Relationship Boot Camp

How to find a satisfying relationship and increase its chances of longevity

Sorry eHarmony, Compatibility Is Overrated

Compatibilty can be an overblown parameter in relationship formation

Allen was an rather ordinary, stable, steady accountant. He did most things in a nonthreatening average manner. He met Jen who was truly a "wild child." She was a party girl who had danced in clubs, dressed provocatively, and had been sexually promiscuous. They hit it off, much to their friends surprise and amusement. Years later, they are still happily together,

Sorry e harmony and all those matchmaking sites, which bring couples together based on compatibility. Haven't we all heard that in reality, very often, opposites attract? Many are absolutely bored being with a partner that mirrors their interests. Often, many prefer people who compliment their preferences and interests. Sometimes, we marry the person we want to become. Like the example, the stoic accountant marries the vivacious, extroverted party girl who in turn likes the stability and calm he provides.

After you have become interested in someone, you may wonder, "Is this the person for me and how compatible are we?" Those who maintain opposites attract wonder if it even matters. Lack of compatibility is the chief complaint of many who seek marital therapy. Those who have marital dysfunctions usually see themselves as not being able to share happy times. When people complain about compatibility difficulties, they often are indicating that they are not getting enough quality love. Their love-wells are not filled, and they need a gusher to replenish themselves.

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When is the best time to decide whether you are really compatible? This is a difficult question since most don't know what to ask. After all there are really many different ways in which couples can be compatible. Here is a partial list of important parameters: conflict resolution, sleeping, spending money, r3ecreational, spiritual, eating, and pastimes. I would suggest these issues be faced as you consider a serious commitment and when it's a time of peace between you. This isn't material you want to bring up if you are fighting with one another.

What do you do when there is disagreement? Some say compromise which is the basic reason many don't want to be in a serious relationship As, Dan said...."I don't like doing what I don't want to do ½ the time." You have to be direct and be able to negotiate these issues with your partner. A person who passively acquiesces to be what they thought to be loving, can later evolve into a persecuting, resentful complainer

Paradoxically, for people to be compatible, they need to expect and tolerate being incompatible at times. Aren't all long term relationships flawed? Couples will disagree, and need to not make more of this. Some have the idea that in relationships two must become one, but if two become one, who or what is the one they become? Conflict is an indication to them that something must be terribly wrong. Minor irritations can then be blown out of proportion and not seen in perspective. How you learn from the past and look for solutions to problems is often more crucial than initial compatibility.

Kate was worried that Hank did not love her anymore. He had not cleaned his dishes, put away his dirty clothes, or made love with her for a week. When she asked, he said he had not missed her when she had been gone the previous night. When she called him at the office, he acted perturbed and asked her what she wanted. He had told her he was late for a meeting. She silently held the phone, and he hung up. She aggressively confronted him and saw her concerns discounted and herself labeled insecure and childish by her husband. A cold war which lasted months ensued. Neither after a while knew why they were so angry, but the hostility continued.

There are many areas in which you can be compatible. You can have similar backgrounds, socio-economic status, communication patterns, religion, education, age, and hygiene, eating, resting, sexual, and recreational habits. All these can be important for different people at various times. However, most appear to spend more time complaining about discrepancies in communication, sexual, free time pastimes, and perhaps surprisingly, sleeping habits.

Dr. Gerry Heisler is a clinical psychologist with 38 years of experience as a clinician and assistant professor who has dealt with relationship issues.

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