It is said that selecting your partner is one of the most important things you will do in your life. This is a topic that us humans can all share. Most of us are built to live a life surrounded by people, a partner or a family. Relationships start under all sorts of conditions and are unique in how they mature.
On this subject, I will focus on something that has been shown to have a significant influence on the formation of a romantic relationship and how compatible that relationship may be in the future. This something, is each individual’s personality traits.
The Five-factor model or the Big Five traits is considered the most mainstream and widely accepted model when it comes to framing personality. Our own personality traits and those of our partners play a significant role in how we interact, what we value, how we want to build our lives and where we may come into conflict. The big five are as follows:
- Openness to experience
These five factors can be expanded further to reveal more specific characteristics, but this big five breakdown, also referred to as the OCEAN model helps compress personality traits into widely used categories.
We understand that having big differences in one or several of these traits can cause conflict within a relationship, possibly preventing it from moving forward or leaving it broken. I will try and briefly summarise each of the five traits and give an example of where differences or similarities in each of the traits can add to a relationship or help to break it down over time.
Extraverts thrive in group situations and get their energy from interacting with others. Introverts tend to feel exhausted by large scale social interaction, drawing energy from time spent alone.
Example: If your partner leans to the extravert end of the extraversion scale and you to the introvert, this may cause conflict regarding the types and level of social interaction that you want to undertake as a couple.
Agreeable individuals value getting along with other and try to avoid conflict. They often have a high level of empathy for others and often put others interests in front of their own. Disagreeable individuals tend to confront issues even if it may result in conflict, they show less empathy, are comfortable being more critical and are often more competitive.
Example: If individuals in a relationship are at different ends of the scale, the agreeable one in the relationship will find the disagreeable one harsh and unpleasant and the disagreeable person will find the agreeable person indecisive and a push over.
High conscientiousness includes high levels of thoughtfulness, control and a drive for organization and success. Low levels are presented by those that may appear easy going or carefree/careless.
Example: If one partner has high levels, is driven, organized and clean, they may be frustrated by a partner who appears to be careless, directionless and messy. On the other hand, the one with low levels may find the other stressed or controlling.
High neuroticism is characterized by high levels of nervousness and sensitivity. It is shown in individuals that don’t deal well with stress and are more likely to feel anxious. Low levels are characterized by those that deal well with stress, are more emotionally stable and don’t worry as much.
Example: This can be a contributing factor in one partner developing feelings of jealousy in the relationship.
Openness to experience
High levels of openness can be characterized by those that may be perceived as unpredictable, willing to engage in risky behaviour, higher levels of inventiveness and curiosity and that are creative driven. On the other end of the spectrum are those that have a higher tendency for structure, consistency, they are pragmatic and often more conservative.
Example: This may affect the choice of day to day activities with your partner, with either end of the spectrum likely to desire a different pace/outcome.
Obviously, the amount to which each of these plays a part will be different in every relationship. These are compressions of complex subjects and can be understood in much more detail. Knowing about this subject will help you become more self-aware and aware of your partners characteristics. It will help you make better judgement on the types of compromises worth making for your partner and times when to tread carefully or to push the boundaries. Having knowledge on the subject will help you identify red flags early on when getting to know someone or help you improve on current relationships. Building self-awareness and understanding what contributes to your value system will assist you in choosing the right partner.
Photos: David Popa
-Jordan Peterson and his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jordan+peterson & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mjD3K96MVY&t=82s
-Alexandra Redcay and her ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jodhovumkHQ
Tony Robbins and his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tony+robbins