Just because you and bae have the same taste in music and a thriving sex life does not necessarily mean you are compatible (is “bae” still cool to say or did I make it weird?). It might feel a lot like love when the person you’re dating is funny, smart, and likes Lizzo as much as you do, but true compatibility means so much more than liking their traits (and who doesn’t like Lizzo!?).
It’s easy to get caught up in romance (there’s a reason they say “love is blind”), but “forever” is a long time to be with one person. Whether you’ve been with someone for a week, married for 20 years, or are single and ready to mingle, here’s how to know if a relationship is truly compatible.
They make you feel calm
There’s a lot of romantic imagery against this very sentiment (like “the heart pounds” or “knees go weak”), but I’d like to make a case that butterflies are bullsh*t. Yes, you should be excited to see your partner (more on that below), but you shouldn’t feel nervousness or anxiety. Despite fighting and relationship disagreements, a compatible partner will give you inner peace and make you feel safe.
You both can be brutally honest
Do you feel like you can be yourself with your partner? Are you able to openly communicate, or do you hold some things back to spare their feelings or avoid a fight? Would you judge, ridicule, or look down on your partner for anything they’d say or do? Trust is the core of a compatible relationship, and that means trusting your significant other to love and support you no matter what. Share your needs early on and make sure your partner feels safe being honest with you too.
There’s a lot of physical chemistry
You can have chemistry without compatibility, but you can’t have compatibility without chemistry. It really is what separates friendship from a relationship. However, “chemistry” doesn’t necessarily mean the can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other passion that you see in The Notebook. Every relationship, and every person, changes with individual needs and wants. Chemistry isn’t measured by the amount of sex you have or the level of PDA you’re comfortable with, but rather how you feel when you’re around your partner.
Do you feel a magnetic pull towards them, or find yourself reaching for their hand just because you want to hold it? Do you automatically scan for them when you walk into a crowded room or look forward to hugging them when you get home from work? This unspoken it-factor is true chemistry.
You have complementary imperfections
Everyone has imperfections and flaws (even Ryan Gosling!). These imperfections can cause incompatibility and fights that lead to breakups, or they can determine compatibility from the start. If your partner understands or helps improve your flaws, and you can tolerate and pick up the slack where your partner falls short, it’s a pretty good sign that it could be a lasting relationship.
They understand your “language”
Having different love languages is no big deal. As long as you understand this difference and know how to work on showing love in the way your partner feels it, you can still have a long and happy relationship. However, your partner should understand your “language” in terms of humor, values, and beliefs. If you feel like you have to explain yourself, defend yourself, or prove yourself, you’re spending a lot of your relationship trying to translate who you are.
You know what you want out of life, and your partner is the best person to help you achieve it
In the end, finding a compatible life partner is not really an issue of searching for a soulmate or a complicated compatibility test. It’s simply two people whose idea of “happiness” line up. It’s more than agreeing on the big things like kids, where to live, or traveling (that should be a given). It’s about all the specific things: what a “happy” family looks like; what you both want out of your careers; where you want to be in 10, 20, and 50 years; how you’d spend a quiet Sunday morning with nothing to do. True compatibility comes down to finding a plus one to your happiest life possible.