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How to Approach Relationships When You're a Type A Personality

While identifying as a Type A person may be seen as favorable in some contexts (think work, barre class), it can also have negative effects on your relationships. Find out when Type A becomes a nuisance and learn how to deal.

Having a Type A personality typically describes how a person can handle and deal with stress. And science proves, Type A people feel more stress, more often than other personality types. And the stress may be generated from surprising sources.

The determination of what defines a Type A personality was outlined by two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman, M.D., and RH Rosenman, M.D., to describe why some patients in their hospital were more anxious in the waiting room than others. They initially studied this type of human behavior to correlate anxiety and heart problems — the first indicator that Type A can be a high-strung group of people.

According to Simply Psychology, Type A people are commonly:

  • Self-critical
  • Very competitive
  • Feel a constant sense of urgency
  • May be easily aroused to anger
  • Can become impatient easily

Type A as a buzzword
Type A is spoken about in an almost endearing way at times. A recent article by Huffington Post opened with a line that nails it, "We use [Type A] in conversation all the time, generally followed by a knowing chuckle or nod of the head. Type A has become a pop psychology buzzword and catch-all descriptor for the more driven, anxiety-prone go-getters among us."

Type A can be labeled as a trait that makes you a good worker, and assertive person, someone who pays attention to detail. Which are all seemingly attractive characteristics, but be careful, it's not always a good thing. Why? These characteristics can be challenging to harness as an individual. Let's be honest, some of the traits (easy to anger, impatient, self-critical) aren't favorable. They can be challenging to deal with as a friend, partner, family member or co-worker of someone who identifies with Type A characteristics.

How Type A can affect relationships
Being Type A stresses people out, and Type A people can sometimes project their stress on others. Not everyone is as detail-oriented, obsessive, competitive or relentlessly perfect as a Type A person. Holding everyone to the same standard of perfection can be exhausting for both the Type A person and their loved ones. Type A people also have a tendency to be quick to anger, which is unexpected from those with a more relaxed personality. Being too Type A can come off as hostile, and hard to understand. Most importantly, it can put critical, tempermental people in unfavorable positions with those they're looking for respect from, which may add unwanted stress in everyone's life.

A person who is confrontational and anxiety-ridden isn't always the most fun to hang out with. Distinct characteristics of being Type A should be observed, understood, and fine-tuned.

Managing your Type A personality
If you're the anxious, impatient type in question, here are some quick tips for managing your stress levels and keeping the peace.

  • Learn how to say no – The more you have on your plate, the more stress you will be giving to yourself. Know your limits. What is a manageable amount of projects, and commitments you can handle while still giving yourself a bit of free time? Balance in life is especially important for Type A people.
  • Listen to music – According to VeryWell, music is a stress relief trick for Type A people that takes very little effort. Slower-paced music can slow you down and allow you to relax.
  • Exercise – This could be one of the most calming practices of all. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.
  • Let things go – Cut things out of your life that don't matter. Give forgiveness when others aren't living up to your standards. Try to find a bigger picture when small things get in the way. It's OK if your friend was a little late to lunch. This is a hard item to grasp, but working on it little by little will help in the long run.


In a nutshell, yes, being Type A can affect your relationships. Learning to harness the energy that creates a Type A personality can improve your outlook on life and help you live a more calming life.

Megan Wells

Megan Wells is data journalist and digital content editor based in San Francisco, California. Wells currently focuses on personal finance, mortgage, and lifestyle content. Wells' work has appeared in publications like Fox, Nasdaq, MSN, and Motley Fool. Wells also spoke at the 2015 Exceptional Women in Publishing conference.

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