This problem is SOLVED!!! Scroll to the end of the post for the grand realization - thanks to all who participated and helped me make the breakthru realization.
Seeing the post at
got my head thinking.
How do we optimize our chances of finding compatible partners? In essence I think I've broken it down into a mathematical question we can ask ourselves.
What % of compatibility must two people have in order to seriously consider a working long-term relationship?
Looking at the edge cases.
0% (equivalent to just trying to hook up with the opposite sex on looks alone) will most likely lead to disaster in the long-term once someone's had their fill.
100% - Realistically impossible to find a 'perfect match'
So what's the verdict? I wanted to ask the community because I've been out of practice for a long time. A lot of you may say, "You'll know what it happens" or "trust your gut" but I believe my compass no longer points to true North anymore. If the compass is miscalibrated how can one ever find their way home? Hence - it's time for the community to chime in if they'd be so kind!!!
Clarifications (update 2/26/14)
Many thanks to everyone who has put input in thus far - a lot of new concepts to swirl around in my head! I did see the percentage concept was a bit general so I will try to make it very specific.
Say you are looking at a personal ad - your potential partner lists things they like:
Hi - thanks for looking at my ad! Here's stuff I like:
I like rock music
I like video games
I like cooking
I like TV shows
They've listed 4 things. You gloss it over and go eh rock music is OK but not really my thing, I like video games though, haven't much experience in cooking, I don't watch TV. Thus you match on 1 out of 4 things = 25% compatibility.
We are assuming that all of the hobbies/interests listed have equal weight (as in reality people value some things more than others - this case is too complex for making a ballpark figure so we'll make things simple and assume everything is equally weighted)
We are assuming there are no dealbreakers.
We are assuming the two people will not change in personalities for a 3 year period. (we care about the match initially on the surface when they first meet)
The goal is to get a rough percentage figure of how much two people have matched initially on the surface before they were able to engage into a relationship of sufficient length to get thru the 'honeymoon' infatuation period (2+ years). This informal poll of % compatibility leads up to...
The Grand Question
When I mentioned I said my compass was miscalibrated earlier what I was trying to get at was this. Historically I have been both deluded and over-valuing of myself and judgmental and under-valuing of the other party. Apparently this has not worked out well for me :p. I used to be somewhat of a hard liner also in that a lot of things I could learn how to just tolerate or grow into appreciating I've shrugged off as dealbreakers. I want to change all that but given this has been my nature all my life I don't know how much "give" I need to have with another person to make a relationship work.
Let's say I was about to open the hatch and start really putting in an effort to open myself up into being a match with someone. Time and effort are finite resources though so is it worth it for me to let's say take a 5% match and consider a 2 year+ relationship a serious possibility by opening myself up and spending energy trying to appreciate them? What about 25%? 50%? etc... I'm kind of a hard person to match given how I'm kinda divergent from the norm anyway so I'm trying to get a realistic assessment of how much effort I should be expecting to put in while having a realistic shot (instead of just haphazardly putting in effort and getting nowhere wasting energy).
i.e. If we are 25% compatible should I try to grow into 50% of the things they like to make it 75% or would I just be selling myself out and making myself unhappy?
What is the realistic amount of leeway that two people in a relationship have to make it work? Obviously it can't be too small as everything becomes a dealbreaker. If it's too large then both parties are not being independent people but are rather "melting" into each other due to lack of identity.
Seeing a dump of initial % compatibilities for past relationships of > 2 years will really help give me a baseline. Let the numerics begin!
PS - Historically looking back my personal avg has been 20-30% (I like about 1/4th the things she does). I've never been able to bridge the gap into a long-term - maybe this is why. Is this abnormally low? Am I just so used to not finding anyone like me that I've settled? Do I need to broaden my interests?
The Grand Solution (updated 2/27/14)
I have read thru each answer in detail and juggled it in my head. I also talked to my good friend in-depth last night about my dilemma and he came up with the same realizations that most of you came up with.
What % is needed to attempt a long term relationship
Answer: 1% is enough with no dealbreakers present to grow from but realistically you want to get this as high as you can get it. Starting from 1% is theoretically possible but it is a huge uphill battle to bridge two very dissimilar people into a working relational unit. In the end the percentage is irrelevant. If you are attracted to them and you're not sacrificing your own life and integrity to make them like you then I'd say go for it!!!Relevant quote from the book of pook under lesson 10 - 'As you think you shall become.':
“Which would you prefer, a woman who collapses her own interests for the sakes of yours merely to have a boyfriend or a woman who likes you because of you!?”
Over here Pook was emphasizing that the focus is on You (the one looking for the opposite sex partner) - not on them. This post was written in my moment of weakness - I was about to sell out. I now know what I need to do - continue on my physical improvement trajectory and start seriously defining in even more detail what I want (until I can recall it perfectly without even thinking about it). Once I get that vision then I need to congrue my own life to attract it in reality. I can still sell out - but I shouldn't sell out just because the stocks are dropping and I'm in a panic. I will need to make a rational level-headed choice as to how much my dreams are worth pursuing realistically and then more importantly take action on that.Furthermore on the myth of 'compatibility' - My friend last night separated this concept into 2 distinct concepts - similarity and compatibility. Similarity would be how similar you are in superficial things like hobbies (what I described as 'compatibility' when I first wrote this post). Compatibility would be how well a relationship between two parties would work regardless of similarity. Thus a relationship can be dissimilar in that 2 people are completely opposite each other but they are compatible with each other as they grow from being exposed to the opposite. Similarly a relationship could have people who are 100% similar in interests but due to being too alike or whatever other reason they are not compatible with each other in a realtionship. Thus in the end similarity to your partner does not matter - only compatibility. With that maybe even 0% matches are possible but I'd go with the 1% mentioned earlier as that at least guarantees there is SOME working ground to start from rather than none.
If you really like cooking and the girl you are in a relationship with doesn't like to cook herself, that's no issue. You are simple the person who cooks in the relationship.I don't think that compatibility on that superficial level is very important. For me it's more important to ask whether I can openly speak with her about everything that I think and feel without freaking her out. That I can let go and be deeply vulnerable and trust that everything is alright.I don't have an issue with someone watching TV or video games as long as they don't expect me to share that hobby.
Time and effort are finite resources though so is it worth it for me to let's say take a 5% match and consider a 2 year+ relationship a serious possibility by opening myself up and spending energy trying to appreciate them?
Trying to appreciate something doesn't work. If you exert effort into changing your preferences that usually tells your brain that there's a reason for the preference. Preference change more easily when you let go.
You might ask yourself: "Do I think I grow as a person from entering a relationship with this person?"
Interesting Zen perspective there on letting go of this whole business of superficial compatibility.
On that question you asked - Yes - I would grow as a person with a lot of these people. Maybe that would be enough even if it ends in some spectacular scarring breakup or embarassing moments of gross incompatibility for all involved lol
Hmm. I'm not sure it can be broken down into a "percentage" like that. I've never been in a very serious relationship, but from my inexperienced viewpoint I can only think of two things that are a big deal to me:
-Must be financially responsible.
-Must want one or two kids.
Everything else, I imagine, would be negotiable. Of course this is all speculation, I've only had minor flings. I guess we'll see what happens if I ever manage to get serious with anyone.
I'm also not sure what you mean by 1/4 compatible.. Is that 1/4 values compatibility? 1/4 sex preferences compatibility? 1/4 interests compatibility? etc. Anyway..
My quick thoughts:
- 1 IMPORTANT THING that most people seem to miss -
Most people seem to be focused on what THEY want. However, the question is, if you'd meet a girl of your dreams tomorrow, would you be HER ideal partner?
I know one guy who isn't good looking, doesn't know how to talk with women, doesn't make that much money, etc. Yet he wants a supermodel girlfriend. Question that he should ask himself is why would a girl who looks like a supermodel date him? She has loads of attractive, smart, and rich admirers already. Why would she pick him? She wouldn't.
I think it's smart to make sure that you are a catch prior to going on a "hunt". Do you look good? Are you an interesting person? Are you financially stable? etc. People who don't think this through are delusional.
- - -
- 3 KEY THINGS (in my opinion) that can help you avoid wrong relationships/get into right relationships -
1. Independence. You have your friends, your career, your interests, etc.You love your life.You are perfectly happy being single.
This will prevent you from being desperate: you are not afraid to break things off with someone incompatible because you are not afraid of being single.
2. Clarity. You know exactly what you want in a relationship. How would your ideal partner look like? What are their values? What are their preferences in bed? What are their future plans? etc. There are so many questions that you need to ask yourself in order to work out what it is that you want.
This will help to quickly identify whether this person might be a compatible partner. Say, you want kids, but it turns out that a girl you are dating wants to be childfree, so clearly it won't work in the long run. It's better to end it and move on, right?
Important thing here is not to waste time with incompatible people. It's impossible to change someone: people aren't pieces of clay that you can mold as you see fit. The quicker you end things with someone incompatible, the better. More time and energy to find someone compatible.
3. Odds. I noticed that people often don't do much to increase the odds of meeting the kind of person that they want.
Once you know what you want it's time to put odds in your favor. There are stereotypical clusters of personal traits. You can use that to meet more people who meet your criteria.
For example, if you want a girlfriend who is smart, has progressive values, is into science, and likes all kinds of geeky things, you will meet way more girls with these traits in, say, an atheist convention, than you would by randomly picking girls on a street.
That's because many people who are atheists tend to also have progressive values, be interested in science, and like all kinds of geeky things.
However, if you go to Christian youth groups or whatever, you are not likely to meet that atheist/progressive/geek type of girl there.
It's kind of like marketing, figure out who your target audience, where they hang out, and how to reach them.
- - -
"THE ONE" BS
I also think that there's no such thing as "the one". We all have been brainwashed with the idea that relationship is only successful if there is a happily ever after. How realistic is that, though?
You are not the same person that you were 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Neither is she.
You will not be the same person 5, 10, 15 years ago. Neither will she.
How likely it is that you both will change in directions that will allow you to stay compatible?
We can never predict how people (including ourselves) will change.
It's naive to expect that you will stay compatible with someone for the rest of your life.
Relationship is a success if you were happy while it lasted.
I hope this is coherent enough, it's 4AM here in Spain, too tired (read:lazy) to proofread..
Thanks for the thoughts thus far. I've read thru everyone's comments and made a lot more clarifications on the original post. This may be a too long did not read so let me try to break it down:
Say you're trying to meet a bunch of new people and you're looking thru personal ads. The party you're interested in has listed 4 things as their hobbies. If you like one of the things they've listed that's 25%. Two of the things is 50%. Three is 75% etc... We are assuming they listed hobbies that are equally trivial (or equally important) and there are no dealbreakers. For all of these relationships where these people have met and stayed together for longer than the infatuation period (2+ years) how much did they match initially from the start?
Similarity #84: we're both a bit geeky. We opened up Excel and started looking up the statistics for as many of the quantifiable similarities as we could find. Vegans make up 1.4% of the US Population. A surprising 46% doesn't drink. We added a few modifiers in, taking out half the population for being below average intelligence, and another 85% or so because, like anyone, we're not attracted to most people we meet.
If I had guessed before doing the math, I would have thought that there would be at least a hundred thousand girls out there that fit my criteria. I was WAY off.
Depending on just how picky I decide to be, there are only 10-25 girls in the United states that match my criteria. That's not a lot. Annie's was a bit more, mainly because she has a wider age range than I do.
Freedom is understood in many different ways by different people at different levels of intellectual, moral and spiritual consciousness. It is the masculine in us all that seeks autonomy and freedom (as noted by David Deida and others). The feminine yearns for fullness and relationship. This is yet another manifestation of emptiness and form as the masculine and feminine. We all have both the masculine and feminine within us whether we are men or women, but these aspects of us may be at very different stages of development. Nevertheless, the masculine within all of us seeks freedom.
When I first started 'waking up' a few years ago, I became interested in Anarchism. Like many people with a liberal background (see previous article on the individual and socio-cultural environment), I was impressed by how social structures constrain and limit people.
Most people who don't take the time to think about themselves and their environment simply adopt the values and culture supported by the social structures around them. Using our individual-environment model, we can say that the environment feeds strongly into the individual, but most individuals simply regurgitate this feed of values and culture back into the environment, contributing little to its growth and evolution. Most of us are like the human batteries in the Matrix (what would we ever use for analogies had that movie never been made? ;), never questioning the reality or legitimacy of the environment presented to us.
At the time, I determined that if the social structures were forcibly changed, that individuals could be changed, in this case freed, as well. This is true to a large extent, of course, but it also neglects the role of the autonomy of the individual, one of the very ideals we are trying to realize through social change in the first place. That is, it focuses solely on how to change the society to effect change in ("freeing") the individual. It does not consider how it may be possible to develop the individual to change society.