Love versus Compatibility. Let’s Talk About It.

We’re kicking off a weekly series hashtagged #WednesdayWoes where we discuss issues that crop up for singles while dating, in relationships or simply in life. This blog has been written by Floh member Dhruvi Shah.

As a single girl who also happens to be a Floh member, I end up talking with others quite a bit about the obstacles we face as singles, issues in relationships and other such woes. While certain subjects and topics of conversation have now become ordinary and oft-repeated, we haven’t yet scratched the surface.

This morning, a Floh member posted the following image:

Love versus compatibility

I was surprised at the candid comments from fellow Floh members who felt so strongly about this. Ranging from “True that!” to “Close to the bone” and “Ugh. :|”, everyone is in agreement that compatibility is an issue and can end a relationship of love.

The way I look at it, we pin the trouble on compatibility and so it becomes important to reflect on it. If you were to ask me whether I’ve had an experience that came to an end because of compatibility, my one word answer would be ‘yes’. I asked Floh member, Pankaj Rao the same question and here’s the short and long of it.

“So, basically, all the people I’ve met through Floh and off other apps, that I’ve decided to go out with, and it hasn’t worked out with is because there really is no major connect. I’m looking back at these experiences solely from the compatibility point of view.”

Neha Nair admits, “My last relationship ended because of this very reason. Our general perception of life was very different. Even though the relationship was only 8 months long, I had an important realisation. The way each of us approached life varied so much that it had serious repercussions on both of us – mentally and physically. At the end, we called it off because we were making each other not only desperately unhappy but also very, very unwell!”

Aditya Saigal chimes in, “One experience with another Floh member actually ended because we later realised we were incompatible. When we met, it was as close to ‘love at first sight’ as it could be. On perhaps, the 5th day, we saw that we were different. After 3-4 months, it just ended because we were simply incompatible.”

Do then young professionals seeking relationships today rate compatibility with a long term partner higher than love? The answers I received are pretty insightful.

Neha explains, “I think, yes. Love and attraction are more like starting points, ice breakers sort of. With time, if you’re incompatible, resentment builds up, you compromise where you don’t want to, just to keep the calm. Compromise should feel like an actual progression, not a compulsion. In the long run, compatibility definitely rates higher than attraction or the rosy-eyed love.”

“Although you need to fall in love first, or be attracted to see whether you’re compatible or not, I would rate it higher in the long run.” opines Aditya Saigal.

Pankaj makes a rather quote worthy statement too. “To me, love is a very hazy meaning term. Compatibility is way higher on the scale. The way I see it, love is a by-product of compatibility.”

I asked Saloni Sanwani, Clinical Psychologist what she has come to make of the term compatibility, as being used by her clients and what it has come to mean in her counselling practice.

She says, “Compatibility is a broad, general term. Having similar interests, likes, etc. That’s compatibility enough for a lot of people. For a lot of other people, compatibility is to have enough mutual respect for each other.

The equation is like X amount of time should be spent together, and Y amount of time doing stuff on your own. So, each one to their own equation. It’s a very person-specific thing.”

How then, are we defining compatibility? This often comes up in conversations with my mum. I tell her, “Unless I am compatible with the other person, I’m not even going to consider taking it forward. And by that I don’t mean we have to be the same people but we definitely have to be on the same wavelength.”

Kunal Kanagat explains, “It is being on the same social wavelength, having similar interests. Basically, getting along with each other. Not having too many hangups. That is good enough for me. If someone has too many needs, desires, wants that I can’t meet, then it would be a very incompatible relationship.”

Neha delves deeper on the subject, “To me it doesn’t mean that we both like the same things or are the same kind of people. Compatibility is where with the things that don’t match, you’re okay with them. You find a healthy balance of being able to appreciate each other’s differences. The most important bit is that you are comfortable being yourself around your partner and you allow your partner to be comfortable with who they are.”

As Saloni puts it, “At the core, it is: 1. Mutual respect and 2. Mutual trust. The moment there is mutual trust, compatibility improves. The moment there is doubt, there is friction.”
She repeats something she once read somewhere, “Don’t marry the person you can’t live without. The idea is to marry someone you can live with. Compatibility is when you can live with the person. When you can accept the other’s limitations. With grace and dignity. Not with resentment.”

Aditya adds the humour, “If you’re 80% alike, it’s boring. But if you start out as different individuals and after 20-30 years of being with one another, you’re identical, it’s compatibility.”

Everyone makes a valid point. In the journey of discovering your partner, if you can also learn to appreciate how different from you they are and finally, celebrate and respect that, you have nailed compatibility.

And finally, I put everyone to the test. The question is, hypothetically, If you had to enter a relationship without compatibility, what would be the other factors that would be compelling enough to make you stay?

Outright, everyone says it’s impossible.

“It wouldn’t work. There’s nothing that would make me stay.
It would be a compulsion. If there were extreme situations like maybe children involved, parents threatening suicide or something as serious, I would. It would then be pity for oneself or the other person.” reasons Aditya.

Pankaj says, “I would only if I feel if there is a certain level of chemistry which can lead to quality time being spent together and ironing out the issues as time progresses. It has to be really compelling. Otherwise it could be very bitter. It’s not a plunge I would take very easily.”

Neha really puts the period in this answer. “Respect. The other person respects you enough despite the incompatibility. That might be compelling enough for me to at least spend some more time in the relationship.”

What then do we make of this compatibility conundrum? Saloni offers the final perspective. “Nothing comes on a platter. It has to be a two-way walk. You’re not going to find a partner who’s going to be exactly what you want your partner to be. Nowadays, it’s ‘My way or the highway’ even before you hit the way. Unless the attitude changes, you’re never going to find someone to be compatible with.

It is very important to understand that compatibility is something to be worked on and built on and it doesn’t come on a platter. It all requires effort. There is nothing magical about love or compatibility that is permanent.”

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