Is Compatibility Something That Can Be Learned Over Time?

There’s a lot that goes into making a relationship work. For some people it comes naturally — they have the same hobbies, habits, and sometimes even the same friends — and the relationship just flows. But for some, compatibility is more tricky. You may not want to admit it, it may be so buried under passion that you’re not even seeing it, but it matters. When there’s a spark, an X-factor, or just plain old uncontrollable lust, it can be easy to ignore the elephant in the room — that you just aren’t compatible. One of you needs constant attention, the other one is an introvert who always wants their space. Only one of you wants kids. Your jobs mean you’ll never live in the same country. There’s so much that can get in the way. Let’s face it: falling in love is easy, finding someone who you’re actually compatible with is a whole lot harder.

But what if you’re not? What if, despite the fireworks, you’re just not compatible. Can that change? Or do you just need to admit defeat and let a relationship go? “Compatibility is one of those things that you need on some level to make it through the long haul,” Matchmaker and dating coach Karenna Alexander tells Bustle. “Having compatibility when it comes to inner qualities — like one’s values — is the most important thing. Hobbies and surface characteristics — like vacation preferences or decor preferences — are less important. However, what is more important than compatibility is emotional maturity and ability to compromise. Even if you start off very compatible, things change throughout the relationship. You are always having to make compromises, no matter how compatible you are with someone. So I think one’s ability to compromise and one’s emotional maturity are better predictors of whether a relationship will make it.”

So as long as you can agree on core values and, crucially, you both can compromise, then compatibility can happen over time. But if you aren’t compatible from the start and you can’t seem to meet in the middle, you’re going to run into some trouble.

Here are some tips for compromising, because you want to give your relationship the best shot it can have. But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle’s Sex and Relationships podcast, I Want It That Way:

1. Communication Is Key

dating

Communication is key to everything in a relationship, but especially compromise. If you’re disagreeing, make sure to talk about how things make you feel rather than point out what your partner is doing wrong. Try “I” statements, rather than “you”. But mostly, try not to get defensive or angry. Take a deep breath and stay calm.

2. Try Some Role-Reversal

dating

I don’t mean literal role play, but just try actually removing your own feelings and thinking about their point of view. It can be easy to be dismissive of someone else’s needs or wants if you feel strongly about something, but compromise can only come from being able to entertain their point of view for a while.

3. Know When To Admit It Isn’t Working

dating

Lastly, you don’t want to be bulldozed. Compromise means meeting in the middle — if you’re the only person “compromising,” you’re being taken advantage of. No matter how much spark you have, relationships are more than that. And they’re supposed to improve your life rather than be a constant cause of strife and endless refrain of “trying to make it work.” Know when to let go. There’s other stuff out there.

Originally posted on Bustle