When You Care About Someone: We All Love Differently

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated March 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Our personalities can vary widely, leading us to behave, think, and feel differently than one another. Our personality types can also make us uniquely compatible with certain individuals. There are many theories about the sources of compatibility and how much they are affected by each partner’s characteristics. Knowing how your personality may impact your relationships can help you better understand why certain connections may grow stronger than others. Below, we’re going to discuss how your personality can contribute to the ways you give and receive love, express your feelings, and mesh with your partner.

Stress can affect your physical, mental, and emotional health

How personality can impact relationships

Personality refers to the broad range of traits, interests, behaviors, and other characteristics that make an individual unique. Numerous experts have created measures of personality over the years. Frameworks such as the five-factor model of personality (also called the Big Five) postulate that people have varying levels of specific traits. Such theories have then been used to create personality types. And many people have hypothesized that compatibility may be affected by partners’ respective types. 

For example, a common dichotomy in personality types is introversion-extraversion, which refers to how an individual gains energy and focuses their attention. Introverts are those whose focus is more directed towards their inner world of ideas and feelings, and who are typically energized by spending time alone. Extroverts are those who tend to gain energy from the world around them, including through social interactions with others. People who occupy a similar place in the introversion-extraversion spectrum may be more compatible due to their understanding of each other’s need for alone time and desire to participate in more solitary pursuits. 

Existing research supports the claim that personality can influence compatibility. In one study, researchers found that two measures of the Big Five predicted relationship satisfaction among participants, with neuroticism negatively affecting it, and conscientiousness positively affecting it. Another study suggests that two other measures—openness and agreeableness—can be helpful in predicting relationship quality

The  (MBTI) is another important framework for examining personality. There are four dichotomies relevant in this model, the first being introversion versus extroversion (I or E), which we briefly discussed above. The second dichotomy encompasses how you take in information—this is labeled sensing versus intuition (S or N). Sensors are typically detail-oriented, practical thinkers, focused on the reality of how things are, whereas people who intuit often connect ideas and find meaning based on how things could be.


The way in which you make decisions is the third dichotomy, labeled thinking versus feeling (T or F). Thinkers are generally people who make decisions based on the facts that they have at their disposal. Feelers are those who direct their behavior based more on their emotions and desires, potentially acting in ways that they feel best fit the situation at hand.

The fourth factor, judging versus perceiving (J or P), takes into account how you tend to organize your life. Those who fall toward the judging end of the spectrum may fit the traditional model of "type A”—people who like to have clearly outlined expectations and may experience satisfaction from being able to check something off their list. People who fall toward the perceiving end of the spectrum are typically more spontaneous and flexible, potentially enjoying going with the flow more than having a strict schedule. 

Depending on where an individual falls on each of these four dichotomies, they may be labeled with one of 16 different types: INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP, INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP, ISTJ, ISFJ ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP. Several different tests are available that can help you identify your Myers-Briggs type and learn more about how it might affect you in various facets of life, including relationships. There is evidence that similarity based on the MBTI can predict compatibility.

Exploring the elements of your personality can be a rewarding process and may help you better understand your relationships with others. Knowing how you and your partner prefer to communicate, spend your time, make decisions, and solve problems can positively impact how you relate to and understand each other.   

The role of the five love languages

The five love languages, originally developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, can also provide insights into how differences in communication and behavior can contribute to the success of a relationship. According to Dr. Chapman’s theory, we each have certain ways we prefer to both give and receive love; and a relationship may be more likely to succeed if each partner understands the other’s love languages. 

Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch are the five love languages. Words of affirmation are ways of expressing love verbally. Acts of service are gestures meant to provide assistance to a partner. Receiving gifts means expressing love through material offerings. Quality time involves giving your partner your undivided attention. Physical touch includes things like holding hands or sexual intimacy.

Each partner in a relationship usually has a preferred way of both expressing and receiving love. If partners are not communicating in the same language, they may find the relationship less fulfilling than they might otherwise. Take, for example, a situation in which one partner may like to perform acts of service but receive words of affirmation, while the other might like to give gifts and have acts of service performed for them. In this case, the second partner is likely experiencing love the way they would prefer, but the first partner may not be. While the second partner can continue to express love by giving gifts, they might also want to tell their partner how they feel. 

While it might make sense to show your partner love in the same way you prefer to be shown love, they may have a different language. If you aren’t sure what your partner’s love language is, consider having a conversation with them. You and your partner can learn about each other’s languages by making a list of specific actions that make you feel loved or help you express love. 

You may find that you each have multiple love languages. Do you like it when your partner makes you a special meal, then takes time to chat with you without any distractions? You may prefer acts of service and quality time. Communicating in your partner’s love language can help you deepen your bond. When you know how best to give and receive love, you and your partner may be better able to communicate, meet each other’s needs, and solve problems together.

How online therapy can help 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Stress can affect your physical, mental, and emotional health

Studies have shown that online therapy can help partners learn more about how their unique characteristics affect their relationship. In a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, participants who had completed an online couples therapy program—which included an exploration of how “differences in key personality traits” impacted their partnership—reported experiencing increased relationship confidence. The study notes that online therapy can help couples with communication and problem-solving skills, which are often helpful in creating a deeper understanding amongst romantic partners. This type of therapy can include counseling sessions, along with guided exercises and resources that may help couples better appreciate the way they interact within the relationship. 

If you’d like to learn more about how your personality influences how you express love, consider utilizing an online therapy platform. Individual therapy through BetterHelp (or couples therapy through ReGain) can be participated in remotely—so you and your partner can be in different locations and still work with a qualified mental health professional. BetterHelp and ReGain work with thousands of licensed therapists—who have a range of specialties—so you’ll have a good chance of matching with someone who can address your specific concerns about love, personality, and relationships. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists from those who have sought help with relationship challenges in the past.

Therapist reviews

“Sandy was really great and helped me unlock the things I needed surrounding my relationship and dating patterns. In this period of time, she was a great sounding board and also helped give me the thinking tools I needed to move forward on a better path. I definitely recommend Sandy and her open and direct approach-–she was wonderful!”

“Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful but most of all helpful. This is coming from a person who never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks Steph!”


We all think, behave, and love differently. Knowing more about your personality traits and those of your partner—including how you each express and receive love—can be vital to a healthy relationship. If you’d like to learn more about how your unique characteristics influence your love life, consider connecting with a licensed therapist online. With the right guidance and support, you can better understand your personality and nurture a rewarding, healthy relationship.
Seeking to improve your mental health?
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started