Apr 6, 2014

Some Thoughts on Relationships and Socionics

The last 9 months have been very good for me. My life has been steadily getting better and better, and I think I understand enough about why the changes have been taking place to maintain them indefinitely. I'm referring to all sorts of changes relating to nutrition, exercise, sleep, hormones, and neurotransmitters, and also to relationships, social life, work, life strategy, and inner development.

Along the way, I have begun to think about socionics again at times. The first time was when I was pursuing a girl who seemed responsive and interested, but the interaction seemed chronically unstable and off-kilter. After a few frustrating weeks of this, I had the thought, "I wonder what socionics could say about this?" I'll admit that making a good guess at identifying her type (a LIE with a high degree of interpersonal sensitivity) brought some clarity and helped explain the imbalances in the interaction.

Since then I've occasionally (but not automatically) referred to socionics when thinking about other relationships. Experiences with other girls, however, have not exactly fit the socionics model. For instance, I had a fulfilling short-term relationship with an EIE ("quasi-identity"). Luckily, I no longer take socionics very seriously and do not let it influence my romantic choices before the fact. If I did, I might limit myself and fail to obtain experience that conflicts with the socionics model. I think I did this in the past.

Interestingly — as with any idea system — the people who engage in developing socionics are precisely those who take it very seriously... This introduces biases and ideological "overshoot" that the less interested may notice, but rarely take seriously enough to do anything about. Within socionics, as soon as people start to strongly doubt the model, they usually leave the community or become less active and just complain about the discrepancies in the background. Naturally, this is a more or less universal characteristic of schools of thought.

I now believe — as a kind of personal rule — that any relationship can or should be pursued if there is passionate interest. 100% interest and sincerity seems to be a much better predicter of having a really positive experience than socionic factors. However, this assumes that you have the maturity and wisdom to not overstep the natural bounds of the relationship and to not force it to be something that it cannot.

Some people (a lot of men) experience strong romantic interest on a daily or weekly basis. They have to find different rules and formulas for deciding how to pursue relationships and may not relate well to my ideas.

Another observation I've had is that a person may go through stages where they become more or less receptive to different kinds of interaction. For instance, when I am in a "socialite" stage focused mostly on my external social life — going out, meeting people, and doing things with others — the whole type thing can be more or less irrelevant. However, if I enter a more work-focused stage with a lot of focused solitary activity, my need for closer and more "high-quality" relationships increases.

I'm suggesting that in some circumstances a person can be perfectly happy without any dual relations or even any close tet-a-tet relationships. As a person's activities become more focused and idiosyncratic, the need for focused and idiosyncratic relationships seems to rise as well.

In the hunter-gatherer societies that produced modern homo sapiens, people experienced much tighter group relationships and less individualized tet-a-tet relationships. The idea of finding "soul mates" in such circumstances becomes largely irrelevant. I believe that a failure to understand or even think about the relationship structure of primitive societies has led to many of the erroneous ideas contained in socionics. As some readers may know, Augusta Augustinavichute believed humans were a pair-forming species and examined their relationships in a modern (actually, Soviet command economy) context only.

I've had the chance to mingle in a lot of different groups of late. Certainly, different groups have their different "feel," and socionic quadras is one way to look at it. However, some of us are used to feeling like outsiders in virtually every group we find ourselves. Thus, using comfort level as a way to identify quadras may lead to never finding one's own quadra because every group is uncomfortable — just to different degrees. For such people, the idea of quadras and their defining role in establishing the culture of a group can be pretty much irrelevant.

In a "socialite" period of life, you may flit from group to group with ease, but few of the groups are particularly well-established or display any set rules and "quadra flavor." As your life becomes more work-focused, you will probably find yourself spending time in more well-established groups. Obviously, the longer a group has existed and the more fixed its membership, the more rigid the culture of the group will be. I think there's much value in belonging to such a group(s) at some point in life.

I often return to the concept of "highly sensitive people" and observe how these people systematically do not fit into socionic type and relation models. They might as well be a different ype, and can be divided into extraverts (roughly 1/4 of HSPs) and introverts (roughly 3/4). Most are intuitive types, but there are also some introverted sensers among them.

I really strongly doubt that an HSP IEI's ideal match will be any kind of SLE, though many aspects of the relationship may be comfortable and convenient. But an HSP is subject to some kinds of feelings and experiences (states of sensitivity, solitude, loneliness, restriction of sensory stimulation, etc.) to a much greater degree than non-HSPs, and will need to find others who can relate to this "deeper" level. If an HSP lacks a deeper sensitivity-based connection with his partner, he may experience loneliness and even alienation.

I find that HSPs tend to have a mixture of intuitive and sensing qualities and often logical and ethical qualities that perhaps make it less important to have a partner who is at the opposite end of these axes (particularly intuition/sensing).

I'm not sure these axes are even a good way to think about relationship compatibility anymore. One of the reasons they enjoy popularity it because they give people them something to think about before the relationship has occurred. It can actually be akin to voyeurism. By thinking about your compatibility or incompatibility (or that of other people) with someone before a relationship has actually begun, you can 1) fantasize about a relationship that does not yet exist, 2) fantasize about other people's relationship (this is more of a female thing), and 3) justify your own inaction in pursuing someone you are attracted to.

I have a lot more to say on the subject of relationships and well-being, but it is all unrelated to socionics, so I will just abruptly end this post here.


aestrivex said...

Your post seems to be largely about your personal experience with the failure of socionics' predictions about interpersonal relations. Yet alongside these failures are hints in this post and others that there is still some value.

I agree largely with your comments that many of the suppositions of socionics, as they are usually described from both Eastern and Western sources (though my criticism is directed mostly at Eastern sources), especially about the nature of duality, are hopelessly unrealistic. For years I have been discussing a "reduced" view of intertype relations that are almost entirely about quadra values, makes almost no prediction about adjacent quadra interactions (and furthermore makes predictions that are weakest when the beta quadra is involved). Quadra values should not be seen as strongly predictive of romantic or relationship interactions either, but broadly of life viewpoints -- i.e., if you are a delta type, you may be able to relate more easily to other delta types that also express good faith judgment more readily than ideologically charged or judgmental attitudes.

I suppose the question that I have is, exaggeratedly, is "why do you hate socionics so much?" Put more precisely, the question is "why is this sort of reduced prediction not an obvious or palatable alternative of the failure of socionics to predict relations on a broader scale, given the hints we see that suggest there may be some interesting structure there?"

Ричард said...

That's a good question that I have difficulty answering. I suppose I view nearly any application of socionics, any attempt to take it at all seriously, as being seriously flawed.

Part of the answer is probably also that I took it so seriously myself for a number of years. I am still in the long process of trying to reprocess my socionics-related experience and formulate it in more acceptable terms. I mean things like, "why did this relationship work and that one didn't," etc.

The funny thing is that despite all its problems, there is still something to socionics, at least when I consider only my own personal experience and don't try to match typings with other people or type people I don't know. I see many parallels between different people who could be identified as being the same type.

At the same time, the predictive power of socionics seems to be next to nil as far as relationships and even interactions are concerned. I think that's where the greatest disillusionment comes from, since that was the main motive for my involvement in socionics.

Ричард said...

Another thing is that I could just disappear and never mention socionics again, but that would be precisely the sort of thing I mentioned in the post, where an idea system maintains its extreme form due to dissenters quietly leaving and ceasing their activity in the community.

Anonymous said...

Rick we are developing tool that aimed to find right people for organizations and build up helthy communication within teams. I would like to ask you to try our tool http://www.socionics.io/ . Your feedback is very welcome. Thanks

Ричард said...

Looks interesting, Alex. I see you're in San Francisco?

I see that your site/product needs some editing by a native English speaker. Contact me if interested. It won't cost much and it will make your product and marketing more effective.

To get more feedback at first you might consider not asking for a name and email at the very beginning.

Ричард said...

aestrivex, I've been thinking about it some more. A big issue for me is that there is no hope of attaining any sort of professionalism in socionics. You are doomed to always being an amateur, and there is nothing that can be done about that. There is no clear skill to be mastered and no way of measuring one's skills. (Those who know me know that I'm all about skill mastery.) As a professional activity socionics is therefore a waste of time [for me] unless you don't care about skill or quality issues and just want to make a buck. But doing so inevitably means applying all sorts of unproven assumptions and even deception.

Unknown said...

Personally, I find socionics useful despite its inaccuracies, because in my case the motivation for learning about it is more about understanding how people think, rather than relationships. I too have found that the relationship part of socionics is spotty at best, but despite that, its general principles have helped clarify for me some things I would find rewarding in a relationship, even if not necessarily with someone of my dual type.

Magnus said...

Rick are you aware of DCNH? Are you using it? In my experience there are roughly 3 things that affect relationships on a formal level: Sociotype, DCNH subtype and enneagram type. DCNH is very important and most stable relationships are eiter N+D or H+C. Socionics is pretty unknown globally and DCNH even more unknow, which is a shame.

Ричард said...

Hi Magnus. Sorry for taking forever to answer. If you've followed recent posts (last year or so), I really don't use socionics at all anymore, although I may think about parts of it here and there in the context of specific cases. I've come to prefer less abstract descriptions and ways of thinking about personality and personal development.