Man and woman smile in camera as an example of compatibility in a relationship

What is Compatibility in a Relationship and How to Nurture it

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by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023
This article has been reviewed by Laurel House, an eharmony relationship expert. The content has been checked for accuracy and legitimacy based on the qualifications of our expert prior to publication.Reviewed by Relationship expert Laurel House

It’s that nebulous advice that seems to get thrown at you constantly when you’re single, ‘You need to find someone you’re compatible with if you want it to last’ But when it comes to romantic compatibility, relationship advice can be a little more complex.

This is the person you’ll be spending the rest of your life with. This will be the face you’ll fall asleep and wake up to every day. So the question of, are we compatible, could never be more important. Over the course of our 20+ years eharmony has been in the relationship business and we are experts when it comes to the topic compatibility so let’s take a look at this complex notion. 

Compatibility and its meaning

In a nutshell, romantic compatibility in a relationship is a healthy and sustainable connection built between two people over some time. We cover it in a lot of terms like ‘Are they right for me?’, ‘Are we clicking? ‘ and ‘Is this the person I pictured myself ending up with?’ But they’re all the same notion.

While many aspects of a healthy relationship can be cultivated, such as putting aside time for each other, mutual appreciation and acts of affection, relationship and marriage compatibility is often a much deeper component that can’t be manufactured.

There are various innate psychological factors to compatibility that we will explore in more detail as the article continues.  Compatibility is vital to any romantic bond as it fosters understanding while reducing conflict, and contributing to an overall sense of relationship satisfaction, which are the key ingredients in a lasting and meaningful partnership.

Core shared values in a relationship: How aligned beliefs strengthen relationship compatibility

Core values are essentially our belief system regarding the basic nature of things. Beyond romantic relationships, they are the fundamental principles that drive your life.

So it should come as no surprise the pivotal role core values play in compatibility within a relationship. Some examples of core values in a relationship include communication style, intimacy and how you build trust, amongst many other factors. 

While you should share some key core values from the offset of a relationship to give your matching a better fighting chance, there are ways in which compromise can play a role and contribute towards attaining shared values in a relationship. However, certain core value differences can often prove insurmountable and will consistently hamper growing relationships.

Emotional intelligence and compatibility in a relationship: Understanding and managing your emotions together

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ (emotional quotient), is a vital tool in building successful relationships both romantical and generally in life. It involves how well you understand and manage your own emotions as well as your ability to understand them in others.

Once again, this is something you generally need to be on the same page about for you to find genuine compatibility in your relationship, but there are ways to improve emotional intelligence.

When looking at compatibility and its meaning, emotional intelligence is that part of your relationship where you’re able to reasonably intuit your partner’s reaction to certain things, such as how you manage your time around them or the tone you use when communicating. It can also help you pick up on growing issues from your partner’s side.

Love languages and relationship compatibility: Speaking each other’s language

Love languages are fundamental pillars in the establishment of healthy romantic compatibility in a relationship. There are 5 general love language categories:

  • Words of affirmation – How you express intimacy and gratitude to your partner.
  • Physical touch – This isn’t just bound to the sexual dynamics in your relationship. It’s also about how you physically engage such as hugging, cuddling or just an encouraging shoulder squeeze.
  • Acts of service – This is doing things in a relationship that may not be your direct responsibility but help ease your partner’s life.
  • Quality time – Take time out of your day and schedule to spend with your partner without the outside world getting involved.
  • Receiving gifts – You don’t have to go buy a heart-toting teddy bear every day but small gifts, like a coffee, can help show you’re thinking of them.

Conflict resolution: The art of disagreement in a compatible relationship

Here are some key strategies for dealing with conflict resolution that can help enhance your relationship dynamics and build a stronger notion of compatibility.

  • Communication –  Try to really hear and understand your partner’s perspective before you respond.
  • Empathy – You have to also put yourself in their shoes to truly understand a conflict more three-dimensionally. 
  • Blaming language – Express how their actions affect you rather than using ‘you’ blaming language which can often further inflame conflicts.
  • Compromise – Find a common middle ground on which you can agree and from there, find mutually respectful resolutions.
  • Forgiveness – You need to let go of past grievances and resentment.
  • Understanding – You won’t agree on everything so sometimes it’s also important to know when not to sweat the small stuff and move on. Even if you’re dating someone with different political views, these differences are often surmountable with understanding.

Dating chemistry

Dating chemistry is one of the most important parts of a relationship. Here’s the definition of the meaning and how to identify the signs of chemistry.

Lifestyle compatibility in a relationship: Harmonizing your daily routines and hobbies

Sometimes different lifestyles can be a dealbreaker when wondering, are we compatible, particularly when it comes to leisure time. But here are some basic tips to harmonize on this front.

  • Establish mutual interests – There may be activities you just don’t agree on but try to find ones you do, even when you feel you have nothing in common. They don’t have to become your new main interest, just something you can connect over.
  • Sync up your habits – Lifestyle differences can often come down to just having different modes of behavior like when you go to bed or how you organize your weekend. These are easy to compromise over to cultivate greater compatibility with your partner.
  • Be open to new things – You may have more shared interests than you know so being willing to try out new things can help you grow as a person and improve your relationship.  

Building trust: The foundation of a compatible and lasting partnership

Trust is the bricks and mortar of healthy relationship compatibility. It’s that essential foundation on which we build intimacy and weather the bad days. Trust is what gives us room to feel free to express ourselves, creating healthy communication channels and fostering a general sense of security.

There are numerous ways to build up trust, but these should come as a natural instinct in a healthy partnership. This includes being consistently reliable with your words, honest, transparent about your emotions in conversation, and a willingness to express vulnerability when you’re wrong or unsure.

Active listening is also vital, where you look beyond their words to the true emotions. Establishing mutually-respectful boundaries also helps to create a safe space for both of you.

Mutual relationship goals also deepen trust, forging a deeper bond based on a shared vision and the idea that you can depend on each other.

Supporting each other’s goals: Encouraging compatibility through your ambitions

This is a notion outside of relationship and marriage compatibility. There are a lot of goals you’ll have as a couple and things you’d like to achieve in your relationship but it’s also important to recognize that you’re two distinct people in the relationship and also have individual goals.

These may be personal or professional but a crucial element in compatibility is that you both respect and support each other in your pursuit of them. This can often be easier said than done, particularly when it involves them pursuing an opportunity that could put some actual geographic distance between you two or leave them with less time to put into the relationship.

The important thing here is compromise and that there’s a clear roadmap back to a harmonious relationship. So, if it isn’t temporary or feasible for either of your lifestyles, this can also often be its own answer.

Maintaining independence in relationship compatibility: balancing togetherness and autonomy

It’s so easy to get swept up in a relationship, particularly in the early days when all you want to do is spend all your time together. But this initial fervor can often give way to codependency later on in the relationship as you struggle to reestablish your distinct identities after the honeymoon period.

This is why it’s a key factor to keep your eye on from day one. Don’t let your relationships with your friends and family suffer because of intimacy building, keep pursuing the same interests you were before while still leaving room in your life for your partner and don’t let your partner change core aspects of your identity just for the sake of harmony.

Remember, when it comes to relationship dynamics, they fell in love with the full package and that’s what they should continue to want as your relationship matures.

How to know when you’re truly compatible with someone

So, let’s shortly summarize some of the key elements of compatibility in a relationship and how you can work on them in your romantic partnerships for greater strength and resilience.

  • Identifying core values in a relationship – Do you see life and romantic relationships in compatible ways, or do they serve different functions for either of you? These are your core values and they’re quite permanent.
  • Evaluating emotional intelligence – Are you able to be aware of your actions and how they affect your partners and do you feel as if they are reciprocal in trying to understand you on a deeper level?
  • Analyzing your lifestyle and goals – Does it seem like you’re headed to the same destination? Emotions aside, a relationship can quickly be undone by just having different ways of approaching life and your future.
  • Dealing with conflicts – Relationships aren’t always about the good times so how you engage and overcome the bad times can have an enormous impact on your communication lines and the overall health of your relationship.
  • Trust and independence – Love has two factors and respecting the agency and complexity of your partner’s life and allowing them to blossom is just as important as the moments of intimacy your two share.

As long as you maintain a healthy balance in these areas, compatibility shouldn’t be an issue in your relationship. 

Finding relationship compatibility

At the end of the day, compatibility can seem difficult to pin down as a concept, in and of itself, but that’s often not the hardest part, as finding someone you’re compatible with is a notion of chance. However, building on that initial compatibility and giving it room to grow into a healthy, thriving relationship is something you can encourage and foster.

At eharmony, we like to take the chance aspect out of the equation by only connecting you with relationship-seeking singles with whom you already share a high degree of psychological compatibility. Two million people have already found love on our platform so register today and see for yourself.