We know ourselves better than anyone, so we must know who would make our best partners, right? Not exactly. What we believe we want may not be taking into consideration what we want OR need for long-term success. Why is it so hard for us to think beyond this moment in time? Just because everything is peachy keen right now and they honeymoon phase is in full effect, that doesn’t by any means point to true compatibility. It might not be the sexiest term, but it is absolutely key for a long-lasting healthy union. At eharmony, we’re known for eating compatibility for breakfast. But, in reality, everyone should be thinking about it at a deeper level as it really is so significant to success in our romantic relationships and even our friendships.

Many of you, regardless of age, are less likely to care about logistical concerns, like where your significant other wants to settle down, if they want children, what their political or religious values are (but you should!). In addition to hopes and desires, there are personality traits that simply work better together. Someone that values humor and wants to explore the world probably won’t work long term with an ambitious workaholic who likes to stay in. Sometimes the emotional trumps the rational – you simply care more about how the other person makes you feel. And don’t get me wrong, falling in love feels good, but there are some other factors besides love and googly eyes that will create a long-term relationship, and it has a little something to do with compatibility. Consider the questions that will define your relationship as you continue to grow, individually and with your partner by your side.

So, knowing that your partner will be experiencing all the ups and downs with you, how can we make better dating decisions? Is it actually possible to determine what makes someone “right” for you on your own? I believe it is possible to make smarter choices. And no, taking a test comparing your Zodiac signs does NOT count! It really comes down to if you know what you want out of life. It can take time and patience, and it also requires introspection and observation.

You’d never buy a house without first consulting a real estate agent, right? We’d like to take a similar, but sexier, approach to dating and relationships. Yes, fall in love with that special someone, but let’s first make sure they are going to meet your needs for the long-term. Here are a few resources and tips to help you make that big decision:

  • First, make a list of your top 5 values. When you start seeing someone, refer to that list to gut check with yourself that this person is really on the same page. Another tip: be realistic! Rather than say you’re interested in dating a comedian, add ‘good sense of humor’ to the list.
  • Talk to friends and family. Discuss where your future is headed, and how a potential partner could fit into that life. Run your thoughts by the people that know you best.
  • Bring it up with your therapist. Sometimes your friends may not know exactly what to say and maybe they’re too close to provide unbiased advice. In that case, a therapist may be a great alternative to discuss your dating life with. They will always help lead you in the right direction, too!
  • Try an online dating service. At the very least, it will filter the basics for you, and at the most, it will point you in the direction of that someone who will give you butterflies AND support you through life. Bonus: eharmony uses high-level algorithms that will pair you with people with similar interests and wants. It can take the dreaded guessing out of dating.
  • Focus on yourself. Spend time with yourself, doing something out of your comfort zone, to get to know yourself on a different level. It’s always important to love yourself and be compatible with yourself in order to find that in someone else.

Maybe you will know right away that the person standing in front of you is your “forever”. Happy for you! Others need help understanding what kind of person is right for them. While the key to a long-term relationship includes hard work, compatibility cannot be overlooked. Think about it as the foundation of your partnership where you’ll complement each other and see eye-to-eye on life decisions. Whether allowing an algorithm to identify those matches, or meeting your significant other through friends or at a bar, prioritize compatibility over all else. By taking a step back and deciding to only let in those who enhance your life, you can rest assured you’re not settling for anything that’s less than what you deserve.