A couple's compatibility is not an "all or nothing" aspect of its relationship. A couple may be highly compatible, completely incompatible, or at one of many points in between these two extremes, says Ellliot D. Cohen in the "Psychology Today" article, "How Compatible Are You With Your Significant Other?" The degree to which a couple is compatible is important, because it helps predict the long-term success of the relationship. You should consider several factors when assessing compatibility.
Shared Values and Interests
An important ingredient for a long-lasting relationship is friendship, says the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. To develop a solid friendship with your partner, you need to have shared interests, goals, beliefs and values. "Values" in this sense should refer to basic values, says Cohen: values that are at the heart of your core belief system. For example, the belief that it is wrong to commit adultery tends to be a basic value for most people. From this value, others values stem, such as whether a person who cheated in one relationship is able to remain faithful to subsequent partners. If a couple does not agree on the basic values, they are unlikely to be compatible, while disagreement on the derivative values may not affect their level of compatibility to any great extent. Shared interests are important, because a couple who spends time together doing things they both enjoy has more opportunity to strengthen their bond.
A couple's compatibility in an intellectual sense doesn't mean having the same IQ or mirroring one another's academic achievements or areas of expertise. Intellectual compatibility comes down to the ability to understand ideas, issues and dilemmas and discussing them in a stimulating, productive and mutually beneficial way. This may sometimes be referred to as being on the same "wavelength."
If you don't like spending time with your partner, your relationship is unlikely to develop into a happy, healthy long-term union, says Cohen. It may be difficult to pinpoint precisely what draws you to a person. It may be his smile, his ability to make you laugh or his thirst for knowledge. It's likely to be a combination of several mannerisms, habits and personality traits.
Sexual compatibility is a crucial component of a successful relationship, says sex therapist Margie Nichols in the article, "Post-Valentine Realism Part 1: Why It’s More Important Than You Think To Pick A Sexually Compatible Partner" for IPG Counseling & Psychotherapy. It's not important what kind of or how much sex a couple has, rather that they have a similar attitude toward and desire for physical intimacy. For example, a couple who rarely has sex but is happy, faithful and satisfied in their relationship is likely to be more compatible than a couple consisting of one person who wants sex all the time and another who has a very low sex drive.
- Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images