Are You Settling?

by eHarmony Staff

Are You Settling?

If you find yourself focusing on what’s missing in your relationship, struggle constantly with wishing your partner were different, and feel pressured to change who you are because it makes things run more smoothly, you could be settling for a partner who is, simply put, not a great match for you. In healthy, happy and lasting relationships there are seven significant similarities that both partners share, and without aligning relatively well in these areas, most relationships are headed for undue hardship and unhappiness.

The key to dating well is to know yourself and your partner deeply enough to be able to accurately observe the ways that you interact from the beginning stages of the relationship’s development. The feeling of new love is like nothing else, but if you are completely swept away in emotion to the point that you are ignoring obvious incompatibilities, you might find that months and maybe even years down the road that you feel "cheated" in your relationship. By ignoring the following seven similarities you could be missing out on a much more satisfying and happy relationship.

1. Spiritual Harmony
Although not always referring to religious affiliation, spiritual harmony refers to a shared perception of God or a higher power as well as how much weight spiritual belief weighs in on your life. It is about the relationship of spirituality in your life. If you are religious or very spiritual and your partner has a very low level, there may be problems, especially if marriage and children follow.

2. Desire for Verbal Intimacy and Ability to be Intimate
Intimacy is what romantic relationships are all about—emotional intimacy, mental intimacy, physical intimacy, and for many spiritual intimacy. A committed, monogamous relationship is a special union in which you can share the most intimate sides of yourself and so can your partner with you. As part of sharing this intimacy, there are three key factors: the ability to connect with another through caring, interest and compassion, the ability to express, and the ability to listen well. Beyond those skills, both partners must have mutual desire to get to know the other on all of these levels. Love is a total package, and one that must be wanted equally by both parties.

3. Energy Level
The energy level of a person may sound like something simple, but it can affect many things about a person, including other key similarities partners should share such as ambition level, interests and personal habits. If the disposition of your partner is more low-key and your disposition is all about high energy wave-making, you can be sure that there will be future problems to contend with—you’ll want to go, go, go, and your partner will feel pressured and may even pressure you to slow down, down, down.

4. Ambition Level
Differences in ambition levels can wreak havoc in relationships because work and achievement is such a large part of our culture, and work in most cases is necessary for survival. Those who are highly goal-driven will have a hard time understanding why their partner seems to be "aimless" or is not interested in accomplishing anything, when to their partner, they may seem like they never take time to stop and simply enjoy life for what it is. And yet, life for what it is to the ambitious is work and achievement. Therefore, ambition level is best when relatively similar.

5. Role Expectations
Not just about traditional roles of who stays home and who works, role expectations can involve everything from who does particular household tasks such as shopping and taking out the trash to who pays on a date to how a person should dress. Role expectations should be similar and compatible. It is not so important what the roles chosen are, but that both partners enjoy and are happy with mutual expectations that partners have for each other.

6. Interests
Relationships are built on love, attraction, compatibility and a history of shared experiences. Interests help to create those shared experiences that become memories of happy moments spent together. Looking back, participating in particular interests becomes evidence of the good times and love that you have shared. While all interests do not have to be the same, and partners can introduce really enjoyable independent interests, the major ones should be relatively similar. If your idea of a Saturday involves a beach chair and a great new bestselling book, but your partner is more into hiking, biking and rock climbing on his days off, or if your partner’s idea of riveting entertainment is rental movies and take out on a Saturday night but you’re already dressed and ready to go out to paint the town red, you may want to reconsider whether your interest aligns enough for a long-term relationship.

7. Personal Habits
Personal habits are often overlooked during the "honeymoon stage" of any relationship. In fact, even some of the most off-putting habits later declared as near-deal-breakers are even regarded as "cute" or endearing. Whether or not your partner is on time or runs chronically late, is clean or messy, is responsible financially or plays things more "loose"—all of these personal habits come into play. Additionally, habits like weight management or fitness activity level are equally important. There may be other personal habits that particularly resonate with you as being unacceptable—make sure you watch out for them and agree to come to terms with them; most times habits are hard to break and even harder when they’re not likely to change.

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