Being Similar Doesn't Mean You're Truly Compatible. Here's How You'll Know

While the attractive single who lists all your favorite hobbies in their profile might be an automatic "swipe right," when it comes to dating and relationships, sharing similar interests doesn't automatically mean you're compatible. Though sharing similar interests can serve as a good foundation upon which to build a relationship with a potential partner, the reality is that it's rarely enough to sustain a relationship on its own, and doesn't necessarily indicate that you and your sweetie are destined to last. "People often confuse compatibility with being the same," says relationship psychotherapist Charisse Cooke (per Refinery29). "It's often the differences in relationships that can cause problems and conflict. So we may imagine someone having the same interests as us protects us from misunderstandings or disagreements."

However, when time inevitably brings any form of disagreement or tension into the relationship, listening to the same music or having the same alma mater won't offer much to help sustain your bond. "Personally, I don't believe a couple has to agree on anything," licensed marriage therapist Racine Henry, Ph.D., LMFT adds (via mbg relationships). "These can be starting points for a bond or help establish those initial feelings of interest, but when there's tension or a lack of positivity, being from the same hometown won't matter."

Understanding whether you and your partner are truly compatible, or if you simply like all the same things, can help determine if your relationship is actually meant to be and has the substance to withstand the test of time.

What does it mean to be truly compatible?

While watching all the same shows and listening to the same bands as your partner might give you plenty to do on the weekend and create some easy talking points in the early stages, when it comes to knowing whether or not you and your sweetie are meant to last, the answer lies deeper than those shared interests.

Compatibility is more about how well you and your partner complement one another than it is about how similar you are. When couples complement one another well, it's evident in their conflict resolution skills and ability to successfully compromise, without communication or the relationship as a whole breaking down. When you and your partner complement one another well, the connection will feel effortless and will feel much deeper than a relationship based on nothing more than common interests.

In addition to compatible couples being able to work through tough issues, experts say that couples who are compatible quite simply enjoy spending time together — even if they are doing nothing at all. "This sounds obvious, but many couples truly don't enjoy being together — just the two of them," says dating expert and author Monique Honaman (via Insider). "If you can't go for a walk together, stay in and have a quiet dinner together, enjoy a deep conversation together, it may not be the perfect match."

Having similar values is more important than sharing similar interests

While it's not necessary to share all the same interests as your partner, there are some commonalities that experts agree are necessary for a happy and successful relationship: namely your core values, beliefs, and ethics. You and your partner can have completely opposite tastes in music and movies, but if you majorly differ when it comes to what you value and believe in as people, it's very difficult to make a relationship work. Regardless of the butterflies they give you or how much fun you have when you are together, relationships between two people who are vastly different at the core are often doomed to fail when difficulty and conflict arise. So while it's okay — and even healthy — for you and your partner to have separate interests and passions outside of one another, make sure you at least share the same values at the end of the day. "When the going gets tough, like it does in all relationships, knowing that you share the same core values makes difficult decisions easier because you both have the same inner compass," says clinical psychologist and sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming (via HuffPost).

In addition to overlapping on your morals and ethics, mutual respect for one another is another box that's essential to check when looking for a partner you're compatible with. When you're deeply compatible with your partner, the foundation of the relationship will be one of empathy, understanding, kindness, and trust.

Is it possible for you and your partner to be too similar?

Not only does sharing all the same interests as your partner not automatically give you a leg up in the dating game, but it can also become problematic as the relationship progresses. When dating someone new, it can be exciting to discover that you both seem to have a lot in common, but if the only interests you each have are ones you share together, it can pose a whole new set of challenges for the relationship.

While being in a relationship with someone who shares your interests might initially feel more comfortable than the alternative and give you plenty to talk about, dating someone who is exactly like you can lead to feelings of stagnation and boredom. "When dating someone with the same interests, there's less room for growth," says Charissa Cooke (via Refinery29). "You may find that you stop trying new things." Additionally, Cooke notes that partners who are so similar often fall victim to staying in a relationship longer than they should, finding themselves too comfortable to leave. "It can make leaving them that much harder, in fear you'll never find someone you can share so much with again," she says.

So, while sharing a ton of similarities and interests with your partner isn't inherently a bad thing, it's important to establish yourself as an individual outside of the relationship as well in order to maintain your own identity. Trying new things, both together and apart, can help keep the relationship from growing stale.

Don't force compatability

While it's natural to hope your current love connection is finally going to be the one that sticks, the reality is that sometimes two people's personalities simply aren't compatible enough to be suitable for a healthy, prosperous, romantic relationship. And that's okay. The key is being able to recognize when that's the case, which can be difficult if your scarily-similar interests have been masquerading as compatibility all this time.

If you come to find out that your and your partner's core values or personality traits just don't line up enough to make a relationship work, the important thing is to understand that you can't change who someone is, no matter how much you might love them or want for it to work. If there is something about your partner that you don't want to accept while dating them, holding onto the hope that it will change further down the road or after you get married is a good way to set yourself up for heartbreak and disappointment. While that's not to say you have to love every single thing about your partner, your compatibility comes down to your willingness to accept them wholeheartedly, and your feeling safe in knowing that they accept you in return.