Working Toward Compatibility

When it comes to dating, we hear so much talk about compatibility. But what does compatibility mean, anyway? How do we know if we’re compatible with another person?

According to the dictionary, it means being able to exist harmoniously with someone else and work together without conflict. We aren’t all natural peacemakers, so what does that mean for us in terms of compatibility? It doesn’t mean we never achieve it. Compatibility is something that, in my opinion, doesn’t just naturally happen.

It takes work.

I saw a quote on Pinterest recently that gets it exactly right. It read: “Love isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be worth it.” Even the famous passage on love from 1 Corinthians 13 hints that love takes work. In love, we are called to be patient, kind and humble among a host of other things like refraining from envy and pride. It takes continual effort to achieve and maintain these characteristics.

This should change the way we view conflict in our relationships.  Conflict doesn’t mean a relationship will not or cannot work. It just means it needs work. A good relationship is one that is Christ-centered and where both individuals are growing together in faith and character. And the good thing about working at a relationship means you learn how to handle conflict while challenging each other to grow.

There are some important aspects of compatibility to consider when you’re dating. The most important thing is a shared confession of Christ as Savior. We are not to be unequally yoked in dating and marriage. Compatibility is also a two-way street. If a relationship becomes all conflict, and repeatedly over the same issues, no growth is happening. If the other person is not making an effort to grow, compatibility is not likely.

Keep in mind that conflict that encourages growth and moves toward compatibility comes from love, not malice. Growth should continue as you learn to adapt to your partner and become compatible. There should always be a level of enjoyment in the relationship.

I’ve been learning a lot from my boyfriend the last several months about personality types based off the Enneagram Test, which categorizes personalities into nine different types. My boyfriend and I both have a reformer personality, which means we’re both perfectionists and we’re both stubborn. Not only do we always want to do what is right, but we always want to be right. We like control.

Based on that description alone, it might seem like we aren’t compatible. But that’s where the work we put into the relationship makes it worth it. We recognize that we challenge each other, and we expect to grow from every conflict. We continually push each other to grow in humility and to relinquish control back to God where it belongs. We challenge each other to be OK with accepting when we’re wrong.

I’ve learned that relationships where conflicts occur and encourage growth are healthier than happy-go-lucky relationships where infatuation takes over. You learn to work well together in dating and how to properly respond to each other, which helps prepare you for marriage.

What have you learned about compatibility in your relationships? If you’re not dating, the same applies to friendships or family relationships. How do you work toward compatibility?