6 Early Signs of an Incompatible Relationship
When would you rather realize the person you’re dating isn’t a good match for you? A month in? Or two years in when you’re both sharing an apartment and co-parents of several house plants?
Almost anyone would pick the first choice. Dating can, at times, feel tiring enough. Realizing you’re incompatible with someone after investing months or years into the relationship can make anyone feel disheartened.
It makes sense why people don’t see signs of incompatibility early on. Who wants to focus on the negative qualities of someone they’re attracted to? Especially when there are more exciting qualities like a person’s zodiac sign or a shared affinity for a local folk band.
But long-term success for a relationship isn’t based on those first-date butterflies. Compatability is determined by bigger aspects of a person like values, morals, goals, and desires. So if you’re focused on finding a long-term partner, keep an eye out for these incompatibilities that you can spot early on in a relationship.
Your sense of humor isn’t the same.
In 2017, I dated a former co-worker who was 12 years my senior. Looking back, there were a lot of reasons we weren’t compatible. But one glaringly obvious quality that I too often ignored was our different senses of humor.
My then-boyfriend made sexist and racist jokes. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I sometimes spoke up about how his remarks offended me but I usually brushed them aside like they weren’t a big deal.
But they were. Looking past the fact I don’t want to be with someone racist or sexist, humor is something I value greatly in my relationships. I love to laugh, even if I’m most often the source of my own laughter.
But I want to share that joy with the person I’m in a relationship with. If their jokes are crude or just flat-out don’t find them funny, I couldn’t see myself wanting to spend time with them.
Your sex drives are the opposite.
Throughout my dating life, I thought there was only one healthy sex-drive. You either want it every day, or something is wrong with you. So I’d force myself to have sex when I didn’t want to, simply to satisfy whoever I was dating at the time.
Then I met my current boyfriend. And through being with him and reading more from people who have a low sex drive, I realized there’s nothing wrong with me. My ex’s and I simply had different sex drives; An incompatibility I’m thrilled I no longer have to deal with.
If your sex drive is high, find someone who also has a high one. If sex is a low priority on your list, be with someone who feels the same. It’s that simple. No one should have to feel shameful or resent their partner because their need for sex falls on different ends of the spectrum.
You have different visions for your future.
Circling back to wanting a long-term partner: don’t be afraid to ask about someone’s life goals early on in dating. If you know, without a doubt, that marriage and kids are what you want, why isn’t that something you ask on the first few dates?
There’s a difference between asking someone if they want kids with you and if they want kids in general. Don’t shy away from asking these kinds of questions because you’re worried it’ll scare someone off.
Because having different ideas of what they want for the future is usually why many long-term couples end. They either don’t want to face reality or hope their partner will change their mind. And when they don’t, they're both left feeling like they shouldn't have ignored that incompatibility.
One of you is anxious, and the other is avoidantly attached.
Determining someone’s attachment style could be a great tool to have for your dating life. But first, it’s important to understand your own. There’s a great quiz you can take here to determine what yours is.
Attachment styles matter because they determine the way that someone can experience intimacy as an adult. If your style is anxious, avoidant, or anxious-avoidant, then you’ll want to steer clear of falling into the anxious-avoidant trap.
Essentially, people with an anxious attachment rarely work out with someone avoidant. An anxious person desperately desires closeness, while an avoidant person does everything to bypass intimacy in a relationship.
Before you know it, you’re in a game of cat and mouse, and it’s far from a fun sort of game. I’ve played it one too many times, and it’s by far the worst dating experience I’ve been through.
There’s an intense spark at the beginning.
Now you may be thinking, “why is a spark a bad thing? Isn’t that supposed to be what I’m looking for?” And to that, I say, for the most part, no.
The intense spark people feel when meeting someone new is sometimes because they feel insecure, scared, or anxious. An instant connection isn’t a good indicator of compatibility because it sometimes a sign of other, often unhealthy things.
One dating psychologist, Dorothy Tennov, coined the term limerance as the intense, obsessive feelings people experience when dating someone new. Often mistaken for a “spark,” it can lead to a lot of sadness and anguish in a person’s life.
“Fireworks” with someone straight off the bat could also be a sign of how narcissistic a person is or whether the person is simply a player, according to behavioral scientist Logan Ury. Just because a person gives you butterflies doesn’t mean they’ll take care of you when you’re sick or communicate well with you.
There’s no respect for your differences.
My boyfriend and I have wildly different hobbies. I love to read and take care of my plants. He’d rather spend the night playing video games and sipping on his expensive whiskey collection.
While I couldn’t care less about whiskey or World of Warcraft, I respect my boyfriend who loves them. We might not share the same outlook on everything, but we’re able to appreciate the differences in our relationship.
If a person makes you feel bad for being different from them, they don’t respect you. While you may feel OK with giving up a passion of yours or don’t mind their rude words, it’ll start to chip away at you over time.
And, at the end of the day, respect is a key component to any lasting relationship.
While couples can work on some of these signs in long-term relationships, they’re worth avoiding if you’re on the market or dating someone new. In the long-run, you’re better off finding someone you’re compatible with rather than trying to change big differences between the two of you.
Plus, a compatible relationship feels better all around. I’m glad I found one, and I hope you do, too.