Experts share 20 incompatibilities

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July 2, 2021

Experts Say These 20 Incompatible Qualities End Relationships

If you’re looking for long-term relationship success, finding someone you’re compatible with is key. Initially, that might mean bonding over a shared love for an obscure band, favorite restaurant, or cheesy 90s sitcom. But ultimately, you’ll want to take a look at the bigger stuff — like your values, goals for the future, etc. — to determine if a relationship will work.

This is exactly what professional matchmakers do when pairing people up. Matchmakers consider what their clients have in common, but also keep an eye out for certain sets of incompatible qualities between partners, that usually mean a relationship won’t work out.

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As Melody Kiersz, a professional matchmaker with the digital matchmaking service Tawkify, tells Bustle, “There are some obvious ones, like not wanting the same things in life, lifestyle choices in terms of travel or location, and relationship style (i.e., monogamous vs. polyamorous).” But there are lesser-known incompatibilities that often lead to breakups, too, like the ones addressed below.

Sometimes there isn’t a way to compromise. If you’re thinking about your relationship and asking yourself, “Are we too different to make it work?”, there is a chance that you might be. With that in mind, here are 21 incompatible qualities matchmakers and relationship experts say aren’t likely to lead to relationship success.


You Have Different Ideas Surrounding Money

Numerous studies and surveys have found money is major source of relationship stress. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an extreme saver and mega spender would have a hard time staying together in the long run.

“While a balance of these elements can be good, if someone enjoys spending money […] and the other aims to save money on everything, the relationship won’t work because it comes down to incompatible values and incompatible sources of joy,” Michela Hattabaugh, a Chicago-based matchmaker with Three Day Rule, tells Bustle.

You might be able to compromise, but chances are your vastly different views will be too difficult to overcome. As Hattabaugh says, “No matter how money is spent, one person is always going to feel that they didn’t get what they wanted and be unhappy.”


You Have Different Senses Of Humor

So you and your don’t laugh at the same kind of jokes. Not a big deal, right? Actually, having a shared sense of humor is one of the top three most important qualities people look for in a partner, Natalie Smith, a Los Angeles-based matchmaker with Three Day Rule, tells Bustle. If a couple can’t laugh about the same things, she says, they probably won’t even make it past a first date.

In fact, matchmaker Amber Lee says this is one incompatibility that many singles often overlook. “Everyone says they want someone with a great sense of humor, but the reality is that people find different things funny,” Lee says. “One person may be witty and sarcastic, while the other one appreciates silly things. The ability to laugh easily together is a huge part of compatibility.” If you can’t laugh together, it’s going to be tough for you two to overcome tough times together.


You Have Vastly Different Schedules

It’s one thing if you like to go to bed at 10 p.m. while your partner likes to go to bed at midnight. But if you have wildly different schedules, Smith says, it can create major roadblocks in a relationship. After all, you can’t really expect to get to know each other, much less stay connected, if you aren’t ever awake at the same time. Dedicating times to see each other may make this problem less of an issue, but both partners need to be willing to make time for each other.

This can also become a problem if one partner’s sleeping habits affects the other’s. As licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, Sarah Watson, previously told Bustle, “When we don’t get enough sleep we tend to be short tempered, have increased anxiety or mood swings and this can impact your connection with your partner.” Although different sleep schedules may not directly cause a breakup, it can contribute to the demise of a relationship.


You Have Different Definitions Of “Relaxation”

According to Caitlin Bergstein, a Boston-based matchmaker at Three Day Rule, how someone relaxes or re-energizes may mean a lot more than you’d think.

“Based on how someone likes to spend their weekend, I mentally put people into two different categories: ‘activities person’ or ‘homebody,'” she tells Bustle. An “activities person” is someone who likes to spend their free time out and about, exploring or doing new things. On the flip side, a “homebody” prefers to spend their weekends in, marathon-watching a Netflix series.

If one person likes being out and about, while the other likes staying in, Bergstein says it’s highly unlikely that a relationship will be successful. “While it can seem appealing at first, as the relationship goes on, the homebody will become frustrated that their partner always has to be on the go and can never just relax,” she says. And vice versa.


You Have Mismatched Sex Drives

Are we incompatible? Mismatched sex drives may mean not.
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If you could happily have sex all day long, while your partner could take it or leave it, you might not be right for each other, Smith says. Although incompatible sex drives aren’t an automatic dealbreaker, it also can become a relationship-ending issue down the road. In the worst case scenario, one partner feels frustrated and unfulfilled with their sex life, so they decide to look elsewhere.

The good news is, this can be worked through. As psychotherapist Joanne KetchLPC, LMFT, LCDC, NCC, previously told Bustle, “With communication and a commitment to affection and playfulness, couples can find healthy ways to bridge a gap between levels of desire.”

If you’ve talked about it, tried to make adjustments, and you just can’t get on the same page about sex, there’s a chance that your relationship may not last.


You Have Different Self-Care & Health Habits

A lifestyle incompatibility can extend to physical activity and other forms of self-care, as well. While you and your partner don’t have to do yoga together every morning at 6 a.m., Bergstein says vastly different approaches to health and wellness could leave you feeling like you aren’t on the same page. For instance, if you’re someone who likes to meditate at night and practice gratitude each morning, it might frustrate you to be with someone who hits snooze on weekdays and marathon watch Netflix before bed. For some, tension can occur when one partner wants to “help” the other partner become healthier, when they’re perfectly happy with the way their life is.


You Have Different Outlooks On Life

It can be draining to date a pessimist if you’re a total optimist, and vice versa. This can be even more frustrating if you’re trying to help your partner see the positives of a negative situation, and they shut you down.

According to Bergstein, having different outlooks on life can become a problem because it shows how you handle tough situations. Think about your car breaking down: If you view it as a small hiccup, while your partner has a complete meltdown, the difference in your reactions and ability to cope won’t make for a very smooth relationship.


You Have Different Types Of Intelligence

According to Bergstein, intelligence can be defined as anything from a general curiosity or interest in learning, to a desire to better oneself, to the level of education you plan to pursue. And it can all play into compatibility.

“From a general curiosity standpoint,” she says, “if one partner is motivated by knowledge and actively seeks out opportunities to learn new skills, and their partner is perfectly content with where they are in life and what they know, it can be very hard to relate to each other.”

You won’t have much to talk about, you likely won’t have many goals in common, and ultimately you may decide you’d be happier with someone else.


You Have Different Levels Of Emotional Intelligence

In order to be compatible, it’s also important for your emotional intelligence to line up. As clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky previously told Bustle, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand what other people are saying and how what they are saying is impacting them emotionally. Being able to read and accurately perceive how someone is feeling, and being able to act on that knowledge in a pro-social way, is emotional intelligence.”

According to Bergstein, this is key if you want to be truly happy, as it plays into listening skills and how you handle arguments. If you aren’t on the same page, you’ll likely struggle to understand each other.


You Have Different Ways Of Expressing Yourselves

In a similar vein, it’s also important to be compatible in how you express yourselves.

“The chance of a relationship enduring between an emotive person and an apathetic person is slim,” Rémy Boyd, a matchmaker at Tawkify, tells Bustle. “The emotively-inclined person will eventually feel uncared for and the apathetically inclined partner will feel burdened by their partners’ need for emotional support.

Like other incompatibilities on this list, sooner or later resentment will creep in from both sides — and that can lead to a break up.


You Have Different Arguing Styles

Are we incompatible? You may be if you have different arguing styles.
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Fighting in a relationship is inevitable, and even the most compatible couples have their share of issues. But couples who have different styles of arguing may have a tougher time overcoming issues than others.

For instance, if one of you is the type to yell and blow up, while the other shuts down, it’ll be hard to get to the root of any problem, Inayah Vanessa, a matchmaker at Tawkify, tells Bustle. Soon, arguments and hurt feelings will start to pile up, and you might decide it’s just easier to go your separate ways.


You Have Different Political Views

While it might be possible to agree to disagree, matchmakers say different political views tend to be a dealbreaker for many couples they work with.

“I have seen singles that begin a relationship with plenty of chemistry, but once they start uncovering their political beliefs, the relationship tends to fizzle,” Amie Leadingham, a master certified relationship coach, tells Bustle.

Not only does it lead to arguments, but it’s also often a sign a couple doesn’t share the same values or belief system.


You Have Different “Alone Time” Requirements

Companionship is obviously a big part of relationships, Boyd says, and some people need to spend more time with a partner than others. It really does help if this need matches up. For instance, if one person is more independent, the partner who isn’t might feel like their partner doesn’t enjoy spending time with them. In the same way, a more independent person might feel smothered by their partner’s constant need to spend time together.

If you’re someone who likes being with your partner a lot, just know that having some space in a relationship doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As registered associate marriage and family therapist, Jacqueline Shlain, MA, AMFT, previously told Bustle, “If you do it right, chances are you will find having a little distance makes you feel more grateful for each other and even bring you closer together.”


You Have Different Internal Clocks

Are you someone who needs to be five minutes early, while your partner is someone who consistently runs an hour late? “As a matchmaker, I hear about this ending numerous relationships,” Susan Trombetti, a matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. “People tend to think the other person is self-centered.” Even if this isn’t an issue that directly causes a relationship to end, it can contribute to it. Chances are, this could be a source of numerous fights and arguments.


You Have Different Religious Views

It’s totally possible to date someone who doesn’t share your religion, especially if you and your partner aren’t super religious. But as Bergstein says, many of her clients won’t even go on a first date with someone who doesn’t practice their religion, as it would mean being with a person who doesn’t share their values. This can be a dealbreaker for some, so it’s important to discuss this early on.


You Have Different Texting Styles

Having different texting styles may mean you're too incompatible to work.
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Different texting habits might not be the undoing of an established couple, but they can make it hard for a new relationship to get off the ground. “How we communicate is so important to creating a great foundation in our partnerships,” Mallory Love, a matchmaker & COO of Love And Matchmaking, tells Bustle. For instance, if you’re someone who only checks your texts once a day, it can be annoying to be with someone who likes checking in every couple of hours. It’s the same if you’re someone who needs constant communication to feel connected. Early on, you may decide to be date someone who texts back quickly, and shows they’re interested.


You Have Different Family Goals

If you and your partner have different desires when it comes to starting a family, it may not be something you’ll be able to overcome. And it shouldn’t necessarily be an area where you try to compromise, either.

“If you have a deep, ingrained desire to have a family of your own, it’s a mistake to think this is something that will go away in your mind or heart,” Sophy Singer, a matchmaker at Tawkify tells Bustle. “Do not assume you can change your partner’s mind over time — especially if they clearly stated children are a no-go.” And the same is true if you’ve never really wanted kids, but your partner is all about it.


You Have Identical Personalities

It isn’t just differences that drive a couple apart. Sometimes, having everything in common can be “too much of a good thing,” Kimia Mansoor, a matchmaker at Tawkify, tells Bustle.

Many people think that having shared interests means you’ve found your soulmate, she says. But if you’re exactly the same, you may have a hard time moving forward in life. It’s all about balance, and finding someone who makes up for your deficits, and vice versa.


One Partner Is True To Their Self, While The Other Isn’t

It can be tough to be in a relationship with a partner who pretends to be someone they’re not — especially if you’re someone who embraces you who are. While many people tend to show off their best selves at the start of a relationship, it’s important to be your genuine self as time goes on. According to Elizabeth Overstreet, relationship expert and matchmaker, no one should have to alter who they are for someone else. If your partner isn’t comfortable owning up to who they truly are, your relationship might not last.


You Have Different Love Languages

Knowing you and your partner’s love language is important in a relationship because it’ll tell you how a person likes to show love and receive it. For example, if you’re someone who needs words of affirmation to feel secure in your relationship, it may be hard to be with someone who has trouble putting their feelings into words. Or, if your partner needs gifts to feel loved in relationships and you never think to give your partner presents or tokens of appreciation, then it could lead to miscommunications down the road.

The good news is, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a dealbreaker. As matchmaker Amber Lee tells Bustle, “If you have different love languages you can make a relationship work, but you have to be willing to learn your partner’s love language and communicate how you like to receive love.”

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