How do you know if you are compatible (enough) with someone to continue dating?
Let’s say you reached the first 6 weeks or so and you are debating making it more long term. This is the window of opportunity. Do the soul searching and relationship searching rather than ignoring things right now.
Gottman talks about deal breakers and how that is usually how we determine whether we stay or go. There are many people we could work out with, but if someone is doing something that is a deal breaker for you, you exclude them from the pool of potential partners.
What are your deal breakers? List them and hold true to them. Don’t move them or adjust them at all, because, by definition they are deal breakers. Don’t forget that they can be cumulative as well. They have to make sense to you, not the other person.
Get to know and love yourself better than you do right now and watch what happens with your intuition. It will “feel right” to people who know themselves well. You will not accept subpar behavior from someone because you are better off single.
Some people do the Enneagram, 5 languages of love book or the myers-briggs. All those help you understand yourself and your motivation. That can help if both people are interested in knowing themselves and being able to share their “owner’s manual” with a potential match.
Consider what you do for fun in the winter and in the summer. Does that match your partner in a way that is complementary? Can you each learn from one another or do you hold your differences in contempt and judge one another? That is huge with compatibility.
How well do you communicate? If you are constantly bickering, is it based on communication which can be learned or is it based on power plays and trust or is it stylistic or is it based on your core values? Each one of those needs a different response. Be honest with yourself and them. Is one of you direct and the other indirect (very common)? If so, learn the other person’s style and make necessary adjustments both ways and both people. IF you disagree on basic values, like different political parties, it is possible that you will not get through that without excellent communication skills. You are likely going to repeat the same gridlocked conversations if you each care about it strongly. If one of you is power playing, it will warp the overall system of communication. Go see a counselor to see if they can help level the playing field and get both parties to a better, more effective level of communication.
Sometimes one person is more interested in processing information, feelings and sharing deeply from within, able to be vulnerable and intimate. If the other person doesn’t match at all, think of the long term consequences of that.
Are you talking about future plans, not committing but at least knowing about 5-10 years from now some ideas.
Things change all the time but if one of you is a definite, is the other willing to accommodate? Are you able to negotiate the changes in a way that works for you? When you disagree, are you able to do conflict in a way that works for both of you? As long as you match one another, that is the goal.
Does your humor match? IF you enjoy sarcasm, does your partner? Do you like puns or hate them and try to make them stop? Are you a Monty Python fan and your partner doesn’t get the jokes or doesn’t think they are funny? Those things matter later on. Pay attention.
Do you match one another’s intensity of spirituality or religiosity? Don’t necessarily have to be the same religion but if one of you is devout, the other person being atheist might not work for you.
Do you have feelings about people who have feelings? IF you consistently tell them they are wrong for feeling intensely… IF you are going to be on them for not having feelings and they remind you that they were this way when you met them…
How about someone who does not trust themselves to make a decision. Where would you like to go to dinner? I don’t know, where do you want to go? Trusting yourself and your decisions is a big deal to some people.
Are you a sex drive match? IF one of you is really interested in being sexually active on a regular basis and the other person does not have it as a priority, that tends to go poorly after awhile. Can you both easily talk about sexuality and preferences? Are your styles and preferences compatible? Would you be willing to do the sexual style inventory in the book Hot Monogamy?
Money, attitudes about money, how to spend and save and how much to make and what place does it have in your life- big conversations and potentially dealbreakers for people. There are interesting codes and “tells” that people use. Imagine someone talking incessantly about their travels and they are signaling that they only go to the best places, the best countries, the best restaurants and hotels, the best airlines, then say they don’t really focus on money much. Ummm
Or the person who says that each person can make the amount of money they want by just adjusting some choices, as if there is no system, just individual choice. That says a ton about their relationship with money and power. Imagine someone telling you how you should do your money within a few dates…
How much do you trust yourself and other people? Do you easily attach and reach out? Do you hide from people and why? Do you know your attachment style (read the book “Attached” and the quiz within) and the style of your partner and the implications of that interaction?
Do you feel physically and emotionally safe with your partner? Would they stand up for you if you were in trouble? Do they take advantage of people or tell stories of how they use and abuse people? They will do it with you eventually, if that is their style. Do they believe in transactions or relationships?
How well do they reassure themselves when needed?
How well do they reassure you? Do you ask them to reassure you about a certain thing- like where were they when… or am I imagining things or did I notice…
If they cannot reassure you at this point, you might be hesitant to continue. Go ahead and teach them and see if they can learn it.
Political differences right now, especially, say a lot about people. Our politics tells others what we hold dear and what we fight for and what we vote for, what kind of place we would like to leave to our children. Go for multiple issues, not just one to learn more about them
With conflict, are you loud and in one another’s face (both of you) and if so, are you comfortable with that style? OR are you avoidant and both comfortable with avoiding? Each has significant drawbacks, right? Ultimately, what is your comfort zone and are you constantly expanding your comfort zone? Do you both have the skills, ability and willingness to do healthy conflict when it is obviously necessary?
How much do you like to process things and ideas and feelings? Do you match on this and if not, can you not match and not judge one another?
Travel- define it first. How much? How much, time, money, effort, resources spent in preparation and actually doing it? National, local, international? What is the motivation? Self guided or tours? Learn about one another and really see if you synch up. Some people would travel all the time and others would never travel outside their town. Do you match or are you close enough to learn from one another?
Anxiety and depression and other mental illness- most people have stress or sadness and many also raise to the level of it being clinically significant. It interrupts a part of their life or makes their life a little harder because they deal with it. Be honest with yourself about needing help and outside assistance, maybe counseling and self help, maybe medication or non medication treatment. If you have anxiety, please know that it definitely affects your partner. IT is contagious, they can feel it and they will like it better if you get it treated. Same for the other mental health concerns.
Sleep schedule is important- when and how do you sleep. Do you snore? Do you address issues when you find that you have issues or do you ignore them? IF you snore, did you get a sleep study? Do you snore loudly enough that your partner will avoid you?
Weight- if you just gained 10-20 lbs with no sign of addressing it, that is considered not fair to many people. You are not taking care of your health and that is not okay in healthy relationships. Any aspect of your health affects this other person.
How you eat can affect others- not just slurping food, but being a vegetarian, a healthy eater, a vegan, keto diet etc affects others around you. I’m not saying you have to stop, but you might want to have some conversation about this before you go much further. Ask the motivation and how it might impact the two of you.
How active are you? Describe it rather than label it. Some people are very active in the summer and when the winter depression comes, they gain weight, eat unhealthy and never leave the couch. Some are never active and others are sports enthusiasts on several teams and in perfect shape. What impact does this have on your relationship?
What might it have long term?
How open are you with secrets and your past? Yes, you can be too open and over share information, as well. If you do not share at all, that can be an issue for the other person. Talk about why you do what you do so the other person can understand you better.
What are you expectations for relationships? In general and this one… Be specific so that there are fewer surprises and no guesswork, if possible.
Are you able to be vulnerable with yourself and with others? What does that look like to you? What about your partner’s style?
Lastly, if you are trying to change your partner, get yourself into counseling now. Stop doing it. Changing someone is not your job and it makes for lasting resentment. Accept yourself for who you are and accept them for who they are.
They will change and we cannot predict in which direction. If you do not like who they are now, it is time to leave the relationship not hope they can change enough to please you. That is not usually how that works.