Some people are great at self-monitoring in social situations. They attenuate their behavior based on the social dynamic they are in, engage in impression management, tend to be concerned with the appropriateness of their actions, and adapt well to different social circumstances.
High self-monitors are often likeable and successful people, and highly desired romantic partners. However, a 2007 study showed that people who score high on measures of self-monitoring may seem desireable partners, but often they are less happy in their relationships and less committed.
Michael Roloff, one author of the study, suggests that a tendency to adapt their personality to fit different situations keeps them from letting their true selves out during intimate interactions with romantic partners.
Low self-monitors, on the other hand, are less likely to hide their feelings, and appear to be happier with their relationships and more committed. However, as Roloff points out, these people might be less diplomatic, they may say hurtful things, and studies show they tend to be worse negotiators and get promoted less at work.
Obviously, most people fall in a middle ground between these extremes, and have some aspects of both traits. It seems valuable, then, for all of us to keep in mind the trade-offs of being diplomatic and fitting in versus wearing all your thoughts on your sleeve all the time. Certainly some combination of diplomacy and bluntness can mitigate the downsides of both. Indeed, Roloff’s study points out that intimate communication and tendencies that enhance communication quality tend to improve the quality of relationships even for high self-monitors.