It’s the classic story of the Odd Couple: she’s the life of the party, while he gives any excuse to leave early. He’s orderly and fastidious, while she leaves milk on the counter and clothes on the floor. He’s logical, she’s emotional; he’s from Mars, she’s from Venus.

Much is made of the idea that opposites attract, and we all know at least one of these “odd couples” that makes a relationship work despite major differences. But is it true that opposites attract? And more importantly, what makes for the most successful relationship—a stimulating opposite or a comforting soulmate?

Many researchers have set out to answer this question, but some of the most interesting studies have used the 16-type system developed by Isabel Briggs Myers to explore whether some personality types might be more compatible than others. For the uninitiated, Briggs Myers' theory proposes that our fundamental differences in thinking, making decisions, and organizing our lives can be understood by looking at our preferences in four key areas:

  • Extraversion/Introversion: This dimension refers to where you focus attention and get your energy. Extraverts are focused on the external world and other people, and are energized by external stimulation and interaction with others. Introverts are more focused on their internal world, thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and get energy from spending time in solitary activity or quiet reflection.
  • Sensing/Intuition: This dimension refers to how you prefer to take in information. Sensors gather information in a very concrete, detail-oriented, and factual way. They tend to be practical and oriented to the present moment. Intuitives tend to be more abstract in their perceptions, and tend to think more about meaning, connections, and possibilities. Intuitives are often more imaginative than realistic.
  • Thinking/Feeling: This dimension refers to how you prefer to make decisions. Thinkers prefer decisions that are based on facts or data, and like to reason things out logically. Feelers prefer decisions that are consistent with their values and help to build harmonious relationships.
  • Judging/Perceiving: This dimension refers to how you prefer to organize your life. Judgers tend to prefer structure, schedules, and plans. They like clear expectations and feel accomplishment from completing tasks. Perceivers prefer an open-ended, spontaneous and flexible existence. They enjoy feeling that their options are open and that there are many possibilities available.

Briggs Myers' system of personality typing is the most popular and widely used in the world, so it's no surprise that researchers (and the general public!) have been curious to understand whether we might be able to use our personality types to find our perfect match. Unfortunately, the link between personality type and compatibility is complex, and there's no simple system for predicting who you'll match with. While it isn't as simple as looking at a compatibility chart to find your ideal mate, personality research has pointed to some interesting findings that can improve your chances of finding relationship bliss.

Researching analyzing couples’ satisfaction have found that the most imporant factors associated with happy couples were those that we’ve known all along: good communication, common values and interests, and the ability to work out disagreements calmly and openly. But when researchers Barbara Barron-Tieger and Paul Tieger studied the personality type of several hundred couples, they found that the more type preferences a couple had in common, the more satisfied they were with their communication.

While opposites may attract, it seems to be easier to maintain a relationship with someone who is similar to yourself. However, this does not mean that you must find your exact type in order to build a good relationship. In fact, the most common pairing is between two people with just two type preferences in common (for instance, ISTP with ESTJ). Researchers have also found that some type preferences are more important than others when determining compatibility, and that some types are especially likely to clash.

In a 1981 study, researcher Ruth Sherman found that differences on the Extraversion/Introversion scale caused the most conflict in long-term relationships. In particular, combinations of Extraverted women with Introverted men caused frustration, perhaps because this dynamic goes against our traditional concept of the man being the more expressive and dominant partner. However, this effect was found in a study that is nearly 40 years old. As we become more progressive in our relationships and more open to equality, differences in this preference area may become less important.

The Sensing/Intuition scale seems to play a key role in attraction. Studies by Isabel Briggs Myers and others have found that people tend to be drawn to partners who share their preference on this scale. When couples have a Sensing or Intuitive preference in common, they will tend to view the world in a fundamentally similar way. Couples with the same preference on this scale may find it easier to understand each other, and are more likely to feel they are speaking the same language.

While similarity on the Sensing/Intuition scale may determine attraction, long-term compatibility appears to be much more complicated. The last three scales—S/N, T/F, and J/P—play a complex role in determining compatibility. These scales have a fundamental effect on the way we communicate and prioritize our lives, and so have the potential to cause misunderstandings, miscommunication, and opposing goals in relationships where preference differences exist.

When researchers Tieger and Barron-Tieger examined couples on the S/N, T/F, and J/P scales, they found that, in general, more similar couples experienced a higher rate of satisfaction with their partner. However, there were some combinations that worked well despite having fewer preferences in common, and some pairings of similar partners that weren’t quite so successful. Some examples:

  • Sensing Judgers (ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ) have a satisfaction rate of 79% when paired with other Sensing Judgers. These types tend to be traditionalists who value and honor their commitments.
  • Intuitive Feelers (ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFJ) have a satisfaction rate of 73% when paired with each other. Intuitive Feelers tend to place a high value on relationships and are the most likely of all the types to devote themselves to healthy relationships and open communication.
  • Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving types (INFP and ENFP) had a satisfaction rate of only 42% when they were paired with Sensing, Thinking, Judging types (ESTJ and ISTJ), although this was one of the more common pairings among the couples studied. The NFP partner is likely to feel that their partner is conservative and stifling, while the STJ partner may find their partner unpredictable and unreliable.
  • When partners have a Feeling preference in common, this can compensate for differences in other areas, perhaps due to Feelers’ inclination to spend more time and energy on their relationships in general. Specifically, Sensing, Feeling Judgers (ESFJ and ISFJ) reported an 86% satisfaction rate when paired with Intuitive, Feeling Perceivers (ENFP and INFP). They had a 67% satisfaction rate when coupled with Intuitive, Feeling Judgers (ENFJ and INFJ).
  • In some cases, having similar type preferences did not mean higher satisfaction. Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving types (ISTP and ESTP) had only a 33% satisfaction rate when paired with other STPs. The researchers theorized that this is due to their findings that ESTPs and ISTPs are the least concerned of all the types with the quality of their relationships.
  • Similarly, Intuitive Thinking types (ENTP, INTP, ENTJ, INTJ) have only a 59% satisfaction rate when paired with another Intuitive Thinker. These types tend to be among the most critical of their partners and may be harder to please in general.

Additional research, led by Nancy Marioles, PhD. at St. Mary’s University, provides important data on marriage patterns among the types.

  • Some types are more likely to marry a person of their same type; this includes male INFPs, INFJs and INTPs and female ENFJs and INFJs.
  • There are two combinations where opposites seem to attract: ESTJ men with INFP women, and ESTP men with INFJ women. However, this may be due in part to the fact that these two types of men are also the most likely to be married multiple times.
  • Some types showed greater partner dissatisfaction in general. Women married to INTP men had the highest level of dissatisfaction, at 31%. INTP is one of the least common types in the population, and INTPs may find it especially important to find a like-minded partner.

We can see that overall, couples find more satisfaction when paired with a similar partner. However, researchers stress that in all of their findings, communication, common interests, and the quality of the couple's friendship were the most crucial factors in determining relationship success. While it may be easier to achieve these goals with a partner who is similar to you, it is absolutely possible even when significant differences exist. When couples make an effort to understand and appreciate their differences, they can turn what might be a problem or source of conflict into an asset for their partnership.

Couples with personality differences who find ways to support and understand each other often find their relationships especially rewarding. Partners with type differences are able to stimulate and challenge each other, and will learn from each other in a way that similar partners cannot. They can also make more effective teams because they are able to notice and compensate for each other’s blind spots.

Recognizing how your partner is thinking and appreciating the value of his or her perspective, whether or not it agrees with yours, is crucial to a successful relationship. While compatibility research can be interesting and informative, it is important to remember that every relationship is individual, and every couple can learn better communication skills. When it comes to relationship satisfaction, the big three factors—communication, trust, and respect—can be achieved by any type combination.


Marioles, N., et. al. (1996) Attraction, satisfaction, and psychological types of couples. Journal of Psychological Type, Vol 36.

Tieger, P. and Barron-Tieger, B.(2000) Just Your Type. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Co.

Sherman, R.G. Typology and problems in intimate relationships. Research in Psychological Type, 4, 4-23.

Myers, I.B. and Myers, P.B. (1980) Gifts Differing. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


Andie (not verified) says...

I have no comment.

Guest (not verified) says...

I have no comment.

zeeshansardar (not verified) says...

Compatbility 29% .
Personality type dashing

Guest (not verified) says...

Where is ISFP?

Guest (not verified) says...

Where is ISFP?

Thriveworks Counseling (not verified) says...

Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving. You can google the long version but it is very cool!

Thriveworks Counseling (not verified) says...

I own a clinical counseling practice in Arkansas and I use the MBTI (Myers-Briggs) all the time. If you need some additional insight on your personality I am glad to help (no charge for this friendly help). I would love to go beyond the MBTI for those who want some online coaching/counseling.

PS- yes we are a legit company..check out the website:

Guest (not verified) says...

I am an INFJ male, and I feel like I need to find an INFJ female soul mate. Is it a good idea? Thanks for your help (:

Night-Hawk (not verified) says...

Only if you want to both have the same blind spots in a relationship, but chances are if both of you have a lot in common the relationship will most likely stay strong.

Autumn Palatsi (not verified) says...

I am a female INFJ and I met my male mate 6 years ago ... He is also INFJ! We have small struggles here and there but have incredible open communication, trust, loyalty, love and passion. Highly recommend! Hope you have found your match!!!!


L. Barnes (not verified) says...

I would like some additional insight and if you could tell me some things that would help my partner and I have a better relationship. My email is lala7404 at Yahoo dot com. I am an istj female, 30 and he is an entj Male, 34. Thank you.

Curtiss Robinson (not verified) says...

I will send an email to arrange a meeting at our office.  I love helping interpret and expand on the Myers Briggs.


INTAwesome (not verified) says...

The wicked witch of the west too my F and now I am only ENP. I am on the way to the wizard to have my personality restored.

Carrie (not verified) says...

I am a huge fan of the MBTI and always felt before I fell in love and got married that it would be very useful in finding a healthy relationship. My husband was very opposed to finding out his type and it was only after a few years of marriage that I convinced him to figure it his type through taking the test and some research. I was very surprised. I'm a very clear INTP... and he's and ESFP. I never would have guessed that we would be so opposite... we have no cognitive functions in common. So take this with a grain of salt and trust your intuition! I knew my husband was the one the minute Inmet him and we almost never fight. That being said, don't try to make opposites work when it's work. It has never been work for us.

Guest (not verified) says...

Most of the articles I've read about this say that extreme opposites like you and your husband are what typically attract and work well together.

Guest (not verified) says...

I find this incredibly interesting. I am an INTJ/P (it is always 1% one way or the other) female with an ESTJ male. We have been together two years, we've still never had a fight. Disagreements yes but we simply talk it out and resolve it. Is this usual for this pair to be compatible?

Guest (not verified) says...

That's very interesting, because according to you have what is called a Duality relationship, and apparently it's the best match of all. You are like the flip side of the same coin who complement each other perfectly.

Fariha (not verified) says...

I've been talking to him for last 3 first it was like simple things that match in our personalities in our lives and we were making fun of it...but recently I just realised he's been living the same life having the same thoughts i used to have 4 years's like I'm dating the past myself...not sure how to put these into words

Aliiiii (not verified) says...

This is cool! I'm a very strong ENFP and my fiance is an INFP. We think the same way (generally)—making really abstract/seemingly unrelated connections in conversations. The I/E difference is great, actually. When I get too excited to be around people, sometimes I lose some perception on how others feel. I forget that others aren't as excited as I am, and I can sometimes make others uncomfortable, step on toes, perhaps even hurt feelings by accident. This would NEVER be my intention! But my INFP fiance is an excellent listener/people reader. He's good about keeping me in check when I start to derail in this way. And he told me he's counting on me to drag him out to social things more (which is good for him as long as he still gets his recharge time). We're long distance, both total romantics, and planning to travel the world together (it's more of a general plan, of course ;)). I definitely feel that we are both more conservative with our money, preferring to live on less and focus our energy on ideas and bettering the world around us. The more I read about INFP's and ENFP's, the more convinced I am that we are a natural match.

Katniss Everdeen is an INTJ (not verified) says...

Well, I'm an INTJ girl and I happen to be extremely attracted to male INTPs.
Am I insane? hahah

redrust (not verified) says...

I'm a guy that's INTP---bordering on INTJ.

There's this girl who is like exactly the same... INTP---bordering on INTJ.
I don't know what she thinks of me...
She's very attractive.

We have a lot of similar quirks, just different interests to an extent.
Authority figure complex.
Live on the internet.
Partake in internet debates(different areas of the internet)
I might run at 1 am. She might walk at 1 am.
We both hate fake people. To such an extent that we both have like only 3 friends each.
We both understand not everyone can relate to you about stuff and therefore can't be someone you can truly lean on.

We both have our respective mediums to be alone but do an activity. Running vs playing an instrument. I mean i can play an instrument too(i just never got a private tutor and therefore the passion for it....i've been running with clubs or on teams the same amount of time so i became good at running), but she has physical limitations specific to her. So, what I mean by that is when you start doing some art or activity, you probably suck at it. But over time it becomes natural like riding a bike. So I mean playing an instrument becomes that way in a sense, but you can keep improving skill or keep getting something out of it so to say. The same can be said for running or something more aerobic but kind of mindless so to say. They are both in ways tests of mental will along with the trained physical motions.

We have somewhat similar movie tastes, good "artsy" ones here and there, while still enjoying some more mainstream or classic stuff.

She has I think a niche in musical information like composers, bands, etc. I could be wrong.

I have a niche in video games information, and movies to an extent.

I'm gonna go for it regardless. There's a sort of conflict of interest regarding it which would have to be settled, but easily.....

Guest (not verified) says...

My husband and I are INTPs and have a wonderful marriage. Briggs Myers types don't define you, and if you do an internet search you'll find that psychologists discredit them.

Guest (not verified) says...

You are correct that the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and other personality tests based of it don't define you, what confuses me is why psychologists would discredit it. The "tests" never claimed to define you. It is only meant to give a general oversight, a way to better understand oneself.

Guest (not verified) says...

I go to these sites looking for answers because I find relationships tough in general. I'm a INTJ and supposedly we are just bitches. I saw another online article saying that very independent people also have a tough time finding love. Absolutely describes me! I'm not supposed to be compatible with ISTJ types at all. But a guy who was that type is the only person I've ever met whom I consider "the one who got away."

Guest (not verified) says...

I am an INFJ. When I took the "Which Personality Type is Your Love Match?" quiz, it said my ideal partner would be an ENFP. How can this be? There is only similar trait between an INFJ and ENFP.

ESFP (not verified) says...

Nothing on ESFP

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