Brace yourself; we’re hitting full ramble.
It seems like I took far too many personality tests this weekend, or read quite a few articles designed to make me feel like I’ve been examined under a microscope. As I slowly settle into the week this Monday morning I thought of a few things I’d like to say about tests in general, and my “favorite” one in particular.
Allow me to begin by stating that, thanks to Hannah, I now know I am apparently an Executive personality type as well as a classical nerd who requires a cave. Those last two articles are a year or two old, but I was just shown them, so they’re new to me. For the purposes of this website that’s all that matters.
Reading them I was constantly reminded of things that I do, but even more strongly of things some of my friends do. The concepts of The Place and The Cave were all things I was immediately familiar with despite having never put them into words before. The more I thought about those articles and how they applied to myself and my friends, however, the more I realized there is one very specific area of life where these things tend to miss the mark by entirely random margins.
You see, the other, final personality test I was reminded of this weekend was my “favorite” one, the OKCupid Dating Persona Test. I say favorite merely because I’ve taken that one four times now. Thinking more about it in the early morning random-thought haze, I realized that the Rand articles are missing a very important bit of randomness in life. Despite being astute in picking apart how nerds appear to interact with other humans in relationships (personal and romantic), my own experience says it’s just not that simple.
Let’s talk specifics. I have to admit that those nerd articles and my ENTJ/Executive personality reading have a whole lot of things correct about me. More than I’d really like to admit, frankly. Where they all fall flat is in suggesting that I am some sort of cold, calculating, unfeeling creature with no empathic feelings, incapable of understanding the concept of human emotions. It’s true if you’ve worked with me you might think this to be true…but that’s business. In the actual world I don’t have any trouble talking about my feelings, listening to other people express theirs, or dealing with the situations that arise from either. The only test that see this? The dating persona test, where I have been the Boy Next Door since the world was cooling, whether I like it or not.
How about other examples? Lo these many years ago I used to suggest to all of my female friends that they should “bag a nerd” because (at the time) most of us were so desperate for attention that we’d be nothing but nice and considerate until the end of time. But the aggregate of all of my dozen or more nerd friends doesn’t reveal that at all. I won’t name names and I’ll change some specifics, especially since I may put myself in here somewhere, but I know nerds with the following personality traits in relationships:
- A love-em-and-leave-em womanizer who claims to has slept with over 100 girls at this point (my age) and can verify at least half that number.
- A serial monogamist that gets in really intense relationships for about six months to a year, is convinced that they are the one, and then it all falls apart and moving on is required. Usually by him.
- A guy completely devoted to anyone he dates to the point of subsuming his own personality within them.
- A sweet guy who just can’t be motivated to much of anything.
- A little nerd whose main personality quirk is constant and unstoppable, unconscious lying when in a relationship.
- One that really, really wants to be that womanizer from bullet #1 but becomes so lonely doing it that he devolves into drunken pity at least once a month.
The only thing that combines these people together is that they all appear to fit the criteria in the Rand articles on nerdom. Let’s look at another personality archetype: the artist. I’ve dated a few artists. My count is either at three if you count by ‘does art’, two if you count by ‘considers self artist’, and one if you only include those with actual talent. In theory artists are supposed to be imaginative, creative, spontaneous types in relationships and usually thought of as intelligent, if not academic. In reality it shook out like the following:
- The one without talent was, in fact, imaginative and creative as a friend or more. And spontaneous. And very dumb.
- The one with talent was predictable rather than spontaneous and lacked all of the other artist traits from a relationship perspective, but was bloody brilliant.
- The one that didn’t self identify as an artist was not as smart as the latter but was just as creative as the former, making her the most arty of the bunch.
Now, it’s not going to surprise anyone that personality tests are only an approximation of reality. If I thought this post was going to have any analytical merit at all I wouldn’t have prefaced it as a ramble. I just find it very interesting at how far off our interpersonal personalities generally are from our other personality traits. Which is why I no longer tell people to bag a nerd, and why, despite sometimes joking about it, I will never actually ban myself from dating another artist. Although god knows I probably should.
As a final note, I love how no test can ever decide if I’m introverted or extroverted.