Anyone who has ever set anyone up or has been set up on a date knows the very first question asked before a date is agreed to: Can I see a picture?
We all want some kind of hint that we'll have chemistry with the person we're being set up with. With online dating and apps, we focus on the picture, trying to imagine how the face will animate, if it will make us laugh and thrill. That's normal.
But while physical chemistry is certainly important to a relationship, you might get a better sense of how successful a first date will be by asking a different question.
According to Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and author of Anatomy of Love, 40 to 60 percent of your personality stems from your biology, naturally drawing you towards partners with a certain predominant neurotransmitter brain system: either the dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen/oxytocin system. Each of the four brain systems is associated with specific personality traits. Much like The 5 Love Languages, we are all a combination of these four trait "constellations," but we express one or two more predominantly than others. You can take the Fisher Temperament Inventory (FTI) here. Neat, right?
What’s even cooler is that Dr. Fisher has tested this system of determining chemistry on 28,128 anonymous men and women and found that these four personality traits, based on each brain system, can tell you a lot about who you are likely to choose to love.
So instead of getting hung up on a guy's picture, it might help to ask questions with a little science behind it. Once you take the quiz and know what temperament type is most predominant for you, you can look for clues in potential matches that will shed some light on whether or not he has a complementary brain system.
Those who primarily express the traits linked with the dopamine system.
According to Dr. Fisher, Explorers tend to be most attracted to people like themselves, "individuals who are equally curious, creative, spontaneous, energetic, novelty-seeking, and open-minded." You could be a spontaneous outdoor adventurer, ready to book an Airbnb in the woods at a moment's notice, and he could be eager to see the latest exhibit at an art museum, but if you are both "curious/energetic" as Dr. Fisher describes it or "Artisans" as Plato did, you could still be a perfect match.
Those who primarily express the traits linked with the serotonin system.
Builders like to play it safe, tend to be more traditional in values, as well as calm and cautious in the way they behave. According to Dr. Fisher, Builders follow rules, respect authority, and enjoy plans, routines, and schedules. Builders prefer order and are conscientious in their behavior. Dr. Fisher says that Plato calls these people "Guardians" and, like Explorers, are also drawn to "cautious/social norm conforming" people like themselves. So, when investigating a match, try looking for clues that might indicate a shared love of order, plans and traditional views (maybe he thinks the guy should take the lead?).
Those who primarily express the traits linked with the testosterone system.
Directors’ strong suits are typically spacial and math skills. A person who is highly expressive of testosterone are often good with computers, mechanics, or music. Plato called them "Rationals" and Dr. Fisher describes these people as inventive, skeptical, exacting, openly competitive, direct, decisive, tough-minded, and bold. If this sounds like you, don't go looking for someone who as equally analytical and tough minded as you. Unlike Explorers and Builders, Directors tend to be most attracted to their opposite: the high-estrogen Negotiators.
Those who primarily express the traits linked with the estrogen system.
According to Dr. Fisher's research, Negotiators tend to see the big picture, also known as "web thinking," a term coined by Dr. Fisher. Negotiators tend to take a more contextual, holistic, long-term view of the world and problems. If you are a Negotiator you like to be good with people, words, and emotional expression, as well as being imaginative and empathetic. Dr. Fisher shares that Plato refers to Negotiators as "Philosopher Kings" and they are also drawn to their opposite: Directors. If you want to spot a Negotiator you might look for a particularly well crafted profile, full of charm and emotional vulnerability.
Keeping these helpful traits in mind, next time someone wants to set you up with someone, skip the picture and ask them for a more detailed description. Would they describe your match as an Explorer, a Builder, a Director, or a Negotiator?