This simple personality quiz could help you change your relationship for the better

Publish Date
Tuesday, 12 September 2017, 12:00PM
Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

There are moments in most relationships when you look at your partner and think: "Are we on different planets?" Often it is differences that first attracted you to each other that cause the most consternation.

According to happiness expert Gretchen Rubin, we all err towards one of four fateful characters 'Tendencies' that describe how we respond to other people’s expectations, the Daily Mail reports.

She says you are either an Upholder (the law-abiding type who strives to meet everyone’s expectations, including your own), an Obliger (who works hard if someone asks them to, but struggles with self-motivation), a Questioner (who will only do something if they’ve weighed up the pros and cons) or a Rebel (who resolutely does their own thing).

An Upholder may initially be intrigued by a Rebel’s refusal to play by the rules, and a Rebel may be drawn to an Upholder’s ability to get things done. But a few years into a relationship, those qualities may grate.

However, in her new book, The Four Tendencies, Rubin argues that if you pinpoint your own Tendency, and learn to pick up tell-tale signs of the dominant Tendency in those around you, you can change your life – and relationships — for the better.

Accepting the peccadilloes of your Tendency lets you make better decisions, improves your tolerance, reduces the stresses of life and helps you engage more effectively with others.

Photo / Getty

This is never more important than when trying to ride the storms of a long-term marriage.

You may think you know your partner, but only when you get a grasp of their Tendency will their behaviours start to make sense.

This knowledge is power.

It is more effective to reach people through their tendency rather than yours. With this tool, even a subtle shift in vocabulary can turn an argument around or stop conflict in its tracks.

If you want to get your partner to do something (say, give you a massage), remember this:

Upholders want to know what should be done (find a YouTube video of massage techniques).

Questioners want justifications (refer them to research on health problems associated with tension).

Obligers need accountability ("you’re the best at this, it makes me so happy").

And Rebels want the freedom to do things their own way (give them a loving look and hope for the best).

So, what’s your tendency? Take Rubin’s quiz to find out all you need to know to change your life — and relationship — for ever ...


Choose the answer that seems most true for you; don’t search for exceptions to the rule or focus on one area of your life.

1. Are you good at keeping New Year's resolutions?

A. Yes. Even when I've told no one about it.
B. Yes, but I don't necessarily wait for the New Year.
C. No. I find it hard to stick to them for long.
D. No. I hate to restrict myself in any way.

2. How good are you at sticking to your intentions?

A. I stick to them only if I'm convinced it makes good sense to do so.
B. Yes, if someone else is holding me accountable for my commitments - but if no one knows except me, I struggle.
C. I restrict myself as little as possible.
D. I take my commitments to myself as seriously as my commitments to other people.

3. When you feel frustrated by yourself is it likely to be because . . .

A. My constant need for more information is exhausting.
B. As soon as I'm expected to do something, I don't want to do it.
C. I can take time for other people, but it's harder to take time for myself.
D. I can't take a break from my usual habits, or rules, even when I want to.

4. What helps you stick to healthy habits?

A. I find it pretty easy to stick to habits, even when no one else cares.
B. I do a lot of research about why and how to keep the habit.
C. It's easier when I'm answerable to someone else.
D. I'm not usually the sort of person to restrict myself.

5. If people complain about your behaviour, you'd be least surprised to hear them say...

A. You stick to good habits that matter only to you, even when it is inconvenient for others.
B. You ask too many questions.
C. You're good at taking time when others ask you to do something, but not at taking time for yourself.
D. You only do what you want to do, and exactly when you want to do it.

6. Which description suits you best?

A. Puts others (family, neighbours and your colleagues) first.
B. Disciplined - even when it doesn't make perfect sense.
C. Refuses to be bossed about by other people.
D. Asks necessary questions.

7. People get frustrated because asking me to do something makes me less likely to do it.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree

8. I do what I think makes the most sense, sticking with my instincts, even if that means ignoring the rules or other people's expectations.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree

9. Commitments to others should never be broken, but commitments to myself can be broken.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree

10. Sometimes I won't do something I want to do, just because someone wants me to do it.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree

11. I've sometimes described myself as a people-pleaser.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree

12. I don't mind breaking rules or violating convention - I often enjoy it.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree

13. I question the validity of putting people in categories like this quiz does.

Tend to agree
Tend to disagree


1. A = Upholder B = Questioner C = Obliger D = Rebel
2. A = Questioner B = Obliger C = Rebel D = Upholder
3. A = Questioner B = Rebel C = Obliger D = Upholder
4. A = Upholder B = Questioner C = Obliger D = Rebel
5. A = Upholder B = Questioner C = Obliger D = Rebel
6. A = Obliger B = Upholder C = Rebel D = Questioner
7. Tend to agree indicates Rebel
8. Tend to agree indicates Questioner
9. Tend to agree indicates Obliger
10. Tend to agree indicates Rebel
11. Tend to agree indicates Obliger
12. Tend to agree indicates Rebel
13. Tend to agree indicates Questioner

We have a bit of each Tendency in all of us, but one characteristic will usually dominate for life.



You meet deadlines and keep your promises. Obligers make good bosses and team players, but find it hard to say no and can get bogged down and overworked, often making them prone to resentment. This is the biggest category, representing around 41 per cent of people — so if you’re trying to guess at someone’s tendency, it’s a good place to start. 

Tips for Obligers: If you start to feel overwhelmed or exploited, start delegating fast. l don't get frustrated by your lack of self-discipline. Look for outside supervision and deadlines to help keep you motivated. Be sure to carve out time for yourself to avoid burnout. 

If your partner is an Obliger: Help them say ‘yes’ to less. Appeal to their sense of obligation (‘Going for a bike ride isn’t selfish, it’s setting a good example to the family’). Set explicit deadlines (‘The lawn will need mowing this weekend’). Offer to share some of their load.


You like information and efficiency, and hate making a decision unless you’ve done extensive research. Questioners may exhaust themselves (and others) with relentless questioning. Overthinking can make decision-making hard. You accept direction only from people you respect. 

Tips for Questioners: Limit research to avoid ‘analysis paralysis’. Watch for signs of impatience and complacency in your manner (which others might find insulting). Try not to resist the advice of experts (who might think you rude). Remember questioning can be exhausting. Try not to ignore rules or query something without communicating your reasons first. Save your questions for the big issues.

If your partner is a Questioner: Accept that their constant questioning isn’t necessarily confrontation or defiance.  Don't use ‘because I said so’ or ‘it just is’ as answers. Back any request with expert evidence. Don't ask them to justify their decisions — Questioners don’t like being questioned. Accept a degree of bending of the rules (such as speed limits and parking restrictions)


You are self-motivated, reliable and conscientious, but you can also be rigid, demanding and impatient. Think Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. Upholders tend to be the do-gooders who meet deadlines and keep resolutions without any fuss or fanfare. 

Tips for Upholders: Be patient with those who are less conscientious than you. Try to be a team player when/if you can. Delegate to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Aim to loosen up a little and be less rigid. Accept that everyone makes mistakes (even you!) and that sometimes you just have to let people down. 

If your partner is an Upholder: Don't expect them to break from their cherished schedules and routines. No need for supervision or reminders — if they’ve promised, it will happen. Be prepared for irritation if you don’t conform to their demands. Don't ask them to flout rules (such as jumping a queue). Help them by reminding them of inner expectations (‘You don’t have to do that’). 


You're not one for following rules, but that makes the Rebel a creative type, unfettered by the constraints of convention. You respond well to a challenge and thrive where you can work in your own way, but you can be infuriatingly intransigent, resistant to routines and hard to deal with.

Tips for Rebels: You don’t take orders well, so partner up with others to ensure tasks you don’t enjoy get done. Try not to resist when asked to do something. Don't let your resistance to norms become self-destructive or counterproductive. 

If your partner is a Rebel: Accept that Rebels work best when the Rebel is in charge. Rebels respond best to a sequence of information, consequence, choice. Give them the information, alert them to the possible results, then let them choose. 

Try using their spirit of resistance to get your way. Challenge them in a way that engenders a response of: ‘I’ll show you’ or ‘Watch me’. Incite them to act through love, a sense of mission or belief in a cause. Long-term relationships (work or romance) work best with an Obliger. 

This article was first published on Daily Mail and is republished here with permission.