in Philosophy

Love and Compatibility

About two weeks ago, I had a discussion about love with my friend Tara about love, and it’s launched me into considering it a bit more lately.  Then today in my blogroll, I saw this article pop up from Psychology today, which threw a wrench into my thoughts to say the least.  If you don’t want to click on the link, it’s entitled “The Truth About Compatibility.”

The main point of the article is that we tend to give compatibility too high of a place in our priorities for finding love.  Here are a few quotes that I found especially enlightening:

“There is no such thing as a compatible couple. All couples disagree about the same things: money, sex, kids, time. So, it’s really about how you manage your differences. If there is chemistry, then the whole courtship is about convincing yourself and others that you are compatible. But, really, you create compatibility. And then, eventually, maybe in 25 years, you will become soul mates.” —Diane Sollee, founder and director, Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education

“People might agonize and think, Do we have the same likes and dislikes? But people are not aware of how powerful self-fulfilling prophecies are. We have expectations in a relationship, and we tend to make them come true. The most satisfied couples are those with overly rosy views of each other.” —Lisa Diamond, assistant professor of psychology and gender studies, University of Utah.

These are both very interesting takes, and put that way, I can’t help but think that they are probably right.  I mean, what are the chances that someone will agree with you on everything, and yet not share most of your faults as well?  What’s more is the question, do you really want someone 100% compatible?  When I really examine the question, I realize that having 100% compatibility would be undesirable.

A relationship should be a non-zero sum situation.  Each side should be able to augment the other.  As one person from the article put it:

“People assume compatibility as a baseline requirement, then want more. “I want him to fit in with my family and do all the things I love to do—and he should be sexy, and he should take me out to cool places.” I think you can have an even more fulfilling relationship if you respect each other’s worlds, and learn a little bit from each other. I always think of the phrase, “You’ve met your match.” You really do want someone who challenges and spars with you.” —Nancy Slotnick, dating coach, founder of cablight.com

Challenge is the right word.  Sparing can conjur negative images, but I think it’s apt too.   You become better at something by overcoming.  I think a ‘Significant Someone’ would be there to help you along, press you, and face hurdles with you.  Compatibility no doubt plays an important part, especially in the early stages, and perhaps in a different emphasis that what we usually give it.  Over-all, though, perhaps there are more important things.

Love is truly complicated.

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