Saturday, June 4, 2011

Relationships and Compatibility Tests

Most compatibility tests suggest that the more similar you and your partner are, the more compatible you are.  I took the Big Five personality test on Facebook, which also calculates a similarity score between you and all of your friends who have taken the test. My similarity scores with everyone ranged from about 60 to 90 percent alike, and my closest friends and I are in the 60s to low 70s range.  The test considers us to be opposites (although it's hard to know whether 70 percent is actually a low score, given that my lowest similarity score was 58 percent) The results got me curious and inspired me to propose study on personality compatibility for a psych class.  But knowing that my friends and I had opposite personalities didn't threaten the stability of our friendship - I was really curious about why we were attracted to each other, but I never wondered about whether we would last as friends.  I just assumed that we would.

So why do compatibility tests have such authority when it comes to romantic relationships?  I understand that it's more serious and that you're spending a lot more time with the person, but I have to wonder...is what you look for in a partner so much different from what you look for in a friend?  Most of us will tolerate more or less from our friends, but if you think about what you ideally want in a friendship, isn't it very close to what you would want in a relationship?

In the beginning, I was concerned about the fact that my boyfriend and I are only 72 percent alike, and when I compared his scores to my other friends, it turned out that he is more like all of my other friends than he is like me.  In the beginning, I wondered if this meant we weren't compatible.  But when you think about it, if my friends and I are all about 70 percent alike, then it makes perfect sense that I would also attract and be attracted to a boyfriend whom I am 70 percent like.  Whatever the reason, those are the people I get along best with and who get along best with me, so why should it be any different in a relationship than a friendship?

As fascinated as I am by personality quizzes, the best advice I can give on compatibility tests is to just have fun with them if you can do so without worrying, and put real life first.  Friendship is at the core of a relationship; you wouldn't wonder about compatibility if you answered differently than a close friend, so don't give compatibility tests authority over your relationship.

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