9 Signs You’re Mistaking Compatibility For Love

It could be why your relationship doesn’t feel complete.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
Many people conflate relationship compatibility with love.
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So you’ve finally met someone you're compatible with in many different ways. For instance, you’re both big on family, you like taking things slow, and you both share the same love for obscure horror films. And yet for some reason, something about the relationship just doesn’t feel complete. If this situation resonates with you, experts say you may be staying with someone for the wrong reasons.

Relationship compatibility is important for long-term relationship success. But you shouldn’t be with someone just because they’re a great match on paper. According to experts, knowing the difference between being in a compatible relationship and a loving one can prevent you from staying in a relationship that isn't built on actual feelings.

“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 similar hobbies, and most importantly, you have similar views what you want in the future.

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 and enjoy each other’s company. You're 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 compatibility for love, according to experts.


Your Relationship Makes You Feel Safe

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Experts say it’s not always easy to differentiate between compatibility and love. "Many times, love and compatibility overlap, or one morphs into the other," psychotherapist Daniel Sher tells Bustle. When you're in a relationship based on compatibility, you feel safe. 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 the thought of being single again is terrifying, you may be in a relationship for the wrong reasons.


You Don't Feel The Need To Be Vulnerable

A relationship that's based on love should make you feel alive and fulfilled. "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, it should make you feel both good and not-so-great sometimes to signify you are moving past your comfort-zone.


You'd Describe Your Relationship As "Nice"

Being in a relationship that's "nice" doesn't cut it, Sandy Weiner, dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "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," she says.

Without attraction, your relationship may not be right for you. "Attraction requires polarity, a push and pull, some degree of tension, in order to ignite the spark." Without it, it's going to be difficult to be happy long-term.


There Are Things About Your Partner You Really Want To Change

If you have a list of things you want to change about your partner, you may be in a relationship for the wrong reasons. When you love someone, you accept them for who they are and what they bring to the relationship. Although there may be one or two things you might change, there shouldn’t be anything major. If you’re constantly comparing your current partner to the ideal person you have in your head, experts say they are not the right one for you. According to matchmaker Susan Trombetti, you’ll find that you’ll always want more, and your partner may not be able to fulfill your needs.


You Need To Constantly Remind Yourself That You're In A Good Relationship

Find yourself constantly thinking about your ideal relationship and what your current one lacks? When you're in love, you don't need to convince 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.

“You can tell if you are actually in love or if it's just comfortable by trusting your gut feelings,” Trombetti says. “How do you really feel in your heart? If you ask yourself that question and still can't come up with an answer, I can assure you it's not love and more of a complacency.”


You're Not Completely Sure You See Them In Your Future

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If your closest friends have always disliked your previous partners and they love your current one, it may influence how you view the relationship. Even if you don’t really feel a spark, you may decide to stick it out. Although it’s always good to consider the opinions of others, especially ones who really care about your happiness and well-being, the decision is ultimately up to you. According to Trombetti, don’t feel bad for having nagging doubts about your partner, and don’t feel like you should like them more because your friends and family think you should. If you know deep down that your relationship is going nowhere, it may be time to end things.


You See Your Partner As Your Best Friend More Than Anything

It’s nice to be with someone you consider to be your best friend. You can talk to them about anything, they’re always there for you, and being around them feels comfortable. While some couples can be best friends and have a ton of chemistry, others may find themselves staying in a relationship with someone they love, but aren’t really in love with.

“As a matchmaker, I find this happens when people are looking for a friend and a lover,” Trombetti says. “I always let clients know, you aren't looking for a friend in your match. Of course, your partner becomes a confidant and the first person you turn to like a friend, but looking for a best friend as a top criteria in a potential romance will always lead to comfort.”


Your Flirtatious Side Always Comes Out Around Other People

Just because you’re in a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find other people attractive. But if you’re flirting with others more than your actual partner, there’s a problem. According to Trombetti, you may be lacking lust, chemistry, or fun in your relationship. “You should have excitement in your relationship,” she says. “If you don't, you can try to bring it back if it was there. If not, chances are, you are in a safe relationship with someone who makes you feel emotionally safe but emotionally dull at the same time.”


You're Not Completely Sure You See Them In Your Future

If you’ve had your fair share of bad dates, you know that it’s not always easy to find someone you click with. But, "just because two people get along, that may not make them romantically compatible," relationship 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.

According to Rubin, "Getting along and doing fun activities may not be enough to hold a relationship together.” 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.


Vikki Ziegler, relationship expert and author of The Pre-Marital Planner

Daniel Sher, psychotherapist

Sandy Weiner, dating and relationship coach

Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking

Nina Rubin, M.A., relationship coach

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