There are numerous articles written on the “top 10 signs you and your partner are compatible” and the like. Most include a superficial list ranging from “you’re attracted to each other” to “you share interests.” Personally, I don’t find these types of articles helpful. Rather, there are very substantial elements that comprise a compatible partnership, and that’s what we’re talking about today.
What is chemistry in a relationship?
In Western society, chemistry is considered the catalyst for the relationship, while compatibility is the glue that holds the relationship together. Having chemistry without compatibility will make for a strenuous relationship full of conflict, and having compatibility without chemistry will leave you craving more. One cannot be present without the other for a relationship to flourish in the long term. Furthermore, chemistry without compatibility can be a ticking time bomb. These relationships begin rapidly and passionately, and all of a sudden, you find yourself too far in when you realize it's an unhealthy situation. Don't fall victim to this – allow your head to catch up to your heart. Allow your head and your heart to guide you in your relationship.
What is compatibility in a relationship?
Compatibility is the foundation on which you build your lives together. It comprises your lifestyle, worldviews, beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior. Compatibility will allow for a harmonious relationship where big decisions will be easier to make because you and your partner are "on the same page." Individuals with matching life priorities are able to share goals and push each other in order to achieve those goals.
How can you determine compatibility in dating?
You need to look at your partner's lifestyle, including habits, hobbies, diet and exercise, work-life balance, social life, and personal worldviews, beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior. Let's take a deeper look into each of these factors.
When you are compatible with someone, you will experience similar lifestyles made up of habits, hobbies and interests, diet and exercise, work-life balance, and social activities. Lifestyle can be described as how you spend your daily life.
- Hobbies and interests
- Diet and exercise
- Work-life balance
- Social activities
Habits are rituals and behaviors that we perform automatically, for example, are you in the habit of staying up late and binging Netflix, or going to bed early with a book?
Hobbies and interests include how you enjoy spending your free time. While it’s healthy to have your own individual interests and hobbies in a relationship, having some shared interests is generally a good thing and can bring a couple closer. For example, if you both enjoy sports (whether your sport is tennis and his is cycling), you both can have the option of learning a new sport together or teaching each other your own specialty.
Diet and exercise are important in determining compatibility. For example, if you are a passionate environmentalist vegetarian who only buys local, organic, non-GMO, fair-trade, pesticide-free, chemical-free groceries from Tom at the co-op, I doubt you will want to date a Monsanto employee with a hefty diet of beef-stuffed hot pockets. Jokes aside, I’ve found that healthy, fit individuals have much higher compatibility with fellow healthy, fit individuals. Health is a major factor in determining the quality of your life, and your partner should share your positive, healthy lifestyle, not grind against it.
Work-life balance is another factor that can directly impact your compatibility. If one partner views his or her career as a top priority and pours all of his or her time and energy into it, while the other partner values family and relationships above all else, there will be friction. It’s important to be on the same page with what's important to you and how you spend your time.
Finally, social activities impact compatibility in specific ways. If one person values alone time with his or her partner, while the other partner values weekends spent at social gatherings and with friends and family, there will also be friction. For example, I prefer to spend quality time alone with my partner while he really enjoys being around all of our friends and family 24/7. It wasn’t a dealbreaker but it was something we had to talk through and make compromises on.
Personal worldviews, beliefs, values, attitudes, and behavior
When you are compatible with someone, you will experience similar worldviews (a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world), beliefs (ideas you hold to be true), values (what’s important to you), attitudes (how you treat others and approach situations), and behaviors (how you act).
It’s important that you share a similar worldview, otherwise known as your outlook on life, your mindset, or your philosophy on life. For example, my partner and I both have very similar outlooks on life. We believe we are both here on this planet to heal, grow, and contribute to humanity in any way that we can. Because of this shared philosophy, things just fall into place. He understands when I want to go to a 10-day Vipassana, and I understand when he spends one night a week volunteering at a school. It’s a philosophy that is the undercurrent of everything that we do.
Beliefs are ideas you hold to be true. An example of a belief system is your faith or religion. This is especially important when you want to raise children together. Ideally, you should agree on topics that will comprise your future family’s core values. For example, if you want to raise children in the Greek Orthodox Church, and your partner is part of the New Age movement, there may be an issue. My partner and I are both very spiritual, and we would like to raise our children in this environment so we are both on the same page.
Values are what’s important to you. Examples of values include career, wealth, and family. It’s essential that similar values are held between both partners in a compatible partnership. This may mean that both of you agree that family is the most valuable thing in the relationship, and therefore, family will always be prioritized above work and everything else. You may also have similar outlooks on how to handle money and what “wealth” looks like.
Attitudes are how you treat others and approach situations. An example of attitude is the level of respect with which you treat people, whether it be friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers. Have you ever ended a first date quickly because you noticed a level of disrespect with how your partner treated the waitress? This would be an example of having different and non-compatible attitudes.
Behavior is how you act. All of the aforementioned funnel into your behavior. Your worldview, beliefs, values, and attitudes all make up your identity and your behavior. You will notice that compatible partnerships include partners who have similar behaviors because they are in alignment with these other components.
As you can see, compatibility isn’t a black-and-white subject. There are many layers and depths to the subject. While you begin your dating journey, you must decide which factors you are willing to compromise on, and which will be dealbreakers. However, knowing this information upfront will give you an advantage in the dating arena. It will guide you and help you make better decisions. You’ll be able to say ‘yes’ to a second date, not just because he has a dreamy smile, but because you both share core values.
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