Compatibility

The Fallacy of Compatibility

Yesterday, a friend re-posted an article about "The Ideal Partner," which attempted to point out what aspects should be present in a relationship before you take the big leap. The article was simply another example of Internet Myth. The article did not have a byline for the author, nor any references to factual studies or research. As with many writings it was simply one persons thoughts, and in this case it seemed not to be well thought out. The article espoused the popular misconception that two people are not compatible unless they have the same tastes, interests, values and common goals. And, while this is often heard, it is far from the truth.

The problem with espousing these common misconceptions is that people often actually believe what they read or hear and accept it as truth. In doing so, their conceptions are clouded and they are unable to make the correct decisions about some of the most important events in their lives. They grow anxious, and become stressed out over the smallest things in life, as they are torn between what they feel and what they have heard and came to accept as truthful. Yes, these misconceptions can actually make us unhappy.

I will not post the article in question as I do not have the right to, but more importantly, it is not factual and will only end up hurting others that might believe that the content makes sense on some level. However, I will discuss the factual science and research that has been done to discount pretty much everything that is in the article and present a better way of dealing with finding the "The Ideal Partner!"

For instance, to address the compatibility issue. The article suggested that to consider a partner who is an opposite is "pretty risky," because while someone may be attracted to another that is different will prove to impose difficulties in the relationship over time.

The start of a new relationship is nearly always one of the most exciting times, as two people explore their hopes, dreams and bodies. Each hopes to turn that short-term fling into a longer-term relationship. Keeping those characteristics you found exciting and different in a romantic partner requires thought, dedication and yes - effort.

It is no secret that opposites attract and much has been written about being compatible. However, the relationship is controlled by the brain and not all in-love brains look alike. Years ago, Xiaomeng Xu, a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University School of Medicine and her colleagues performed MRI scans on men and women who reported being in the early stages of love. Though all the study participants showed clear signs of being in love - looking at the face of their beloved triggered a flurry of brain activity in the areas of their brains involved in reward and motivation. The researchers discovered that were differences between the individual brain scans. When the researchers followed up with the study participants years later they found a surprising strong correlation between certain characteristics in the original brain scans and the participants’ current relationship status.

As it turns out, the longevity of a relationship has little to do with whether two people have the same tastes, interests, values and common goals. Or, for that matter, their cultures, religions, life priorities, or even intimacies. Yes, these are important, but as it turns out they have little to do with the longevity of a relationship. The truth is that it is almost impossible to find another person who is not different in some way, and finding that one person who is exactly like you in every way is certainly impossible. There would be no relationships between two people if the everyone waited to find that perfect match in every way.

The two key aspects of longevity turned out to a decrease in activity in regions of the brain in which we associate with making judgements, and also a decrease in activity in systems associated with a person’s sense of self or a person’s awareness of one’s own existence, interests and desires.

The researchers wrote that the most promising relationship is one in which people refrain from judging their partners, and instead, tend to overrate them, finding the positive aspect of a patently negative trait. The long-term relationship is also based on giving great importance to the loved one’s interests and desires, even to the subjugation of their own. The conclusion was that these two traits; not judging and finding positivity in place of negativity are the greatest signs of a healthy relationship.

Take a look at your own parents, whom you know quite well. Ask them what differences there were in the beginning of their relationship, and you will get a long list from both. Are they closer in their thinking today? Of course, they are! Because any two people who spend a lot of time with one another grow to conform the relationship through a series of giving and taking to meet in the middle.

The only thing the article got right was in the last paragraph is that a relationship should be about the opportunity of making another person happy.

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