Compatibility is essential, whether you’re just casually dating or already in a new committed relationship after coming out of an old one. It’s also helpful to get a good grasp on the topic so you can get a better idea of why things didn’t work out with your ex.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with people about their breakup that quickly morphed into a long-lasting retrospection concerning the incompatibility between them and their ex.
In fact, after discussing compatibility in relationships numerous times, most of the individuals I talked with couldn’t believe how fundamentally flawed their previous relationship was.
For instance, I had a client (let’s call him Mike) a few years ago that deeply valued loyalty and family, but his ex girlfriend did not. So when his relationship encountered hiccups regarding having a child, he had no problem making compromises and communicating his needs in a secure (non-needy) way. He wanted his relationship to work and was even prepared to pay for counseling, and therapy.
However, his narcissistic ex concluded that it’s easier and more beneficial for her to find a replacement behind her boyfriends back, just in case if things don’t work out the way she wants them to. So she did just that. Then one thing led to another, and she cheated with this new guy, and when her boyfriend found out, the whole thing turned into a cesspool of drama. The relationship was basically over at that point.
So with that in mind, the goal of this article is to give you a solid base understanding of compatibility and its effects on two people.
I just don’t want you to commit to someone new without the ability to determine if that person is even a good match for you. Because if they’re not, you may just end up like good old Mike, who got betrayed by his long term girlfriend.
Compatibility in relationships is a complex subject due to its multivariable nature and the fact that everyone perceived it differently. Some people define it in a broad and simplistic way, and others in a hyper-focused one.
For example, some would argue that compatibility is nothing more than an emotional connection that causes two people to feel passion for each other. And others would reckon that it refers to a match in core values and beliefs between two individuals. Then there are about ten other theories thrown in between the two extremes that overlap each other in several aspects.
I’m convinced that compatibility in relationships is slightly more intricate than what an average person accepts as truth. I Think of it as a pyramid with two levels. The first level contains attributes like values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices, while the second attributes like physical and emotional compatibility.
To keep your relationship spicy in the long run, you must be compatible with your partner, at least in the first level attributes. But do note that being compatible solely on the first level guarantees that the relationship will become dull at some point and, consequently, harder to maintain. That’s why it’s highly beneficial to be somewhat of a match, even on the second level.
However, don’t get me wrong, being a match solely on the first level can still result in a satisfying relationship. It’s not the most attractive option, but people still manage to succeed despite it. So don’t be discouraged.
Now, determining if you’re compatible with someone, or if you were compatible with you ex for that matter, is a tricky task. When it comes to dating, we usually notice the fundamental divergence we share with our date when it’s already too late. That is, when the emotional bond, which makes us fall in love, is already formed.
And the fact that this early love (also called obsessive love) that we feel when we start dating someone new overrides our logical thinking and makes us feel as if our date is far more suitable than they really are doesn’t help either.
And when it comes to toxic people, some are able to fake who they are for months. As a rule of thumb, a person you’re dating or seeing exclusively can pretend who they are for at least 3 to 4 months.
Primary compatibility in relationships
As said, for two people to be compatible in the scope of “primary compatibility,” they must share similar values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices — those three areas construct a solid foundation where a relationship or potential relationship can grow further. We can also say that primary compatibility refers to a similar alignment of values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices between two people.
In general, high achievers will date and be in relationships with other high achievers. Close-minded and unmotivated drunks will attract other close-minded unmotivated drunks, and people who value family life will linger around people who have the same mindset.
However, tension arises when two people have a conflict in one or more areas of primary compatibility.
For example, a reckless and overweight drunk and an ambitious award-winning fitness model probably won’t date each other, let alone have a relationship together. The same goes for a dead-set Christian who values commitment and family and someone who not only despises religion but want’s to form a strictly casual polyamorous relationship.
In general, the fewer core values you share with someone, the less compatible you are with them.
If you encountered conflicts in core values when you were still with your ex, you would feel as if something is missing in that relationship, but you couldn’t exactly put your finger on it. A usual indicator of incompatibility would be if you ever began to obsess about the grass being greener on the other side when you were with your ex. This indicator could further indicate that your concerns are not only in the realms of compatibility but also connected to unmet emotional needs.
Now since we’re on the topic of relationships, let me make one thing clear.
It is possible to make a relationship work when there’s a case of opposing values, but it isn’t easy and commands not only excellent communication skills but also great mutual effort and compromises.
For example, if you share opposing religious views with your partner, you still have to respect each other, and none of you should push their beliefs on to the other person. And believe me, that takes hard work, and firm boundaries to pull off.
Or, if you want three kids while your new lover doesn’t want any, you both have to communicate your desires and make compromises. Sometimes, that means having only one kid instead of three, and other times, it means having pets to replace your partner’s need for children.
I’ve seen the above kinds of compromises work, but sometimes an agreement can’t be made, and at those painful moments, a breakup up is the only solution.
Cuz’ God knows that staying in an unfulfilling and meaningless relationship fucking sucks.
But anyhow, you might wonder how on earth does compatibility in relationships (or incompatibility) pan out in real life?
Well, let me paint a picture for you with a concrete example of how values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices influence compatibility between a computer nerd named Joshua and a rebellious sports enthusiast, Veronica.
Joshua is a 30-year-old phlegmatic and a neighborhood hardware store manager that relishes programming and tinkering with computers. He spends most of his mornings playing with various cables and components of his dusty old 90s Macintosh, and in the evenings, he binge watches anime and cheesy superhero movies. He’s also a passionate book worm, fascinated by classic authors and modern philosophy. Now, Joshua doesn’t have a bursting social life — he doesn’t like socializing at all. In fact, he only has a handful of loyal friends and a dog. And if you’re curious about his dating life, well, it’s non-existent. Gasp!
On the other hand, Veronica is an extreme adventurer who loves gymnastics and the great outdoors. Her days consist of rigorous daily workouts and a strict vegan-based diet.
Unlike Joshua, she spends most of her weekends socializing, meeting new people, and taking on all king of risky adventures, which often involve sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Not necessarily in that order.
She’s also a natural rebel — a drifter who rides from town to town with a kickass Harley and doesn’t keep a steady job. One day, she works at a gas station; the other day, she’s a local motel receptionist. Any job — good or down and dirty — works for her as long as she can make her ends meet.
Just for fun, let’s put Simon in the mix. A confident and charismatic young religious nut who is considered a prodigy in his local town and spends his days submerged in his passion. He’s only 25 and is already composing Mozart-level melodies, which are played all over the world. Oh, and he can talk to snakes because he’s so unique, hip, and cool — at least he claims so.
Now let’s talk compatibility between our three characters.
If we put any of these young people together, they wouldn’t necessarily mash. Conclusively, hardly any romantic relationship could blossom between them because their values and beliefs and, ultimately, their whole lifestyles are so diverse.
And, yes, I decided Simon and Joshua are bisexual to make things easier to understand. You’re welcome.
Joshua is all about security and stability and is not used to these things called exercise or socialization. On the other hand, Veronica is in constant pursuit of freedom and uncertainty and is a true party hound. She’s also highly active compared to the other characters and the only one who prioritizes play over work. And then there’s Simon, who’s basically an astonishingly talented yet self-absorbed twat who has no idea about the weight and beautiful meaning of the mundane and simple pleasures of life.
The only time our three characters could be a potential match is when their values align, their beliefs begin to overlap, and their lifestyles find some common ground. And while they don’t need to become the same person to have a satisfying romantic relationship or an engaging dating scenario, they do need to become similar in various ways.
For example, Joshua could adopt more of a daring lifestyle and start exercising instead of watching movies all the damn time. Simultaneously, Veronica could realize that her drifter lifestyle is causing her more harm than good in the long run and so she could begin seeking security. Maybe she even starts craving to settle down somewhere — who knows! And Simon could recognize that he’s not all that special when it comes to anything outside his talent, so he could develop a more down to earth understanding of who he is.
SECONDARY COMPATIBILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS
Areas of secondary compatibilities, such as physical and emotional harmony, are needed primarily for excitement, be that the excitement on your next date or in a committed relationship.
As mentioned, having no secondary compatibilities results in a lackluster and excitement drained relationship, so it’s always best to match your date or partner on both levels of compatibility.
Let’s unpack these areas of secondary compatibility further.
Physical compatibility IN RELATIONSHIPS
We all have a type or at least a vague notion of what our ideal partner looks like. Now your ideals might significantly differ from mine, but you probably still have them.
It’s not PC to say this, but fuck it. It’s my article. If you want your fun dating life or a lasting relationship, you have to be physically drawn to the person you’re seeing, and it has to stay that way. But, there’s way more to physical compatibility than just looks.
Being physically compatible also means being sexually in tune. So if your date just doesn’t “do it” for you in the bedroom, you should try communicating your sexual needs to them or try out something new. Maybe a new position or simply moving into a new environment, so you’re not making hoopla in the same drab bedroom every time.
Emotional compatibility IN RELATIONSHIPS
Emotional compatibility or just chemistry is often portrayed as something unrelated to general compatibility, while in actuality, it’s only another area of it.
Chemistry is that deep emotional bond that keeps you and your date enveloped in excitement, and all the warm, fuzzy, teddy bearish emotions.
It’s chemistry that makes all the hours you spend with your date go by like seconds.
It’s chemistry that deludes you into thinking your date has the most seductive smile that you can’t take your eyes off.
It’s chemistry that causes your dopamine receptors to go berserk whenever you receive a text message from that one cute guy/girl you just met a few weeks ago.
Hell, it’s chemistry that makes your sex life so insanely great! And I don’t mean that in a small way. I mean that in a raw, ravaging, bed shattering, sweat immersed, condom breaking sex — the best kind.
However, there is danger in having high chemistry when you just start seeing someone new. As mentioned previously, people often assume that they must be fully compatible with their date since they have chemistry with them, which is rarely the case.
The surprising fact is that even though we have countless studies done on what chemistry is, we hardly know anything about what causes it.
Researchers say that it’s supposed to be a combination of sincerity/openness, complementary personality traits, and shared values (primary compatibility).
Let’s take a deep dive into all three of these fuckers.
Sincerity or Openness
It’s no secret that being vulnerable and transparent with your intentions produces a deeper emotional bond and makes you way more attractive when dating. Of course, it’s also going to contribute to high chemistry, especially when the person you’re seeing is also open and vulnerable.
Think of it this way; if you’re going to hold back who you are or cover all your icky insecurities and fears that can make you look weak, you will actually prevent yourself from forming any meaningful connection, aka chemistry with the other person. Therefore your chances of creating a relationship with them – or just having a fun time – will significantly diminish.
Interestingly, I’ve discovered that opposite (complimentary) personal traits cause chemistry entirely by accident when I was listening to Jordan Peterson’s lectures on Youtube one night. It was mind-blowing to hear his comments on the topic.
For instance, he mentioned how scientists proved that an introvert would most likely have great chemistry with an extrovert. Or how a person with high agreeableness would “click” with someone who has low agreeableness. Or how highly energetic and flamboyant individuals often mesh incredibly well with others who are more relaxed or reserved.
Let me give you even more examples to really distill this concept in your mind.
If your date is profoundly emotional and you’re highly logical, these clashing traits could contribute to heightened chemistry, and consequentially a higher mutual attraction.
Or let’s say that the person you fancy is a huge perfectionist and needs to have every hour of their day mapped out, while you’re more easygoing and rarely rely on a schedule. In this case, we could insist that you’re going to have solid chemistry with this person. At least when it comes to the aspect of complementary personalities, of course.
Now you might think, “oh no, my date is a total introvert like me! Our emotional connection is doomed!”
Just stop it. It’s not that big of a deal.
You don’t need to have the opposite personality compared to your date for chemistry to spark. Hell, you’re probably never going to have all of your traits complement theirs.
Look, if we assume that a) you’re compatible with your date on a primary level and b) you’re both, let’s say, neurotic and organized introverts, a great relationship can still blossom between the two of you.
What may even happen is that you realize that one of you is simply a more prominent, neurotic, and organized introvert than the other. Now chemistry can be even easier to obtain!
And if you wonder how you can change your personality traits, so they complement the ones that your date has, I have bad news. You can’t.
Traits like neuroticism, openness to new experiences, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extroversion are all genetically based, which means that they remain relatively stable throughout your life and can’t really be changed.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t even think about changing your core personality traits, especially not for someone else. Rather, work on accepting and owning them instead.
Shared values refer to the same ones you find in primary compatibility. They surprisingly, highly influence secondary compatibility, especially chemistry. That’s also why so many people view chemistry and compatibility in relationships as two separate entities.
As a rule of thumb: the more shared values you have with your date or just about anyone, the better your chances of having high chemistry with them are.
It’s as simple as that.
Shared hobbies and preferences
Another topic that gets thrown around a lot regarding compatibility is shared hobbies and preferences. People often ask me, “do you need them to make things work with your date?”
To be honest, you don’t need shared interests to make things work.
For example, I’m huge into reading books, while my girlfriend probably hasn’t finished one for over a year. Not even the old books I wrote! We also have entirely different food preferences that sometimes make us go and eat at different restaurants. I’m a big fan of heavily spiced, bizarre food, like strawberries on eggs mixed with noodles, while she loves plain food — the kind of monstrosities that are utterly devoid of any flavor.
And guess what, it’s not a big deal. We make it work.
While I read, my girlfriend watches youtube, and while I cook my yummy Saturday cheat-meal, I also prepare a separate meal tailored to her taste. And when it comes to my writing, she doesn’t even need to read it since we talk about it almost daily. I love to keep her updated on the new topics I’m researching.
This is how it always has been, even when we just started dating. And it’s the same with most couples out there. So again, you don’t need the same hobbies or interests to have a great time with your date or partner, even though it helps.
Are we ever fully compatible in our relationships?
Many coaches and experts on the internet preach how you can find the perfect person quickly and easily. You know, the 10 out of 10 ideal lover.
Look, I just don’t buy into that. I don’t even buy into the whole perfect companion thing. After being and following the whole relationship/dating/breakup industry for over 6 years, here’s what came to believe:
I’m convinced that no man or woman you meet will ever be fully compatible with you. And if you do, by some God-forsaken miracle, find a person who is a perfect fit today, there’s no guarantee that they will stay a perfect fit tomorrow. The truth is that, well, people change.
We let go of our old values and replace them with new ones.
We quietly cut off our old beliefs and start forming brand new ones.
We deprioritize some goals and prioritize other ones.
We expand, grow, and further develop our view of the world and every life area essential to us.
We even let pieces of our identity wither away as we simultaneously work on filling in the holes with fresh new ones. And some of us even learn how to repair a pulverized identity from scratch!
So there’s no guarantee that the 10 out of 10 lover you’re with today might be a good match tomorrow.