Romantic Compatibility of Instinctual Matches

Most individuals who study the Enneagram eventually ask themselves: “What kind of instinctual match would be the best for me in a romantic relationship?”

Of course individual preferences vary, but there are two main factors that determine how helpful and satisfying an instinctual match is for you in a romantic (long-term) relationship:

Your first instinct being “soothed” by your partner (through their second, most balanced instinct) and/or you both being on the same wavelength – in the same “flow“.

SX first individuals typically yearn for finding that “special someone”, so their priority should be finding someone who is “good” for them. Is that a fellow SX first person?

SX first people fare the best with someone who is actually not a fellow SX first individual. This may seem counterintuitive – because SX first people desire close intimacy so much, shouldn’t they be with another SX first person? But the opposite is true. We often desire what is not the best for us. With SX first people, they too late (or not at all) realize that a fellow SX first person brings a very similarly neurotic attitude towards SX into the relationship, which is rather counterproductive to the couple’s welfare. The shared obsession with SX intimacy can lead to isolation, addictions, and more. Additionally, SX first people have a tendency to “give their all” in romantic relationships, and can “lose” themselves in them, so it is best when their partner brings a much more balanced attitude towards SX into the relationship, so that neither one of them gets “burned out”. A person who is SX blindspot won’t be able to provide them with enough balanced intimacy, similarly to a fellow SX first person, as well as not value it enough. In contrast, SX secondary people have the most balanced view on intimacy and SX matters.
Following that, the best match for SX/SO is SP/SX, and for SX/SP it is SO/SX.

Because the issues revolving around SX are so emotionally taxing and potentially deeply scarring for SX first people, here is an exception when it comes to the principle of the same flow being always better than the opposite flow! As said previously, it is crucial that their SX neuroses are being calmed in a close relationship, because that is the only situation where this can actually happen in full.
That is why the second best match for SX/SO is SO/SX, and for SX/SP it is SP/SX.

SX last individuals usually feel like they have a myriad of other things to do rather than to focus their attention on finding (and keeping) a romantic relationship.

SX last people may grow the most in a relationship with someone who is not a fellow SX last person. However, SX being their blindspot and therefore low on their list of relationship requirements, they will naturally gravitate towards to and feel the most comfortable with someone who shares all of their values and won’t try to “push” them for any special kind of intimacy.
Following that, the best match for SO/SP is SO/SP, and for SP/SO it is SP/SO.

Again, a reversal of the flow can be accepted or even appreciated when it serves to sooth the worries of the first instinct and both people are on the same page regarding which instincts matter (or rather, which one matters the least).
Therefore, the second best match for SO/SP is SP/SO, and for SP/SO it is SO/SP.

SX second individuals have the most balanced take on SX matters, and their most beneficial match depends primarily on their own individual goals.

SX second people, as already mentioned several times in this article, have the most balanced attitude regarding SX. They do not need it like SX first people, nor do they preferably not have to deal with it like SX last people. In that manner, they are in a grey zone; it is not exactly clear what kind of match is the most beneficial for them, at least at first glance. Like the other stackings, they are best in a relationship with someone who is of the same flow. The stacking that would both support and guide them the best in the domain of their first instinct, as well as would be part of the same flow, is the SX blindspot stacking (either SP/SO or SO/SP respectively). Those stackings additionally bring an acceptable (SP/SO) or great (SO/SP) take on SP matters in the relationship, which is very important for a stable “home building”, a family life with children. However, not  being SX blindspot themselves, the SX second person may find an issue with the lack of SX in their partner. It becomes apparent how for romantic relationships that do not involve children, the best match would be someone of both the same flow and without an SX blindspot. On the other hand, if the primary goal is having children and a stable home life, the best match would be the SX last individual of the same flow.
Following that, the best match for SO/SX is SP/SO (for family life) or otherwise SO/SX, and for SP/SX it is SO/SP (for family life) or otherwise SP/SX.

Certain instinctual matches are simply too incompatible with each other for the long-term.

The worst matches are:
SX/SO with SP/SOSX/SP with SO/SP, and SO/SX with SP/SX.

Why are they the worst? First, opposite flows. Secondly, even though they share the same secondary instinct, this commonality provides no benefits nor calming influence, and is overshadowed by the threatening occupations of the other’s first instinct, which is the other’s blindspot. What is one person’s neurotic obsession is the other’s least valued, and “falsely” flowing aspect. Neither person values what the other is the most concerned with, nor can either one person help the other with their weak spots. No wonder their instinctual desires, and hence their instinctual beings are the most opposite.

That is why I recommend people to avoid this kind of instinctual stacking match in dating. No matter how much the two may be infatuated with each other, the problems arising later in the long-term relationship are usually too difficult to resolve sensibly. Instinctual stackings do not change, so they are deeply embedded in someone’s psyche – trying to change someone’s flow or blindspot is a futile endeavor. Even if the people have a rather compatible intertype relation in Socionics, this intertype stacking match can have an underestimated, quite negative impact on their longterm happiness as a couple.*

Here the matches for each stacking, from most to least beneficial:

Sx/SoSp/Sx > So/Sx > Sx/So So/Sp > Sx/Sp Sp/So 
Sx/SpSo/Sx > Sp/Sx > Sx/Sp > Sp/So > Sx/So > So/Sp

So/SpSo/Sp > Sp/So > Sx/So > Sp/Sx So/Sx > Sx/Sp
Sp/SoSp/So > So/Sp Sx/Sp > So/Sx Sp/Sx > Sx/So

So/Sx: Sp/So or So/Sx > Sx/So Sx/Sp > So/Sp Sp/Sx
So/Sp or Sp/Sx > Sx/Sp > Sx/So > Sp/So > So/Sx

As the ranking shows, apart from the SX blindspot and same stacking matches, the match that is the most beneficial for you is not on an “equal” footing with you – you “get more” out of that match than the other person. For example, while the Sx/Sp individual benefits a lot from the balanced view on Sx from the So/Sx person, the latter does not get their So instinct-related neuroses soothed. However, the upside to this match is the fact that both people are in the same flow and hence have the same attitude towards life. It could be concluded that the ideal scenario for this match would include a healthy So/Sx individual – because in that instance, their amount of neuroses would be rather small and less significant. However, a couple like this will go through tough times when the So/Sx person becomes unhealthy – their So-related neuroses emerging, they will seek out help in that area, which the Sx/Sp person is unable and unwilling to give. In that respect, the exchange between Sx/Sp and Sp/Sx would be more stable and equal, both individuals benefitting from the other’s second instinct – but at the cost of moving “against” the other’s life direction in some way or another, being in opposite flows.

*An example of a Dual couple that has difficulties with their relationship because of an instinctual mismatch (Sx/Sp with So/Sp) is Robert Downey Jr with his wife Susan Downey. They have to go to couple’s therapy. 



  1. Good article~
    However, I think there is a mistake in the

    Here the matches for each stacking, from most to least ideal:

    So/Sx: Sp/So > Sx/So > So/Sx > Sx/Sp > So/Sp > Sp/Sx

    Sp/Sx: So/Sp > Sx/Sp > Sp/Sx > Sx/So > Sp/So > So/Sx

    I think it should be :

    So/Sx:  Sx/Sp > Sx/So > So/Sx > Sp/So > So/Sp > Sp/Sx

    Sp/Sx: Sx/So  > Sx/Sp > Sp/Sx > So/Sp > Sp/So > So/Sx



    • According to my logic there is no mistake, for as I said in the beginning – the ideal match “soothes” the neuroses of your first instinct. Sx/Sp is not ideal for So/Sx, because they are SO blindspot. That is not helpful to the SO of the So/Sx. And Sp/Sx does not get help with their SP with Sx/So who is SP blindspot. That is why for them, the other matches are more ideal.


  2. There is too much assumptions and too little tested.

    I’ve have read numerous of these assumptions stuff in the mbti community about relationships, while socionics is the first one to have figured it out for real. All the assumptions were found to be wrong.

    Theory should fit reality, not assumptions. Experiencing the relationships with stacking types, finding specific similarities and writing them down and finding a structure afterwards is better IMO.

    I’m currently in the proces of doing this.


    • It actually started out with experience.

      My parents, still married after many years: So/Sx + Sp/So

      Most married couples have been Sx/So+So/Sx, Sx/Sp+Sp/Sx, Sp/Sx+Sp/Sx, So/Sp+So/Sp.

      And many couples have been Sx/So + Sp/Sx, Sx/So + So/Sp.

      I think my theory fits reality and makes sense of it. The synflow/contraflow theory is mostly agreed upon. The “soothing” of the instincts is something I have discovered myself, but it makes sense to me, for the second instinct is the most “balanced” (not just my opinion), so it soothes any neuroses. And that explains why matches like Sx/Sp + Sp/Sx are so common.


  3. I’m sp/sx and my girlfriend is so/sx and we’re actually extremely compatible…. Perhaps more so than anyone I have ever known


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