You HAVE to be compatible.
If you’re not, you’ll just get on each other’s nerves.
Could you imagine a lifetime with someone who doesn’t like the places you like to go, doesn’t like the foods you like to eat, and doesn’t laugh at the same things?
That’s why compatibility is so important.
That’s why online dating sites like eHarmony and OkCupid provide extensive personality tests to make sure you see eye-to-eye with your date.
There’s only one problem…
Happy couples aren’t any more compatible than unhappy couples.
Compatibility is overrated. What we SHOULD be looking for in our dream guy is something else entirely.
The Problem with Compatibility
For unhappy couples, compatibility matters.
Every fight they have comes down to fundamental personality differences. At least, that’s what it FEELS like.
If only they’d chosen a partner who thought like them, who wanted the same things. If only they’d ended up with someone who agreed with them on everything!
But here’s the funny thing…
Happy couples don’t think that way.
Happy couples believe that you MAKE a relationship work. You take what you’re given, and you work with it.
In short, we blame incompatibility for our bad relationships because it’s an easy scapegoat.
There’s no way this relationship could have worked, we comfort ourselves. We’re just too different.
But, in fact, what makes relationships work is WORK.
Happy couples build something together. They turn towards each other instead of away. They respect and appreciate each other. They’re warm and responsive.
Even Compatible People Change
That’s not the only reason compatibility is overrated.
Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship knows that people change.
You can marry someone, feeling like you’re compatible in every way. Five years later, you have nothing in common.
Our interests change. Our beliefs change. Our perspective on the world changes.
If what’s keeping you in the relationship is compatibility, then you’re going to want out. You didn’t sign up for this. You don’t like this person he’s become anymore.
Happy couples know that you have to work at staying in tune. It’s okay if you don’t like the same things. You can find room in your relationship for both of you.
Better than Compatible
So compatibility is a red herring.
We THINK it points us to our perfect mate.
But actually the qualities we should be looking for are the ones that aren’t quantifiable.
- Does this person have qualities I admire and respect?
- Can we build something together?
- Can I support his dreams? Does he support mine?
- Does our relationship feel like a relationship between equals?
- Does he notice how I’m feeling and support me in a way that feels good to me?
There’s not an algorithm yet that can nail down the qualities that take a couple from a match to a perfect first date, let alone guarantee happily ever after.
It’s up to you to find out whether you can love each other the way you want to be loved. Liking the same stuff pales in comparison.