Sex, Love and your Personality

(The Nine Faces Of Intimacy)

Mona Coates, Ph.D. and Judity Searle



1.  Lovemaps


A lovemap is usually quite specific as to details of the physiognomy (judging a person's character based on their appearance), build, race, color, temperament, manner, etc. of the ideal lover.  Wikipedia


If there's a deep compatibility of lovemaps between psychologically healthy people, it can be a match made in heaven.  In reality, acting on the surge of instant, powerful chemistry may lead us only to scratch the surface of our lovemap.  We might see only about 5% of the important variables: perhaps going no deeper than physical appearance, hobbies, diet and career.  This is a major problem for couples who get married quickly or start living together shortly after falling in love.  As we get deeper into the layers of our unconscious traits, values and belief systems, the honeymoon is often over.  We may abruptly fall "out of love" as we discover that our partner is not meeting some of the major criteria of our lovemap -the other 85 things we were looking for and just assumed would be there.  Small wonder that the divorce rate is over 50%.


One of the biggest problems is that many of the components of our lovemap are deeply buried in the unconscious and hidden from our awareness.  Most of us couldn't fully describe our internal lovemap if our life depended on it.  Typically, we become conscious of these specific traits and expectations only when we're shocked by our partner's behavior, when we feel betrayed or violated.  It's likely that we didn't know something was part of our lovemap until we were confronted with a crisis that forced awareness into our conscious mind.  Only at this point do we realize that certain things are of great importance-and perhaps NOT NEGOTIABLE.


Does everyone have a lovemap?  Yes, but some of us have lovemaps that are unclear, extremely distorted or "vandalized" by tramatic evens such as rape or incest or humiliating early sexual experineces that engrave unhealthy ideas and feelings onto our unconscious template for a desireable mate.  Not everyone has the wholesome benefit of identifying in a healthy way with one or both parents (especially the one of the opposite gender).  Elements of the lovemap can become confusing, contradictory and bizarre under conditions that set up negativity, abuse, neglect or trauma in the person's unconscious beliefs and expectations for a mate and a love relationship.  


For example, a person who believes he or she will be used, verbally abused and disrespected has a highly compatible lovemap with a partner who is hateful, abusive and disrespectful.  Negative qualities in the lovemap work just as powerfully for establishing real chemistry as the positive ones.  This helps explain why so many people continually attract the same kind of dysfunctional, abusive relationships.


Fortunately, there are many resources for changing and healing our lovemaps.  For example, we can consciously choose to identify with different or more positive role models such as aunts, uncles, therapists, media idols, historic figures or literary heroes.  Another example, in response to more complicated issues, is seeking depth therapy to raise our level of consciousness and psychological health in order to actually correct the self-sabotaging and dysfunctional aspects of our lovemap.  There are also a plethora of books, seminar trainings, video programs and small group experiences that can assist in this journey.  In any case, an in-depth understanding of one's lovemap and that of the partner can be a major asset and vehicle for self-awareness and growth within the relationship.




2.  Levels of Psychological Health


The second most important factor (after lovemaps) for predicting the long-term success of love relationships is how healthy each partner is.  The greater your own and your partner's level of maturity, self-actualization and capacity to move beyond your personality type's natural neuroses and blind spots, the greater the likelihood that you will create a long-term loving relationship.  If only one partner is psychologically healthy and the other resists real growth or change (SEE THE 5 EGO LEVELS), the relationship has less chance of survival or of becoming functional.


These elements constitute the qualities that make up the highest levels of personal development for all of us.  With these qualities present in both partners, the probability of relationship success grows exponentially, regardless of personality differences.  


Objectivity: The ability to avoid taking personally what your partner does or what happens in a given situation; to resist taking offense even when your partner is being argumentative or obnoxious.


Self-soothing: The capacity for self-containment of your immediate emotional reactions.  This includes internally managing your reactivity and choosing appropriate times and places to discuss your frustration with your partner.


Self-validation: reliance on your own assessment of your merits and your own internal compass, rather than on the praise or criticism offered by others.  This means not allowing others -including your partner- to define your worth.


Congruency: Internal and external consistency; what you think is reflected in what you say and what you do.  Believing something and behaving as if you believed something different is NOT congruent.


Withholding judgement: Working on the assumption that expressing your personal opinions and value judgements about others - including your partner- is not necessarily helpful or even appropriate unless specifically requested.  Your own perceptions do not constitute the "gold standard" for others to live by.


Humility: Understanding that you do not have all the answers; remaining open to others' perceptions and opinions.


Discernment: The ability to resolve differences and dilemmas with objectivity and wisdom rather than opinions or excuses.


Pro-activity: Choosing to take positive action toward your own goals rather than simply reacting to others' actions or obstacles in your path.  ("It's NOT FAIR!")


Living by principles: 

  • Keeping Commitments (rather than offering excuses)
  • Focusing On What Is Important (rather than what is emotionally urgent)
  • Using Wisdom (rather than relying on mere facts)
  • Focusing On Ideals (rather than limitations)
  • Choosing Effective Action (rather than seeing yourself as a victim)
  • Seeking truth (rather than relying on myth or deception)
  • Forgiving (rather than holding grudges)
  • Self Discipline (rather than seeking immediate gratification)




3. Personality Subtypes: Self-Preservation/Sexual/Social


Partners who share the same subtype have a better chance of staying together over the long haul than those with different subtypes.  If both partners are Self-preservationists or both are Sexual or Social, it's much easier for them to establish empathy, set priorities and share common values as a couple.


Being of the same subtype makes a love relationship easier and smoother; partners feel more compatible.  Subtype is like a set of unrecognized biases and filters inside our mind.  It colors everything, but it works in such an unconscious way that we don't even know we're experiencing everything through this lens of our own distortion.  So, if your unconscious biases are the same as your partner's you will have fewer conflicts.  In relationship counselling, it's easier to deal with couples who have the same subtype (although that fortunate combination is more often the exception than the rule).


Subtype is unconscious and is probably determined by biological predispositions from birth as well as early childhood experiences.  There doesn't seem to be any cultural or social class or even male-female gender variable that makes people more likely to be one subtype over another.  The three subtypes are equally distributed within all nine of the personality types.  If that's true, perhaps 2/3 of the population are in relationships with someone of a different subtype.



Self-preservation Subtype:  People with this subtype need to feel physically secure before giving to others.


They focus on personal survival, security and safety.  They pay close attention to survival mechanisms such as food, temperature, clothing, comfort, insurance, health, mesting, money, home and scarce resources.  People with this subtype have energy that is stable and solid and their body tends to be more grounded and self-contained.  Highly conscious of their environment, they expect to have it adjusted to meet their needs.  


Important questions for this group are: "How can I regulate the environment and my resources to insure my comfort and survival?"  "How can I navigate my way through this?" 


Partners of Self-preservationists tend to see their partner as self-centered, not sufficiently invested in the relationship, lacking in passion, overly concerned with materialistic or security needs and emotionally detached.



Sexual Subtype: With their attention on the processes of mating, dating and forming close friendships, they are like electric plugs and sockets looking for one another. 


They focus on intimacy and desire intensity and personal connection with specific individuals.  Continually seeking to connect with another person's energy, they fear being rejected or undesirable.  Sexual subtype people have an intense, searching energy that locks in on the eyes of a person they want to converse with.  Merging with others is a highly charged activity and people with this subtype are passionate about seeking the "juice" in any relationship. 


Important questions for this group are: "How do we, united as a couple, as best friends, buddies, partners function?"  "Who's worth talking to?" and "Where are the real connections?"


Partners of Sexualists tend to see their partner as too intense, demanding of attention, high-maintenance and co-dependent - or at least highly dependent on the partner's time and attention for their well being.  They can drain their partners with their relentless demands for intimacy. 



Social Subtype: Have an energy that is more split or scattered.  They tend to be inclusive, adaptive, cooperative and less focused than people with the other two subtypes.  


They focus on the community, the group and the social environment.  They want to belong, desire acceptance and look for recognition.  They fear not "fitting in" or not getting approval and so they may seek affiliation with a clan, tribe, gang, professional association, social group or political party.  They often compare themselves to other members of the group and are concerned about how they "measure up" to others' standards.  Aware of power structures, struggles and appropriateness, they tell themselves and each other: "We're all in this together" or "Let's leave a legacy."  They focus on the welfare of others and adapt themselves to the environment in order to gain acceptance. 


Partners of Socialists tend to see their partner as overly concerned about what others think.  They're frustrated by their high level of involvement with other people and activities outside the relationship, their responsiveness to social pressure, and the diversion of their energy into too many groups and pursuits.  Their scattered focus of attention can make them seem distracted or spread too thin to their partner.



The Nine Personality Types



Type One (The Perfectionist): Principled, orderly, self-doubting, irritable.  Fears being wrong, bad or corrupt.  Desires to be virtuous, correct and self-controlled.

Strategy: "If I can make myself and everything around me perfect, then I can survive." 


Type Two (The Giver): Nurturing, demonstrative, possessive, proud.  Fears being unloved, unneeded or unappreciated.  Desires to be indispensable, sought after, helpful.

Strategy: "If I can make others love me and depend on me, then I can survive."


Type Three (The Achiever): Goal Directed, competitive, driven, vain.  Fears failure, looking bad or worthles.  Desires to be acknowledged as a winner and super achiever.

Strategy: "If I can establish a public image of myself as a successful person, then I can survive."


Type Four (The Romantic): Authentic, passionate, depressed, envious.  Fears not having a true self, being significant or defective.  Desires to be unique, self-expressive and noticed for individuality.

Strategy: "If I can make friends with the darkness and become a connoisseur of my own pain, then I can survive."


Type Five (The Thinker): Cerebral, independent, withdrawn, stingy.  Fears being incompetent, dependent on others or overwhelmed.  Desires to be knowledgeable, capable and private.

Strategy: "If I can keep my mind focused on gaining enough information, then I can survive."


Type Six (The Loyalist): Cooperative, authority conscious, suspicious, fearful.  Fears being left out, without guidance, unsupported.  Desires security, belonging and leadership from affiliate groups.

Strategy: "If I can stay alert to all possible dangers and find trustworthy allies, then I can survive."


Type Seven (The Generalist): Optimistic, impulsive, self-indulgent, superficial.  Fears being deprived, loss of options, being trapped or in pain. Desires to "have it all," experience everything and stay energized and happy.

Strategy: "If I can distract myself with pleasure and avoid thinking about pain, then I can survive."


Type Eight (The Protector): Powerful, pragmatic, excessive, vengeful.  Fears being vulnerable, weak or controlled by others.  Desires to be self-determined, strong and invincible.  

Strategy: "If I can intimidate and dominate others, then I can survive."


Type Nine (The Mediator): Accepting, easygoing, distractable, lazy.  Fears direct conflict and confrontation, separation from others.  Desires inner stability, outer tranquility and the flow of merging with others.

Strategy: "If I can keep an open mind about all possible strategies, then I can survive."




4.  Harmonic Group Matches


The fourth factor that is helpful in predicting the long-term success of a relationship is the Harmonic Groups.  These tell us how we cope with conflict and difficulty: how we respond when we do not get what we want.  Being in the same Harmonic Group gives partners a sense of common ground, of having some of the same values and perspective; when conflicts arise, coping similiarities can help them work their way through problems and towards solutions.


Positive Outlook Group: Composed of types Nine, Two and Seven.  All three respond to conflict and difficulty by adopting, as much as possible, a 'positive attitude,' re-framing disappointment in some positive way. 


They don't really want to fight.  In the interest of things going well, they'll generally make concessions.  They want to see the sunny side; the "glass as half full."


Competency Group: Composed of types Three, One and Five.   These people have learned to deal with difficulty by putting aside their personal feelings and striving to be objective, effective and competent.


It's often possible in relationship problems to establish common ground, a kind of "contact" between the partners about being competent, getting the job done, doing it right and being accurate.


Reactive Group: Composed of types Six, Four and Eight.  These types react emotionally to conflicts and problems and have difficulties knowing how much to trust other people: "I need you to know how I feel about this."


They enjoy big reactions and strong feelings.  They often measure the love of their partner by how vehement his or her reaction is; they see this as a measure of the partner's caring and concern. 





5.  Shared Connecting Line


Sharing a direct connecting line is fifth in importance as a predictive factor for long-term relationship success.  Complementary or "opposite" energies can help balance a couple's blind spots.  For example, a marriage between a 6 and a 9: The 6's keen awareness of potential dangers tempers the 9's tendency toward unthinking reliance on habitual way of doing things and the 9's idealization of the partner counterbalances the 6's tendency toward self-doubt.


A 1's natural sense of order and values may help a 7 manage and prioritize a myriad of options, while the 7's natural exuberance and playfulness may temper the 1's tendency toward rigidity and judgement.