It’s easy to think a girl is perfect for you when you’re in the first stages of dating. At that point, you’re each on your best behavior and are showing your most charming, desirable sides, while keeping your less attractive qualities under wraps.
Slowly, though, the truth will reveal itself, and you might find you are less compatible than it first seemed. How do you prevent this coming out months down the line? Well, here are 10 ways to know if you’re compatible, right from the early stages:
1. You agree on the big issues
You don’t have to have identical opinions and tastes, but on big, important issues like religion, politics and your general life goals, you’re going to need agreement and understanding, if not the exact same positions. It’s generally pretty heavy to cover these topics on the first date, but you should spend the early stages of getting to know each other uncovering some of her stances on these issues, because you don’t want to find out that you have completely different values after you’ve been dating for months and she’s met the whole family.
2. You have mechanisms for resolving conflict
Sometimes healthy conflict resolution takes time to work out together, but if you’re having screaming arguments and tearful misunderstandings right from the jump, this could be a sign you don’t have long-term compatibility. If you can’t have disagreements without resorting to personal attacks or yelling at each other, or, worse, you can’t resolve matters after you’ve had less-than-mature arguments, you might need to find someone with whom you’ll enjoy a more peaceful state.
3. You feel strong chemistry
Physical attraction isn’t everything, and strong relationships can be forged even if there aren’t exactly fireworks right from the start. But you should feel some kind of spark when you are around your (potential) significant other; whether that’s in the form of wanting to rip her clothes off, laugh at everything she says or talk to her until the wee hours, you need to have some warm fuzzies to remind you why you want to hang around when the going gets a bit rougher.
4. You can live together harmoniously
Ultimately, for long-term relationships, you’re likely to want to live together at some point. It’s not always easy right at the beginning of a relationship to know if you’ll be able to live together, but there are definitely some warning signs to pay attention to: are you an absolute neat freak, while she leaves her clothes strewn everywhere? Do you steadfastly refuse to cook or clean, or does she? Pay attention to these early signs to determine whether you might be able to cohabitate one day.
5. You share some interests
Again, you don’t need to be twins or mirror images of each other, but it really helps to gel a relationship together if there are certain activities you like doing together. It could be anything from watching movies together to playing sport, or even just hanging around chatting and drinking beer, but if you’re constantly away from each other doing different activities — or if you can’t stand the things the other person likes doing with their time — the forecast for the future might not be so sunny.
6. She doesn’t take minor things too seriously, and neither do you
Compatible couples don’t tear apart at the seams as soon as there’s a minor issue at hand. Sometimes one or both of you will say thoughtless things, or leave dishes in the sink or forget an anniversary. These are crappy things that should be apologized for, but they shouldn’t be deal breakers or cause endless tirades of “I knew you didn’t care about me!” or “You’re always so selfish!” Both of you will need some ability to forgive and move on from minor infractions, and if you can do this from the start, that’s a strong sign.
7. You both put energy into regenerating the relationship
This is one that takes a little bit more time to determine, but when things have become a bit routine between the two of you, is she making an effort to spice things up or make sure you’re still interested? Are you? We’re fed a narrative about relationships in movies and pop culture that landing a partner is the hard part, and then the rest is easy. It’s nonsense: relationships take constant work, and require renewed energy from both of you.
8. Your friends and family like her, and vice versa
Sometimes the people close to us have better compatibility radars than we do for ourselves. If your friends and family are making comments like “you two are so cute together!” or “when is your new girlfriend coming around again?” that’s a great sign. Conversely, signs of disapproval — although they’ll likely be more subtle — are an important cue, too.
9. You find yourself factoring her into the future
You don’t tend to imagine buying a dog and designing a house from scratch with someone that you’re fundamentally incompatible with. Sure, we all fall head over heels for people who aren’t right for us occasionally, but if you’re making long-term plans and imagining a future with your new girlfriend, it probably means things are going well, and that you’re a good match.
10. You don’t want her to leave
Time apart in relationships is healthy — let’s clear that up. However, strong partnerships are built on a fundamental liking of one another, and enjoyment of each other’s company. It’s natural, in a good relationship, to feel pangs of longing when one of you is on holiday without the other, and to miss each other when you’re separated. If separation fills you with relief rather than mild discomfort, that’s a red flag, and you might need to keep searching for someone you want near you more often.
Compatibility really comes down to a few fundamental components: shared values, mature conflict resolution, liking each other and treating each other with respect. If any of these factors are lacking a few months in, you may not be the best match for one another, but if you’re saying a resounding “yes!” to all of these signs, congratulations: you’re onto a good thing!