Are We Compatible?
Source: Ohio State University
How do you know if a person is compatible as a life-long partner? What does it take to really get to know someone? According to Dr. John Van Epp, author of the program
“P.I.C.K. a Partner” (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge; www.nojerks.com), it takes three things: Time, Talk and Togetherness. Each of these three “T’s” is equally important to learning more about a potential partner.
For example, when on a date at a movie, the couple is together but not really talking. When a couple first starts dating, they may spend a lot of time on the phone or sending e-mail messages to each other, but they are not physically together to observe each other’s behaviors. According to Dr. Van Epp, togetherness is where you see the person in action in many different situations—having fun, being serious, alone with you, and interacting with others. Hence, it takes time to truly get to know a person. But what does it mean to really know someone? According to Dr. Van Epp, there are five key things you want to learn about a potential partner (and yourself) as you spend time talking and doing things together. He refers to these as getting to know F.A.C.E.S.:
F—Family Dynamics and Background.
Family experiences strongly influence our attitudes and behaviors (e.g., communication patterns, dealing with conflict) in future relationships. Gender role expectations (who’s expected to do what), communication patterns, lessons about relationships, and dealing with conflict or stress are all shaped by our family experience. How well do you know your partner’s family? How do they treat each other? Are there patterns you notice that are troublesome? How similar or dissimilar are your families?
A—Attitudes and Actions of a Mature Conscience.
How mature is your partner? What is this person’s sense of right and wrong? Does this person make wise and kind choices or just think about his or her own needs? Does this person have a sense of how his or her words and actions affect others? At the start of the relationship your partner may present his or her “best” side, but it is what you observe over time that will truly reflect his or her maturity.
What are your partner’s interests, personality, skills, values, goals, beliefs and attitudes about life? How much do you have in common? Do you enjoy spending time together? While looks do matter, it’s these aspects of compatibility that develop friendship and serve as the foundation for a long-lasting relationship.
E—Examples of Previous Friendship or Relationship Patterns.
How we acted in the past says a lot about how we will act in the future. How does your partner treat his or her friends and family members? More than likely, the patterns of behavior you witness in these relationships will (eventually) show up in your own relationship.
S—Skills for Relationships.
How well can you and your partner communicate with each other? Is your partner a good listener? Is he or she open and honest? Can you talk out problems? The research is clear—good communication and positive ways of handling conflict result in healthy, long-lasting relationships. There will always be things to learn and discover about each other, but before making a lifetime commitment, it is important to know as much about your partner, as well as yourself, as possible. Learn about where your partner comes from, who he or she is, and who he or she wants to be. Spend lots of time talking with him or her and observing his or her behaviors and interactions with others.