If there was one phrase that I could erase from the dating world, it would be that opposites attract. In my naivete I entertained relationships with individuals from worlds that were not only different than my own, but opposed to my own. I had convinced myself of this idea that despite having little in common, a mutual attraction for each other and a few vague intertwining interests, would be enough for a relationship. “Maybe this is a case”, I would say to myself, “of opposites attracting.”
Every relationship I’ve ever had where I put compatibility on the back burner has failed spectacularly (to no one’s surprise but my own) and I’ve written this article for the naïve hopeful who thinks that a few shared laughs and attraction are enough to sustain a relationship. While attraction and fun are important aspects of a relationship, the harmony created by compatibility will allow a relationship to enrich your life and last the test of time.
The Link Between Incompatibility & Toxicity
I’ve often purported that relationships are character building. This is particularly true when you and an individual are compatible. Compatibility in a relationship looks like individuals with similar values, beliefs, behaviors and motivations forming a union. When a couple lacks compatibility they lack harmony and will clash often. Arguments are a regular part of any relationship, but if you find yourself arguing week after week with your partner, you both may have a compatibility issue.
No relationship is perfect, but relationships where two individuals lack compatibility are ripe breeding grounds for contempt to fester. Beliefs typically make up the core of someone’s identity and if your partner holds beliefs that are different at best or opposing at worst, to your own beliefs, it can create a barrier between you.
An example of this would be a friend of mine who was an atheist but still dated christian men. She never really spoke about her beliefs or lack-there-of with anyone unless provoked, but when sharing a life with someone affiliated with the church, you are bound to endure someone’s religious banter. Whenever her boyfriend would site the bible as an authority of some kind she would belittle the bible’s validity or sound a bit condescending when scrutinizing his thinking process.
No one wants to have their beliefs and ideas consistently challenged or dismissed by their partner and the less compatible a couple are the more likely one partner is to feel silenced by the other. When you feel that a core part of your identity is being silenced you can develop strong feeling of contempt and hatred for someone. While initially he was a more moderate christian, his relationship with my friend turned him into a religious zealot of sorts, but just around her. This childish game of back and forth ensued where each tried making the other feel that part of their identity was silly.
When dating around it’s easy to get caught up in the experience and neglect asking or thinking about the hard questions like: "Am I just attracted to this person or are they truly compatible with core aspects of my identity?" By being with someone more compatible you allow less room for friction and wounded egos to spoil your love. Compatibility is supreme.
Lilith is a blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn't at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the Chicago food scene or attending workshops in creative writing.