Compatibility and Incompatibility
I have been talking to a friend about problems in her current relationship, and the issue there clearly seems to be incompatibility. She finds that very difficult to grasp because she really, really likes and cares about this man, and had such high hopes for the relationship. She is mono and looking to get married again, so she wants a serious committed partner. But in the five or six months they've been seeing each other, it has been fraught with difficulty and misunderstandings. She is a thinker, always wrestling with ideas and examining the relationship, and very verbal. He keeps to himself, sees life as very black-and-white, and says very little. It is always like pulling teeth for her to get him to communicate, and then he explodes because he feels he's been pushed too much. There are quite a few other differences in how they each approach their lives.
She gets so disappointed when they hit a roadblock, and I have told her that it just seems like incompatibility, and that means it is nobody's fault. She tried, he tried, but they're just on different wavelengths, at different stages, and probably seeking different things from relationships in order to feel satisfied. If she can't have those deep and heartfelt discussions, she feels something huge is missing; while he avoids those types of talks at all costs. Seeing her trying so hard to make it work between them, with such an imbalance, is heartbreaking.
Unfortunately, she always blames and second-guesses herself when things between them do not mesh, and hearing the word "incompatible" brings up thoughts that she will never find anyone to be compatible with if it doesn't happen with him. It is like she thinks being incompatible is a black mark against her or something. But one can't be compatible with everybody!
In my own life, I have had many relationships end because of incompatibility. Usually they ended rather quickly because it is easy to sense our incompatibility right away. But sometimes I was so enamored -- or needy, more likely -- that I did not want to accept that we were just not right for each other. I hung on and on until it became a painful breakup instead of what could have simply been... moving on. And of course, people do change and grow, so someone who we may have been extremely compatible with for a long time could become not so compatible anymore. When that happens in a marriage, it can be very painful, and I wonder if all manner of "not nice" behaviors crop up to avoid the compatibility/incompatibility issue and have something more tangible to blame.
The funny thing, I think, is that it isn't always obvious why or why not people are compatible. It's like that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie meets that doctor and can't figure out why she's not attracted to him because he's "good on paper." She says, "A 'good on paper guy' is a guy with great credentials... who you always end up leaving for some hot guy who rides a motorcycle and doesn’t have a checking account." LOL
One lover of mine is very compatible with me, though I never would have had a clue how compatible we would be when I met him - we are so different from each other and different from what we would look for in a companion or lover! And we do have glaringly opposite stances on things that are important to us, but somehow those do not get in our way and we have this kind of groove we fit nicely in when we're together. So far, a current potential lover seems like he may also be very compatible with me - again, someone I would not have suspected right away upon meeting him. And there have been guys I just knew I'd be compatible with, with whom it disappointingly did not work out, and quickly fizzled away.
I'm just pondering this subject and thought I'd throw it out there to you folks. How have you known when you were compatible or incompatible with someone? A feeling right away? A conclusion reached after a long period of trying to work? Intuition? Chemistry? Is it even anything we can quantify or analyze? What does the word compatible mean to you, with regard to your relationships? Are there different kinds of compatibility and is that why poly can work for some seemingly disparate combinations of people? How do you handle relationships when incompatibility becomes the obvious problem? And do you think incompatibility can be overcome and result in a satisfying relationship anyway? Feel free to answer whichever of these questions strike your fancy, or pose your own. I think it's an interesting subject, and look forward to the responses!
You're right, this is interesting to think about.
With my husband, I knew right away, the moment I saw him that he was THE ONE, lol. The first date lasted three days, after which he went home to pack all his stuff and move in. We've been together 12 years. On paper, he was absolutely terrible, and if I had a list of things I wanted it would have been a dealbreaker. Now I always tell him he's "everything I never knew I always wanted". So that one was a gut instinct, instant, compatibility.
I've had others, too, where the realization that we could be friends or lovers grew over time. But it's always been instinctive, never a rational thing. I'm a very logical person, but "good on paper" never works for me. I have no lists at all these days, just waiting to see what wanders into my life. :)
The heartbreaking scenario for me always seems to be the one where you start out compatible - or at least THINKING you're compatible - and it slowly dissolves, becoming clearer and clearer that there isn't a future. I've gotten better at accepting that as I age, and can look at relationships as having a natural life span and energy of their own. In my youth I spent a lot of time trying to pump life back into dead partnerships, never with much success. As you said, enamoured or more likely needy.
It sounds like that might be where your friend is - pushing to keep something going that just isn't meant to be. I'm sorry to hear she's blaming herself, I have that tendency too, and it's not pretty.
Unfortunately, in other aspects we are totally NOT compatible.
But, we've found that we can work around those incompatibilities most of the time by focusing on having those needs/interests filled with other friends/lovers.
Some issues are more complicated, like money. He's TERRIBLE with money. The current "solution" annoys the shit out of me (it does work though). That is, I handle the finances, he gets an "allowance" and I take care of all of the bills.
Maca and I were clearly sexually compatible from the outset. But, we struggle with being incompatible intellectually (the same stuff you described about your friend-to a T), emotionally and spiritually. That creates a huge difficulty for me and ironically we were talking AGAIN last night and this morning about how frustrating it is for me to endlessly feel like he's disinterested in ME because he's disinterested in anything to do with my spiritual, intellectual and emotional self.
*he see's it differently. He says he is interested, but simply doesn't have the time I have to ponder such things, and that if he didn't have to work he would be much more inclined to seek out the information by engaging in deeper conversations, reading my blog or emails etc.
As I haven't been in love often, I can only answer this from a very limited point of experience. But I noticed that as soon as I become or are incompatible with someone (over time or from the get-go) I won't feel love. It just doesn't happen or it fizzels out. That happened with my first boyfriend. I still liked him, but we weren't on the same page any more and my feelings vanished. His didn't unfortunately, the breakup was a bit ugly.
With Sward, there has been a time of 'incompatibility' but that was more each of us doing our own thing and neglecting the partner over it. It blew up and we fixed it as the feelings were still there. I don't regard that as incompatibility as we just needed to focus on each other again. We weren't realy rubbing each other the wrong way or something like that.
I knew right away that I was compatible with Lin, just because I noticed my feelings grew steadily. If I look back, we haven't even seen each other and we kind of knew that we were compatible nevertheless. Feelings are my one and only indicator to know if I match well with someone or not. But I am afraid, that I won't be a person who works on an incompatible relationship, as my feelings will have decided for me and just left the picture way sooner than my realization that I need to do some work.
I have never been in a relationship that just 'didn't work' for the persons involved or was trying to fix it in vain.
The friend nycindie mentioned and her guy sound a lot like me and Bob. :D Well I sound just like the friend, but Bob is not that extreme because he does talk, but anyway there are big differences in our communication methods/preferences and we have quite a lot of misunderstandings. And that's one of the reasons we'll probably never be anything more than FWB's. Being even that is hard at times. :rolleyes:
I think compatibility is very very important in relationships. Sometimes we can get caught up in the feeling of infatuation/love and forget all the incompatibility issues while in NRE, but the issues will come back to haunt the relationship when the NRE phase is over. I've always thought that love is definitely not all you need for a good relationship. Compatibility is just as important. As to when do you know if you're compatible or not.. I think I usually can't tell that right away. It takes getting to know the person quite thoroughly before I can come to any conclusion about that. Or actually I'd say incompatibility can be quite obvious right from the start but compatibility will take some examining.
Compatibility is not a feeling for me, it's not intuition or chemistry, it's the rational conclusion I make based on everything I've learned from the other person and the things I know about myself. We need to have enough similar values, interests, personality traits etc. to be able to make a relationship work.
Me and rory are quite similar in many ways. Obviously we have our differences but they are not as relevant as the things we have in common. For example I'm more social than her which is ok, we have no problem with this difference. We're similar in that we both love endless conversations and analyzing things, which is hugely important. So I guess thinking about how similar/compatible you need to be in order to have a relationship, it all depends what things are important to you in life. I have no problem with having a partner that doesn't want to go out as much as I do, because I have friends who I can do that with, but I would have a problem with having a partner that wouldn't want to talk to me about feelings or who would hate analyzing, because that's what I like to do with partners.
Me and JJ are also compatible but still we're having a hard time at the moment. He has the things I want and need from a partner and my rational side says he is a good partner. So I guess sometimes even love and compatibility aren't enough..
Nrgh. You are asking me to show you my panties! LOL.
How have you known when you were compatible or incompatible with someone?
Depends on the rship. These words are NOT the right words, but clonky tools I have to use ok? Please don't ding me if the words are awkward. :)
I run my rships on the "contract model with option to renew." Some renew automatically. There's no "official check in" to regain consent for another run. Some are more delicate and need that affirmation at established check in points.
Some are relationships I sense are just going to be hard ones. I'm willing to have hard ones, if people will HOLD THEIR OWN BAG. I'm open to the experience of it. But don't be dumping baggage on me. When I've WARNED you.
A feeling right away? A conclusion reached after a long period of trying to work? Intuition? Chemistry? Is it even anything we can quantify or analyze?
A feeling relatively soon, and reconfirmed after a test period.
I know it because I know ME well. I know my own buttons and I know putting myself into certain situations with certain people will get those buttons pushed.
That doesn't automatically nix having relationship, but it does put some limits on them from the get go. So the player I play with better be Jedi Master. I don't want or need peewee league, but I do so love a good chess game. Even if I "lose" the game.
It's the thrill of the journey of loving. If poly people wanted easy loving, they wouldn't be poly. Or at least that is how I feel. :D
So I lay it on the line -- my rights and responsibilites game plan of how I roll and expect to be treated. Don't even play in my arena if you cannot hack it. Show me your dance card. I'll tell you if I can hack yours.
You need time to think it, that's fine, I can grant access and a free tour. But there will be a check in point and there will be a reconcile time to see if this kite will fly or not. You choose to play here, it's house rules!
Some potential partners run for the hills. Think I'm scary and intimidating. I will grant I can see so for those not ready to play in this league. I am firm but fair.
Some potential partners glitter in the eyes -- and then I glitter too. They know what it is, what dragons I chase. Those are the best kind of partners. Hoo boy. En guarde -- prepare not to duel, but to DANCE and dance well!
What does the word compatible mean to you, with regard to your relationships?
A willingness to play ball honorably, and a willingness to hold your own freakin' bag during the relationship run. An acceptance that all rships come with a clock attached and it WILL end, and we will decide how to end it like Jedi. Not squabbling Muppet Show shit. An acceptance that we do the spiral dance together because we so CHOOSE, and in doing so we accept the challenge of facing conflicts that might arise as an opportunity to grow more into our better selves.
No life is conflict free. We do it anyway.
Because the pleasure is in partnering to spin double helix Life Thread together for a time for however long a time we have together in our dance. And see what freakin' colors we can spin to flyyyyyy. :D
Are there different kinds of compatibility and is that why poly can work for some seemingly disparate combinations of people?
Yes. I am a Human person. I have the 4 buckets of : mind, body, heart, soul.
I evolve, I change, my partners become my bucket stirrers and I stir theirs. Ergo pushing-pulling each other toward personal growth for the betterment of self and each other.
For a time, I was NOT ready to go meta bucket deep with DH.
I leaned more heavily on my OSO for those needs. Then the pendulum swung the other way. Even now, when exOSO is not even a part of my mundane life any more, I have compersion frubble bubble from that cord. I send some shooting his way. From the heart, because we simply do not speak any more and I do not want to intrude in his main life.
I don't want to change that. He lives thousands of miles away, and has another Life to Live now. As do I. But I like getting to feel his fingerprints in my head sometimes. And that's the box I like keeping it in for now.
As I tell my kid all the time -- a place and time for everything, and everything in its place in good time.
She thinks I'm only talking about putting away the toys, but I'm not. :D
How do you handle relationships when incompatibility becomes the obvious problem?
I try to talk to my person, and renegotiate the contract -- perhaps change some agreements or the framework.
If they do not wish to accept the inevitable, I pull the plug and take the hit. From a gesture of Love. This is how I broke up with OSO. His primary was having a fit of jealousy and he was struggling and to make it easier on him, I checked out and friend zoned myself. He was furious. Bewildered.
Much later he called me to thank me for the classy move. Now that he had to break up with her, he could see the difficulty and thanked me for handling his heart well, gentle, and loved but FIRM.
My other break up people have surprised me. The first and worst I pulled the plug and took a hit and more than a DECADE later he calls me out of the blue to tell me I loved him well, I loved him better, and to thank me. Mind boggling. I never expected anything from that seeming dead end and look. He grew. Cuz I kicked him. Mind boggle. I wished him well and felt satisfied that ok, that one was a weird long time in coming but it came in the end so NO I wasn't crazy to have spun thread there to begin with. That's nice to know. Taught me some things just take a long ass time! That doesn't mean my radar is off.
And do you think incompatibility can be overcome and result in a satisfying relationship anyway?
Sure. Our hot sizzle romance time was what? 2 years? We were excellent ex-OSO friends for what? 4 yrs? He threw a party at his house states away the day of my wedding to DH. Sent me the compersive pix as our wedding present. He also "gave me away" in spirit, standing in for my father who could not.
The man had style, I loved him, and I still do. And I'm ok with him not being in my mundane, normal everyday life any more. He doesn't need to be for me to keep on enjoying him or keep on loving him in a different framework in my head.
That Jedi fenced well. :rolleyes: Everyone should have a "the one that I let get away" person that is so satisfyingly set free. Yummy of another flavor.
But the reason when it came down to the wire, and I had to choose my Destiny? I felt the need. It was time to chose between the two for my next stage of life because I wanted children, and I feel passionately about closing up shop for a time to have them in. The V framework flew fine when we were all even -- but the time had come to shack up with someone so...
Though I was the MFM hinge I chose DH because he is similar to me too but NOT.
ExOSO was similar, but TOO close. When it comes down to the wire? I tend toward the dark. exOSO tended toward the dark. A marriage there would have tempted too much darkness.
DH tends toward the light, and I wanted a balance time for marriage and children. Not tempting tumult. That's just not a nice environment for a child.
Both DH and exOSO are shut down communicators. Which makes me crazy because I'm a yaketty. BUT... DH will send out progress reports, which makes it easier to take. when it is "Hang Time at the Forge" for me with him.
ExOSO was clam down and come back with full intense final draft and THEN negotiate. He's not a "tinkerer, take the pulse" type. Which has its charms. But I can't see me parenting with a person that way -- it would make me insane, I'd be a brat, and he'd shut down and there we go. Into the recursive loop function of tug-of-change. Too wrapped up in each other to pay attention to any children and that's no good to any. When he'd get this way I stomp off on home and stew alone, but that doesn't work in a cohabiting with kids model of living.
DH shuts down but WILL steam valve and temp check while he's cookin' something, so I can bear Hang Time with him when the jury's out on something. It also wasn't just marriage and children but my own chronic health probs and 10 yrs of seeking a dx. Maddening! To and fro on doctor parade. I was scared and needed more hopeful person at my side, not a struggling to be hopeful/put brave face on it person. I'm already that. I didn't not need that dbl with exOSO at my side.
I needed a partner that could take that stage with those problems coming down the pipeline.
So in the end, it was DH over exOSO for better odds. Not for better Love, both men were loving, lovely, and I loved them fiercely.
Just the styles they came in -- for the 20's-30's run I'm talking about, one clearly had the better skillset for that run.
I believe every age and stage has it's charms -- cada epoca tiene su encanto.
I believed I'm free to write the song of my Life with who I want for each bar played.
There you go. I play hard ball, I play firm, but I play fair.
So far, nobody's complaining their innings with me. :)
Interesting perspectives so far. GalaGirl, I don't understand most of your answer, and I often have difficulty making sense out of the language you use in your long posts, but I appreciate the effort you put into your reply.
Compatibility, hmm... this morning I was remembering how I've had lovers with whom I've been very compatible sexually and yet not get along at all outside the bedroom, and visa versa. Those kinds of relationships didn't have much longevity, but some were fun for their respective reasons. They didn't work for being monogamous, but I wonder if situations like that probably would work better now for living polyamorously.
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