3 Personality Similarities To Look For When Finding The Right Person To Date

Similar levels of honesty, humility, and openness to experiences make for great romantic relationships.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | April 22, 2022

A recent study appearing in the Journal of Research in Personality suggests that people in successful relationships are most similar in the traits of humility, honesty, and openness to experience.

"People in successful relationships tend to view their partner to be similar to them on six personality traits: Honesty-Humility, Emotionality, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience," says Jie Liu, lead author of the new research. "But they assume the highest similarity in Honesty-Humility and Openness to Experience relative to the other four traits."

Honesty-Humility, according to the researchers, consists of traits such as being honest, loyal, and sincere as opposed to being boastful, hypocritical, and pretentious. Openness to Experience contrasts being shallow, unimaginative, and conventional with being curious, creative, and intellectual.

The authors believe that the strongest perceived similarities emerged in these two areas because these characteristics are strongly related to personal values. For instance:

  • Openness to Experience contrasts preferences for creativity, curiosity, freedom, and novelty with preferences for obedience, security, social order, and tradition
  • Honesty-Humility contrasts preferences for equality, honesty, loyalty, and social justice with preferences for authority, competence, social power, and wealth

"Values are an important part of people's relationships," states Liu. "People tend to assume that their values are shared by those with whom they have close relationships and tend to develop relationships with those whose values are similar to their own."

Importantly, Liu's research concentrated on the 'assumed similarity' of these traits rather than any actual mirroring of these traits in a relationship. This means that in your relationship, perceiving your partner as similar to you may take precedence over an actual correspondence of these traits.

"Assuming others to be similar to us, regardless of the actual similarity, can help to fulfill our needs of reinforcement," says Liu. "In established relationships, assumed similarity is likely to facilitate daily communication and understanding, reduce conflicts and disagreement, and provide confirmation."

However, there are some limitations to using assumed similarity as a predictor of a healthy relationship, such as:

  1. When other factors are more important. For example, if a person places a high value on a potential partner's physical attractiveness, even if she/he believes the potential partner is similar to her/him but not as attractive in terms of physical features, it is unlikely that this person will feel attraction toward the potential partner.
  2. When someone over-inflates their assumed similarities. When people want a similar partner but are unable to find one, they may respond by assuming similarity in desired features. While assumed similarity is related to relationship quality and is generally beneficial to intimate relationships, there is a limit to how many dissimilarities one can realistically overlook.

"Even though it might facilitate relationship formation at first, the dissimilarity will gradually become salient as the relationship develops which is likely to risk relationship stability in the long run," states Liu.

A full interview with Jie Liu discussing this new research can be found here: Most people in long-term relationships view these two traits as the core of compatibility