You want to quit your job in a year and live off the grid while planning to work in the city and stay close to your family. How did you miss this important piece of information? And what’s next?
“When people first fall in love, where they first fall in love, sometimes logic goes out the window,” said Deborah Carr, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Innovation in Social Science at Boston University. “There’s a lot of data to show that logical thought patterns sometimes get lost in the fray when someone is genuinely attracted to a person or when they’re feeling the pangs of passion.”
Depending on how far along people are in a relationship, not having assessed certain areas of compatibility early on can have difficult emotional and practical consequences, said Jeremy Nicholson, a Massachusetts-based social psychologist and Psychology Today contributor.
When you find that you and your partner are incompatible, “You are either in a relationship with someone you love who is making you unhappy because you cannot have a healthy relationship with them, or you are breaking up with someone who is You have ingrained love with,” Nicholson said. While it may seem difficult to have conversations about priorities early on, it’s actually a lot easier on your emotions in the long run, he added.
Additionally, as engagement increases, the practical aspects of partners’ lives often become more intertwined — “particularly financially,” Nicholson added. “So it becomes a bigger problem for you if you haven’t had those conversations and then they spend the rent money and you’re both potentially homeless.”
Breaking up a relationship “can also be expensive, like going through a divorce. Living together and then looking for a new place to live is very disruptive,” Carr said. Sometimes “when a serious relationship breaks up, it can really cause trouble for people and their family and friends. So I think it’s important to go in cautiously and have as much information as possible.”
If you are considering entering into a serious relationship with someone (or people), you probably already know their Covid-19 vaccination status, political affiliation or religious beliefs. Here are questions to ask yourself and your love interests to gauge the red flags and overall compatibility every step of the way.
Bind for the long term
When you’re considering a commitment, ask yourself why you’re with that person, what benefits you get from it, and what makes you happy about it, Carr said. “Sometimes the answer is, ‘Well, I’m lonely and I need someone.’ (But) that’s not really a good enough reason to jump into a relationship,” she added.
“Couples I work with — who are new and just getting to know each other — often don’t care as well as they should about their emotional compatibility, the degree to which they’re really comfortable with each other, or whether they’re just infatuated and attracted to one another,” said John Duffy, a psychologist who specializes in working with teenagers, parents, couples and families.
Emotional compatibility is feeling like you can share anything with your partner, as opposed to feeling guarded and having to put on a facade, Duffy added.
“Commitment is pretty easy,” Nicholson said, but does your partner want to commit to a short-term or long-term relationship? And what do you mean by a long term relationship anyway?
For some, this looks like partnership, marriage or raising children. Is this relationship monogamous, open, or polyamorous? Do you like – and do you like – the idea of living together one day?
In addition to the type of relationship you desire, it is important to know how well aligned you are with other values, finances, and sexual activity from a practical perspective.
Watch out for stat- or character-based warning signals early on, such as: B. Lack of financial generosity – reflected in behaviors such as improper tipping of waiters – excessive spending or extreme limitations. If you decide to live together, it pays to watch for early signs of financial compatibility, Duffy said.
“It shows in other areas of relationships over time, too,” he added of how generous they are with their time and attention, even when it comes to your physical needs and desires.
Some people have lifestyles or medical conditions that might affect what they want in a partner. Does the person you are considering hiring have a substance abuse issue or sobriety journey they need support with? Or will you, and have you communicated that?
How does your partner deal with family members, people of different genders, and people with strained relationships? Have they shown signs of violent or aggressive behavior, such as B. Road rage or being run over by a minor event? Are they arguing with healthy and open communication, or does it feel cold and abusive?
“Part of growth is disagreeing in a healthy way and learning from it and growing from it — even growing together from disagreements and finding your way back, making up again,” Duffy said. “It’s a really important topic to look at when assessing the potential longevity of a relationship.”
Determining sexual compatibility involves asking what types of physical intimacy are okay and what aren’t. “It can be anything from toys to oral sex to all kinds of foreplay…then we get to fetishes and fantasies and things like that,” Nicholson said. “If someone needs a specific thing and the other person can’t take it, that’s sort of a red flag that either needs to be worked through or the relationship may not be able to move forward.”
When it comes to sex, the main questions are what types of activities both partners enjoy and how often each person wants it, Nicholson said. People also differ in their beliefs about whether satisfying one’s sexual needs is solely their partner’s responsibility. And what is your partner’s sleep routine, if they have one at all?
“The bigger the inequality there is, the more they’re going to have to sort things out,” he said.
“It’s in people’s best interest to start talking about sexually transmitted infections as soon as they become sexually active,” Carr added. Couples should talk about sexual health, including contraception, and who is responsible for it and any assumptions about it.
If your loved ones don’t support your partner, will you protect your relationship and set boundaries? What is your partner’s relationship with his own family?
These days, with dating apps, you might know early on about a person’s life goals — like if they want kids. If not, then it’s worth it for adults to talk about kids together between three and six months, Duffy said.
Sharing a home with a partner can pose additional considerations in every important area of compatibility.
When it comes to finance, you’re evaluating a partner’s ability to be conscientious and follow through, Nicholson said. How do you intend to pay off the high debt? Do you have a savings account?
Determine if “they lead immediate, impulsive lifestyles or if they are able to delay gratification, save, and basically plan for the future,” Nicholson added. Also consider who pays what for what, whether contributions depend on each person’s salary, and whether you want separate or joint accounts.
Housework expectations can become contentious if not discussed sooner rather than later. Sometimes people make assumptions based on their cultural background or their beliefs about gender roles, Nicholson said. Partners should get a sense of each other’s existing beliefs and then discuss what makes them happy with progress. Carr said she usually recommends each person do what makes them happy.
Asking questions about long-term career goals is also crucial, Carr added. If your partner plans a major change like moving for a new job, are you expected to move with them? Who has the shorter commute to work and why?
Before I say ‘I do’
Many of the same compatibility assessments that are made for cohabitation also apply to marriage, but in the latter case, expectations become more serious, Carr and Nicholson said.
You might be able to be somewhat flexible with someone’s spending habits while you live together, but if they get into debt and you marry them, their debt becomes yours too, Nicholson said. As your life becomes more connected to theirs, you need to be sure you are comfortable with who you are and what you are doing, because it will affect you more than before.
Also, “It’s very difficult to change people,” Carr said. “As people get older, they become an amplified version of their younger selves. So if there’s one trait in your partner that upsets you by the time you’re 25, that trait will magnify and could be much, much more annoying by the time you’re 50 — so really ask yourself the good, the bad, and the ugly and what you are willing to accept and not accept in a relationship.”