Finding someone you're truly compatible with in many ways isn't easy. When you finally do find someone who checks all the boxes, it's only natural to feel like maybe this could be "The One." But before you jump to that conclusion, it's important to learn what is the difference between love and compatibility because often they're not the same thing. According to experts, knowing the difference can prevent you from staying in a relationship that isn't built on actual love.
“Compatibility means that you get along with somebody very well," Vikki Ziegler, relationship expert and author of The Pre-Marital Planner, tells Bustle. You're probably aware of what that looks like. When you're compatible with someone, you enjoy each other’s company, you like the same or similar hobbies, and you may even like to eat the same food. Most importantly, you have similar views on marriage and kids.
Love, on the other hand, is a deeper emotion that you feel for another person. According to Ziegler, it compels you to be near them, to help them, to support them, to nurture them, and to do everything you can to protect them. "Loving someone gives you goosebumps and 'butterflies' in your stomach," she says. "It makes your heart skip a beat and you want to be with that person all the time. It also has an emotional and sexual nature unlike compatibility, which doesn’t always."
Basically, being in a compatible relationship means that you work well together, enjoy each other’s company and have a good time. You're very in-sync but tend to act more like friends or friends with benefits, than two people who are actually in love. "You can have compatibility without love," she says. "But you can't have love without compatibility."
So here are signs you may be mistaking compatbility for love, according to experts.
1Your Relationship Makes You Feel Safe
As Daniel Sher, sex educator and psychotherapist, tells Bustle, it’s not always easy to differentiate between the two. "Many times, love and compatibility overlap, or one morphs into the other," Sher says. When you're in a relationship based on compatibility, you feel safe. You're content with how things are and everything seems to just work. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that because feeling safe in your relationship is important. It only becomes a problem, Sher says, when you become overly dependent on your partner for safety. If you're only with your partner because being single again is terrifying, you may be in a relationship for the wrong reasons.
2You Don't Feel The Need To Be Vulnerable
A relationship that's based on love should make you feel alive, fulfilled, and a bunch of other emotions. "Compatibility is different from this," Sher says. "When you're in love, you’re taking a risk by making yourself vulnerable." You'll know it's love based on the emotional ups and downs you may experience with your partner. Although too many ups and downs can be a sign that your relationship is unhealthy, your relationship should make you feel both good and not-so-great emotions that signify you are moving past your comfort-zone.
3You'd Describe Your Relationship As "Nice"
"As a dating coach, one of the most confusing issues for women is when she’s been dating someone who shares common values and interests, but the attraction is not there," Sandy Weiner, Dating and Relationship Coach and founder of Last First Date, tells Bustle. Without attraction, your relationship may not be right for you. Being in a relationship that's "nice" doesn't cut it, she says. "Attraction requires polarity, a push and pull, some degree of tension, in order to ignite the spark." Without that spark, it's going to be difficult to be happy long-term.
4Your Partner Is Just Your Type But There Are No Surprises
If your relationship doesn't surprise you or challenge you in any way, that's compatibility and not necessarily love. "Many times, finding love is a matter of being open to dating outside of your ‘type,’" Weiner says. "Most couples are surprised that they fell in love with someone they never thought would be their forever love."
5There Are Things About Your Partner You Really Want To Change
If you have a list of things you want to change about your partner, Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle, you may be mistaking compatbility for love. "If you find yourself focusing on your partner’s flaws and things you want to change, then they are not the right one for you," Backe says. "When you're in love, you won’t want to try and change them." Love is all about acceptance. If you're not really in love, you'll actively try to find ways to "fix" your partner.
6You Need To Constantly Remind Yourself That You're In A Good Relationship
If you find yourself constantly thinking about your ideal relationship and what your current relationship lacks, then there’s a problem. When you're in love, you don't need to constantly remind yourself that you're in a solid relationship with a partner you enjoy being around. If you feel like something is missing, maybe there is. At this point, Backe says it may be time to reevaluate your situation. "If you keep fantasizing, you may need to go find someone who behaves in the ways you actually want," Backe says.
7You're Not Completely Sure You See Them In Your Future
"Just because two people get along, that may not make them romantically compatible," life coach Nina Rubin, M.A., tells Bustle. You may have similar views about marriage and starting a family together, but if you ever have doubts about whether or not someone really is "The One," it's important to figure out why. Even couples who are super in love have their doubts too. But they eventually figure out that love is the reason why they're together.
"Getting along and doing fun activities may not be enough to hold a relationship together," Rubin says. According to her, compatibility is related to the values you hold close. The person you're dating may have those similar values, which is great. But that's not always enough to make a relationship successfully last long-term.
Mistaking compatbility for love is easy to do because they do tend to overlap. But according to experts, they are different things. If you want a relationship that's based on actual love, check your feelings. Being with someone you're compatible with can make your life easier. But love, even with all its ups and downs, can make your life much happier in the long run.