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18 signs you’re not compatible with your partner (and probably never were)

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“Are we compatible?” you ponder. Perhaps it’s even a cause for concern in your relationship right now.

Have you ever wished that you could just know whether you and your partner are right for each other without having to spend (and sometimes waste) time finding out?

We all want to find our perfect match and live happily ever after, but what if the two of you are quite different in many ways?

What determines a couple’s compatibility (or incompatibility)?

For instance, my husband loves strawberry ice-cream, and I prefer chocolate. He loves action movies while I prefer drama. He hates exercise, and I love it.

Are we destined for failure? Sometimes it feels that way.

All relationships are going to have problems from time to time. Some of those issues are serious, and others are just a fact of life.

How do you know the difference between healthy issues and unhealthy issues?

If you have recently found yourself questioning whether your partner is really your soulmate, here are a few signs that the two of you may actually be incompatible.

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you figure out what to do if you feel you’re not compatible with your partner. You may want to try speaking to someone via for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

18 Signs Of Incompatibility In Relationships

1. Your ideal futures looks different.

If your partner wants the white picket fence with kids running around in the backyard while you envision a life in the busy city, there may be long-term issues with your relationship.

If you want marriage and your partner wants something more casual, your relationship may be over already without you even realizing it.

There are certain aspects of your future that the two of you must align on if you want to stay happily together. You should agree on marriage, children, and a home base where you will settle.

Other things such as vacations, hobbies, and preferred pets can probably be worked out.

When you close your eyes and picture what your future looks like, does it align with what your partner sees?

Incompatible goals in a relationship can be a sign of problems that cannot be overcome.

It will ultimately come down to whether you can find a middle ground that you can both be happy with in the long run.

If you do decide to compromise, make sure you are both completely behind it. Otherwise, there could be a blame game waiting for you in your future, and that will not end well.

2. You’re both stubborn.

Relationships can work with one stubborn person. However, when there are two stubborn people in a relationship, the outlook isn’t as good. It’s a case of incompatible personalities.

Stubborn people tend to hold their ground no matter what – these are the people who do not apologize or admit they are wrong.

Can you imagine what would happen when there is a disagreement between two stubborn people?

You would both hold your ground and probably end up ending things just because you each refuse to admit any wrongdoing. (Not to mention that regular bickering is also a sign of incompatibility as we’ll discuss in just a minute.)

If you want to change your stubborn ways, start small. Think before you speak, and always put yourself in your partner’s shoes to see his or her viewpoint.

Realize that sometimes you are going to be wrong, no matter how much you disagree.

Also remember that sometimes it is easier to just agree to disagree instead of making every little thing into a big deal.

3. You’re not on the same intellectual level.

If you are a Harvard grad with three different degrees and your partner is a high school dropout, it might not work out as you’d hope.

In the beginning, you may be able to overlook the differences and still have fun. Sometimes, in the initial stages of a relationship, you are blinded by love.

However, after the initial honeymoon phase is over, there will probably be some big differences between the two of you that might prove difficult to overcome.

The way you think is bound to be different based on the amount of education you each have had. Your professional lives will likely differ substantially, too.

There are exceptions to this rule so don’t immediately give up on a healthy relationship just because you are more or less educated than your partner.

It doesn’t have to mean you are not compatible as a couple.

As long as you can engage in thoughtful and meaningful conversation and enjoy doing similar things, you will probably be able to make it work.

Recognize the difference and make a decision based on what feels right for you.

4. You barely communicate with one another.

Has communication failed? You don’t have a lot to say to each other anymore. You text instead of talk on the phone or sit down face-to-face. The two of you have fallen into a routine that looks more like a ninety-year-old couple.

Does this sound familiar?

While some communication breakdown is normal and expected, too much of it can be fatal for your relationship.

If you are no longer communicating well with your partner, your relationship is in a rut. If you want to get out of that rut, you’ll need to find new interests or challenges together.

If you stay in a boring routine too long, your relationship will go stale and it will be difficult to salvage.

Try to introduce a variety of different activities that the two of you can do together. Turn off all digital distractions and talk to each other!

If your partner isn’t interested in making these changes, it is a sign that your relationship is not going to work out after all.

5. You don’t feel the love.

Does your heart beat a little faster when you see your mate? It probably used to, but over time it has faded a bit or gone away completely. The magic is gone.

Sometimes people stay with partners whom they no longer love because it is comfortable. Change is tough, so they would rather just stick it out and endure the emotional incompatibility.

The problem comes years later when their unhappiness is too much to live with. Those people end up resentful and miserable.

If you feel like the spark is gone in your relationship, try reconnecting again. Go on a date. Hold hands. Pretend that you just met. Do something different to mix it up.

Try to remember the reasons you first fell in love. If it still doesn’t work, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship and move on.

6. Your partner spends more time with friends.

If your partner is channeling more energy and time into someone or something other than you, it is a possible sign that they have lost interest in your relationship.

There must be a time investment from both sides. If your partner isn’t making the time for you and regularly chooses friends or hobbies over you, your relationship may be doomed.

If you want to fix your relationship, you must have your partner set aside time for you frequently (preferably every day).

Having a plan when you first try to resolve your issues shows that you are committed to working things out.

If your partner isn’t interested, hit the road now. You are worth more.

7. You argue all the time.

Arguing and bickering are things that all couples do. There is no way around it. The two of you are going to disagree from time to time, and sometimes that is ok.

Some amount of arguing is considered healthy (although you shouldn’t consider arguments part of the desired communication mentioned above).

If the arguing ever turns abusive, it is time to make a quick exit. But if you are just bickering and want to stop, try calling a truce and see if you can hold it for a week.

8. You don’t share common interests.

It’s not necessary to have all the same interests as your partner. You can have a long and happy relationship where you enjoy different things. But there should be at least a little bit of common ground where you can go out and spend time together doing something you both like.

If you can’t share quality time together, and spend more of your time apart doing your respective hobbies alone or with other people, the bond between you will likely be weaker and less resilient to the ups and downs of life.

Your shared interests don’t need to be anything particularly special – enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant or visiting the sights and attractions in nearby cities is enough.

It does help, however, for you to both show a willingness to listen to the other talk about their interests. You might not have a great deal of knowledge of each other’s passions, but you can learn enough from what your partner says to be able to ask relevant questions and maintain some form of conversation about it.

9. You have different values and beliefs.

Having different values in a relationship poses a variety of problems, and whilst it’s not impossible to work through these problems, it points to a lack of compatibility with each other.

If some of your values are polar opposites, it is bound to cause conflict. Different attitudes toward money, for instance, can be a major issue in a relationship. If one of you wants to save all your money and only spend it on yourselves while the other believes in being generous with money, helping others out, and giving to charity, it will lead to resentment from at least one of you at some point.

Different religious beliefs can also be a real challenge to overcome. Whether you follow two different religions or one of you is a believer and the other an atheist, these things affect the decisions you might make in life.

The same can be said of political views or allegiances. When it comes to the way a government acts or what candidates campaign on during election time, you might find the two of you opposed to one another on key issues.

10. You have different outlooks on life.

Some people are typically positive about things, others are often quite negative, and still others can jump between the two depending on their mood.

But if one of you is an optimistic person and the other is largely pessimistic, it can be draining for both parties. The optimist will feel like they are being dragged down by the misery of the pessimist, whilst the pessimist will see the optimist as living with their head in the clouds, not facing the grim realities of life.

This can impact on the way you conduct your life too, primarily through the decisions you make and the risks you are willing to take. The result may be disagreements and resentment.

11. You can’t be yourself around each other.

When two people are well suited to one another, they will feel able to let their guards down completely and show their true selves to their partner.

When this is not the case, however, one or both parties may feel like they have to hide parts of who they are and wear a mask to be the person the other wants them to be. You might not be able to voice how you really feel about something because you don’t want to cause a scene or have a disagreement.

A sign that this may be the case is when, after spending lots of time together, you feel exhausted and almost relieved to get away from them. You exert so much mental energy ensuring that you act in certain ways and say the right things that you collapse in a heap the moment you say your goodbyes.

12. You want them to change.

A loving relationship isn’t one in which one partner seeks to change the other. If you cannot accept them for who they are, they are not the right person for you.

That’s not to say that you can’t support each other’s growth and become better people together. But if you believe that the relationship can only work if they change in a certain way, your love for them is conditional. And whilst love for a partner might never be entirely unconditional, it should be as close as possible.

If something about them irritates or upsets you that much, chances are they will never be able to change enough for you not to feel those feelings. Acceptance of your differences and a willingness to work through the challenges those differences will pose is the only way to have a healthy relationship.

13. You have mismatched sex drives.

If one of you has a much higher sex drive than the other, it can lead to frustrations on both sides. One partner might feel that their needs aren’t being met whilst the other might feel pressured to have sex more than they are comfortable with.

This tension over the amount of sex you have can spill over into other areas of the relationship.

14. You never laugh together.

Science has had its say on this, and the conclusion is that couples who laugh together, stay together.

If the two of you have a very different sense of humor and never seem to laugh at the same things, you might not be able to reach the same levels of fun as more compatible couples.

This doesn’t just relate to what kind of comedy or jokes you find funny. It’s about how silly you can be together doing things that give you both big, wide-eyed smiles of enjoyment. That could be anything from dancing around the kitchen together to being able to poke fun at each other in a mutually acceptable and enjoyable way.

If one of you is highly strung whilst the other doesn’t take anything too seriously, you have to ask whether you are right for each other.

Fun and laughter are one of the key fuels that keep a relationship going, and if your relationship is lacking on that front, it will struggle in the long run.

15. You speak different love languages.

There are five love languages according to relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman. These relate to how you prefer to express your love and have others express their love for you.

These love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Two people with different love languages might struggle to feel loved by each other because of those opposing languages.

For instance, if one person likes to hear nice things said about them and receive regular reassurance of their partner’s feelings, they might get upset if their partner doesn’t say those things because they express their love through gift giving.

Whilst you can work to better understand each other’s love languages and find ways to communicate using them, couples who share primary love languages will naturally feel more loved and in love.

16. You have different levels of empathy, compassion, and emotional expression.

If one of you is unable to see the suffering of others without feeling sad or shedding a tear whilst the other isn’t affected by it in any way, it can make you question your compatibility.

How much we care for others – even those we don’t know – and how we express our emotions is a big part of who we are. If you can’t understand why your partner does or does not feel the way you feel about something, it can lead to some awkward exchanges between you.

Different levels of empathy and emotion can also make it difficult to communicate with one another. If you are upset and your partner can’t understand why, you will feel unsupported or annoyed. On the other hand, if you are the one who can’t understand why your partner gets so emotional so often, you might feel drained by their emotional response to everything.

17. You have different needs for alone time.

Some people need to spend a good amount of time alone in order to be able to function properly. These people tend to be introverts by nature.

But if one partner needs this alone time and the other prefers to spend as much time together as possible, there will be a clash sooner or later. The one who needs their space will pull away and potentially feel guilty about it. The other will feel rejected.

It’s not a good situation to find yourself in, though it is possible to work through it with enough understanding and compromise.

18. You have different schedules.

If one of you has lots of free time whilst the other is often very busy with work or studies, the one with the free time might end up feeling neglected.

Or if you work at different times of day or on different days entirely, it might mean the time you can spend together is extremely limited. If one partner works evenings at a bar or night shifts as a security guard whilst the other works during the day, you might only have 30 minutes together each day.

Whilst this can be overcome by ensuring you dedicate a good proportion of your overlapping free time doing couples activities, it will inevitably put some stress and strain on the bond you share.

Still not sure whether or not you and your partner are compatible?

Listen, we get it, relationships are hard, really hard at times. They can be a source of great happiness, but they can also cause a lot of pain, heartache, doubt, and anxiety. And although “just communicate better” is advice that gets thrown around a lot, it’s easier said than done, especially during a rough patch.

Being able to talk through the issues will almost always help, whether that’s together, individually to a relationship expert, or together to a relationship expert.

In your case, a relationship expert can listen to you and offer tailored advice to help you decide whether the two of you are suited to each other in the long run. They can also mediate your and your partner’s discussions to help you overcome whatever issues you may be facing, if you would like them to.

This is a tricky situation, and one that can easily be made worse with the wrong approach. But Relationship Hero can guide the way and help you achieve the best outcome. Through regular sessions with a dedicated relationship expert (by yourself and/or as a couple), you’ll learn precisely how to create a healthier and more fulfilling relationship—one that can last a lifetime. Learn more about Relationship Hero and get the kind of tactical relationship advice and ongoing support you need.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can a relationship work if you are incompatible?

It depends. Compatibility isn’t a black and white thing. Two people aren’t 100% compatible or 100% incompatible. Every couple falls somewhere in between, and it is possible to work through a reasonable level of incompatibility and have a happy long-term relationship.

The key is to understand which compatibilities cause the most friction and which can be overcome through understanding and compromise. Some fundamental incompatibilities will be deal breakers whilst others simply require work from both sides. You’ll know deep down whether or not a difference is insurmountable.

Should we break up because of incompatibility?

If there are differences which are just too big to overcome no matter how much you try, no reason is big enough to stay together – even love.

But generally speaking, you should first try to find ways to deal with your differences before taking the nuclear option and ending your relationship. Many things can be worked on, whether as a couple or with the help of a counselor, and if you are compatible in many ways and just incompatible in a few ways, it makes sense to put the effort in.

If you try your best to make it work and still find yourself feeling negatively toward one another on a regular basis, it might be time to call it quits and move on.

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About The Author

Melissa Ricker is a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer specializing in career growth, technical writing and online entrepreneurship.