”Grow Old with Me”…Sounds Nice But Who Do We Want to Hear it From?

As humans, we are con­sidered to be social be­ ings, designed to seek the company of others.

We all search for companion­ ship. We long for someone with whom we could share our lives. We strive to find a partner to ac­ company us in our journeys and to be by our side through life and during our golden years.

When choosing a life partner, we each have our own sets of crite­ ria. Our decision is guided by the idea we formulate in our minds about the kind of relationship we aspire to be part of, as well as the type of person we believe would be “our match”.

Some of us are lucky enough to find their “one” the first time around; while for the unfortunate many, including myself, our relationships do not survive the years.

Even though the longevity of a relationship is determined by countless factors, compatibility falls high on the list. Its impor­tance lies in the constancy of its levels.

We all grow and evolve as individ­uals, yet our core character traits do not change. So when assessing ­ what makes someone better suited for us than another, on the long term, we have to consider our level of compatibility.

The First Level

All that makes up this level is subject to change as we age. Its components create a transient sense of “alikeness” determined by the present. Over time, and due to life’s unplanned and un­ expected events (childbirth, ca­reer changes, or relocation), our interests, lifestyles, routines, and habits change. The unpredictable nature of the changes our lives go through -and how transforma­tive they could be for us individu­ ally- make what we thought of as shared or common between us fragile and shaky. Though seemingly fleeting and, in many cases, unsustainable, they matter. Their value lies in bringing us together, initially. They are what attract us to one another, and what makes us enjoy each other’s company.

Because as we grow older, the circle around us gets smaller.      

The Second Level

Our similar upbringing, level of education, and socio-economic backgrounds define how well we get along on an external level (outside of who we are). The im­portance of these criteria is rela­tive to each one of us, yet their contribution to the health of the relationship should not be undermined. These external attributes are the result of our pasts. They play a major role in shaping the person we grow to become. They do not change. Our perspective on them might change, yet they remain facts.  Lack of similar­ity of our backgrounds becomes prominent when making deci­sions regarding the fostering and upbringing of the children. The dynamics of communicating and socializing with family members and friends could also be chal­lenging.

The Third Level

Character traits. Our core.  This is where self-awareness is a re­quirement; as well as the ability to recognize fundamental simi­larities and differences we share with each other. Being self-aware means knowing ourselves better strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. When it comes to compatibility, some personality traits have a larger impact than others on the sustainability of a relationship. Some people are optimistic and look for that silver lining, while others are pessimis­ tic and contemptuous. There are those who believe that there is goodness in all people, and there are those who are mistrusting and cynical.

Some consider themselves cre­ators of their own destinies, while others feel powerless in the face of challenges.

There are those who assume responsibility for their circum­stances, and those who lay blame on the world.

How we approach and look at life is of the utmost significance. It is difficult to see eye to eye when we have different perspectives. Our differences in how we see and react to life hinder our com­munication and understanding of each other. Realizing these traits and characteristics in ourselves, and being able to recognize them in others, helps us better assess how well we match, fundamen­tally.

These too do not change.

Because as we grow older, the circle around us gets smaller: children move away, friends and family members are lost along the way, life’s’ distractions dis­ tance us from those who were once close, and we are left to live out these golden years alone… together.

When choosing a life-long part­ ner, for the first or even tenth time, consider the traits you will live with forever.

Be aware of your level of compat­ibility and your willingness and ability to tolerate, accept, and embrace your differences.

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