It’s Saturday night. You’re out with your girlfriends for a much needed girls night. To try and be your most fabulous self, you bought a new top (because it was necessary no matter what anyone says) and are wearing those shoes that are super sexy, but pinch your feet just a bit.
It’s okay though you think to yourself, I look fabulous, I feel fabulous, and the world is mine. And it totally is!
As you walk into the bar, a new trendy spot that has the perfect Instagram wall, you take a quick look around the room. Wait, who is that? Is it Chris Evans? Sadly, no. Are they a model? Possibly.
You can’t place your finger on it, but in a room full of young and attractive people you can’t seem take your eyes off of them. Quickly, you turn to your group of friends and motion them to (casually) look over.
Spoiler: literally no one is casual about it.
However, somehow they don’t quite feel the same attraction. One friend pulls the classic ‘They’re cute for you’ or the ‘Of course, they’re very your type.’ Okay. But, what does that mean?
Now, on one hand it is relieving to know that the competition for them will not be the “battle royale” you had anticipated, however, it’s weird to think that no one else is seeing what you’re seeing.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
Why are we attracted to certain people while others aren’t? Yes, people naturally are drawn to different things (clothing, houses, even potential partners.)
But, could it be that Selena Gomez was right, and the heart just wants what is wants? Is there some secret power our hearts have to find our one elusive soulmate?
No. Turns out, it’s not our hearts, it’s our heads. The brain is what’s actually responsible for any attraction we feel to a potential partner. Now, a study is breaking down what kind of people each person is attracted to. And more importantly – why.
Why Do We Feel Attracted To A Certain Type Of Person
It All Starts With Helen Fisher
While she is not the only psychologist, or even person, to ask this question, Dr. Helen Fisher set out to study the effects attraction has on the brain.
This wasn’t her first foray into studying love, and she is known around the world for her brain scans. So it was no surprise to the medical community when she set out to try and find an answer to the age old question: why do we love the people we do?
According to Fisher, it started with a theory tied to temperament.
“I began with a theory. Since antiquity, poets, philosophers, and physicians have classified people into four styles of temperament,” Fisher said.
“For Plato, they were the Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational. I have come to call them the Explorer, Builder, Negotiator, and Director. Each basic type, I suspect, is associated with a distinct cluster of genes—along with the expression of certain brain chemicals and a unique collection of personality traits.”
Beyond that, she wanted to delve into how different temperaments work with each other in relationships.
In her original study, she proposed that people would fall for a different type than their own. Her theory was based on the “unconscious biological appetite to create more genetic variety.
Sound a bit confusing? Don’t worry we were baffled at first too. Basically it feeds off of the common scientific idea that each person strives to create the strongest offspring possible. While survival in the modern world is less brute force, there are still biological traits that we’d want to see out in our ideal partners.
Think of it from a health perspective.
Every person has certain genetic strengths and weaknesses tied to their immune system. Some are easily able to fight off infection, while others were gifted with a healthier heart.
According to many scientists, opposites do attract in an effort to balance out any potential immune deficiencies in offspring.
As a biological anthropologist, Fisher applied the theory to genes.
She spent over a decade testing hundreds of couples and their personality traits. Part of the research was partnered with Chemistry.com which helped to find the participants.
She sent each partner a random survey that helped to determine their “love type.” There were also a series of other questions all tied to aspects of their relationship, mainly focused on money, happiness, sex, boredom, and the like.
We don’t know about you, but these sound like some tough questions we many not be ready to ask ourselves.
The data was then collected by Beta Research Corporation.
Surprisingly, out of the 500 couples surveyed, there was a large range in age. According to Fisher, the youngest participants were 21, while the oldest reached well into their 60s.
Partners varied in whether they had kids, spent tons of time together, or agreed on major financial issues. The average time the spouses had been married was about 16 years. (AKA, a very long time.) If any participant has some relationship advice, we’re all ears.
Fisher Then Created A Test To Measure Her Findings
She not only spent decades collecting data, she spent two additional years studying medical journals that are tied to personality traits and biology.
According to the Wall Street Journal, she identified four main systems that are tied to main brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen.
We’ve heard of those before? Don’t we all have them? Yes.
Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters that help us assess risk, and estrogen and testosterone are hormones. That we remember. Those hormones are the main factors in determining whether we express male or female characteristics.
Every human on Earth has all of these in their primary genetic makeup.
However, not every person uses the same amounts of each one. This is where it gets interesting.
Some of us only rely on one or two of these systems and let others stay dormant. Others have a more even mix of both.
Each person is likely to have a different percentage of systems used, and that has a huge impact on their personality.
According to Fisher, it opens up a whole new door on understanding why people are the way they are.
The test is so effective in calculating personality factors that it’s stemmed beyond finding love. Many companies and schools are beginning to incorporate her findings to better communicate with each other, and find out how everyone works best.
Think about it: With one simple question, you could infer several aspects about the way your friend, coworkers, or potential partners thinks, acts, and in a way, feels.
Her findings also came up with a surprising result.
Not every type is attracted to similar types. About half of the types tend to be attracted to their total opposite (high estrogen or testosterone), while others want to stay with someone similar to theirs. (Dopamine and Serotonin.)
How many friends do we have who are dating someone who makes us think ‘Wow they are literally the same person as you’? And with others, we sometimes wonder what in the world they could have in common? Well, now we know why.
Do different genders have common traits?
Sort of. While men do tend to register higher on the testosterone scale, and women on the estrogen, the real differences in spectrum tend to come on the neurotransmitter scales. It also lends itself to how different each persons chemical makeup in the brain is.
These differences also help to identify who is attracted to whom.
Curious what your main trait is?
Don’t worry, the test is available for free online. We’ve already taken it, and let’s just say, the results were a bit spooky. Somehow in 56 questions it knew us so well.
The four main chemical systems are translated to four main personality types: Explorer, Negotiator, Director, and Builder. According to the website, the test will tell you how your naturally behave, and whom you’re biologically attracted to.
So, let’s delve into these personality traits a bit more. What do they mean?
Explorers are high on the dopamine scale. According to the results of Fisher’s findings, those who are high in dopamine are “curious, creative, spontaneous, energetic, restless, enthusiastic, impulsive, and mentally flexible.”
Their creativity makes them assets in coming up with new ideas, and innovative way to solve problems. They are also the type most likely to take risks.
Since they love adventure, it’s not shocking they shy away from anyone who is boring.
The Explorers are drawn to people who are likely themselves. It also adds up because dopamine is tied to the pleasure center of the brain.
In the eyes of an Explorer type, if their partner doesn’t share the same sense of adventure and desire to learn and try new things, it likely won’t work out in the long run.
If you rank high on serotonin levels, congratulations, you’re a Builder. Given the name, it seems fitting that the Builders long for control and stability. They are eager to belong and feel happier in places they find familiar.
Common traits include: loyalty, organization, rational thinking, and a calm nature.
This type is also drawn to people like themselves.
A Builders need for structure is easily found in a fellow Builder. If there is a competition over wanting to be with someone who is loyal, versus someone interesting, it is an easy pick.
In relationships in particular, a sense of trust comes into play more than anything. Together, Builders can form a happy and stable life, even if it tends to fall into a routine.
Those who work off of higher estrogen are called, Negotiators. These people have an incredibly natural ease with people and are often surrounded by a number of friends.
Their high emotional intelligence lends itself to being strong in social situations. Most don’t feel awkward when walking into a group of people. (Gosh, what that must be like.) They are also very empathetic, imaginative, and can see the bigger picture.
Their knack for people make them strong partners in any relationship.
Though they are attracted to people who are the opposite. The strengths give them a unique ability to dive in head first to relationships and connect of a variety of levels.
However, they can become overwhelmed with the other person easily. Something this type has trouble with is remaining true to themselves in a relationship.
Their intuitive nature, and desire to please a partner can lead to a lot of a compromises.
The Directors are guided by high levels of testosterone. As a type, they are take no prisoners. Highly logical and competitive, this type is driven and have no problem making quick decisions.
They thrive in rule0-based systems and rely more on their head than their heart to make choices, both in love and in life. This type also lends itself to more analytical work like science and math fields.
Turns out, they don’t want to find the same type of person.
While this type may be the most steadfast on paper, they are attracted to people who are opposite them. They have bold ideas and want to find someone to challenge them in relationships.
Their detail-oriented nature can make them good counterparts to other types who tend to have their head in the clouds. Sounds like the perfect type to help creative types realize their dreams and turn them into a reality.
How do secondary types come into play?
After reading the personality traits for each type, it’s common to think that you fall into a few different categories. And guess what? You do.
While most of us are driven by our main personality type, the other types we fall in do play a role in who we are as people. Also it can be influenced by number and not rank.
Each person not only fits into a type, but into a percentile.
If your test results qualify you as a Negotiator in your primary type, that might only be about 60% percent of you. It’s common to have a second, or even third type come in a close sentence. Yes, even within one or two percentiles.
How each person falls on the spectrum can effect the personality as a whole. Some really do play on aspects of all four.
So, should we be wary of dating outside of our results?
No. Dr. Fisher has been clear that although their are four main types, “you can’t just throw every personality into four buckets.”
Each person is different and each type combination has their strengths and weaknesses. And although her results have given astonishing insight into why some couples work, some don’t, and why every couple functions so differently it shouldn’t deter you in your dating quest.
In fact, it should inspire you.
According to Fisher, “All 10 combinations can work. They can all be superb, as long as the partners continue to respect each other.”
It’s really about a person’s willingness to show up, contribute, and commit to the relationship. Compatibility is great on paper, but it doesn’t outweigh effort.
How can we use this information to influence our dating?
We all know dating can be tricky. Sometimes it goes beyond tricky and is straight up difficult. But learning about the four personality types can help to influence how you connect with some.
According to Fisher, “You want to get along with a Director? Ask him what he thinks. You want to get along with an Explorer? Ask him what he does. You want to get along with a Builder? Ask him who he knows. And you want to get along with a Negotiator? Ask him how he feels.”
Can it really be that simple?
Well, yeah. If you are able to understand where a person is coming from, and how they express emotion and intimacy, then tons of mixed signals are on their way out the door. A Director type is never going to want to sit down and talk at length about their emotions, but that in no way means they don’t care. They just express it in a different way.
Honing in on these can be important in feeling validated and happy in a relationship.
It also may help you discover a bit more about yourself.
One of the hardest parts about dating doesn’t seem to come from any outside sources. It’s us. We tend to be our own worst enemy.
We’ve definitely had our fair share of bending over backwards for people who couldn’t even be bothered to respond to a text. It can be so tempting to find “the one” that we’re willing to change a lot of things about us.
It’s okay, we’ve all done it.
Suddenly after meeting someone cute at the bar we’re lying about being into fishing and true crime shows, when in reality they scare us silly. And even worse, we tend to lie about what we expect.
Sure we all want to seem like that chill laid-back person who doesn’t get emotionally attached and totally could care less about going on real dates. (Like beyond Netflix and chilling.) But it tends not to be true.
Ask yourself what you really want.
Once you find your personality type, take a good hard look at what you really want. Also, start asking yourself questions about your ideal partner. Do you see yourself with someone who likes routine? Or would you go crazy eating at the same restaurant every week.
Once you discover who you are, it will be much easier to be your authentic self and find someone who is actually compatible with you.