Do we really know what we want? Our upbringing, media, society—and, of course, our own fathers—all play a role in determining the type of guy we immediately find that elusive "spark" with, but does that mean we’re compatible with him? We took a critically acclaimed compatibility test to find out.
First, here’s what you need to know about the test.
Since her widely acclaimed book Anatomy of Love was published in 1992, Helen Fisher has spent decades researching thousands of people on how lust, romance, and attachment influences how we fall—and stay—in love. Needless to say, the personality test she has since built is no Disney prince quiz. Taken by more than fourteen million people in forty countries, Fisher’s simple method for us to discover how our brains process information to make decisions (romantic and otherwise) is based on the four basic brain systems: the dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen systems. Of course, all brains use a combination of these four pathways to make decisions. However, people typically lead with a dominant system, although it is not unusual to score more or less equally on two of these systems.
It's absolutely fascinating. According to Fisher, understanding how our brains work better equips us to discern the type of person we're going to be attracted to and, ultimately, click best with—at least psychologically speaking.
To get you started, here are the four main personalities Fisher outlines, based on our brain systems:
- Explorer: those who primarily express traits linked with the dopamine system. They're creative, curious, adventurous, impulsive, and independent.
- Builder: those who primarily express traits linked with the serotonin system. They're cooperative, cautious, consistent, loyal, and generally calm.
- Director: those who primarily express traits linked with the testosterone system. They're assertive, competitive, decisive, inventive, autonomous—and very rational.
- Negotiator: those who primarily express traits linked with the estrogen system. They're empathetic, forward-thinking people, who excel verbally and socially.
"Opposites attract" is a favorite little idiom we may use to simplify the complex human interactions we run into every day. But as it turns out, the human brain is more complex than a magnet. Depending on your personality, you might actually be attracted to someone super similar to you; for instance, those who are strong Explorers typically do best with another Explorer, while those who are Builders typically mesh better with other Builders.
Meanwhile, those who are Directors tend to clash with other Directors and tend to do better with a Negotiator, as Negotiators tend to do better with a decisive director than another Negotiator. However, Directors and Negotiators, while technically different personalities—they're both big-picture thinkers—and aren't necessarily exact opposites (like Builders and Explorers).
However, depending on your unique "signature personality" as Fisher calls it, this isn't always so clear-cut (ah, such is life). Frequently people also have a strong secondary personality that influences their best match, too, creating all kinds of "ideal" matches, based on test results.
So, do our daydreams match up with reality? To test this, we asked several of our readers to pick their top positive attributes to describe their ideal match and then take Fisher's compatibility test. After taking the test, we asked readers to compare their original list of attributes with the survey results to see whether or not their list matched the ideal "type" assigned to them in their test results.
The results were eye-opening.
The survey shows that feminine intuition is pretty accurate.
While there were certainly a handful of surprises for some women, the overwhelming majority of the women were actually eerily accurate in what types of attributes they found attractive. Turns out, most women we surveyed do know what works best with their personalities—and the confirmation the test provided was actually affirming.
Here's what some of the women said:
"I do think my quiz results are very similar to what I described. I used adjectives like 'adventurous' and 'spontaneous' to describe my dream guy and another explorer would fit that description perfectly...I'm pretty spontaneous myself...I wouldn't be interested in someone who lives by a strict schedule and plans their every moment." —Madysen, Explorer
"For how I described my ideal partner, I think the results are completely accurate. The man I envision is a deep thinker, morally sound, driven, and goal-oriented, which is the exact kind of person the test says I would be compatible with...This test was very educational, and as I move into future relationships, I have a clearer understanding of myself and a clear idea of the kind of man I should be seeking as an ideal match." —Gabriella, Negotiator
"My dream guy would always be looking for new and exciting adventures, from traveling the world to staying at home solving house problems. [My test results] don't surprise me at all, for all the reasons I stated. We'd both have enough to ground us and drive us but enough explorer to 'adventure' and have fun." —Kara, Builder (primary), Explorer (secondary)
"Yes, absolutely the results are similar to what I described. I realize I need someone who is decisive and yet inquisitive in their own life, because that would compliment me nearly perfectly in my creative exploration of life possibilities...Everyone should take this quiz. If I were giving advice to my late-teens self, it would totally be that truthfully assessing your self-knowledge and personality-awareness is key for many things in life...Know who you are and own it! —Lacy, Negotiator
"My primary personality type was Negotiator...It says I am most compatible with Directors...which are similar to what I have described. [They] tend to be driven and know what they want and who they are!" —Katy, Negotiator
Perhaps it was the way we asked them to describe their best match that helped them discern what was non-negotiable (as opposed to having them create an idealistic checklist on their own, describing their perfect man without any prompts). Perhaps it's only when we really sit down and contemplate what attributes are a must-have in a partner—away from the influence of others—we may instinctively know what works best for us.
If anything, taking this quiz helped confirmed what many women's intuition was already telling them—which can be more than a little bit helpful when we're dating around and determining which inevitable personality clashes we're more naturally adept to handle (or not).
We were reminded that there is more to compatibility than brain chemistry.
While our personalities may be attracted to certain traits, it's important to remember that a human person is dynamic—and isn't just a set of traits that will either subtract or accentuate your own. People grow and adapt—together or apart—and a little intentionality can go a long way. Plus, your own romantic history and your personal preferences fundamentally shape what you find an attractive partner, too.
"On one side, I am not the least bit surprised that two explorers would be compatible, but I also crave the stability that I don't always have in my lifestyle as a musician and freelancer, so I'm wondering how long-lasting a relationship would be with another 'unstable' person. ...[P]art of me is like, 'Please have a 9-5 so our children have some sense of regularity in their lives!' Even with this knowledge in hand, I think we ultimately must be open to getting to know a lot of different people in our lives." —Jessamyn, Explorer
"I think part of the test results are similar to what I described; however, I like men that are balanced. Too much of one personality type isn’t healthy for me. I tend to be drawn to men that have an element of the explorer to them … although too much exploration has also led to unhealthy relationships...Now onto meeting these compatible men, that is the challenge!" —Maura, Explorer
So, while Fisher's test harnesses the science of brain chemistry to help us understand our own little idiosyncrasies and the type of person we might more naturally be drawn to—it should only serve as a map, not as an actual decision-maker. If two people do indeed love each other, are unified by a solid friendship and the similar approaches to life, and are committed to each other fully, a fruitful relationship is more than a mere possibility; indeed, it's a recipe for success.
Go on and take the test! Just go here, and then let us know what you think of your results in the comments.