5 Tools for Measuring Compatibility
The Data of Love
In case you didn’t know, dating a philosopher is awesome. When I started dating my now fiancé, we delved deep. We talked about what a good relationship looked like and wrote our values of a healthy relationship. Defining our priorities early on has done wonders in our relationship, and I am in the best relationship of my life, by a significant margin.
Another thing we did was learn a ton about each other. We talked about our childhoods, hopes, dreams, and preferences. This process hasn’t ended with time, of course. One of our values is curiosity, and I know I will continue to learn about this wonderful man my entire life.
A fun, albeit nerdy, way to learn about your partner and yourself is through tools like the ones listed below. My fiancé, Kevin, and I worked through these resources during our first months of dating. It was fascinating to discover how we were alike and how we were different.
The most important aspect was the conversations the test results prompted. I’m sure you could learn all you need to know from chatting alone, but these are useful tools and conversation starters.
And if you are single, most of the quizzes can be taken solo, and the results will help you find your perfect match.
I think the 5 Love Languages (5LL) are crucial to any long term relationship. The 5LL are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
I used to be decidedly anti-Love Language. I thought that if people truly loved each other they would do all these things for each other naturally. But because we have different temperaments and histories, some of the languages come more naturally than others.
Further, love is a verb, not just a feeling that comes and goes willy-nilly. There are particular actions that will make a person feel loved. The test will point to the tangible ways you prefer to be shown affection and care. Knowing your partner’s love language helps you know how to fill up their “love tank.” I highly recommend the book!
One caveat to the 5LL: If people are not emotionally connected, no amount of external affirmation will convince them they are connected when they are not. The 5LL are best used when there is already a strong foundation of connected conversation and knowledge of each other.
This is a 120 question survey which assesses your personal values. The results are a list of 24 virtues, listed sequentially in order or how high you scored on each value. The goal is to gain a higher understanding of what is really important to you.
The questionnaire doesn’t directly relate to couples and love, but Kevin and I took it the same week, compared our scores, and discussed our different strengths. The results were surprisingly spot on, and gave us lots to think and talk about.
And while the test does highlight your strengths, it also shows some of your weaknesses. When couples first start dating, there is a tendency to idealize the other. All sorts of hormones are running through our body, like adrenaline, oxytocin, and norepinephrine. It can be difficult to see the whole picture while in the throes of possibility, lust, and excitement.
But in order to get to real, lasting, and sustainable love, we have to look at the full human before us, strengths and weaknesses, as well as owning this in ourselves.
Spoiler alert, this one is probably the least fun of all the tests listed here, but it is vitally important to your relationships. Though the test only takes 10 minutes, the results will involve evaluating your history and childhood.
Attachment theory examines the common patterns in your relationships, specifically in the way you connect to those closest to you, either anxiously, securely, or avoidantly. These patterns begin in early childhood with your bond with your caregiver. If your parent was inconsistent or abusive, you are more likely to develop an insecure attachment pattern.
Your attachment pattern is how you feel in a relationship: Fearful that it may end, and your partner will leave you. Reclusive and evasive, constantly wanting space when you get close to your partner. Or relaxed and at ease, free to open up to your partner without fear.
Learning your attachment pattern, and that of your partner, is an essential tool of awareness. If you are insecure, the most efficient way to resolve that fear or avoidance is to shine a light on it. When you start to notice your anxiety or recalcitrance, you can objectively evaluate whether it is warranted or not.
Keep in mind your attachment pattern is malleable. It can change. After a year in therapy, an avoidant can become more secure. Or an anxious person can become more secure through a consistent and healthy relationship. But the first step is to learn your attachment pattern.
This is a deck of cards, each with 2-4 questions, on four subjects of Romance, Social Life, Work, and Money. Kevin and I spent a week on vacation working through all 52 cards, and it was a magical time. We got to know each other and ourselves more deeply and covered so much ground.
Research done by the Gottman Institute has shown that the better you know your spouse, the more protected your marriage is from divorce. Dr Gottman calls this creating “love maps,” which is the knowledge you have of your partner and your relationships. Love maps include: What are the current stressors in your partner’s life? Who was their childhood best friend? When did you have your first kiss?
The cards include some questions like this, but they are more focused on the future: What do you you expect to change when you are married? How will you divide chores? What are your expectations for your partner’s career success? What will you do if the marriage gets rocky or strained?
Going through this deck was perfect to get on the same page, align our expectations, and explore what our marriage would look like.
You will need a facilitator for this one, which just means you will need a therapist or a counselor to receive your results and talk about them with you. It also costs $35, but it’s worth the price!
This assessment gives you a snapshot of your relationship at the moment. You get a 10 page report, analyzing your strength and growth areas, relationship dynamics, personal stressors, family influences, and personality traits.
The strength and growth areas were interesting. It looks at how much you are on the same page in terms of communication, conflict resolution, financial management, family relationships, and sexual expectations. It’s in-depth!
This test isn’t essential if you’ve worked through the rest of these. A lot of the questions were things we covered in Gottman’s card deck, but it was neat to see the objective confirmation that we were on the same page.
Bonus — 16 Personalities
The Myers-Briggs personality test is also a great one! Read more about it here.
So, what do you do with all this data? You talk about it, think about it, and see how it relates to your life. You can also find out how it doesn’t relate to your life, or how the tests maybe inaccurate and why.
None of your results are set in stone. If you take them again in a year, they may change. Resources like this are a good starting place, a baseline. Taking these tests helps you learn about yourself and see where you are now, so you can better work toward where you want to be.
Asking the right questions and practicing relentless curiosity gives you so much strength. Through consciousness, you gain more agency. Awareness is a way to fortify your relationship and work toward a better future.