The Truth About Compatibility’s Importance in a Relationship: Hint – It’s Not Much
Wednesday September 13, 2017

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“You May Have The Greatest Bunch Of Individual Stars In The World, But If They Don’t Play Together, The Club Won’t Be Worth A Dime.” – Babe Ruth

What versus How.

On paper compatibility can be a deal-maker.

In reality, while you may both love France or the architecture in the city, or strolling along cobbled streets, if how you treat each other isn’t healthy, supportive or loving, the doors to a strong and worthwhile future together will not open.

If two entities align: schedules, beliefs, age, culture, work ethic, the assumption often is a match has been made. After all, we have online dating for not just potential partners, but for potential business connections (Bumble), platonic connections (Meetup), all designed with algorithms to determine with whom we might be best compatible.

However, there is one significant, and vitally important component that is left out of such an equation and approach to meeting someone for any purpose in which you hope to work well together: How you treat people, and most importantly, how you treat those individuals of value, let alone strangers who you will not benefit being thoughtful to, in your life.

In a recent article by Verily, the argument was made that what individuals have in common is not what is needed to maintain a healthy relationship in the long-run. Yes, it will bring you together initially, but what will keep you together, keep you wanting to be together, is how you are together.

It’s the idea that how you’re together matters far more than what you’re doing together. It’s this “how” that determines whether the relationship is going to thrive. —Michael Fulwiler of The Gottman Institute

In other words, on the surface, in your Instagram pics or images shared on Facebook you depict a couple who enjoys travel and explores the world speaking a variety of languages together as you are both curious about the world. What is not shown in the pictures is how the couple treats each other.

I recently heard this quote, and felt it fit well with the concept of compatibility not being enough for a fulfilling life: “You can make a lifestyle out of a life but not a life out of a lifestyle.” In other words, each of us must have a healthy, fulfilling life that works well for us whether or not we are in a relationship, as should the person we wish to be in a relationship with. And when we choose to step into a relationship, no matter how supposedly compatible or incompatible we may be, knowing how to be kind, thoughtful, honest, loyal, dependable, and emotionally available is what will build a bond or crush any chance of growth as a couple.

The term unity rather than compatibility is the term in which the Verily article asks readers to focus their attention. How we deal with the incompatibilities we have will determine the health and quality and thus the duration of our relationships.

Below is a list of “how”s to consider being aware of as you let go of worrying about how compatible you are or are not:

~Respond to bids of affection

In this post/episode of the podcast, emotional intelligence is examined and unpacked, and a component of being emotionally intelligent is recognizing bids from our partner (a text, a loving look, a thoughtful gesture, etc.) and responding to them in kind, offering  a recognition and reciprocation of affection. Studies have shown that relationships in which partners respond more often than not to bids of love have successful, healthy relationships.

~Be kind

No matter how angry, no matter how frustrated you become, refuse to throw a low-blow. In other words, as someone’s partner, you have the privilege of knowing their vulnerabilities, their passion projects, their weaknesses, etc. and no matter how hurt or pained you may be, never resort to attacking their Achilles’ heel.

~Focus on a project together, just you two

An emotional connection will deepen when both partners are invested in the same goal. The energy put into such a project signifies the investment into the relationship, creating moments, experiences and opportunities to celebrate solely together.

~Give what your partner needs

Whether it’s learning their love language, understanding what would make them feel supportive even if it doesn’t make sense to you or respecting their need for time alone (I appreciated Jenn Granneman speaking about how she and her partner (both introverts who work at home) agreed on one night a week in which each would have time alone in the house), making the effort to understand and change in such a way regarding behavior toward your partner that reflects your desire to make them happier is a tremendous “how” when it comes to interaction. Trust is built, affection is seen and the emotional bond grows stronger.

~Be honest and trustworthy

Seemingly obvious, but a telling “how” when it comes to behavior reveals the level of respect we have toward our partner and they us. As well, how valued they are in our lives.

As I grow into myself and life as well, coming to understand the recognize the components of life that cast a great weight of significance on the quality of life, I am drawn more and more to individuals who are kind, thoughtful, aware not only of the world around them but how their actions and words affect those around them. Such qualities are more attractive than any fit male model on the cover of Esquire will ever be. Why? Because it’s how one lives their life, exists and interacts with others that will ultimately determine the quality of their life and thus the quality of their relationships.


~Romantic Love: What Is It & How to Maintain it

~Why Not . . . Stop the Pursuit?

~18 Red Flags to Pay Attention to in a Relationship | The Simply Luxurious Life

8 thoughts on “The Truth About Compatibility’s Importance in a Relationship: Hint – It’s Not Much

  1. Hello Shannon, so true. My husband is the most caring, supportive and loving man and I consider myself fortunate to be married to him. Wherever we go in the world he treats people with respect and if he can help someone he does so. I swell with pride when I see how people respond to him. We are rarely apart but we have our separate friends and also appreciate one another’s need for time alone. Best wishes from the UK.

  2. I completely agree Shannon, however shared interests — or least a willingness to participate in a parter’s passion – is an important factor. For example, I love to travel (and do often) and want a partner who does too.

  3. What a great post. So simply put but so accurate. My husband and I are high school sweethearts so we have been together now for almost 30 years. After reading your list I can say that we abide by each one of those and it has made for a wonderful life together. I look forward to our next 30 years!!!

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with this. I remember my dad years ago telling me that couples put too much emphasis on what they have in common, when it’s shared values that matter (and my dad is one of the smartest people I know, so I paid attention to this). It has proven to be so true in my own 6 year marriage. My husband and I were friends and started dating after we spend months training for a couple of races together. He no longer runs, and if that had been the foundation of our relationship, we’d never be as happy as we are. It’s nice to have things in common, but it’s not the most important part. I also love the part about giving your partner what they need (and especially learning about love languages, which was a revelation to me when I learned them, and is something I still focus on all the time with my husband and others). I’ve heard it referred to as the Platinum Rule … do unto others as THEY need you to do unto them. Because what you perceive as love or kindness is not necessarily what demonstrates those things to someone else. It’s about stepping outside of what you’d need in a given situation, and realizing what your partner actually needs from you.

    Thank you as always for such a thoughtful post.

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