You THINK you’re compatible with him.
You like the same things. You can hang out together and have fun. You have great conversations.
But you do have your differences.
Maybe he’s more introverted than you are. He doesn’t like to spend as much time with other people.
Maybe he doesn’t treat money in the same way. He spends too much, or not enough.
Which kinds of compatibility matter most?
Is it okay not to be compatible in some things if you’re compatible in others?
Compatibility is in the Eye of the Beholder
There have been a lot of studies done on what makes relationships last, and some of them come up with interesting findings…
Like the fact that it helps if you and your partner share the same chronotype, which means you’re both either “morning people” or “night owls.”
If he sleeps in until 10am and wants to stay up all night, while you’re going to bed at 9pm because you’ve been up since the early hours, you can end up losing out on quality time together.
But more often compatibility is in the eye of the beholder.
If something matters a lot to you, you’ll want a partner who can share it with you.
If you care about politics, you’ll be happier with a partner who shares similar political views.
If you value new experiences, you’ll be happier with a partner who can be adventurous with you.
You want to feel compatible in the ways you care about most.
Unhappy couples don’t think they’re compatible.
That doesn’t mean they’re not compatible—it means that they’re not getting along, and they’re blaming it on a lack of compatibility.
That was the conclusion of a study done by Dr. Ted Huston at the University of Texas, who found that both happy couples and unhappy couples were equally compatible by his measure.
The unhappy couples were the ones who made a big deal of compatibility, because they didn’t think they had it.
Okay, But Aren’t Some Couples More Compatible Than Others?
With that being said…
Knowing that “compatibility” is a matter of perception, and it’s not make-or-break…
Which areas of compatibility make the biggest difference?
The answers might surprise you.
When you’re from the same background as your partner—you have the same level of education, you belong to the same religion, you grew up in the same area, or you’re from the same ethnic background—your life is made a little easier.
You have a large body of experiences and beliefs in common.
You can talk about something, and he will instantly know what it is. You won’t have to explain it.
When he understands who you are—because he’s been there himself—you feel a kindred connection. This is someone who gets you. This is someone who sees the world like you do.
2. Fighting styles
Every couple fights.
But some couples emerge from their conflicts feeling a bit better, while others feel worse than ever.
If your arguments make you feel awful, one reason may be incompatible fighting styles.
One of you may be more aggressive and louder than the other, believing it’s more important to get it out rather than mince words.
One of you may feel that the best way to deal with conflict is to smooth everything over and forget it happened.
One of you may be more analytical and tend to overanalyze everything, whereas the other person just wants to move on.
We learn these fighting styles by watching how our childhood families dealt with conflict. That fighting style comes to feel normal to us.
Then we grow up, and we end up in a relationship with someone who handles conflict in a completely different way. It feels unnatural and wrong. It’s not what we’re used to.
Now, when you argue, you’re not just arguing about the topic. You’re also arguing about HOW you argue.
Couples can find a middle ground, but it’s hard work. It helps if their fighting styles are compatible to begin with.
3. Relationship paradigm
All of us have our own personal viewpoint about what relationships are all about.
Some think that relationships are about two people hanging out together and having fun. Others see relationships as a spiritual connection between two souls. Still others see relationships as a part of the journey towards getting married and forming a family.
Your relationship paradigm not only includes what you think the purpose of a relationship is. It also includes what you think the role of each person is.
Is it the job of both parties to equally support each other? Is it the man’s job to bring in money while the woman takes care of the home?
When you meet someone for the first time, you don’t know anything about his relationship paradigm. All you know is whether he wants something “casual” or something “serious.” That doesn’t tell you much!
Relationships work best when both people have compatible views about what a relationship is for and what the role of each person in the relationship should be.
So don’t worry if you like to eat the same things or listen to the same music. It’s okay if you’re completely different types of people.
What matters is that you feel like you understand each other, because you share a similar worldview; you can resolve conflicts, because your fighting styles are similar; and you want the same thing from your relationship, because your expectations are aligned.