Personality Blends – Part 3, The Tricky Blend (Melancholy/Phlegmatic)

I spend quite a bit of time thinking about melancholies. In fact, pondering the blends answered a question that has danced in my head for years . . . literally. But, before I explain that, let’s talk about why the melancholy/phlegmatic is a tricky blend.

Other than the little bit of melancholy blend my husband has, there aren’t many melancholies in my immediate family. My mother, who lives in another town, is this blend as are a few of my friends. So, because I don’t get to observe melancholy/phlegmatics on a daily basis, it takes me longer to understand them.

Some of the nicest people I know are this blend. When the sensitive nature of the melancholy meshes with the unobtrusive phlegmatic you get a genuinely kind person. They really care for others and make time to listen, anytime! They may not be most driven of personalities (due to the phlegmatic), but the melancholy side helps them accomplish things in life.

Blending the laid-back part of the phlegmatic with perfection-seeking melancholy is one of the things that make this blend “tricky”. Recently I was talking to a friend of this blend. She said that she constantly struggles with time:  her laid-back phlegmatic side battles with her time-sensitive melancholy when she needs to be somewhere at a certain time.

From the outside looking in, I think that the relaxed nature of the phlegmatic does drive the high-standard character of the melancholy a little crazy. However, the opposite is also good: the relaxed nature of the phlegmatic helps tone down the perfection-seeking side of the melancholy.

Since this blend comprises both the introverted personalities, they are a natural blend. This means that they are often a 50/50 split between the two. From what I’ve learned talking to people of this blend, a 50/50 split does foster the inner struggle between being relaxed and achieving perfection. However, what really stands out to me about this blend is that the task-oriented melancholy inspires the phlegmatic side to accomplish things, and the phlegmatic helps the melancholy relax and enjoy life.

Now, I want to talk about that long-time question I’ve had about melancholy people. Over the years I’ve noticed that, despite being the most sensitive of all the personalities, they are not always outwardly sensitive to others; some are and some aren’t. Well, the blends finally answered that question for me. It seems to me (I don’t have any scientific data proving this) that whatever trait is second to melancholy is what determines the way the sensitive side is manifest.

When the secondary trait is phlegmatic, a melancholy exudes sensitivity. All the melancholy/phlegmatic people I know are sensitive to others because of the relational influence of the phlegmatic. However, when the secondary personality is choleric, the sensitivity is turned inward. The melancholy/choleric blend wants people to be sensitive to them, but they don’t show it as much to others. The task-oriented nature of both those personalities usually reigns supreme. They aren’t bad people, but they are wired to accomplish things . . . they often show their sensitive sides by doing for others.

I hope that, instead of confusing you with this tricky blend, I’ve given you a tool to understand others. Maybe it explains a few things about you. If you are this blend and have insights to share, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

©2011 Shona Neff

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 11:00 pm and is filed under Personalities: Four-Part Series, Personality Stories - Melancholy, Personality Stories - Phlegmatic, The Personalities - Let's Learn!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


23 Responses to “Personality Blends – Part 3, The Tricky Blend (Melancholy/Phlegmatic)”

  1. Marina Says:

    Hello Shona!
    What about the melancholy/sanguine blend?

  2. admin Says:

    Good question, Marina….there isn’t a natural melancholy/sanguine blend. I’ve seen people who test out as this blend, but they are usually acting with a “learned” behavior either in the sanguine or the melancholy. These two persaonlities are such opposites that they are not a natural blend like the sanguine/phleg would be or the sanguine/choleric would be.

    This is a very in-depth topic. For someone who displays a sanguine/melancholy blend it is easy to pinpoint why and they can start exploring why they display the “learned” behavior and work it out. Sometimes people inlist the help of a therapist to help them understand what are learned behaviors vs natural behaviors. AND, sometimes when people test this blend on the test, it is a matter of retaking the test and really concentrating on what comes naturally and what behaviors are learned.

    Again, great question, but the answer can be quite deep and require a different venue and someone who is qualified in the area of counseling to really explain well.I hope, though, that for a very basic perspective, I’ve answered your question as to a sanguine/melancholy blend and why I don’t have a post on it.

  3. lm119 Says:

    Have you written a post on the phlegmatic/ melancholy blend?

  4. ScorpioMan Says:

    Hi, Shona. I really like your article about this temperament blends. All I know is that I am a phlegmatic type of person, but I really don’t have any idea about my secondary temperament. I just saw this and realized when I read your post right here that I kinda have this blend. Ü

  5. ScorpioMan Says:

    Mostly, I wanted to set back and relax but then I sometimes get preoccupied by some scheduled task that I have to do and I find it very difficult to manage myself on when to do those things. Its just wanted to feel comfortable, but I can’t. If ever that situation arise, I just force myself to do the task even if against what I want just for the sake of “getting it done”. Then, relaxation comes after.

  6. ScorpioMan Says:

    Oh, I’m sorry for some error in my grammar there Ms. Shona. I think it’s quite obvious now that I am a person living on the other side of the world.

  7. Andy P. Says:

    I test as a 60/40 Melancholic-Phlegmatic. I struggled with my identity for a long time, which I believe was largely due to the struggle between the laid-back phlegmatic and the driven melancholy within me. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve actually come to grips with the components of my personality.

    As an example, the relational phlegmatic in me wants to be friends with anyone, and loathes conflict of any kind. Yet, it only takes a little prodding before my melancholy establishes a lifelong grudge against those I feel offended by. A little more prodding will yield all of the anger my melancholy can muster. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to control this.

    I do tend towards perfectionism, but probably not as much as a non-phlegmatic blend. My phlegmatic definitely makes me more apathetic about certain things, especially in situations where I don’t want to make waves. When I’m fully engaged creatively, I’m the only person I feel I can trust.

    Despite having a doubly introverted personality, I tend toward positions of leadership. I deliver the announcements at my church on Sundays, and I have developed a knack for it.

    The bit about myself that I find most irritating is my tendency towards not completing projects. I have so many that I’ve only started. If I were to complete any of them, not only would I be so much happier with myself, I would probably have accomplished my dreams by now.

    At any rate, great article. I feel like it helps me to come to grips with who God made me. Thanks!!

  8. lm119 Says:

    Hi, I wasn’t able to locate any blog posts on the dominate phleg. with mel. being secondary. I’ll keep exploring. :)

  9. admin Says:

    lm119, Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I sent you a message via my FB page.

    Andy P. I’m glad you stopped by and found some enlightening information. I’ve had people share the same struggle about being laid-back and driven at the same time. They have similar issues….wanting to get things done, but fighting with that phleg part to accomplish them. The best thing is just what you expressed…coming to grips with your personality and who GOD wants you to be.

  10. lm119 Says:

    Thanks Shona, I got your fb message.

  11. nascarccmgrlfan Says:

    This is how my mom tests. She’s shy and I know she appreciates my mouth at times. When we taught a girl in our church’s girl’s club was one of the times my mouth helped my mom. I could talk to the girl better than my mom could. My dad’s quiet, too and sensitive. He’s some phlegmatic blend, probably.

  12. admin Says:

    Nasgirl, I’m glad you stopped by this post. It truly helps when we understand others’ personalities. I know it helps me with my relationship with my mother…she is a mel/ch blend. We don’t share any personality types, so it helps me to understand her personality when she does things that totally do not make sense to me. You may experience the same thing with your mom. I hope my information continues to be helpful :)


  13. Richard Warkentin Says:

    I always thought that I was melancholy, but in the past 10 years or so, I have seen many more phlegmatic traits. I can be very sensitive to others, but my phlegmatice side seems to be rude (or at least is intgerpreted to be rude or sarcastic) when I am trying to be funny or lighten up a situration.

    I am working to be kind and straightforward “at all times”, but sometimes my phlegmatic “joking” side comes out.

    My wife is a choleric/sanguiine/melancholy who often is seen as phlegmatic by cholerics because in general, cholerics supress her sanguineness.

    is this trait something that you have encountered in your studies?

  14. Haritha Says:

    That made a wonderful read… Nice article dear!

    Although, before I stumbled on this site, I had always knowm am a blend of melancholy and phlegmatism but this site gives me a broader perspective of the blend…

    When I just got to know about ‘temperaments’, I classed myself melancholic but I knew I wasn’t as perfectionistic as a pure melancholy is said to be. Although introverted, I also crave for peaceful co-existence because chaos/conflict can make me loose my inner peace. Am also a good listener and counsel alot. People(either close to me or not) readily comes to me for advice and also easily trust me with their problems but I, on the other side does not feel confortable sharing my inner thoughts, sometimes because I do not think anyone will eventually be of help and other times because I see it as a burden to those I may want to share it with.

    I am very emotional but when it comes to expressing it, I lost it and that makes my friends and family always conclude that I do not care which is not true at all. Still on emotions, I cry, infact often but if I don’t tell you this, you’d probably never know because I do this while alone. For example, if something worth crying over, happens on a saturday and no personal space to express that emotion(by crying), I don’t mind saving my tears till the third day and I will do when I finally gets a private space for it and being a sensitive person yet slow to snap can make me really moody and sometimes make me wanna take vengeance but the phlegmatic side of me balances that and I soon forget about it and therefore, not a grudge bearer or as vengeful as a pure melencholic but if eventually I have to snap, those around me do not call it anger, they often use the phrase ‘in rage’. At that ‘snapping’ moment, even a choleric will doff for me 😀

    It’s not very often people qualify to invade my garden of friendship although am not critical of those around, infact, it’s an open door but you will be surprised at my answer when you ask me to rate the numerous ‘friends’ around me and I tell you none is actually considered a friend by me but ordinarily, these ‘friends’ would never guess because I will treat them as best as I can(although, they still complain I don’t really care but I do).

    I am very apologetic and in some cases, am not on the wrong side, yet I apologize just to avoid starting up a conflict. Prove yourself worthy and I will trust you but betray it and I will never trust you ever again because by betraying my trust, I would be so deeply hurt and will take a very long time to recuperate and that will also affect other people as I may not trust them readily with the fear of history repeating itself.

    I’m also very passionate and especially about things I choose to do and so, love to research and know it about detailed and that’s why I hardly compromise or should I say ‘stubborn’ and hardly can anyone or a different view change my mind about that thing because I would have devoted enough time for research, analyses, pondering etc to have arrived at that conclusion but here, phlegmatism comes in again by making me agree to compromise ‘if’ anyone has a stronger view about that thing and can prove mine wrong beyond every reasonable doubt either by dialogue or arguing.
    NOTE: I argue(but hardly) to set things right unlike cholerics whose arguement are based on asserting ‘dominance’.

    I could go on and on because I watch myself closely and tend to understand myself but those people aroung me thinks of me as difficult to understand. everyone seems to have different words or phrase to describe my personality. My sis uses ‘complicated’, mum uses ‘mysterious/weird’, dad uses ‘highly principled’, and et cetera.

    A long story I guess, but if I must write at all, I have to be detailed and I can only hope you enjoy reading it… Cheers!!!

  15. admin Says:

    Richard, thanks for stopping by. I apologize for not approving your comment sooner and for not responding.

    You bring up some really interesting scenarios. Yep, the phlegmatic can have a very dry sense of humor and come across rude at times….my “rudeness” tends to come from opening my mouth and inserting foot because I don’t always think. I, too, am working at improving that unattractive trait. lol.

    As for you wife, without knowing anything about specific situations, I will say that a stronger choleric will “out choleric” one that is not as domineering in their trait. You often see that in a couple where BOTH people have choleric as their primary personality.They tend to butt heads until they learn how to work out their relationship personalities. I hope that provides you some insights.

    Again my apologies for not responding sooner.


  16. admin Says:

    Haritha, thanks for stopping by. Sorry it took me so long to respond and approve your comment. I truly enjoyed reading your comment. I found myself nodding my head as to what you shared. Indeed you sound very much like the pheg/mel blend. You and I have much in common and it’s always exciting to have personality observations confirmed (and to know that we are in good company).

    I hope you’ll visit often and share your insights and personality reality. It is fascinating to see how the personality traits manifest themselves with each individual :)


  17. Pam Says:

    Hi Shona, enjoying reading your blog! I love to study personalities, and found a lot of help in reading Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus a number of years ago.
    I am commenting here because I have been looking and looking for something on the Melancholy/Sanguine blend. I test about half and half. I constantly feel like I am wrestling with myself. For example, I constantly am torn about what to wear. I hate being late but often push tasks to the last possible minute and then I’m late for appointments. I do look carefully at where \I park my car, but generally forget and get lost by the time I get back to the parking lot. It’s crazy. I love classical music and also hard rock. I love parties and having fun with people but feel so stressed about everything going perfectly that I can’t enjoy myself.

    Both my parents were/are choleric. I am an oldest child, with 5 younger siblings. Now 39 years old, (with two kids and Phlegmatic/Sanguine husband) I am struggling with depression and other issues and trying to find some answers. Though I am not expecting any sort of counselling or direct help, of course, I would be very interested in any other insights you have or theories about the Melancholy/Sanguine blend. I have taken the test a few times, and I am approximately 45% Melancholy, 40% Sanguine, and 15% Choleric, though I don’t feel putting exact numbers on it is helpful…but just for ease of communication here. Lately I have been acting much more Choleric, but I think it is frustration and anger.
    Any ideas? Thank you for all your work in this area; it is sorely needed!

  18. admin Says:

    Pam, thank you for stopping by. Sorry for not replying sooner.

    That is great that you read Florence Littauer–I studied under her and she is so knowledgeable and a great teacher. The one thing that stands out to me about what you shared is that you test as a sanguine/melancholy blend. Seeing as those are very opposite personalities they are not a natural blend. Usually a melancholy blends with a choleric or phlegmatic. Usually when someone shows as a mel/san blend they it is because of learned behaviors manifesting themselves while the REAL behaviors are laying dormant. That could explain why you acting more like a choleric…that COULD be the real you.

    I’m not a counselor and am basing what I say on the snapshot you shared about you and what I understand about personality blends. It could be that a little more exploration into WHO you are and how growing up with TWO choleric parents affected you would be beneficial. What sometimes happens with multiple cholerics in a household is that stronger cholerics will “out-choleric” those who are not as intense. Does that make sense?

    A choleric child growing up in a home with TWO choleric parents is, more than likely, going to be “out-cholericed” by them. The natural tendency is often to supress the choleric within which is what can lead to the learned behavior I mentioned earlier. This gets kind of complicated, but if anything I say seems to hit home with you, it could be a starting point to understanding the source of your recent frustration and anger.

    I hope that helps :)


  19. Andy Says:

    Hi Thankyou for the gr8 artical.
    Quite a number of years ago i stumbled accross some books by Tim Lahay dealing with personalitys. I even sat his test. in1996.
    it turned out i am 70% Phleg & 30% Mel the only problem being as Tim pointed out it all depends on how I felt about myself at the time of the test.
    Now and again during a LOW in my life I revisit the test results and yep thats why & off I go again.
    My two biggest issues are
    1.Myself very hard on judging my self & at times dont like myself ,however , every person asked has said i have such a caring beautiful gental personality & just fit in to any situation.( strange for some one not liking themselves hey)
    strangly enough being a male getting into a relationship is so hard for me its weird.
    2. My Work..I am a plant operater in earth moving now fear of failuer or making a mistake is so strong it wreaks Havik but the strang thing is i am a very talanted man round earth moving machinery, takes me time to learn how to operate the machine overcomming low self confidance but the perfectionest trate makes me a skilled operater.
    so there u have me ,if you can understand my twist
    disovering that at times the personality combination both helps & makes life hard particualy valuating myself.

    Thankyou for the fantastic artical.

  20. admin Says:

    Andrew, thanks for stopping by. I love Tim LaHaye…he is full of insights in many areas. He may actually be the one who got Florence Littauer interested in the personalities….she is the one I studied under. Anyway, you sound like a true melancholy and your friends are totally right if they see you with a ‘caring beautiful, gental (gentlE?) personality”. I have a couple of melancholy friends who are hard on themselves, but they full of a beauty that they often don’t recognize. Hitting on your perfectionist tendencies…that is what make employers often LOVE LOVE LOVE melancholy peopele…attention to detail and a job done right!!

    Thanks for stopping by!


  21. chinonye Says:

    Hey Shona
    I ve finally discovered what temperament I possess. I’m a melphleg, although I do not know if its the 50-50 blend or 60-40 blend. I struggle with criticism of others and myself, but I love to play with people and act all goofy. I tend to keep grudges by giving the silent treatment, but even at that, I’m dying inside for the other person to talk to me first.
    In religious matters, I tend to turn it into one journey of perfection-seeking that I cry at the slightest display of imperfection. I am trying my best to accept the good, bad and ugly in my life.
    My sister tells me I’m very nice, caring and emotional. I also have the tendency to depend on others for love and acceptance.
    I wanted to ask, the dependency on others for love and acceptance, is it a trait associated with the melancholy alone? Can it also be a phlegmatic trait? Thanks so much!

  22. shona Says:

    Hi Chinonye, sorry for the delay in responding….my job has kept me busy for way too long.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I loved your transparency about the “silent treatment”. Not having much melancholy in my own personality, I love those little insights.

    As for you question about dependency and acceptance, the ‘acceptance” part is very much an emotional need of the sanguine personality. The “dependency” part is a little less easy for me to speak on. From what I know, I don’t believe that any one personality is prone to being dependent, so that make me think that it is a result of environmental factors. Not an expert in the counseling realm and you may get a more satisfying answer going that route.

    I hope that helps…a little :)


  23. chinonye Says:

    Hi Shona
    You are so right about my seeking a counsellor that will help me make sense of the dependency for love and acceptance in my life. You are also right about my environment leading to my acting out that way cos I grew up in a family that was kinda dysfunctional in some ways.
    Thanks for your input. I truly appreciate it!

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