How aligned you feel with someone’s interests, goals, and motivations, can be a predictor of your relationship compatibility. This is how easily you and your partner interact and navigate challenges together.
Romantic compatibility is a complex concept. At its core, it’s all about shared traits and interests that allow you to coexist with minimum conflict.
Romantic compatibility can also involve many aspects of your life. There’s:
- physical compatibility
- intellectual compatibility
- spiritual compatibility
- emotional compatibility
You may be more or less compatible with your partner in some of these areas. Ideally, you find common ground in all. But what makes a long lasting relationship may go beyond compatibility.
When it comes to signs, when relationship compatibility is high, you’ll likely feel as though the partnership is effortless, says Kevin Coleman, a licensed marriage and family therapist from Columbia, South Carolina.
What makes it feel effortless can vary, but a 2022 study with participants from different countries suggests some traits are key, including:
- openness to experience
According to Dr. Cheryl Fraser, a Buddhist sex therapist from Duncan, British Colombia, common signs of relationship compatibility include:
- team playing
Another important sign of compatibility is “the willingness to ‘let you do you’ and to let go of the need to be the same person,” says Fraser. “Because you are not. And that is what makes life, and love, interesting.”
Can you love someone and not be compatible with them?
You can love someone and not be compatible.
Fraser explains love and compatibility are not the same. “I’d define ‘love’ as a feeling, an emotion, an inner experience that for the most part excludes the other person — as odd as that sounds,” she says.
You can love someone and they may not love you back, for example. Likewise, you may be compatible with someone in the absence of love.
Compatibility may make the practice of love easier, but Coleman states he would pick love as the more important of the two.
“A lack of compatibility can be overcome if you work at it, but a lack of love will usually end a relationship,” he says. “So compatibility is an optional component of a relationship, while love is necessary.”
You can improve compatibility, says Fraser, because it’s a choice between two different people to find a complimentary, common ground.
She gives the example of the extroverted, adventuring cyclist and the introverted, book-loving antique hunter.
While they may sound incompatible at first, their relationship may still work because they meet in the middle through shared intimate moments and acts of thoughtfulness.
“The next morning I’m up at dawn climbing into my biking gear,” Fraser talks through the scenario. “I kiss you softly goodbye and leave a steaming cup of tea on your bedside table.
“And when I drag my bruised, sweaty, happy self home, you present me with a tiny antique bicycle crafted from simple, twisted bits of scrap metal that you found when you pawed through a box of junk in a dusty, windowless shop.”
If you’re looking for actionable ways to improve couple compatibility, Fraser suggests:
- creating a new shared interest you’d both like to explore
- scheduling time for both individual interests and shared goals
- celebrating and supporting your partner’s solo interests
Fraser also notes that it’s important to understand that differences don’t necessarily mean incompatibility.
It’s OK and natural to be different people with varying interests. Emotional security may be more important.
Irreconcilable differences may be the true “deal breaker” when it comes to relationship compatibility. For example, wanting versus not wanting children or only one partner expecting monogamy.
Relationship compatibility may involve innate components like spirituality and physicality, but it’s also a choice partners make to find a common ground when minor differences exist.
You can improve couple compatibility through displays of curiosity and thoughtfulness, as well as the support of shared and individual interests.