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When Is Incompatibility A Dealbreaker, And When Can It Be Overcome?

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No two people are ever 100% compatible. All couples experience incompatibility in their relationship.

Sometimes, those incompatibilities cause issues that are so big that they cannot be overcome or lived with.

Other times, an imcompaibility might be a cause of frustration or annoyance, sure, but it is not so big that it causes the complete breakdown of the relationship.

How can you tell the difference between these two circumstances?

Well, to help you, this article will explore when an incompatibility should be a dealbreaker and when it can be accommodated.

7 Times Incompatibility Should Be A Dealbreaker

1. When it leads to conflict on a regular basis.

A little bit of arguing is normal in a relationship. It can even be healthy if it helps shine a light on an issue that needs to be addressed.

But when a particular thing leads to arguments over and over again, you must ask yourself whether it’s worth the headache.

If there is something that you and your partner are at odds over—an incompatibility—and it causes you to fight a lot, then that is a sign that this thing might need to be viewed as a dealbreaker.

If there is little chance of the situation ever changing, you face a choice: live with it but argue a lot, or part ways.

Do you really want to spend your life with someone knowing you’ll clash on this one thing on a regular basis?

2. When it causes one partner to compromise their values.

It is possible to have a happy and healthy relationship with someone who has different values than you.

Whether that is possible comes down to how incompatible those values are.

If either partner finds that they have to compromise one of their values in order for the other partner to adhere to theirs, it’s a recipe for disaster.

No one wants to act in a way that doesn’t align with their morals and inner compass. It leaves you feeling conflicted and resentful toward the person who made you do it.

If this is anything but an extremely rare occurrence, or even if it only happens once but the value is one you place great importance on, you should consider it a dealbreaker.

No person is worth going against your core values for.

3. When one or both partners feel unable to be themselves in the relationship.

If either partner is not living their authentic life because of the relationship, then it’s time to consider that relationship incompatible.

You should never feel forced to hide a part of yourself just to keep the peace in a relationship.

Maybe you go along with the other person’s spontaneity despite the fact that you prefer careful planning, and you wind up stressed and unbalanced because of it.

Or perhaps you like to let loose, be silly, and not take yourself too seriously, but you suppress that side of your personality because your partner sees it as childish.

It’s often hard to overcome differences such as these, and so you must put yourself and your own sanity first and find a partner who is a more authentic fit.

4. When it impacts one or both partner’s physical, mental, or financial welfare.

This is a tricky one because lots of people stay in relationships that are damaging to them in some way.

The question is: should they?

For instance, a non-smoker who lives with a smoker will suffer poorer health and potentially catastrophic effects as a result. Is an otherwise happy and loving relationship enough to make up for this incompatibility?

Similarly, if you and the other person are incompatible in a way that negatively affects your mental health or financial security, there is a very strong argument for ending the relationship or not entering it in the first place.

5. When it restricts the personal growth of one or both partners.

Some incompatibilities are so big that they threaten the personal growth of the two people in the relationship.

Personal growth can take many forms including behavioral changes, spiritual leanings, and formal education and training. Some are so profound that they require major life changes while others are more ongoing.

Whether an incompatibility is there from the beginning of a relationship or whether differences have developed over time, if it holds one or both partners back from pursuing the growth they feel they need to pursue, it’s worth considering if it might be a dealbreaker.

6. When it breeds resentment between partners.

Some incompatibilities don’t exert much in the way of emotional toll. They are just there: a part of the relationship but not something that has to be thought about often.

Others can lead to a buildup of ill feelings over time. It is these ones that need to be looked at carefully to see if they are dealbreakers.

For example, if one partner is very environmentally conscious and has a strong dislike of air travel while the other wishes to explore the world, one or both partners may resent the other for making them do something they would prefer not to do.

In the case of the eco-conscious person, they may feel the need to indulge the travel dreams of the other now and then. In the case of the travel addict, they may feel pressured to reduce how often they fly to far-off places. Neither is happy about it.

Resentment is a powerfully destructive emotion, so if it is caused by your incompatibilities, it might not be something you can rid the relationship of.

7. When it results in a significant imbalance of power or control within the relationship.

Relationships don’t have to be completely even in terms of who makes more of the decisions, but they should be close to even and each person should respect the other when making decisions.

Where an incompatibility tips the balance of power too far one way, it’s not good for the person who ends up with a far smaller share.

A relationship between a very assertive person and a conflict-avoidant person is a good example. Here, the assertive person is likely to get their way more often than not, and they may not even see that it’s a problem because the conflict-avoidant person doesn’t speak up.

Power imbalances can also happen when one partner is much older than the other or more booksmart than the other.

Anything that causes one person to wield control over the other should be seen as a red flag, even if it’s not done maliciously.

6 Times Incompatibility Can Be Overcome

1. When there is effective and respectful communication.

When a couple commits to talking through an incompatibility in a constructive and respectful manner, they stand a much higher chance of overcoming it.

Encouraging that open dialogue and cultivating an environment where both parties feel heard, understood, and respected, can be enough to minimize any potential harm caused by the incompatibility.

Healthy communication also allows greater empathy that aids both understanding and acceptance of each other.

It also allows two people to work together to bridge gaps, clarify misunderstandings, and learn strategies to cope with the differences between them.

2. When both parties are willing to compromise.

Where a compromise can be found (which won’t always be the case), if both people are willing to find that middle ground, it helps neutralize some of the issues caused by the incompatibility.

Compromise shows genuine care and commitment to each other because you both want the other to feel validated and important. You want the other person to know that you value them enough to put their preferences above your own sometimes, or meet halfway where appropriate.

With a bit of give and take, many incompatibilities can be worked through so that they don’t damage the foundations of the relationship.

3. When both parties are flexible and adaptable.

Going hand-in-hand with the previous point about compromise, incompatibility in a relationship is far easier to overcome if both partners try to maintain an open mind and are willing to entertain new ideas, perspectives, and opinions.

This is why stubbornness is a trait that massively hinders the ability of two people to overcome differences.

So if the two of you are incompatible in some way, but you can embrace a flexible mindset, you’ll stand a greater chance of finding coping mechanisms as a couple that allow you to bridge the gap between you.

4. When both partners share a deep commitment to the relationship.

Being committed to one another isn’t enough by itself to overcome major incompatibilities that lead to the dealbreakers mentioned earlier in this article.

But commitment can be a powerful anchor in a relationship that means both people are dedicated to the future success of that relationship.

With a determination to make the relationship work in a healthy way, a couple can navigate the challenges posed by many incompatibilities with mutual respect, empathy, and understanding.

It then becomes a joint effort to navigate obstacles and find ways to minimize the negative impact of the incompatibilities.

5. When both people in the relationship can appreciate each other’s differences.

At its core, an incompatibility is simply a difference. That might be a difference of opinion, a different way of doing things, or a difference in personality traits, among other things.

If two people can recognize their differences but appreciate that those differences are not things to be afraid of or fought over, then they should be able to overcome the challenges posed by those differences.

It’s the mindset that says being able to accept someone for who they are is a far healthier approach than wishing to change them to fit your view of the world.

This fosters respect, empathy, and the desire to better understand one another—all of which are vital when it comes to working through the challenges faced in a relationship.

6. When both parties are open to seeking professional help.

There’s no doubt that incompatibilities can pose challenges of varying degrees. Sometimes a couple will find it hard to face those challenges alone.

That’s why an openness to professional help is important when it comes to overcoming incompatibilities that a couple cannot work through by themselves.

A professional is a neutral third party; someone who is not interested in taking sides but who seeks to help two people overcome the obstacles they face.

With a professional guiding them, a couple can develop healthy coping mechanisms, improve communication and understanding, and de-escalate the conflicts that arise due to incompatibilities.

Final thoughts on whether or not an incompatibility spells the end of a relationship.

Whether in the early stages of dating or when the relationship is well established, figuring out the nature of an incompatibility is vital.

The key is to understand whether the difference between you is so fundamental as to render any relationship impossible or extremely unhealthy, or whether there is a path you can take to neutralize that difference so that you can live in as much harmony as possible.

It’s a good idea to spend some time thinking carefully about the situation, along with some time talking honestly and openly with one another to gain a full understanding of the incompatibility.

Then and only then can you make the decision that is best for the both of you.

Use the points above as a guide, but don’t be restricted by them. Consider how the issue makes you feel, how much you think you could change, and whether the effort required is reasonable given how many other people are out there who you might be more compatible with.

About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.