What is compatibility in a relationship?

Compatible . . . (1) capable of coexisting in harmony; congruous; concordant; consistent; not repugnant.
(2) so related that both (or all) may hold or be true.

The statement above is just your regular old garden variety dictionary definition of the word “compatible”. Very straight forward. As a baseline reference in choosing a mate, one would think that “compatibility” would be uppermost in everyone’s mind.

But it isn’t, perhaps because it is too simple to think in terms of harmony in daily life. It may sound dangerously dull. I can fix that. Let me muddy the concept up a bit and give it some appeal.

To begin with, the entire concept of compatibility as applied to romantic relationships has to do with day-to-day contentment, mundane happiness. Too blah?

The definition given above implies that a stable, harmonious atmosphere between two people is the hallmark of a compatible match.

It doesn’t say anything about being gaga nutso infatuated with someone or living in an endless passion drama. But it does point to a union in which partners may “hold true” to their inner natures without contradicting one another.

That makes sense, because the word “compatible” is from the latin root for “compassion”. So . . . compatibility in a relationship must have something to do with remaining authentically one’s self (not being contradicted in one’s essence) while “feeling with” someone else’s self.

Not enough sizzle there? Still and all . . . most people would admit that “compatibility” it is a pretty decent basis for a marriage or a long friendship.

Unfortunately, not nearly enough people make this the goal of their relationships. The reason is that we are enculturated to found intimate relationships solely on the basis of attraction, with scant concern for compatibility.

Yes, almost all relationships begin with attraction, but, fools that we are, we seem to think that is the end when it is really just the beginning.

To make my point more sharply all I have to do is point out that I am deeply attracted to great salsa, too. But eating salsa for breakfast lunch and dinner is not harmonious to my stomach.

Such a diet contradicts other aspects of my welfare. Attraction is great, but in a committed relationship (like a marriage) you have to eat that attraction for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It is primarily a spice, a condiment, something to flavor the solid food we need on a regular basis. Without it, things might taste pretty blah, that’s true. But I bet you couldn’t live on salsa, either.

Alone, it is not enough to sustain human life. Once we are reassured it is on the table we still have to have a full meal to carry us through the days and weeks and months of life ahead of us.

But as I said . . . most marriages are founded on the salsa, uh . . . I mean attraction . . . which is sparked in the first few weeks of a relationship rather than on the seven food groups . . . uh . . . I mean compatibility, which takes a while to uncover.

lot of people know what is attractive to them but don’t have a clue what makes them deeply gratified and consistently satisfied day after day after day.

Frankly, many of us have not experienced enough of it to form a basis of comparison. Some people don’t even consider happiness possible. Daily — yes daily happiness, I mean. Out of the question!

The reason so many people don’t know what life conditions are required for their own happiness is because they don’t know very much about their own basic temperament and essential emotional needs.

They wouldn’t recognize a fundamental need if it bit them in the ass, so innured are they to accepting dull misery as their lot in life. So . . . lots of people know what they are attracted to, but few people know why or how it is related to their most basic needs.

This is the cart-before-the-horse approach, knowing more about the taste of salsa than we do about the unavoidable demands of our bodies and souls.

There is simply an inadequate fund of knowledge in the land about basic temperament needs. But there are ways to fix that. And the first way is to deeply consider what are the conditions in which you are likely to feel pretty darned good just about every day of your life.

Assuming that there are normal stresses and crises of life . . . what intimate atmosphere is required for you to bloom consistently? And then begin to put more energy into finding a blooming environment for yourself than in chasing the salsa. (Just assume that the condiment will be included.)

This means that as you date and meet new people, you will have to pay as much attention to yourself as to them. You will have to be delving more deeply into who you are at the deepest level. Because that is the level which will be affected by your choice of companion or mate . . . on a daily basis.

In addition to plain old self reflection, there are many resources available to assist you in understanding and articulating your own basic temperament requirements.

There are lots of tools for exploring compatibility on many levels. It is within your power to identify the conditions under which you will bloom consistently.