What is the most common statement someone has after a “bad” relationship ends? I’ll never date, marry, be with someone like that again! Based on new research, social science has proven that it is easier said than done.
A recent study performed by the University of Toronto (U of T) finds consistency among people’s current and past partners. Their study, published on June 11, 2019 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that people often look for love with the same type of person over and over again.
Researchers compared the personalities of current and past relationships of 332 people in the study. Their primary finding was the existence of a significant consistency in the personalities of an individual’s romantic partners.
“The effect is more than just a tendency to date someone similar to yourself,” says Yoobin Park, a Ph. D. student in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T. “Our research suggests there’s a strong tendency to nevertheless continue to date a similar personality.”
This research has some important takeaways for me. I think that I can both tell myself that finding someone with a personality similar to my ex-wife is likely the type of person I would gravitate to, however, it is still my choice and I can recognize this before getting romantically involved with someone of a similar personality. On the other hand, I may still gravitate to someone similar, however, I hope I will take my time in determining whether the relationship could work long-term.
“The degree of consistency from one relationship to the next suggests that people may indeed have a ‘type’,” says Geoff MacDonald, a professor in the Department of Psychology at U of T. “And though our data do not make clear why people’s partners exhibit similar personalities, it is noteworthy that we found partner similarity above and beyond similarity to oneself.”
Regarding how the research was conducted, Park commented: “Our study was particularly rigorous because we didn’t just rely on one person recalling their various partners’ personalities. We had reports from the partners themselves in real time.”
The past few relationships I’ve been in were a whirlwind “adventure” of dating and falling in love and then right into talks of something more serious. I think I will be waiting at least a year in my next relationship before “popping the question.” Taking things very slow will be an important aspect for me with any future love interests.
I hope to have learned enough that I can identify any and all of the red flags that may have come up and also have more buy-in from some of my key friends and confidants about how my relationship is really going. I am hoping that my current grieving is painful enough that I would take extra steps to ensuring that the decision is what’s best for me long-term.
“In every relationship, people learn strategies for working with their partner’s personality,” says Park. “If your new partner’s personality resembles your ex-partner’s personality, transferring the skills you learned might be an effective way to start a new relationship on a good footing.”
This is a good point that Park highlights. There are some good and some bad that you learn in a relationship. There are new ways of relating that you adapt in your relationships. Going forward I want to hold onto and keep the things that were good, and let go of the ways of relating that were not healthy and detrimental.
University of Toronto. “In romantic relationships, people do indeed have a ‘type’: Study finds consistency among people’s current and past partners.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190610160248.htm>