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What makes two people compatible as romantic partners can seem like a mystery. People love to throw around “chemistry” or “spark” or “it just works” like those things are all obvious – when in fact, the answer is a little more nuanced. Here are a few factors that might make two people compatible.

Your Schedules Play Well Together

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Sometimes whether or not a relationship even gets as far as a first date comes down to scheduling and flexibility. If you both have rigid jobs with opposing hours, you might not even be able to make a first date, let alone build a life together. In more established partnerships, you may have the foundation to handle temporary shifts – like someone working toward an upcoming professional milestone or newly back in school – but if you’re thinking about dating each other and just can’t find the time, it’s a sign to look for a partner whose availability is similar to yours. You can’t enjoy each other’s company if you never get to see each other.

You Share A Relationship Style

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Whether you’re polyamorous, monogamous, or somewhere in between, your match should share your preferences. You wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – change your relationship orientation for anyone else, and so you shouldn’t – and can’t – try to make someone change their relationship orientation for you.

Your Sex Drives Match (Or You Agree On What To Do If They Don’t)

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Wanting the same amount and types of sex – or not – is a key component of compatibility. Someone with an extremely high sex drive and someone with a very low sex drive can sometimes compromise, especially at first, but for long-term compatibility, it’s important either to align or to practice a relationship style that allows the partner with the higher drive to meet their needs somewhere else.

You Have Similar Values Behind Your Interests (But You Don’t Need To Have The Same Interests)

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It can feel incredible to meet someone who shares every interest you have – incredibly boring, that is. You don’t need to share every hobby and interest you love with your partner, and they don’t need to share all of theirs with you. What’s important is that you have similar drives and values behind the way you spend time. For instance, someone who really enjoys reading might think they can only be happy with another bookworm. But maybe what drives them to read is curiosity about the world – the same curiosity that might drive someone who’s really into documentaries, podcasts, and long forms. As long as the fundamentals are the same, the way you each express them can be different – and will make hanging out far more interesting.

You Have Harmonious Approaches To Substances

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You don’t necessarily need to have the same habits around alcohol, cannabis, drugs, or food, but much like with other interests, you should have values that align. For instance, a vegan and an omnivore might find common ground over the importance of local, seasonal, well-sourced food. Farmer’s market date, anyone? A non-smoker might appreciate the earthy smell of cannabis without wanting to consume any, while a non-drinker might appreciate the long history of women in brewing. Like with other interests, consider the foundation rather than what you’ve built on top of it.

In any situation, no one can be compatible with anyone if they’re struggling with addiction. (If you’re struggling with addiction and want support, the SAMHSA national hotline is 1-800-662-4357.)

You Respect Each Other’s Support Networks – And Each Have Your Own

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Friends, family, ex-girlfriends... whatever your partner’s support network looks like, it’s important that they have one and that you do, too. Part of the magic of queer relationships can be connecting with each other’s friends – you might have even met that way – but it’s also important to have room to foster supportive relationships beyond your partner and to appreciate and respect when they do the same. Being on the same page about mutually supporting each other’s friends and family, and the time spent with them separately is an important facet of compatibility.

You Want Similar Futures

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What city do you want to live in? Do you want to travel? Get married? Live with a partner or alone? What’s your dream career-life balance? What do you want your finances to look like? When you’re swept up in the excitement of a new connection, the bigger picture doesn’t feel like it matters that much. But when you’re thinking about the long term, the answers to those questions are an important gauge of compatibility.

You Feel Safe Around Each Other

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Being able to hold safe space for each other is crucial. Mutual vulnerability is important for relationships, and respect, trust, and recognition are a part of it. In some ways it’s about being able to bridge any gaps between your love languages – treating your match how they want to be treated, rather than how you want to be treated. In other ways, it’s being enough in alignment around your communication that each person feels safe expressing themselves and equally able to listen to the other, whether you’re both experts or bumbling through. 

 

The best way to judge compatibility isn’t through whether you’re basically the same person – it’s through whether you’re comfortable showing up with all the parts of who you are.