I’ve been thinking a lot lately about compatibility and the role it plays in intimate relationships. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I haven’t lost the belief that love and passion are important themes in a committed relationship. Notice I used the term theme and not foundation. I’m a realist as much as I am a hopeless romantic and I’ve been through enough experiences to know that love alone is not enough to sustain a relationship.
I guess that’s where compatibility comes in. Of course a person wants to get along with their significant other. They desire congruent personalities, prefer to have things in common, would like to share most beliefs, and have aligning future goals. Often, though not always, when a person transitions from young love to mature love (and suffers a few heart breaks) they tend to trade passionate relationships for relationships with people who may not necessarily make their hearts race but who they are compatible with. This automatically disqualifies anyone who fits outside the box this criteria creates. Even if the two obviously like each other and want to date. The logic is “So-and-so and I don’t get along. So we can’t date.”
While I understand the pseudo wisdom behind this thought process I have to say that it is, in my
not so humble opinion, a crock of shit. Now before any readers give me the side-eye allow me to explain why.
Compatibility is a basic foundation, but what will make or break a relationship is the willingness to compromise and put in work. I’ve seen plenty of (what I thought were) mismatched couples maintain long-lasting healthy relationships. What I observed is that these couples both respect and appreciate the differences between them. They are, after all, individuals. There is a lot of patience, compromise, and sacrifice needed in order to maintain such a relationship. I’ve even been in the situation myself. I’m currently involved with someone who I can’t imagine myself at all compatible with. And yet our interactions are some of the most pleasant I’ve experienced. We have enough awareness to understand and shy away from the things that would cause conflict between us. And we have the ability to effectively communicate through any misunderstandings that can’t be avoided.
My point is that people tend to use the excuse of compatibility in order to 1) be able to remain in their comfort zone or 2) settle, or both. Much of our personal growth is developed through our relationships with others. It’s all too easy to stay in our comfort zone, to interact with those who take us completely “as we are” without requiring much work on our parts. In those situations we don’t even have to try to change for the better because they don’t offer much opportunity for us to–they are too comfortable The true test is to be able to love a person who demands that we step outside ourselves, and to make a relationship with them truly work. After all, our relationships are what we make them.
So whenever a person says to me that they won’t under any circumstances get involved with someone they aren’t compatible with I see a person who, more than likely, has no real desire to change the things that put them at odds with others. Nor do they have the desire to put in the work needed. As I stated earlier, it’s easy to settle for the things that allow you to keep your habits.