Compatibility is one of the most important elements of any relationship. And it is only by accurately assessing compatibility that you can figure out what the right type of relationship is and what the right relationship arrangement is between yourself and another person.
Simply put, compatibility is when two things are able to exist or occur together in a state of harmony and without conflict. If two things are compatible, their co-existence is beneficial and ads to the wellbeing of each of them. Incompatibility is when two things cannot exist or occur together without creating conflict and without being a detriment to one or to both of them.
To understand more about why it is so incredibly important to consider compatibility in your relationships, you can watch two of my videos. The first is: Incompatibility, a Harsh Reality in Relationships. The second is: Accept Incompatibility to Avoid Relationship Hell.
One of the most common misunderstandings people have about compatibility is that they confuse compatibility with sameness. What I mean by this is that people assume that they are compatible to someone if they are the same as that person. For example, if they have the same interests, opinions, strengths, likes and dislikes, goals, personality, priorities, beliefs, ambition, passions, philosophies etc. This is not true. Compatibility is more complex than this. Two things being the same might spell compatibility or two things being the same might spell incompatibility. Likewise, two things being different might spell compatibility or they might spell incompatibility.
To give you some simple examples of differences that could spell compatibility or incompatibility, if one person in a relationship wants to have a lot of alone time in a relationship and the other wants a lot of together time, this is a difference that is incompatible. If one person in a relationship loves to cook but hates to clean and the other likes to clean but hates to cook, this is a difference that is compatible. If one person values personal development and change the other values stability and likes things to stay the way they are, this is a difference that is incompatible. If one person likes to be dominant sexually and the other loves to be submissive sexually, this is a difference that is compatible.
To give you some simple examples of sameness that could spell compatibility or incompatibility, if two people have the same religion, this could be a similarity that is compatible. If two people want to be the one in charge of their environment, this could be a similarity that is incompatible. If two people both love dogs, this could be a similarity that is compatible. If two people struggle with intimacy, this could be a similarity that is incompatible.
Now that you can understand in a simplified way how both differences and similarities can spell either compatibility or incompatibility, let’s look deeper at how similarity can imply incompatibility. For this, I will give you a couple of examples from real life. Greg and Melissa are both completely into fitness. Their life revolves around it. It was a big deal to both of them to meet someone who was just as committed to staying healthy and in shape as they are and who will become a work out partner. At face value, they seemed to be very compatible in this way. But Greg is a gym rat who loves weightlifting. He is a big believer that loading calories in the morning and working out at night gives the best results. And he spends 3 hours at the gym every night. Melissa is a runner. She loves to get up early and go out and catch the sunrise. She wants a partner to run with. Even though they both love fitness, this similarity between them leads to constant conflicts. They hardly see each other because their work out schedules are opposite. And Melissa is just as deeply dissatisfied when she joins Greg to do weightlifting as Greg is when he tries to go running with her.
Jennifer and Nora are both super achiever personality types. They are driven, ambitious, disciplined, precise, demanding and love being the center of attention. They were very excited to meet someone else who is like them, especially because people have reflected to each of them separately that they are too hard to get along with because of the way they are. Given this similarity, Jennifer and Nora could have been compatible as allies who sometimes spend quality time together, exchange ideas and resources, and make each other feel “gotten”. But Jennifer and Nora decided to start a business together instead. And because of their sameness, in this arrangement, they ended up in constant conflicts. Each wanted to be in the number one position. Each wanted to make the executive decisions and so each one fought for the other to be the one to make compromises. They both wanted the glory and the limelight, so they both felt the other was in their way rather than being supportive. They both gave underhanded compliments to each other when talking to associates and clients. The entire relationship became a complex power struggle. And when they decided to go their separate ways, Jennifer ended up trying to sue Nora for intellectual rights. Obviously Nora lawyered the hell up in response to that and they went to war.
One of the biggest issues that you will run into if you don’t recognize that compatibility is different than sameness, and if you don’t see that sameness can spell incompatibilities, is that you might end up in relationships where you have nothing to offer someone and they have nothing to offer you. When this is the case, you might not end up in conflicts, but it will feel like you contribute nothing to a person’s life and they contribute nothing towards yours. It feels like this because you both offer the same things in a relationship. And sometimes, the most compatible relationships are those where people offer different things in a relationship.
There is a transactional element in every relationship, whether it is a business relationship, a relationship with the government, a romantic relationship, a friendship, or a familial relationship etc. A transaction at its essence, is nothing more than an energy exchange. It means each person receives something and each person provides something. What makes a transaction a good one, is if each person gets something that is valued. And value, especially with regards to what we value most, is based on what that person needs and wants. A person has to need and want something to truly value it. Therefore, it is usually more difficult to value something you already have an abundance of.
Sameness can lead to a weak transactional element in a relationship. To give you an example, Sean and Lydia are a power couple. They are both very successful people in their own lives. Because of this, they have the same things to offer in a relationship. For example, they offer status, luxury, novel experiences, high energy levels, travel, exclusivity, VIP treatment, respect, entertainment, business savvy, access to resources, impressive contacts, motivation etc. But because they have the same thing to offer, neither of them feels the other really brings something of value to act as magnetic pull between them in the relationship. Lydia doesn’t value the financial power that Sean brings to the table because she already has enough to last a lifetime. Sean doesn’t value Lydia’s high energy levels; his own energy level is so high that he just feels like he is burning the candle at both ends. And in the relationship, the struggle is always whether what Sean needs for his success or what Lydia needs for her success should be the priority. All too often they end up deciding that both should be the priority and so, instead of supporting one another’s success, they just part ways to go pursue their own respective success alone, but with the support of other people rather than each other. They are alone in the relationship with one another.
In reality, Sean would be much more compatible with a woman who valued him for what he brought to the relationship, but whom could offer things like nurturing, support, admiration, relaxation, deep conversation and someone who would be happy making her life about supporting his success because she felt that doing so made her feel fulfilled. In reality, Lydia would be much happier with a man who valued her excellence. A man who could commit to being her ‘safe place to land’. A man that would enable her to achieve her goals, a man who would want to be available to her whenever she needed him, help her to slow down when she needs to slow down and who would be very physically affectionate. To understand more about this, you would benefit by watching my video titled: Be Consciously Transactional (Why Every Relationship Is Transactional).
What you should be going for is a relationship arrangement that is symbiotic. When a relationship is truly symbiotic in its compatibility, it enhances the wellbeing of any and all individuals in that relationship. And as such, you don’t become preoccupied with needing or wanting the other to change into something else in order to be able to feel good in the relationship.
Compatibility is really about seeing the reality of yourself and the reality of someone else, so that you can accurately assess what the right type of relationship is between you and them and what the right relationship arrangement or configuration is between you and them. For this reason, it is important to not confuse compatibility with sameness. Because sameness could in fact imply incompatibility.