Do people tend to marry with similar personalities? (5 insights)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Do people tend to marry with similar personalities?” and explore the concept of personalities and the extent of their significance in the choice of partner and marital satisfaction in order to help understand the answer. 

Do people tend to marry with similar personalities?

Yes, in general, people tend to marry partners with similar personalities. The following are 5 insights into how people tend to marry with similar personalities –

  • Couples are more similar to one other than random people.
  • Happiness is influenced by how similar you are to your mate.
  • Relationship resemblance is important particularly when it comes to the quality of agreeability.
  • Couples who had a higher level of similarity in the attribute of openness were more likely to stay together.
  • Dissimilarity might be appealing at times.

What are these 5 insights into how people tend to marry with similar personalities?

Couples are more similar to one other than random people.

Researchers have discovered that couples are more similar to one other than random people, although the exact mechanism is unknown. 

“This might represent couples’ impact over time, or it could be what drew them together in the first place,” research author Mikhila Humbad, a doctorate candidate in clinical psychology at Michigan State University, said.

According to Humbad, the new study studied the data of 1,296 married couples, making it one of the largest of its kind to date. Participants had been married for a period ranging from two to 19 years.

The participants were asked 198 questions about their personality and behaviour, such as whether they were ambitious, social, easily upset, physically aggressive, or like to prepare ahead.

There was no link between the length of a relationship and the personality compatibility of partners. Partner selection explains spousal resemblance more than gradual personality convergence.

Happiness is influenced by how similar you are to your mate.

Researchers have discovered that your happiness is influenced by how similar you are to your mate – but it’s difficult.

Many monogamous animals, ranging from cockatiels to cichlid fish, have shown a definite pattern: being more similar to your spouse benefits. When mating partners have comparable behaviours, their reproductive success is higher.

In human words, this means that being similar to your mate is preferable. Indeed, psychologists and others have long suggested that similarity is certainly desirable – after all, we’ll be more likely to have similar interests, attitudes, and perspectives on life.

However, no matter how obvious the concept appears, practically every research has failed to back it up for decades.

Relationship resemblance is important particularly when it comes to the quality of agreeability.

A group of psychologists at the University of Amsterdam believes they have figured out why. They’ve taken a far more complex and nuanced approach to the problem than earlier studies. 

Their findings imply that relationship resemblance is important, particularly when it comes to the quality of ‘agreeability.’ Their research is not unique. 

Other recent studies that looked at aspects other than personality indicated that resemblance is crucial in other ways, such as whether you’re a morning person and whether you have similar political views. 

But, maybe more importantly than how similar you are, how much you have individually developed a feeling of common identity. How much of a feeling of common identity you have may be the most essential aspect.

When it comes to how much similarity affects relationships, lead researcher Manon van Scheppingen and her colleagues explain that almost all previous research has taken an all-or-nothing approach, ignoring the more nuanced question of whether the effect varies depending on the specific traits being discussed and the relative score each partner has on those traits.

To provide an example, common sense would indicate that if both couples are extremely diligent, then similarity would be advantageous. 

However, if one spouse has a low level of conscientiousness, it may be better for the relationship if the other partner is different and has a higher level of conscientiousness, resulting in a good compensating effect.

Van Scheppingen’s team looked examined data from thousands of long-term married couples in America over the course of several years, taking into consideration each partner’s relative scores on each of the five basic personality traits.

They discovered that the direct influence of each person’s personality was by far the most important factor for overall well-being, which was consistent with the previous study. 

Individuals were happier in general if they and/or their spouses had more pleasant, conscientious, and less neurotic dispositions (which is consistent with what we know about the links between these traits and happiness).

The relative degree of each partner’s qualities showed revealed to be important in a small but significant way. In the majority of the cases, a perfect match was not advantageous. 

Having the same amount of extraversion as one’s partner, for example, was not optimum for overall happiness (instead the optimal situation, at least for wellbeing, was for one person to be somewhat more extraverted than their partner). 

The similarity wasn’t ideal for persons with low degrees of conscientiousness (it was better to be with someone with a somewhat higher level of conscientiousness).

The sole exception, and it was just for women, was agreeableness, a personality attribute linked to trust and empathy. In terms of feeling more supported in a relationship, a greater likeness to one’s spouse was desirable. 

A degree of similarity in openness was less evident, but it was also in favour of a similar impact for both men and women (a trait associated with enjoying new experiences and appreciating art and culture).

It was typically beneficial to have equal degrees of receptivity to new experiences. Because of the trait’s ties to beliefs and politics, Van Scheppingen and her colleagues hypothesised that some similarity in openness would be helpful (greater openness is associated with holding more liberal attitudes, for example). 

According to the study, similarity leads to “reduced disagreement between spouses’ opinions and actions, which may be associated with having greater levels of marital well-being.”

Couples who had a higher level of similarity in the attribute of openness were more likely to stay together.

According to one study, couples who had a higher level of similarity in the attribute of openness were more likely to stay together.

This tentative result of a similarity effect for openness corresponds to another recent study that investigated if there is a link between how similar spouses are and the length of their relationship. 

This is perhaps a more objective metric than people’s self-reported sense of well-being and support. Nearly 5,000 German couples were given personality questionnaires by Beatrice Rammstedt of the Gesis Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Germany, and they were followed for five years. 

Her team discovered that couples who shared a high level of openness were more likely to stay together.

Another recent study discovered that when women and their partners have equal degrees of openness, they gain (the optimal situation was when both partners reported modest levels of openness). 

Another study discovered that relationship resemblance was especially beneficial to anxiously connected persons who were afraid of being abandoned.

There’s evidence that personality qualities other than the primary ones matter. For example, Paulina Jocz and her colleagues from the University of Warsaw found that women in heterosexual relationships were happier when they and their spouses had the same chronotype (that is, whether they were a morning or an evening person). 

They also discovered that having a common preference for when to have sex during the day made both genders more sexually pleased.

Another study indicated that women who communicated their political views with their boyfriends were happier in their relationships. And both men and women were happy if they and their spouses valued being free and independent-minded in the same way.

Dissimilarity might be appealing at times.

While the resemblance is significant, psychologist Arthur Aron feels that there are specific occasions when it might actually detract from the attraction

He stated that individuals also want to develop and extend their selves and that one reason we create connections with others is so that we might internalise some of our partners’ attributes, allowing us to do so.

The assumption is that we will be drawn to others who provide the most opportunity for self-development – and someone who shares our beliefs and qualities offers far less opportunity for progress than someone who is different. 

As a result, the model predicts that dissimilarity might be appealing at times, especially if you feel there is a strong chance of a relationship developing. Aron’s work with the phantom stranger approach appears to back up this theory.

However, when we evaluate how couples interact in real life, the picture becomes more confusing. When couples realise that they strongly disagree on an issue, they frequently “align” their opinions with one another over time, becoming increasingly similar to one another.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Do people tend to marry with similar personalities?” and reviewed the concept of personalities and the extent of its significance in the choice of partner and marital satisfaction to help determine if people tend to marry partners with similar personalities. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Opposites Don’t Attract: People Choose Partners Like Them.  Live Science Staff. (2010, August 26). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/11166-opposites-attract-people-choose-partners.html#:~:text=Spouses%20don’t%20become%20more,shared%20personality%20traits%2C%20researchers%20say.

Sayehmiri, K., Kareem, K.I., Abdi, K. et al.The relationship between personality traits and marital satisfaction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. (2020, February 7). Retrieved from https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-020-0383-z

Jarrett, C. Is it better to be like your partner? (2018, October 15). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181011-are-relationships-better-if-partners-are-more-similar

Kaufman, A. Personality, Partner Similarity and Couple  Satisfaction:                                            Do Opposites Attract or Birds of a Feather Flock Together? (2011). Retrieved from https://research.prepare-enrich.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/personality_and_couple_satisfaction.pdf

Most of us tend to be attracted to people who are similar to ourselves. The Conversation. (2017,  March 28). Retrieved from https://www.psypost.org/2017/03/us-tend-attracted-people-similar-48596

Graham, S. Study Shows Like Personalities Lead to Marriage Satisfaction. (2005,  February 14). Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/study-shows-like-personal/

Laderer, A. Why Having the Same Personality as Your Partner Isn’t the Secret to Happiness. (2019, July 9). Retrieved from https://www.talkspace.com/blog/personality-differences-partner/

Gordon, A. M. Does Similarity Matter in Relationships? (2020, September 25). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-you-and-me/202009/does-similarity-matter-in-relationships

Johnson, M. D. ‘Opposites attract’ is a total myth in relationships — here’s why you’re likely to seek a partner who’s just like you. (2018, February 12). Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/opposites-do-not-attract-in-relationships-2018-2

Humbad, M. N.,  Donnellan, M. B., Iacono, W .G., McGue, M. &  Burt, S. A. Is Spousal Similarity for Personality A Matter of Convergence or Selection? (2010, November 1). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2992433/

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