Knowing whether you and your partner are compatible isn't as easy as movies and romance novels make it seem. Sometimes it takes a lot of careful thought and consideration to feel confident that your relationship can last longterm, and it's why knowing signs that you and your significant other are compatible can be so very important when making major life decisions.
In an exchange over e-mail, dating and relationship coach (and author) India Kang says to Bustle over email, "Most ‘experts’ falsely assume compatibility is based on shared interests," when really it often comes down to a variety of key personality traits that have nothing to do with whether or not you both just love true crime books, or Games of Thrones.
Upon hearing this, I have to admit that my first thought was, "Wow. I wish someone had told me that 10 years ago." I can't tell you how many times I thought common interests, like the same favorite movie, or college major, were signs that someone was obviously perfect for me. I'd then be all the more confused and disappointed when things didn't work out. "We just seemed so right for each other," I'd think. Which is why, after a decade of dating, Kang's initial advise makes so much sense.
The question then becomes, what are the things that do indicate compatibility? If you're wondering the same thing, look no further. I've distilled Kang's wisdom into five basic tips.
1. They Solve Problems With Maturity
Kang stresses that it's important that your chosen partner can solve problems with maturity. Do they lash out at you when they're feeling insecure instead of talking with you directly about the problem? Do they storm out of the house when angry and ignore your calls for a day? If the answer is yes, is that really behavior you want to deal with for the rest of your life?
2. They're Kind
This is another one of Kang's top signs that you and your partner will be good together (and in my opinion, one of the most underrated qualities ever). Is your partner kind to you and to others? Do they make you tea when you're feeling sick? Or slow their pace when they notice they're walking too fast for you? These little details can mean everything.
3. They Listen To You
Kang says you should strive to be with someone who really listens when you talk, and it can be a big red flag if your current partner doesn't. I can personally vouch for this one. I once dated a guy who seemed to view every conversation as an opportunity to get attention, meaning I always got the sense that he was just waiting for me to finish talking so that he could speak. And low and behold, this wasn't just one bad quality — it turned out he was a pretty selfish person on the whole, and if I'd just paid more attention to this one little detail initially, I likely could have saved myself months in a bad relationship.
4. They Think About You When They Make Decisions
Kang says that a less obvious sign of compatibility is, "whether they put you first as opposed to constantly thinking about themselves. Do they make decisions which are right for you both? If so, they’re a keeper. If not, you may be more compatible with someone who cares about your needs as much as they care about their own." Keep this in mind when thinking about your partner and make sure you feel like they care about your happiness as much as their own.
5. They Are Able To Deal With Road Bumps
And finally, Kang stresses the importance of being able to simply deal with life. "[An] inability to deal with life’s dilemmas are signs that you may not be compatible in the long term. Life has many up and downs, you want to make sure our partner can handle the good with the bad." Do they jump in to take care of you when you're sick? Do they take big disappointments in stride, versus curling up and moping for a week? These are all the kinds of things you should be looking out for when it comes to choosing a partner who can work through life's many problems with you.
At the end of the day, compatibility doesn't come down to the same favorite movies, or that you both had the same favorite Power Ranger as a kid — it comes down to whether or not you can work together as a team and are kind to each other. So when thinking about compatibility, make sure you're thinking about the things that matter.