How often have you spoken about someone in a romantic way and then said that 'Oh, but it'll never work, he's not my type'. We're often told that types don't exist, but what if they do? A recent study found that people do tend to date a certain type of people and that they look for these types in all their partners.
“It’s common that when a relationship ends, people attribute the breakup to their ex-partner’s personality and decide they need to date a different type of person. Our research suggests there’s a strong tendency to nevertheless continue to date a similar personality,” said lead author Yoobin Park.
The study was conducted on 332 people using data from an ongoing multi-year study on couples and families across several age groups. The personalities of these people's current and past partners were compared. It was found that there was indeed a significant similarity in the personalities of the different partners these people chose. “The effect is more than just a tendency to date someone similar to yourself,” said Park.
The participants, their past partners and current partners were asked to assess their own personality traits related to agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience. These respondents were then also asked to rate their agreement and disagreement with the statements they made.
It was found that most current partners described themselves in a way that was similar to how past partners had described themselves. “The degree of consistency from one relationship to the next suggests that people may indeed have a ‘type’,” said the study co-author. “And though our data do not make clear why people’s partners exhibit similar personalities, it is noteworthy that we found partner similarity above and beyond similarity to oneself.”
“In every relationship, people learn strategies for working with their partner’s personality,” says Park. “If your new partner’s personality resembles your ex-partner’s personality, transferring the skills you learned might be an effective way to start a new relationship on a good footing.”
However, Park also clarified that more research was required to figure out whether dating the same type of people over and over again would turn out to be a plus or a minus. “So, if you find you’re having the same issues in the relationship after relationship, you may want to think about how gravitating toward the same personality traits in a partner is contributing to the consistency in your problems,” said Park.