Are you a (Personality) Backseat Driver?

backseat-driverDo you like your partner’s personality? That might sound like a ridiculous question to some people. “Of course I do!
Why would I be with him/her if I didn’t?” Please note that this is not the same as “do you love your partner?” You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that many people spend a lot of time trying to change aspects of his/her partner’s personality or secretly hope that one day their “annoying” traits will magically cease.

Research has shown that a person’s personality traits remain relatively stable over time, so while your partner may be able to make small changes, such as putting more effort into being organized or moderating competitive instincts in situations where competition is not appropriate, it is very unlikely that you will see a 180-degree change (from introvert to extrovert for example). PREPARE/ENRICH data show that there is no correlation between personality similarities/differences and relationship satisfaction. Individuals are actually 66% more likely to pair with someone with a different personality than their own.

So what can we take away from this?

  1. Trying to change your partner’s personality is kind of like being a “backseat driver”: It is no help to the driver, you both end up frustrated, and you might be missing out on some great scenery along the way!
  2. You have more control over your own relationship satisfaction by learning to appreciate the personality traits of your partner that are different from yours. This does not mean you will never get annoyed or have disagreements, but just remember: those characteristics that annoy you now were probably the same ones that drew you to him/her in the beginning!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *