In healthful partnerships, a balance is struck between familiarity and newness. Some fear that partners who are “just like them” may result in love-lost, reduced sexual desire, general boredom…and it’s true, we do all want our partners to bring new ideas, experiences, and excitement into our lives, right?
At the same time, we also seek comfort, friendship, safety. So the question remains…what aspects should we have in common, and just how much should we differ? Here, Professional Matchmaker Aki Murata shares her expert model of relationship compatibility explained through a discussion of core values, interests, and habits.
Because no matter what, the best relationships thrive on opportunities to learn new things and grow together, which requires both a bond of familiarity and the desire to seek newness.
Core Values are:
Essential to our lives.
They express how we view and understand live’s events.
They are not easily changed.
Anything less is not a core value. How does this affect your love life? Simply, core values are what we most need to share with romantic partners. You may have learned already that when core values are misaligned, the relationship doesn’t quite seem to work, or “fit.” Some examples may relate to education, money spending habits, our political views. It could be how religion is practiced, how we feel about different ethnicities and races, how we feel about having close friends of opposite genders. If any such topics form core values for you, a romantic partner in opposition to your feelings on the matter forebodes trouble.
Note that most of these are about how we value or how we feel about certain things. This requires deep reflection beyond examining surface behaviors. As an example, consider that most people would say education is important if asked, but how and how much they value education is a different question altogether. Do you value education, above say…financial security? Would you understand putting financial success on hold to pursue a graduate degree? We, of course, value education, but do you also feel it’s important for children to complete their household chores before homework?
These critical differences have true impact on decision making and compatibility.
Another pertinent example: Is it business-as-usual to go out with a close friend of your suitor’s gender while in a relationship? Is it OK to carry out on long text chats with them as well? These differences, if ignored, can create significant challenges later on. So if you’re considering forever, also consider identifying and dealing with core values now.
Core Interests & Habits
There are indeed essential interests and habits that are crucial to share with our partners. This doesn’t have to be something sporty and exotic, like wind surfing. It could be something more poignant to the day-to-day, like a preference for eating out vs. cooking, the frequency of how we like to engage in physical activities, and/or how readily we’ll spring for international travel and long vacations.
Not coincidentally at all, these interests and habits often develop to form core values.
While it’s not necessary that all of these interests and habits are shared, it is important that when they’re in-conflict, that we realistically examine the resulting challenges. As an example, a preference to eat out versus cook at home may be closely related to core financial habits and values. Some may feel eating out is wasteful, while the other prefers the sensibility of grabbing something on-the-go. It goes on from there…these preferences express how we believe good meals should be enjoyed, such as, at a nice restaurant, or at home with the family.
If we miss where the preference is coming from, we may also mis-understand what is truly valued.
This, often (and unintentionally) creates unpleasant exchanges.
So, It’s not just about “food,” (and I guarantee those who associate food with expressions of love would whole-heartedly agree!), it’s about the value system that roots our lives, our choices, and I believe, our happiness. A discovery into why we value certain activities should be helpful to understand who we are as individuals and how that affects the couple.
Also know that interests and habits may develop over time, later-on in life, and that’s OK. It’s unfair to think or request that someone not change, that they not be captured by new and unexpected things. Should you be the one captured, gently introduce this new hobby to your partner with a positive experience. Then, you may both embrace the new activity.
Talk it over, learn from each other, empathize what and how values are represented in these habits, and try new ways together.
This is a space where I recommend non-judgment and openness. When you discover core interests and habits that differ from yours, like invite-only Star Trek viewings in costume, try not to laugh (or express horror) right away, as they are coming from an entirely different set of life experiences than you. And who knows, you might enjoy it too.
Peripheral Interests and Habits
Despite what is generally believed, it’s best to have differing interests and habits in our relationships, and we will (and do) call on them—whether that be to share them with our partners, or as a opportunity for solitary time. Regarding the former, trying new things as a couple creates a sense of wonder, meaningful challenges, and a common space to grow together. And the latter, it’s also important to maintain those habits and interests externally from your relationship.
When we make more space for ourselves, there is naturally more space created for others.
Examples of peripheral interests and habits could be certain sports activities (hiking, dancing, rock climbing, etc.), eating (or cooking) certain ethnic cuisines, listening to specific genres of music, and going to cultural events. If we readily enjoy these activities together, that’s great, but if not, consider them as good opportunities to learn about each other and grow together while trying it out.
For example, your new match likes ballroom dancing. You’ve never considered yourself a dancer, but they’re excited to show you what they know. Since you’re drawn to them and drawn to their world, you go, (and hopefully) you enjoy being a part of your partner’s happiness.
This doesn’t mean you must go to every dancing event and spend all weekend watching national ballroom competition re-runs, but there is indeed a level of involvement and investigation that can be enjoyable for all.
Also consider…If you happen to know something that your partner does not, you would likely appreciate the opportunity to share that expertise and knowledge, to take initiatives to help them learn too. Learning naturally creates a space of vulnerability as we experience new things, and that’s a wonderful way to share your authentic selves and grow together. Try it!
Finding and Creating Relationship Compatibility
Identify and mix the three dimensions above to create a matrix that’s right for you and your relationships. As long as core values are shared (and if not shared, then fully understood and respected), then the relationship has solid ground. Add to that a collection of shared core (and peripheral) interests, and a nice balance of solo ones as well, and you’ll find harmony.
If you’re single and looking, try not to get stuck on finding someone who likes everything you like–wouldn’t that be truly boring (!!!). Instead, listen to their stories, try to understand how they see their world, and make sure there is enough peripheral differences for room to grow.
Have fun with this!