“What is his zodiac sign?” Is always the first question that pops up in WhatsApp group chat as soon as I tell you about a new guy in my life. Each time a Google search follows for the same pattern: "Pisces woman + [his zodiac sign] man compatibility". And the result is always the same: From a cosmic point of view, he and I are simply not made for each other. And so my search then begins all over again.
Yeah, I know - a lot of people think horoscopes are questionable. Sure they're entertaining; when reading through you always feel a bit like you were reading an old psychoquiz from the Bravo do that tells you if you and your crush really fits together. And admittedly, astrology has so far failed to lead me to true love. But - how about a little psychology instead?
After all, personality tests - like the most famous, the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) - are even used in a professional environment to find suitable candidates for a position or to get to know each other better among colleagues in general. So why shouldn't such a test also help me with dating?
A brief explanation: The MBTI is a psychological analysis in the form of a catalog of questions that should determine your personality - specifically: how you make decisions and feel about the world around you. The indicator was developed by the mother-daughter duo Katharina Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers and is one of the most common personality tests in the world today; It is estimated that over two million people do it every year. Job agencies in particular praise the MBTI for making it possible to predict the best career option for every personality; Critics of the test, on the other hand, call it “meaningless”. Psychologists in particular condemn its shaky scientific basis.
According to the MBTI, there are four main human psychological traits: introversion / extraversion, sensory / intuition, thinking / feeling, perception / judgment. Each: r of us therefore has one property of each of these categories; This means that there are 16 different personality types.
The test tells you what you might prefer not to hear at all and keeps your flaws right in front of you.
So much for theory. A few years ago when I was working in finance my boss wanted us all to take the test. I thought that was a bit silly at the time, but I got involved - and the result was creepily accurate. The indicator stamped me as ENTJ (extrovert / intuitive / thinking / judging); I am a natural leader full of charisma and self-confidence, am very rational, totally ambitious and pursue my goals with cleverness and perseverance.
ENTJ is believed to be a rare personality type. That flattered my ego enormously at first; Unfortunately, the test then took on my less beautiful characteristics: I am stubborn, intolerant, impatient, arrogant, sometimes cold and inconsiderate. In addition, ENTJs are bad at dealing with their own feelings - and those of others.
But whether I like it or not: All of this works pretty well.
The Myers-Briggs test can be both insightful and uncomfortable at the same time. He tells you what you might prefer not to hear and keeps your flaws right in front of you. But it is also a fascinating insight into your behavior and explains to you what may make you seem unsympathetic to others.
At first, that sounds as if this could theoretically be transferred very well to dating. After all, we're all a bit strange up close - and maybe we'd benefit from knowing before the first date in what way the other really is strange. I am apparently not alone with this thought; Recently, I've kept coming across dating profiles that featured the Myers-Briggs personality types. I wanted to take a closer look at that, so I wrote mine in my profile too. Who knows - maybe it would help me waste less time looking for love?
And then came James *, a lawyer - and also an ENTJ, which, according to Myers-Briggs, makes him my dream guy. Two ENTJs should complement each other perfectly. And that was also true ... kind of.
James and I met on four magical (socially distant!) Dates. He was attentive, kind, intelligent and logical. We talked about politics, history, and pop culture; We quickly realized that we shared the same values, but were both pretty stubborn. Maybe he's 'the one', I thought to myself. Well, of course he wasn't. After date number 5, he dropped me like a hot potato. There it is, the typical ENTJ recklessness, I said to myself.
The next one was Fraser *. I asked him to do the MBTI before our date and he got involved. Before that he told me that he was introverted, that he often felt uncomfortable in social situations and that he hid in the kitchen at parties. Nevertheless, the test gave a different result: Fraser is an ENTP (extrovert / intuitive / thinking / perceiving) - a charismatic, energetic, debating guy. And it looked like this in the first few weeks that we wrote together: He was talkative - but unfortunately also insensitive. Often times he would refuse what I said, which in turn made me feel like I wasn't respected by him. On top of that, his Spotify playlist really sucks. We met on a date, but quickly realized that nothing would come of it.
My next match was Tim *. He was an ISFJ (introvert / sensory / sentient / judgmental) and seemed pretty clever, charming and humorous to me. That's why we got on really well - but I wasn't sure whether it would work out for us. ISFJs are very reserved and often not very confident, and so was Tim. He was the dearest guy of all my matches, but unfortunately a bit too gentle for my lively ENTJ personality.
When he told me he was an INFJ (ideal for me, ENFP), I suspected that we could become something.
Ultimately, Myers-Briggs was about as helpful to my dating as my horoscope. Others were more successful - for example Francesca Specter, founder of the blog and podcast Alonement of the same name. She tells me that she had to do the MBTI in sixth grade; She later applied the results to her love life. “I started relying on the MBTI for dating after a relationship broke up and I suddenly saw the test on dating profiles all over the place,” she says. “There are tons of threads on Reddit and Quora about how Myers-Briggs personality types behave in relationships, and I got obsessed with them at some point. So I was dating someone who, according to Myers-Briggs, should have been exactly my type; I already knew him from my circle of friends and we had always flirted a bit before. When he told me he was an INFJ (ideal for me, ENFP), I suspected that we could become something. ”And indeed: Francesca says that she had been with this man the longest since their previous relationship; The MBTI also helped her to understand her ex-partner better.
But is it even a good idea to rely on personality tests like the MBTI when dating? The psychologist, author and relationship therapist Dr. Kalanit Ben-Ari has a few words of caution on this.
"I think there are other ways than a personality test to manage your relationships and expectations," she says. “If you send the test to a: n potential: n partner: in, the result is not 'clean' and reliable; after all, he or she wants to impress you and will therefore not answer the questions in a way that might scare you off. ”Does that mean he or she is lying? "No, but the answers might be 'softer'."
In addition, emphasizes Dr. Ben-Ari, Myers-Briggs does not consider many of the things that are extremely important for romantic relationships - for example childhood experiences and personal interests such as one's own religion or the desire to have children. So if you rely on a personality test in your search for love, Dr. Ben-Ari, that you may be wasting your time, hopes and energy with this.
The better you know and communicate what you want, the more likely you will find it.
But how are you supposed to do it instead? To this end, Dr. Ben-Ari a recommendation: “You probably have a lot of expectations of a: n possible: n partner: in. But after all, nobody is perfect; In order to remain realistic, I suggest you make a list of five values or characteristics that are indispensable for you in a partner. ”And of course these five points also depend on what you are specifically looking for; In a short-term relationship, you may want someone who has similar leisure interests to you, whereas in a long-term relationship you may be looking for someone who shares your family ideas.
On a date, you can steer the conversation in these directions spontaneously, says Dr. Ben-Ari, to learn more about the other person and to be able to make an informed decision about whether you want to invest more time in this relationship. “Anything that opens a conversation can help you,” she says. "The better you know and communicate what you want, the more likely you will find it."
Despite the critical voices against Myers-Briggs, there are also studies that show a connection between the test and relationships. One found that the introversion / extroversion category could reliably help determine compatibility; another showed that the same also applies to perception / judgment. Unfortunately, the test itself doesn't seem to be that reliable; around 50 percent of all participants: in a second round they get a different result, even after only five weeks, according to another study. Nevertheless, one thing cannot be denied: The Myers-Briggs test is just fun - and Dr. Ben-Ari admits that after all, it can't hurt to use the results as an icebreaker on dates and in dating apps.
Personally, I have to say: It's kind of reassuring to know that I'm part of a large ENTJ community that just supports each other understands. The test also gave me deep insights into my personality and made me think about how my actions, my reactions and my habits affect others. And before we demonize personality tests as a basis for dating, we should keep in mind that, after all, online dating apps also want to couple us together on the basis of personality data and characteristics ...
* Names have been changed by the editors