Studies Show Compatibility Not Required For Long Lasting Relationships
"The Issue With Compatibility
Dating sites like OkCupid.com or chemistry.com boast about their in-depth personality tests, and claim that someone with similar answers to the questions on their tests can result in finding the perfect mate.
Now this sounds very appealing for many different reasons. First, naturally you want to be with someone who shares the same values as you and perhaps even someone who enjoys similar activities like rock climbing. Secondly, it only seems logical to search for another person that also wants to raise children and begin a family someday. Lastly, we have such a yearning for love as social creatures, that we will convince ourselves of just about anything in order to fill the empty spots in our hearts.
All of these reasons create quite the compelling case for compatibility sites, but how well and how long do the relationships that have similar interests and quirks truly last?
Dr. Ted Hudson of the University of Texas ran a longitudinal study of couples that had been married for years and in his research he discovered something quite surprising. Dr. Hudson explains, “My research shows that there is no difference in the objective compatibility between those couples who are unhappy and those who are happy.”
Dr. Hudson went on to say that couples that feel content and warmth in their relationships said that compatibility wasn’t an issue for them. In fact, they said that it was them who made the relationship work, not the compatibility of their personalities. But when the unhappy couples were asked what they thought about compatibility, they all answered by saying that compatibility is extremely important to a marriage. Sadly, they didn’t think they were compatible with their significant other. Dr. Hudson explains that when the unhappy couples said, “we’re incompatible” they were truly meaning, “We don’t get along very well.”
That’s where the issue arises with compatibility – everyone who is unhappy naturally blames it on the facade of compatibility. They fail to realize and comprehend that a successful relationship does not hinge its posterity on how alike you are, instead it hangs on by the sheer will power and want to stay in a relationship.
This can be observed in arranged marriages, where they tend to last longer and tend to be happier in their relationships, according to international happiness surveys. Do these arranged marriages last longer because they don’t have the option of divorce like we do in the United States? Of course not, it’s because they choose to stay committed and aren’t looking for “the next best thing” or someone that’s more suitable in their eyes.
Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, Michael J. Rosenfeld explains that arranged marriages aren’t that different from the love relationships we have in the Western world. The greatest difference is in our cultures. Americans value autonomy more than anything – they want the freedom to choose who they want to be with. More often than not, however, we get stuck in the perpetual loop of consciously and unconsciously considering someone else when things aren’t going perfectly in our own relationship. And this is where the illusion of compatibility comes into play.
Finding A Mate To Spend A Lifetime With
So we know that building a relationship with someone is dependent on you and the other person. It has more or less nothing to do with compatibility. But if we can’t depend on compatibility exams or some standard form of testing to find our ideal mate, then how do we do it?
Dr. John Gottman, the founder of The Gottman Institute in Seattle, said that measures of personality are incapable of truly predicting the length or success of a relationship. Gottman discovered that couples who focus their energy on building something meaningful together in their life (e.g., starting a business together) tend to last the longest. How a couple interacts is the single, most fundamental aspect to creating a successful relationship. Meaning, it’s not who you are or what you do that will prolong or help you find the perfect mate. It’s how you speak to each other, how well you get along, and how you move through time together.
John Gottman went on to say that your partner should support your life dreams. They should look up to you, admire you, and respect you. Now this sounds ideal, but when you truly reflect on how you’ve always wanted to be treated, having someone who genuinely believes in your greatness is paramount."