As a couple, you both have been fighting a lot. There is the irritation, the quibbling, and the nagging. Your safe space does not feel so safe or peaceful anymore. If this discomfort reigns prominently, you have perhaps entered an incompatible relationship. According to Mark E. Sharp, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in relationship issues, “The experience of being ‘in love’ is primarily a feeling” which begins with a powerful attraction and sexual desire. It then fades and gives way to “feelings of connection and affection” which the couple has to maintain if they do not want to become incompatible.
Incompatible relationships often hide behind a smokescreen initially. The love and the infatuation are so high in the beginning that one overlooks the wildly contrasting traits of the partner. It is only when the relationship starts settling down that an individual starts feeling the sting of incompatibility. The differences often turn out to be mountainous. To understand better, I roped in clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couple’s counseling and family therapy.
What Is Meant By An ‘Incompatible Relationship’?
An incompatible relationship is defined by its unhappy partners who are not in sync. Incompatible relationship signs show up in the constant bickering, the disagreements that spell doom for your bond, and the inability to be in one room without getting angry at each other. Partners in an incompatible relationship are often marred by a lack of coordination between their thoughts and actions. They may be in love and yet be like two left feet on one body.
“Compatibility is extremely important,” said Devaleena. “If two people are incompatible, they start looking for different things in a relationship. They may feel differently about many things – this can be trying when you are trying to have a fulfilling relationship.”
17 Signs You Are In An Incompatible Relationship
Does compatibility matter in love? This question robs the peace of many people who wonder if they have a future with their partner. Compatibility does matter because, after all, beyond the fluffy veil of romance, we have to lead a life. For that, we need to be in sync. Compatibility is determined by shared common interests, values, understanding, and sexual energy. A lack of these aspects makes for incompatible relationship signs.
1. You argue constantly
Miniscule differences often snowball into large arguments in incompatible relationships. These arguments will be constant – you will fight when you come within 10 meters of each other. This is a result of the contrasting differences that a couple decides to overlook in the beginning, however, they become overwhelming as the relationship deepens. Thus, it is imperative to be mindful in the initial phase of the relationship or it will fuel living room and bedroom wars later.
A study from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brasil elucidates on how the first sign of good relationship health is to agree on conflict resolution strategies. Most of these strategies work in tandem with one another. This study also elucidates on how age can play a factor in compatibility and arguments. Younger couples may have a hard time regulating their emotions, according to the study.
2. Lack of similar interests
How important are common interests one may ask? The answer is – they are crucial to some extent. Couples breaking up because of incompatibility often cite this reason – they had nothing to do together. They may have tried activities together but only one or the other partner enjoyed them more. This could widen the schism in relationships as partners could go in different directions, doing things that they like.
This issue can be resolved by shedding a little bit of stubbornness. Both partners need to sacrifice and try each other’s interests. Think of it as an outfit you do not like but have to wear to match the event theme. “Couples that have some degree of common interests tend to have a healthier relationship. Those who do not, tend to lead parallel lives. They have their own interests which they cannot (and should not) deny. Eventually, the relationship becomes unsustainable,” Devaleena said.
3. Sexual energy does not match
Incompatible relationships can form mismatched sexual energy. Once, Henry, a friend of mine and a fitness coach, shared his relationship troubles with me over a round of pints. He said he was thinking of breaking up because of incompatibility with his partner. He said she was not energetic or adventurous enough in bed. I realized that Henry and his partner had entered into an emotionally incompatible relationship as they were not on the same plane on the sexual front.
“We had plenty of sex in the beginning, but it’s all been washed away this year,” he said, adding, “She is now averse to experimenting which bores me out. The lack of sex is affecting our comfort in general. She is now irritated most of the time and loses it when I try to talk about sex. No one talks about the effects of sexless relationships.”
4. You can’t be yourself
Sometimes, a partner may sacrifice and give up so much to be in a relationship that they can’t be themselves. And when the relationship runs out of its romantic steam, they realize how much they have tailored themselves just to be with the person they love. Such a partner may think, “Can incompatible relationships work if you’ve changed yourself completely?” Devaleena answers.
Related reading: How To Love Yourself – 21 Self Love Tips
5. They prefer friends over you
Spending time with friends is crucial for all of us. But have you been feeling that your partner prefers hanging out with friends over being with you – all the time? Would they rather be out drinking somewhere instead of lounging in pajamas with you? If yes, then it is among the signs of an incompatible relationship. Being around friends is an escapade that a person may seek constantly when the relationship loses its thrill. A partner could also venture out more while trying to escape a controlling relationship.
6. You are both stubborn
A relationship can still be compatible if one person is headstrong. The other, if they are reasonable, balances out the dynamic. However, if both people are stubborn, the relationship can turn incompatible. When two stubborn partners argue, they would be unwilling to take the first step toward resolution. They will sit in different rooms and fume, failing to realize that stubborness can make their relationship or marriage fall apart.
The lack of resolution can build into an ugly mess leading to an emotionally incompatible relationship. “Stubbornness is often associated with a close mind. A stubborn person refuses to compromise, thus stalling the idea of balance in a relationship. When such a partner keeps rejecting notions and ideas, a relationship is bound to hurt. It is often difficult to get an idea or thought across a stubborn partner,” Devaleena said.
7. Need alone time, all the time
You are in an incompatible relationship if you feel the need to spend a lot of time by yourself. You would rather be with yourself and plan your day without your partner. If this feeling has become the elephant in the room, you may need to assess the challenges in your relationship that almost everyone has.
Jennifer, a vocalist, and her husband Suleman, a gym teacher, realized much later in their relationship that apart from being in love, they have nothing in common. “It took me around five years to realize that my husband and I are not compatible,” said Jennifer. “It became abundantly clear that we made a schedule for alone time as we got bored with each other. Turns out, we enjoyed being with ourselves more than we enjoyed being with each other. The one good thing about our relationship was that both of us are quite mature. So we took the decision to separate without malice.”
8. Mismatched schedules
Incompatible relationships can form out of mismatched schedules. If one partner is busy, the partner with the free time can feel ignored and dejected. A couple can resolve such a deadlock by consciously making time for doing things together or finding common interests. Because if this incompatibility persists, it can lead to a lot of resentment. Maintaining chemistry takes effort, but it is worth it.
9. Love goes missing
When you saw your partner earlier, did your face light up? Do you feel any butterflies in your stomach when they try to be intimate with you? If you answered no to these questions, the love factor in your relationship may have fizzled out. That brings us to the question – does compatibility matter in love? Of course, it does. Love alone is not always enough. And love can vanish due to a lack of compatibility.
Related Reading: Feeling Lonely In A Relationship – 15 Tips To Cope
10. Intellectual levels do not match
While it is not always necessary for intellectual levels to match, this factor could turn relationships. Intellectual differences might be ignored at the beginning of the relationship, during the infatuation phase. But once this phase waxes and wanes like the moon, a couple can feel the large gap left by the different types of intellect. But worry not! There are several ways to build intellectual intimacy.
11. Different life goals
Incompatible relationships are often characterized by visions of different futures. These futures are products of individual aspirations. In a compatible relationship, these goals need to match somewhere so that a couple can grow together while working toward them. However, different goals could mean a lot of involuntary sacrifices. In such a scenario, you may want to look at tips to create a balanced relationship.
Devaleena said that it is inevitable for two partners to be in different stages of life as the relationship grows. It is also possible for two people’s ideas of a relationship to change over time. “When this happens, there is bound to be some conflict,” she said. “Also, one does not need to compromise too much for the goals of their partner. However, if there is mutual respect and kindness, one can help the other flourish in their goals.”
12. Lack of communication
According to the study of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brasil “marital conflict, as an inherent phenomenon of relationships, is an important issue in assessing marriage and romantic relationships, given that it has implications for mental, physical, and family health”.
There is no couple in this world that has not had disagreements. However, the better ones are pros at communication and often resolve any underlying conflict through healthy discussions. They learn what went wrong – they are open-minded. This communication trope is often missing from incompatible relationships. Partners who are fundamentally at cross with one another may just move in different directions after a fight.
For Sara and Damian, the bickering started over small things. Sara said they could not agree on simple decisions and it piled up. “We were unable to discuss and there was just plenty of resentment. When we broke up, it took us time to realize that we were unwilling to work on our issues,” Damian said. He added that they were unable to see the signs of bad communication in a relationship previously. But now that the picture is a little clear, Sara and Damian have decided to meet and clear the air – see if they can give it another try.
13. In some incompatible relationships, partners have different religious beliefs
This is a tricky one! While entering a relationship, a very-much-in-love couple can agree to accept all differences. However, when it comes to religious faith, it could cause some trouble. A lot of people consider faith as something personal. So when a partner does something that is not acceptable to another’s belief, it could be seen as an attack on the latter’s faith, thus leading to an incompatible relationship. However, this is not always the case. In fact, there are plenty of interfaith couples out there to inspire you.
“Partners with different religious beliefs can have a healthy relationship if they choose to agree to disagree,” said Devaleena. “One must respect the others’ beliefs. A person can believe in their own ideas and not impose them on others. This is how a relationship with different beliefs can thrive.”
Related Reading: Signs Of Incompatibility In A Relationship
14. You want your partner to change
Rick, a sports manager, told me that he has wanted his partner, Samuel, a physiotherapist, to change a few things about himself – the duo were facing some of the most common relationship problems. Rick does not like Samuel’s laid-back nature and feels it almost borders on laziness. Samuel feels that Rick needs to stop micromanaging things to his liking. The desire to change your partner is often radical – it comes from a person’s nature to control things, which is not always appealing in a relationship.
Between Rick and Samuel, this urge to control led to many problems such as constant fights and plenty of unresolved issues. “He broke up with me because we are not compatible. I get where he’s coming from and why he chose to break up. Yes, we are not compatible but I love him even now, you know?” Rick said. “Somewhere, I did fail to realize that we were beyond repair. His lackadaisical attitude brought out the worst in me. Maybe I need some introspection too.”
15. You do not share laughs anymore
The power of a healthy laugh is underrated. But couples that laugh together – and find joy in the smallest things – often stay together. This isn’t just about what kind of comedy or jokes you find funny. It’s about how silly you can be together doing things that give you both wide-eyed smiles of enjoyment. In incompatible relationships, this laughter is often missing. It signals the death of the will to make an effort at some level.
16. Different levels of empathy
Signs of lack of empathy in relationships are always stakrly apparent. A kind person may have difficulties adjusting to a partner whose social and emotional awareness is a little dusty. Lack of empathy could highlight the dramatic difference in attitudes and can end up becoming the root cause of an incompatible relationship. This factor can be explained through the example of Brianna, a social worker, and her partner Joseph, a professor.
Brianna had cultivated empathy and social awareness in her job. She could not find the same within Joseph. “We had many debates over topics like homelessness and foster care systems. For Joseph, these were additional burdens on an administrative system that is already burdened. It felt like it was a direct attack on my profession in which our first step is to be empathetic, and to recognize that the overall system needs an overhaul to cater to the marginalized. Ultimately, it led to a lot of fights. He broke up with me because we are not compatible. Good riddance,” she said.
17. Different lifestyles
An incompatible relationship can also be a war of lifestyles. For instance, if one partner keeps it simple and the other believes in retail therapy – it could lead to fundamental issues and even develop disputes over the financial health of a relationship. This was experienced by Susan, a business manager, with regards to her shopaholic partner Fabian.
Fabian would love shopping and accessorizing. It put a financial strain on both their savings and kept delaying their plans to start a family. “It almost felt like Fabian was deliberately delaying our plans,” Susan said, adding, “But then I realized that this is who he is – he shops out of compulsion. It took me a while to realize that we are not compatible but I love him anyway. We’re currently working on getting him the help he needs for his compulsive tendencies.”
All said, 100% compatibility in a relationship is a myth. People are different and sometimes, these differences are attractive. The drastic habits, however, can lead to incompatible relationships. That brings us to the question – as we all bat for love – can incompatible relationships work? Sure, but be ready for a lot of real work on yourself. It is not going to happen in a snap.
- An incompatible relationship is defined by its unhappy partners who are not in sync
- Stubbornness could mean no end to disputes. The lack of ability to resolve conflicts is a major sign of incompatibility
- More arguments and less communication can create uncomfortable experiences in relationships
- Incompatible lifestyles or the need to spend too much time alone make for failed relationships as well
It depends. Are you willing to make sacrifices to make your relationship work despite differences? If yes, you can certainly give it a try. However, assess if the difference between you and your partner is far too much to overcome and if it is worth your time. If making it work is going to create more problems, better let it go now.
Yes, this is very much possible. Love is an arbitrary and subjective feeling. You fall in love despite everything. Initially, you may fall in love so hard that you are willing to overlook compatibility. It is only when time passes that the differences are highlighted. So it is prudent to check for signs of incompatibility right in the beginning.
It depends on how bad your situation is. How horrible are your differences? Can you fix them right now? Are both of you ready to make sacrifices and try to be compatible? If yes, do not break up yet. Give it a try. If you cannot stand each other, please head toward splitsville.