Why Duality Is Not As Common As It Should Be

While certain Socionics sources claim the most common relation among married couples is Duality, I could not see this claim being supported by my own observations of many couples around me, both in my daily life and beyond it. Duality remains an ideal not too many people will ever experience. But that is odd, considering Duality should be much more common, because it potentially ensures the “best” compatibility and harmony of two personality types. And wouldn’t it make sense for most people to choose a partner who is the most compatible with their personality? But human nature is not as simple or logical, especially when it comes to the pair selection and bonding process.

Love at first sight, “star-crossed lovers”: Romeo and Juliet threw all caution to the wind, indulging in their infatuation without logically considering the consequences. Needless to say, both are Ethical types (most likely EII and IEE respectively). Having said that, even the sanest of men can become mad in love.

So, why is Duality not as common as it should be?
Because people’s partner selection is not that logical.

The entire structure of the intertype compatibility theory is based on logic. Certain functions interact more harmoniously in certain combinations than others.
Certain Information Elements mirror and through that add valuable information to one another better than others.

However, human nature is not math, it is biology. And that is the main reason why Duality is not as common as would be plausible.

Even “nerds” can fall in love “illogically”…

According to psychology, there are 4 key factors that affect whether we become attracted to and/or fall in love with someone.
Namely: Proximity, Exposure, Physical Attractiveness, and Similarity.

The first factor, Proximity, is simply about being in the vicinity of the other person so an interaction can happen in the first place.
Most Socionists seem to be aware of the fact that duals tend to not meet each other as often, because they occupy opposite social roles. They may have similar interests thanks to shared Quadra values and so forth, but have completely opposite careers and lifestyles, which makes meeting one another challenging. For example, both EIIs and IEIs are usually found to be in humanitarian careers where they have to make use of their 4D Fi, whereas their Duals are usually found in business and profit related careers where they make use of their 4D Te. Obviously, those Duals would not meet at work.

So how could duals overcome the proximity challenge?

The top places/ways where/how today’s romantic partners met are: through friends/family, at a bar/restaurant, and online.
So, the best plan would be to focus on all three (or even more places) or at least one of them to meet your Dual.

A bar or restaurant could be a good place to meet your Dual – if your Dual actually likes to frequent this place, or bars/restaurants in general.

I’d argue that meeting at a bar only works for certain dual pairings, and it also depends on the kind of bar or restaurant you attend. If you are an SLE looking for an IEI, a bar is generally not a good place to focus on. However, as an IEI, going out of your comfort zone and hanging out at a bar could increase your chances of meeting an SLE dramatically.

Relying on your social circle to find your Dual could be a good idea if you are a sociable individual or are friends with someone who is.

Meeting through friends and family seems to work the best for types with 4D Fe, who are good at creating a vast and diverse network of friends and acquaintances. I know of an SEE male who met his ILI wife through shared friends. It is certainly very helpful to make friends with your Activity partner or even Dual, if you can – they most likely will have your Dual as a friend. And even if they don’t, they will likely attract more people like themselves to you, and you might develop the ability to pick out your Dual from crowds of people much more easily.

Online dating has the potential to connect you with suitable matches from both close by and far away. However, keep in mind that distance does not always make the heart grow fonder.

The increase of online dating is remarkable. Its popularity might actually be related to people being able to connect with someone who is more fitting to their personality while the proximity issue is as strongly minimized as it never has been before in human history. You can connect with someone who you would never have met in your close social circle or who lives on the other side of the world, but is a great match with you compatibility-wise. This brings with it a host of other problems, though – long-distance relationships are the bane of modern love. If you decide to date online, make sure you can avoid the long-distance issue as much as possible. Focus on people who live in your area, or as far away from it as you could travel to comfortably. Do not underestimate the importance of proximity. Even though the internet might make it seem like it is becoming more and more insignificant, at the end of the day a romantic relationship is founded on closeness – and not only the emotional kind. Be extra careful of entering a romantic relationship with someone online who you have not even met yet. Get to know each other relatively quickly via video chat, and then arrange a meet-up date as soon as possible.

The factor of Exposure (being around each other often) is closely tied to the Proximity one, hence I won’t comment any further on it.

Sexual attraction undeniably plays a vital role when it comes to intimate relationships for most people.

The factor of Physical Attractiveness is rather self-explanatory, I reckon. Just because someone is your Dual does not mean you will find them aesthetically pleasing or arousing. Physical attraction is a vital component to keeping the “passion alive” in a romantic relationship. You are either into someone’s looks, or you aren’t. Even the best relation in Socionics cannot override this factor. It is much more important than Socionists seem to admit. You could meet your Dual at a bar and not be attracted to them physically at all. Physical attraction is linked to our human biology. Generally, the more attracted we are to someone, the more likely it is they are very compatible with us genetically and/or fit for reproduction. Personality and looks may be loosely interconnected, but not to the extent that you will find every Dual physically attractive, and every Conflictor physically unattractive. On the contrary, physical attractiveness and personality type are separate from each other for the most part. Women tend to view physical attractiveness differently than men, in that someone’s personality’s expression does actually tint their perception of their physical attractiveness. In a woman’s eyes, a handsome man with an unappealing personality can turn into someone ugly, while an average or even below average looking man with a winning personality can turn into Adonis. The same does not apply to men, at all. Perhaps this is why more men than women end up in bad intertype relations, in my experience. The women actually take the person’s personality into account when assessing their attractiveness, while a man does not (unless he is very self-aware). That is how more women might find an unsuitable intertype match less attractive in general, and because of that not go for the relationship, whereas a man very well might.

At last, the factor of Similarity seems to have been hyped in recent pop-culture psychology. No one accurately defines what it means to be “similar”. Generally and vaguely, it is argued that opposites may attract but not work out long-term. Some psychologists go so far as to suggest an ExtrovertIntrovert match is incompatible, or much less compatible than an ExtrovertExtrovert or IntrovertIntrovert one. Many readers of those articles tend to agree, mentioning they are in a homoverted (=both partners are either intro-, or extroverted) relationship themselves.

Extrovert on the left, Introvert on the right. Just because they perceive and deal with the world differently, does not mean they are incompatible by default.

Certainly there are slightly different takes on Introversion and Extroversion in pop culture – some Socionists argue the concept of Introversion or Extroversion in Socionics is totally different from the one perpetuated in pop culture. I would actually argue that this did indeed seem to have applied in the past, where being a “social butterfly” was being equated with being an extrovert and “having no to little friends” was being equated with being an introvert. But the zeitgeist has shifted in this regard. Most people do understand now that an Extrovert is someone who requires outside stimulation (from objects or people), while an Introvert has less the need of such, and their thought processes and the like are primarily directed inward – hence they need “alone time” much more than an Extrovert.

But back to the point. Why do people value Similarity so highly? I believe it boils down to the fact that Identity is one of the better (and more common) matches, providing high comfort and high understanding. The most common interpretation of Similarity seems to point at the Identical relation in Socionics. And indeed, I know of more Identical relationships than Duality ones. So, does that mean Identical relationships are better after all? No. It means that people meet their Identical much more often than their Dual, thanks to their identical social roles and so forth. And because their Identical has the same Quadra values and is generally a good intertype match, people will report such a relationship is ideal, and that being similar is much more important than anything else. Also, one’s Dual can seem daunting from afar, because their lifestyle is so different. Finally, Identity is a homoverted relationship, which furthermore reinforces the (false) impression Extrovert-Introvert relationships are inferior to homoverted ones. It is true that your Conflictor is surely the “opposite” you should avoid, but your Dual is the “opposite” that is complementary to you. Most pop-culture psychology resources do not make such a distinction, and categorically dismiss anything that is remotely “opposite” to be “bad”.

In my opinion, the true measure of how “similar” someone is to you is determined by how well you match regarding: personal values, interestslifestyle and life goals, and relationship goals. (Besides Socionics related similarities, of course.)

What does affect those factors?
Primarily upbringing, and – Enneagram similarities!
Based on my observations, most long-term married couples have had instinctual stackings of the same flow (apart from SX first individuals, who also pair up with someone who shares the same blindspot and is not SX first – more about ideal instinctual stacking matches here), as well as shared enough Enneagram type connections. This principle does not only apply to romance, but friendships as well! I can tell from personal experience that most of my friends had been E9 (I have a fairly strong 9 connection) and/or So/Sx like myself!

Instinctual stackings largely determine which area in our life we will be the most concerned with (first instinct), which one we will be the most comfortable with and/or naturally good at (second instinct), and which one we will be the weakest at/least interested in (last instinct). Enneagram types themselves deal with certain desires, fears, and neuroses of their own. People who share similarities in those realms will have a kinship. Whereas people who have opposite instinctual stackings and share no Enneagram type in their tritype usually have little in common – even if they are of the same Quadra!

Certain Socionists may be quick to assume that the “Similarity” factor is being met by any of your Quadra members (more or less), but in my experience this is actually false. You can be just as or even more “similar”, in terms of having similar political views for example, with someone who is not your Dual (or Mirror, Identical, or Activity partner)! Gulenko once said (paraphrasing) that a good Semi-Dual is better than a bad Dual. “Good” and “bad” are not to be understood normatively here. But rather, a Semi-Dual who is in your proximity, more physically attractive to you, who believes in the same God, also loves Doctor Who, and who also wants to get married and have kids is a much more similar and hence better match, than a Dual who does not meet any of those points.

Am I implying that it may not be that important to find your Dual after all?!
Yes, I am.

We cannot help who we are attracted to. Earlier I have shortly and roughly expanded upon the importance of Physical Attractiveness. Every individual has their own physical preferences. Also, every individual has their own personality preferences – and no, they are not all related to their Dual! Those preferences can very well be opposite to one’s Dual! How is that possible?

How could we be attracted to a personality opposite to the one that is the most suitable to us? The culprit lies in your early upbringing. How you were being treated as a child by your caregivers and/or similar has an underestimated impact on what kind of personality (and looks!) you will be attracted to as an adult. Several personality and looks characteristics will be stored in your unconscious mind in the form of an image of your ideal partner, your “Imago“.

Here is an example of what an “Imago” could look like.

Following that, if you grew up with parents and/or other family members etc. who were (entirely) different from your Dual, it is highly likely you won’t feel as attracted to your Dual as to certain other personality types! Furthermore, many or perhaps even most married people will have married their “Imago” more or less – without knowing! If you don’t believe me, just look around you and take note of people’s marriage partners and their early caregivers (usually their parents or other family members). How closely do they resemble them? You may notice that someone has married someone who looks exactly like their grandmother when she was younger, or that someone’s husband suffers from a drug addiction just like their father did, or that someone’s wife is the exact same Sociotype as their mother. Little commonalities like that point towards the fact that the person has married their “Imago”.

What if someone’s “Imago” is a bad match for them – not just Typology-wise, but also in regards to mental health and so forth?
In that case, they will have to find someone who they are reasonably attracted to, though not as strongly as to someone who is closer to their “Imago”. Some people actually believe the “Imago” should be avoided altogether, because being with them will eventually unearth all your insecurities from when you were a child, even when they are a good person and/or good match for you. Personally I would not advise that, because I believe feeling uniquely attracted to someone is important, but I can understand why someone would make that decision, especially if they have had a history of being attracted to abusive people.

In short, your “Imago” won’t automatically be/look like your Dual (and likely not be that much like them at all), and that is normal. It is your choice whether you trade in attraction for Socionics compatibility or not, and to what amount. Everyone does that on some level, but beyond a certain one, you will very likely enter into unsatisfying territories. I would not advise to trade in attraction and “similarity” for the ideal of Duality altogether. While that may make your interaction rather smooth, you would miss that unique “spark” and/or possibly feel like you are not on the same page when it comes to life goals and such.

All in all, by now you can tell the reason behind why Duality is not as common as it should be is much more complex than one might think.
Aspects like Proximity, Exposure, Physical Attractiveness, Similarity and the “Imago” all play a role when it comes to who you will choose as your partner.
If you happen to find someone who fits all those factors to your satisfaction, and they are your Dual, you truly have “gotten lucky”. Most people won’t have this kind of luck. But, it very well might not be such an issue anyway. As long as your partner fulfills the aforementioned criteria, is a reasonably good match in Socionics (read this for more on that), and mentally healthy for the most part, you will be able to find happiness with someone who is not your Dual. In the sea of relationships, most of those that last a life-time are not Duality – and that’s okay.

Duality is neither a guarantee nor a requirement for a healthy, long-lasting romantic relationship.

One comment

  1. Being duals means that we are not only complementary to each other – we are also completely opposite to each other. We don’t have the same perceptions and outlooks on life. This is arguably the most important reason that duals don’t work in real life. We don’t marry our dual. Even socionic research shows that. We marry all the others, especially our main function types, but not our dual (or similar people).

    I’m a female IEI-Ni. My dual is the male SLE-xx. I’m not attracted to him and he’s not attracted to me. We ignore each other. We go under the radar of each other (I’m boring so I go under his radar) and/or we are simply dismissing each other. I think he is crude so I’m dismissing him.

    Duals are an interesting idea, and I believe we are predisposed to expect our dual’s stack of functions in whatever partner we eventually end up with – even if this is a very different type than our dual. I also believe that in a dangerous society the dual coupling is superb for survival. But emotionally it is not a good partnership. I would have felt very lonely with my dual, and he would .. I don’t know, I think he would’ve missed everything he values in life with an IEI.

    I have read a few real life stories about dual pairings which depict how difficult and lonely these relationships often become. I don’t think they are exceptions to the rule, I think they ARE the rule.

    I have also read a couple of successful dual relationship stories, and they clearly show that for them to work, one or both partners have to put a lot of love and dedication into the relationship. They must be aware, be super competent relationship negotiators, and practice their communication skills at all times. This is necessary to bridge the divide and unify these two halves to make a (quite impressive) whole.


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