How To Turn Your Relationship Incompatibilities Into Strengths, According To Experts
When you love your partner, the idea of finding incompatibilities in your relationship can be scary. After all, doesn't "incompatible" roughly translate to "not cut out for the long haul"? Fortunately, the answer is no: while it's good to have core values that are aligned, when it comes to everything else, you don't necessarily have to see eye-to-eye with your partner in order to have a happy, healthy relationship — and, if you're willing to grow, your incompatibilities can actually become a source of strength.
"There is a difference between the relationship between two people being incompatible and each person having qualities or traits that are incompatible," Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and Host of "The Kurre and Klapow Show" tells Bustle. "...Every relationship is made up of people who have some characteristics that are compatible and some that are not compatible... The challenge is to minimize incompatibility, to use incompatibility as a way to learn about the person and yourself, and to maximize compatibility factors. If this is done then it is not only OK to have incompatibilities, but it can actually help the relationship grow."
How To Turn Your Incompatibilities Into Strengths
So once you're aware of any incompatibilities between you and your partner, how can you ensure that, rather than driving a wedge between the two of you, your differences actually bolster your relationship instead?
"The most important aspect to making incompatibilities compatible is to see it as a challenge, as a learning opportunity and for one partner not to force another but rather to encourage," Klapow says. "This is about both sides expanding their approach to life, not changing it to match their partner."
If you look at your respective differences as a way to expand your horizons and grow as individuals, over time, your relationship will also grow and deepen as a result. "In the end, incompatibilities can bring balance to a relationship, can help stretch each partner in their views and can strengthen the relationship," Klapow says. "However, where there are incompatibilities that are strong and not open for compromise, tolerance and acceptance are critical. Without them the relationship will be doomed."
In short, know what your dealbreakers are and acknowledge if your incompatibilities are too major to work through — otherwise, embrace your little differences. Here are seven examples of unexpected incompatibilities that you can actually turn into strengths in your relationship.
1. One Of You Is A Realist & One Is A Dreamer
In a perfect world, we'd all see the world with a nice, healthy balance of realism and idealism. However, it's much more likely that you skew a little (or a lot) one way or the other — and having a partner who's your opposite in this respect can be advantageous for your relationship.
"It’s good to follow your dreams, but it’s also good to see the situation realistically and be grounded enough so that you can take the practical steps needed to make your dreams come true," Jonathan Bennett, dating and relationship expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "As long as it’s realism and not pessimism, a dreamer and a realist can be a great team: reaching for goals while also staying practical and focused."
2. One Of You Is A Planner & One Is Spontaneous
On a similar note, being in a relationship where one partner prefers to ~go with the flow~ and the other prefers a more planned out day-to-day existence can actually be really healthy for both of you as individuals, as well as for your relationship.
"Some people insist on keeping everything scheduled and organized, while others prefer to act more spontaneously," Bennett says. "However, a couple with both a scheduler and a freer spirit can create a good balance. Activities get planned, but there is still a degree of spontaneity and creativity."
3. One Of You Is An Introvert & One Is An Extrovert
While a pair of introverts or a pair of extroverts can certainly coexist harmoniously, being part of a couple comprised of one of each can really come in handy: the introvert gets a helping hand when they want to come out of their shell, and the extrovert can learn to appreciate some quality alone time.
"The more inward person can learn how to expand their outward approach to life," Klapow says. "The extroverted person can learn about bringing things inside their own minds and learning how to be engaged by being alone."
4. One Of You Is Well-Traveled & One Is Not
Traveling with your partner is one of the many ways you can deepen your connection, so if you're more of a homebody, having a partner who likes to travel to be your guide can be super eye-opening.
"If your partner has traveled the world and you have never even left your home state, then get ready for an adventure of a lifetime," Diana and Todd Mitchem, relationship coaches at EnariLove.com, tell Bustle. "If you would like to see the world and your partner is an experienced traveler, then you will have a blast planning and taking trips together to exotic destinations. Traveling and sharing the experiences will keep the relationship fresh and balanced."
5. You Show Love In Different Ways
When it comes to the five different Love Languages — Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts — not every couple will speak the same ones. But if you and your partner give/receive love in different ways, that's not necessarily a bad thing for your relationship; in fact, it can be a good thing.
"Remember that everyone is different and that in order to be on the same page you have to tune into your partner's needs, even when they are different from yours," the Mitchems say. "This can bring balance into your relationship by making sure that you are not doing the exact same things for one another and allows you to be more creative in the relationship."
6. You Communicate In Different Ways
Being able to effectively communicate with your partner is of the utmost importance for a healthy relationship, but just because you and your partner have different communication styles doesn't mean your relationship is doomed.
"If you are the talker in the relationship and your partner is more of a silent type, then this is an excellent opportunity to see how you can bridge the gap," the Mitchems say. "Having these two opposite types of communication in a relationship can bring the silent partner out of their shell while your partner can help you become more comfortable with the silence."
7. Your Ways Of Thinking Are Different
While some people tend to have a more big picture-oriented mindset. others get caught up in the details — and it can be super handy in a relationship to have one partner with each kind of mindset.
"If you are a global thinker, or someone who sees the big picture, and your partner is a local thinker, or someone that sees everything in the smallest details and likes to do things sequentially, you may turn this into [a] strength in your relationship," the Mitchems say. "...Having a combination of these individual strengths will come in handy during home projects, planning, and other activities that require a big picture and an execution plan."
While it's certainly nice to have lots of things in common with your partner, you don't have to be carbon copies of each other in order to have a good relationship. In fact, the healthiest relationships are often those where partners balance and complement — not mirror — each other, so don't hesitate to embrace your incompatibilities and work to make them sources of strength.