to know which types are most compatible! In fact, an article we published several years ago about personality type and compatibility is still one of the most-read articles on our site.
So if it’s such a popular question, then why are there no satisfying answers? If everyone wants to know which personality types are most compatible, why hasn’t anyone bothered to figure it out?
Well, the answer is actually pretty simple. Personality type just doesn't do a very good job of predicting compatibility. Sometimes, happy couples are happy because they’re exactly alike. Other times, they’re happy because they’re opposites. Researchers have tried to find a formula to predict which personalities will have successful relationships with one another—and they’ve REALLY tried, because figuring it out would be a goldmine. But, unfortunately, they’ve come up short.
The problem seems to be that people don’t predictably choose mates based on their own personalities. An ISTJ might want to be with another ISTJ, or they might want an ISFJ, or they might want to make their life a lot more interesting by pairing up with an ENFP. There are simply no predictable formulas for who picks who, or even who is happy with who.
You’re way ahead of my usual advice because you’ve already read the Tiegers' book. This is a great, comprehensive resource for learning about personality type compatibility, and they do share some data on relationship satisfaction among types (which we summarize here). But you’re right, the book doesn’t really give hard answers about what type you’ll be happiest with if you’re an ENFP. And unfortunately, that’s because there aren’t any.
So what are we to do? It’s hard to believe that personality typing could be so helpful in so many areas of life, but completely useless when it comes to picking a mate. But here are a few ways where it can be helpful:
1. Personality typing can help you to be a better partner to someone else.
Knowing yourself and being comfortable with who you are is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Before you can successfully pair up with someone else, you have to have a clear idea of your own values, goals, and priorities. Exploring your personality type is a great way to figure out who you are, where you’re going, and what you want out of life.
2. Personality typing can help you have a better relationship with whomever it is that you end up with.
No matter what your mate’s personality type, you can count on having some challenges. Knowing about personality types can help you navigate issues by helping you understand differences in the way you think, problem-solve, and approach your life together.
If you understand your mate’s personality type, you’ll have a head start in being able to communicate effectively. You’ll also be better at managing your differences without taking disagreements personally, knowing that they have to do with your respective personalities.
3. Personality typing can help you figure out who you’re looking for.
Although there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about which types get along, you can use personality typing to help you define the kind of person you’re looking for. With your knowledge of personality styles, you can build a sort of profile of your ideal mate, which can help you to both seek out your mate and recognize them when you find them.
Here are some questions that can help you to identify your ideal mate’s personality type:
- Do I want someone who’s more outgoing (E), or quieter and more reserved (I)? Do I want a social butterfly who's always up for a party, or someone who's more excited about a quiet night reading at home?
- Do I want someone who likes to think about and discuss complex ideas (N), or do I prefer a practical person who stays grounded in the present (S)? Is it important that my mate be creative, artistic, and forward-thinking? Or do I prefer someone more traditional?
- Do I prefer a mate who’s cool and logical in their thinking (T) or more emotional and driven by values (F)? Do I want my mate to keep me on my toes, or would I prefer someone who’s gentle and supportive?
- Do I want a mate who likes a structured, organized lifestyle (J), or a more spontaneous, freewheeling one (P)? Do I need a mate who’s always up for a last-minute trip or event? Or would I prefer someone who keeps our life organized and scheduled?
To simplify the process, we’ve created the Which Personality Type is Your Love Match? quiz to make it easy to identify which type best describes your perfect mate. You’ll answer questions about how you prefer your partner to think and behave, and we’ll tell you which type best fits your profile.
Your results on the love match quiz tell you which personality type you’re looking for, plus some information about what you can expect in a relationship with your ideal type, as well as some tips on where to find them.
Taking the quiz is an especially awesome exercise because once you’ve defined what your ideal partner looks like, you'll have a head start in figuring out how to meet them. Since different personality types tend to cluster in different jobs, college majors, and activities, you can improve your chances of finding your mate by putting yourself in places where they hang out. So if it’s an ENFJ you want, try volunteering for a local charity. If you’re seeking an ESTP, join a local sports team. And if you’re lusting after an INTP, slap on a costume and get yourself to Comic-Con!
I know it’s disappointing to hear that personality typing can’t help us to predict who you’ll have a happy relationship with. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could? But the good news is, knowing about personality types can still help you find and keep the one for you—if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to make it work.