As we discussed in Part 1, pheromones and intelligence lay the ground work for Chemistry to occur.

But it is psychology itself that brings two people together, and that is what we will explore now.

Our minds are wired in distinct ways, and that wiring determines whether we are drawn to others or repelled. Think of the mind as a series of cables with specifically coded plugs and outlets jutting out. Then think of a relationship as the merging of two minds’ plugs and outlets into one giant hive.

This “networking” is the essence of psychological attraction. The question isn’t if it exists, but whether such connections can be predicted. I believe with study of psychological type to a large degree it can — and here’s why.

The Psychology of Attraction: Type

To understand how people come together, you must first understand each party’s psychological make-up. Do this enough and you will see patterns. The strongest and most consistent of these form the foundation of what we ultimately call “personality types.”

There are different ways to qualify personality characteristics: some more spurious; others more useful. The two most credible means are MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) and the “Big 5” (Five Factor Model).

The problems with MBTI are well known — it is frequently abused by woo-woo individuals that lack a strong intellectual grounding and change their type based on how they feel (this is not how it works). It has also heavily been abused by corporate America, utilized in pseudo-scientific ways that appeal to the masses (and garner maximum profit). These along with the questionable credentials of Myers and Briggs have lead most in the psychological community to understandably prefer the “Big 5,” as it lacks this taint and is psychometrically proven.

Yet the issue with the “Big 5” is not accuracy but utility. It simply doesn’t provide much value in categorizing people, particularly from the perspective of psychological attraction.

For instance, knowing what your breakdown is between extroversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism doesn’t help to describe how you ego self-identifies, the direction your psychological development will occur, or which sort of other personality types you will be interested in.

MBTI, meanwhile, does all three with ease. Which is why I’ll be using MBTI here.

So if you are an MBTI hater, sorry — you’re just going to have to deal. I promise, intelligent minds are in the process of resolving these issues of rigor and creating a system of analysis Jung would be proud of.

One last thing before we dive in. People take it personally when they are typed as someone they don’t like or can’t relate to. It’s important to understand type is the software of your brain not the data. It’s how you assess and pursue information; the process of how you navigate the world rather than the content that comes from that process.

People with the same type vary massively in what they think and believe. People with the same type are also at different stages of growth — think “software upgrades” — and though types do follow a general pattern of development, environment and experience play a huge role.

In other words, there is much more to people than type. It’s an important factor in personality, but only one among many. Nevertheless it is the one we will look at now.

MBTI: A Brief Overview

In this exploration of MBTI I am going to use my type, ENTP, as an example for simplicity. Note I am not going to go too deep, however, since space is limited and MBTI is only a tool not my focus. Other people have made understanding MBTI cognition their mission and have explained it with more detail and precision than me — read their work if you want to know more. This is a primer to whet your curiosity not satiate it. Moving along…

ENTPs, like all types, have four conscious cognitive functions. ENTPs’ functions are as follows in this order of use:

Ne – Extroverted-Intuition (Dominant)
Ti – Introverted-Thinking (Auxiliary)
Fe – Extroverted-Feeling (Tertiary)
Si – Introverted-Sensing (Inferior)

The cognitive functions are basically how the brain navigates the world. Ne and Si are the perceiving functions, Ti and Fe are judging functions. The higher up on the totem pole the function, the more “comfortable” the brain feels using it. These are the traits that most clearly define the personality. The more a personality integrates — or uses its’ less “natural” functions — the less apparent the type becomes, and the more well-rounded the personality.

ENTPs, especially younger, less developed ones use almost exclusively their dominant and auxiliary functions. This means ENTPs even from an early age see possibilities from their conversations and experiences in the world (Ne – extroverted intuition), and as they progress into adolescence take these explorations inward and apply logical structures and analysis to them (Ti – introverted thinking).

This makes ENTPs adept debaters and innovative brainstormers. However, when these functions are the only ones they use, they become abrasive — insensitively arguing and alienating others with need to always be “right.” They also suffer from the consummate “all talk no action” fault of routinely failing to implement their brilliant ideas due to an inability to focus on a single one of them.

As ENTPs develop (generally in their 20s), some of this begins to change. They start to develop their tertiary function (Fe – extraverted feeling) and develop more social tact and sensitivity towards others. They learn to hold their tongue and realize not all situations call for a “logical explanation.” As Artful Man says, they also tend to become more empathetic and humanitarian in nature, using their ideas less for personal gain but to “try and save the world.”

The hardest area for most ENTPs to develop is their inferior function (Si – Introverted Sensing). This function — their Anima, the opposite of their ego — grounds ENTPs in habit, routine, organization, as well as their bodies and the present moment. Not all ENTPs sufficiently develop this area, but when it does get developed, they are able to do great things: they can finally put their ideas to reality.

(Note that though it is against a type’s nature, the more functions it integrates into use, the more satisfied it tends to be. We will explore this phenomenon in a later article.)

Anyway, remember these cognitive functions — they will inform the examples in following sections.

Psychological Attraction: How It Works

Psychological attraction has many influences, some of which are external and affect tastes regardless of type (will discuss these at the end).

But some psychological attraction is structural and thus predictable. Because of the order and nature of the cognitive functions people will always have a strong response to 2-3 personality types: their anima(s) and their “soul mate.”

Anima Attraction

This type of psychological attraction is probably the most common, making up a plurality of successful relationships (this is corroborated by others and by observation).

More interesting perhaps is that they are also likely to make up a majority of the unsuccessful ones.

This is because Anima relationships, despite their draw, are fundamentally volatile.

What we are about to address deals heavily with integration — not the focus here — so I am going to talk only on a need-to-know basis. What is important to understand is that your psyche demands growth, and when going through these “growth” stages you will be drawn to people who naturally embody the traits you seek to bring out in yourself.

Recall ENTP’s functions from above:

Ne – Extroverted-Intuition (Dominant)
Ti – Introverted-Thinking (Auxiliary)
Fe – Extroverted-Feeling (Tertiary)
Si – Introverted-Sensing (Inferior)

This means that an ENTP during his late teens / early 20s is likely to be psychologically drawn to women who are strong in Fe and/or Si; simultaneously women will be drawn to him who are seeking to develop their Ne and Ti.

When someone meets a type that uses their secondary pair of functions as their primary (and vice versa), they can be said to have met their “soft anima” (my phrase). In this case, both parties have the same functions and orientation towards the world (extroverted or introverted) but use them in a different order.

For an ENTP this would be ESFJ.

Fe – Extroverted-Feeling (Dominant)
Si – Introverted-Sensing (Auxiliary)
Ne – Extroverted-Intuition (Tertiary)
Ti – Introverted-Thinking (Inferior)

(If you want a simple heuristic to find your “soft” anima, change every letter except the first one in your type)

“Soft” animas are common and are particularly powerful in the development of ones tertiary (as it is the other’s dominant).

However, true magnetism occurs not when the pairs of functions are reversed but when the entire stack shifts direction. When this occurs you can be said to be dating your true anima.

For an ENTP, this would be ISFJ.

Si – Introverted-Sensing (Dominant)
Fe – Extroverted-Feeling (Auxiliary)
Ti – Introverted-Thinking (Tertiary)
Ne – Extroverted-Intuition (Inferior)

(If you want a simple heuristic to find your anima, change every letter in your type)

Anima relationships are the the classic cases of “opposites attracting.” People tend to have a strained relationship with their inferior function as it is suppressed by the ego (which is centered around the dominant function). Yet for psychological integration we need to develop our inferior. Hence the draw towards our anima as well as the issues once we approach it.

The more mature a couple is, the more an anima-based relationship has not simply the potential to work but to thrive. It’s always the case that the better your relationship with yourself — aka the more you have integrated the suppressed parts of your psyche — the more you can accept those parts in other people.

But given the testy relationship unintegrated people have with their anima, there is no other dynamic where “self growth for relationship success” rings more true.

Unfortunately, most people are not integrated — especially not early in life when the pull towards their anima is strongest. The result is that most anima relationships usually end in chaos but yield enormous psychological growth.

They are what I like to call “psychologically transactional relationships.” In effect, you use the other person to come to terms with the most important alienated parts of yourself. Indiscretions, blow-out fights, obsession, passion, and contempt all tend to mark these turbulent flings. But they leave a deep mark on you. By the end of them, you’ve changed.

The drama outside is little more than a reflection of the battle within.

“Soul Mates”

The final structural type of psychological attraction deals with a dynamic that is commonly perceived as “psychological perfect,” ergo its shorthand as “soul mates. “

This is going to be dense, so please bear with me.

In these dynamics, the two types share the same judging functions, yet their perceiving functions reflect the other’s unconscious. Unlike anima this is not a reversal of perception functions but an inversion of them.

So, if my strong and weak perceptive functions are Ne (extroverted intuition) and Si (introverted sensing) respectively, my “soul mate” will be strong in Ni (introverted intuition) and weak in Se (extroverted sensing). Our judging functions will be identical, though in different order of strength.

For instance, here is the *full* cognitive stack for an ENTP.

Ne – Extroverted-Intuition (Dominant)
Ti – Introverted-Thinking (Auxiliary)
Fe – Extroverted-Feeling (Tertiary)
Si – Introverted-Sensing (Inferior)

Ni – Introverted-Intuition (Opposing)
Te – Extroverted-Thinking (Critical Parent)
Fi – Introverted-Feeling (Trickster)
Se – Extroverted-Sensing (Demon)

And here is the full cognitive stack of an ENTP’s “soul mate,” INFJ. Note the differences underlined.

NiIntroverted-Intuition (Dominant)
Fe – Extroverted-Feeling (Auxiliary)
Ti – Introverted-Thinking (Tertiary)
SeExtroverted-Sensing (Inferior)

NeExtroverted-Intuition (Opposing)
Fi – Introverted-Feeling (Critical Parent)
Te – Extroverted-Thinking (Trickster)
SiIntroverted-Sensing (Demon)

(If you want a simple heuristic to find your “soul mate,” change every letter except the second one)

Why does this structure work so well? In this case, both types primarily perceive the world using intuition — yet different types of intuition. But they judge or assess this information in the same way (though with different emphasis).

This creates familiarity yet novelty; both often come to the same conclusion through completely different lines of thought. They complement each other yet understand each other, and are generally able to communicate quite well.

Yet it’s crucial when understanding this information that you do not allow it to create a pedestal attitude. Psychological attraction is powerful but it doesn’t overcome neediness. I need to emphasize that we are talking about one part of Personality, which itself is only one pillar of attraction. Do not lose the forest through the trees. There is far more to romantic compatibility and appeal than type, and there is more to type attraction than cognitive structure.

These type pairings have an innate chemistry but are not without their problems. A friend of mine is an INFJ and we can talk for hours without stopping — something very difficult to do with anyone else. Yet cross into a taboo area or poke fun at her (an ENTP mainstay) and it’s incredibly easy to offend her. Every type has their strengths and weaknesses — there’s always a catch.

The main advantage of “soul mate” pairings is not their ease so much as they offer the most potential for richness after the bulk of integration has occurred. It’s no wonder that while the most healthy relationships I have observed have this dynamic, few of them got together seriously before their mid-20s (even if they knew each other before).

But that’s a topic for another time.

Exceptions To The Rule: The Role of Parents

Anima and “soul mate” pairings might make up a majority of relationships. But what about the other half? Are they destined to misery?

Certainly not.

You have probably heard the saying “men marry their mothers, women marry their fathers.” This adage may be simplistic but contains more than a few kernels of truth.

A man is both nature and nurture, and while his anima(s) or soul mate might be his natural inclination, imprints in childhood (as well as potentially ones later, though we will set that aside) can shift an individual’s psychological attraction. This is especially the case with parental figures.

Kids have specific dynamics with their parents that are familiar and comforting to them. As they get older — regardless of how healthy these dynamics are — they often seek to recreate them in their romantic relationships.

Contrary to the Freudian tradition, while men are generally more influenced by their relationship with their mother (and women with their father), dynamics with either parent, or a hybrid of the two, can be recreated psychologically with the opposite sex.

Very often the pattern sought is a particularly powerful albeit dysfunctional one; i.e., a boy with an angry mother might seek an angry partner subconsciously. Other times it is more neutral, arguably beneficial: a girl with a strong relationship with a masculine father will look for a new “daddy” to look up to.

These kind of pairings are common and hard to entirely escape, which is not necessarily a problem. The issue is when the behavior they seek in a partner is so pathological it overwhelms all other factors that should be in consideration. For clarity, here is an example:

Guy meets girl. Guy is attracted to girl; they start hooking up. Soon into dating, however, girl starts becoming distant and flirting with other guys. Rather than conclude girl is not serious and move on, guy gets needy and starts to chase girl.

Why would guy do this? Perhaps because as a child said guy’s mother would frequently ignore him and pay more attention to his other siblings. He is used to women who are emotionally distant, even though a) this makes him feel awful and b) these girls might be otherwise psychologically incompatible for him.

Unmet childhood needs such as these are among the biggest things that hold guys back. Yet though they may redirect a guy towards a personality type that is an unnatural fit, my contention is the real impact of such unmet needs is the barriers they place to a man’s psychological integration.

By damaging him, they put him in a state to seek further damage (and cause damage) to other psychologically stunted and maligned women. To the extent that poor type choice may be a factor in his unhappiness, it pales in comparison to this.

Parental impact on type choice is thus relevant but overall benign. It’s an extroverted girl who loves her father and grows up watching him be the life of the party, subconsciously expecting her husband to be the same. Her psychological type might suggest she’d do best with an introvert, but her imprinting associates gregariousness with attractiveness, so her preferences shift.

This imprinting can either be partial — desire for a specific function or openness to a series of functions that express similar behavior — or total, leading to desire for a complete type.

There are layers and layers of this to explore in the coming months, but enough for now.

On to Part 3…

As you can tell, there are a lot of variables to psychological attraction. It’s a lot easier to narrow down the options than to get it completely right. Our knowledge here is thus probabilistic, not certain. But it still gives us a leg up in getting the women we want.

In the next chapter we’ll be analyzing the intersection between Persona and Personality.

(Get your precursors on Persona here and here.)

Come hungry for knowledge, cause we’re only going deeper.

Talk soon,