There’s nothing like the issue of “compatibility” (or “lack of compatibility”), to help gauge the direction of a potential love relationship. Granted, relationship compatibility is just one element in the overall picture, especially at the beginning of a romance – but an important one to consider if relationship success is your true goal.
So how can you go about finding out if you’re compatible with your potential partner or not? Give him a multiple choice test? Lock her in a room and throw questions at her, like a private investigator or calculating high school teacher? Hey, that’s just what the actor, Steve Guttenberg, did in the 20-something, 1982 comedy movie, “Diner”! Remember when Edward “Eddie” Simmons methodically, and oh so unfairly, tests his hopeful fiancée about her football knowledge to see if she is suitable to be his future wife? It turns out to be a pretty funny (or painful), scene, depending on your particular view of love and relationships. Tragically, even after a worthy effort, she fails the test, and the marriage is suddenly off!
Now, of course, this short movie clip is a bit over-the-top and only slightly approximates reality. However, it does tell us something about the importance of somehow testing relationship compatibility and how we might go about (or not) it – especially when it comes to the plausibility and appropriateness of a future partner.
So how can we appropriately “test” for relationship compatibility when we first meet or start going out with someone? Here’s a few “do’s” and “don’ts, as you attempt to find out if he or she is compatible with you:
1) Do Ask Questions – Don’t Overwhelm!
Aside from snooping around her purse or his Facebook page, asking direct questions is definitely one thing you can do to seek out some useful information. Let’s face it, when two people first meet, we’re limited as to what we can find out about the other. I mean, how many questions can you ask before you come across like Sherlock Holmes, or even worse, the Gestapo? I’d say, ask only a few, as important as all these probing questions may be. Asking too many questions, especially at the beginning of a promising relationship, will only serve to pressure the hell out of your prospective partner and ensure a quick exit from what could have been a dynamic and lasting romance.
2) Do Ask Appropriate Questions – Don’t Pressure!
Remember, it’s so crucial not to act like a controlling, bombastic bully when asking your questions. You’ll want to inquire in a way that doesn’t make you appear too pushy or overbearing. So, Do NOT, under any circumstances, pose inappropriate questions that will pressure and unnecessarily put your new partner on the spot – questions like:
“So, have you ever been busted by the cops?”
“Do you like your parole officer?”
“Do you like sex?”
“Can we have sex tonight?”
“Are you terminally ill?”
“If not, will you marry me?”
At least in the beginning, you want to test for basic relationship compatibility, not whether your partner is a hardened criminal or a drug-addicted street walker. (Unsavory things like that will probably come out sooner or later, anyway.) Just for now, you might want to ask a few non-pressuring, non-confrontational questions to get a reasonable first-take on compatibility. Begin to open up the communication with simple queries like:
“What are your favorite restaurants?”
“Do you have some favorite travel destinations?”
“What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not working?”
“Do you like sports?”
“Do you enjoy classic movies?”
“Am I asking too many questions?”
But, you get the picture; a little tact and appropriate content goes a long way.
*For more suggested questions, on a whole range of subjects, regarding relationship compatibility, check out Michael Webb’s book, 1000 Questions for Couples. There’s so many great questions to choose from, you’ll still be asking them to your mate when you turn 100! I also wrote another article about these initial questions, in case you haven’t already read it.
3) Do it Together – Don’t Talk Too Much!
This is a simple yet effective suggestion; get active and share time together. There’s a time when the talking ends and the doing needs to begin. So stop with all the questions (at least, take a break), and go DO something enjoyable and interesting together. Go have fun! Not only will you have a chance to enjoy each other’s company, but you can also find out a lot about him or her simply by observing their actions.
You may even want to ask yourself these kinds of questions while you’re doing stuff together – but don’t overdo it, and stay attentive!
Is he good with kids or too impatient with them?
Does she go with the flow or complain too much?
Is he easy going with others or too bossy?
Is she being present with me or acting aloof?
Am I getting compliments or feeling “pulled down” and unsupported by him?
Are we having fun yet?
So keep your eyes and ears open, and listen for the answers. This way, you’ll get to know your new partner better and better – without all the questions!
4) Do Celebrate the Differences – Don’t Attempt to Clone!
So you start sharing activities together and find out that you’re compatible with certain things, and not so much with others. She doesn’t like going to the ball game with you, and you’re just not that interested in classical music. That’s okay; we all have our certain preferences and tastes when it comes to various activities and enjoyments. We’re not clones, you know!
So why not celebrate and accept those differences as just a part of the relationship? No biggie – UNLESS there’s so many incompatibilities, that you find that you hardly have anything in common. Well, you know you can’t make anyone behave exactly like you. And you can’t change them or their personality, right? They say that opposites attract – as long as they’re not TOO opposite! It takes time to get to know someone, so don’t jump to conclusions before you’ve gone through this process of discovery.
So, whether you want to keep moving forward with your “love interest,” or decide to cut it off at the pass, just like Edward “Eddie” Simmons did in Diner, it’s always your decision. But if you ask the right questions, at the right time, without pressure, and take the time to engage, listen and observe, you’ll eventually have all the info you need about who is compatible with you and who isn’t. You’ll have a better idea about who you’ll be taking on that journey of successful and long-lasting love!