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!
Last edited by nycindie; 05-01-2014 at 06:59 AM.