Compatibility can have a significant impact on whether a relationship can work out in the long run. One way to assess compatibility is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is a personality assessment that categorizes people into one of 16 personality types. If you’ve ever looked into the MBTI, you likely know that understanding your personality type can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, ideal career path, and more. But knowing your Myers-Briggs type can also tell you who you’re compatible with—and who you’re not so compatible with.
How personality type can impact compatibility.
The MBTI uses four foundational categories of personality to create its 16 possible personality types. The categories are:
The 16 types are determined by where someone falls in each of the four categories, resulting in various four-letter combinations—such as ISFP, ENFJ, INTJ, etc.—known as your Myers-Briggs type or MBTI type. Each type is associated with a set of common strengths and weaknesses, most fitting careers, and yes, the other types you’re most compatible with.
That’s because, as clinical psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, previously wrote for mbg, where you fall in the MBTI can tell you a lot about the kinds of people you’ll naturally mesh with. For example: “The way your potential partner approaches the world and communicates (similar in sensing/intuition) is a good indicator of initial attraction,” she explains. “On the other side of the spectrum, differences in extraversion/introversion may cause the most conflict in long-term relationships.”
The Myers-Briggs types that may be incompatible.
According to him, the least likely pairings to succeed are types where the first three letters are different, and the last letter the same. (For example, an INTJ with an ESFJ, or an INTP with an ESFP.)
Why, you might ask? Nardi says despite having judging (J) or perceiving (P) in common, if all the other letters are different, their other personality functions are always competing with each other. How you approach your world (judging vs. perceiving) may be the same, but how you get your energy (introvert vs. extrovert), gather information (sensing vs. intuition), and make decisions (thinking vs. feeling) are all different.
“It’s like every time one person wants to go left, the other wants to go right, in the most confusing or annoying way,” he explains.
In addition to that, Nardi adds that a couple with one SP (Sensing/Perceiving) and one NT (Intuitive/Thinking) typically won’t last as long as an SJ-NF pair (Sensing/Judging and Intuitive/Feeling). “This does not mean less rewarding, just not as long. Why? Both SP and NT types are pragmatic, while SJ and NF are affiliative,” he says, noting that affiliative types “tend to be more focused on or invested in sustaining relationships.”
But don’t walk away just yet…
Now, as with any metrics of compatibility based on personality, these are generalizations and should be taken with a grain of salt. As Nardi tells mbg, if two emotionally immature people get together, “they will have an unsatisfying relationship, regardless of type.”
Inversely, just because two people may be statistically less likely to last based on their Myers-Briggs type, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
And just as a note, Nardi adds that Feeling types do not inherently have more emotional intelligence (EQ) than Thinking types. Both types have the capacity to build up their EQ, it just looks a bit different depending on whether you’re a T or F.
Compatibility is never black and white, though personality tests like the MBTI have, historically, had success in gauging which pairings have the most staying power. But whether or not you and your S.O. are compatible in the eyes of Myers-Briggs, understanding your own types can help you understand each other better, and figure out which areas of your relationship might need a little more attention.