Author: Todd Baratz
Compatibility is not something that two people share without knowing each other. That is a similarity and not what drives a relational connection. The real information is in the interaction that occurs over time, not a set of fixed personality traits.
Compatibility, just like love, is something that is an ongoing co-created process of negotiation that unfolds throughout the duration of an entire relationship. It isn’t a sudden manifestation that occurs between two strangers on the first or second date. In fact, I would go as far to say that we can’t understand our true compatibility without an ongoing interaction. This is the difference between assumption and knowledge.
We all have expectations/hopes/fantasies for a partner; some people even have lists! Ultimately, these lists are a method of protection against pain. This is a reflection of the anxiety that arises when taking a relational risk and being vulnerable.
The fantasy revolves around the idea that we would experience more happiness and less pain with an individual who possesses certain characteristics from education and personality to facial features and height.
We don’t want clones, we want partners, teammates, and lovers. In fact, most of us pursue partners who are much different from us. The introvert often pursues the extrovert and the highly emotional individual regularly ends up with the more stoic.
Put down your pursuit of the elusive, ambiguous and unmeasurable experiences like compatibility. Instead, work towards fostering flexibility, self-awareness, and thoughtfulness. Work on co-creating these traits in the context of your relationship and respecting the other’s world and value system. Allow for differences to be the catalyst for mutual growth.
Todd Baratz is a licensed personal and couples psychotherapist, podcast host, and writer who specializes in relationships and sex.
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