The 2 Ingredients Couples Need In Order To Be Truly Compatible

Being in love is just the first step to creating a relationship that can last. You also need to know if you fit, emotionally.

couple kissing in the woods Vasil Dochinets / Shutterstock

Two very popular terms are being tossed around lately, as if we should all know what they are, and then, once we know, that we should be fully capable of the behaviors: Emotional compatibility and emotional Intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, manage, and use one's own emotions and the emotions of others in a healthy and effective manner. Emotional Compatibility refers to the level of harmony, understanding, and connection two or more individuals share in their emotional lives. It involves being attuned to each other's feelings, needs, and communication styles, as well as being able to provide mutual emotional support, empathy, and validation.


None of us were born with these characteristics and few of us have been taught them, other than by trial and error.

Whether you’re in a relationship now or hoping for that special someone to show up soon, what follows are the essentials that you need to achieve a relationship that can truly stand the test of time.

These are literally as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. All your relationship(s) to some degree depend on them. Yet, it takes time and practice to form these behaviors into habits.

You can also expect that each person you encounter has varying degrees of experience and capability. Let’s take a solid look at what these essential attributes are and then pull them together to help you evaluate your own and others’ abilities, so you can make healthy and discerning choices.


RELATED: 5 Love Compatibility Traits Every Couple Needs For A Successful Relationship

Here are 11 essential characteristics that demonstrate emotional intelligence

1. Self-awareness

Being conscious of one's own emotions, recognizing how they affect thoughts and behavior, and understanding personal strengths and weaknesses.

Example: Jane recognizes that she becomes irritable when she's hungry, so she makes a conscious effort to eat regular meals and snacks to maintain a positive mood and prevent conflicts with others.


Whether you are "hangry," overworked, stressed from childcare, concerned about finances, etc., allowing yourself to be present with these emotions, noticing how you are personally impacted, and then sharing this awareness with those you are interacting with is a game changer.

2. Emotional regulation

The ability to manage and control one's emotions, particularly in challenging or stressful situations, to prevent negative emotional reactions from dictating actions or decision-making.

Example: During a heated argument with his partner, Devin takes a deep breath and counts to ten before responding, allowing him to calm down and respond rationally instead of reacting out of anger.

Growing up most of us have experienced the request to “Take a time out!" Devin took an emotional time-out. Some circumstances require more time and occasionally privacy.


Whatever action you take to get past the reaction phase, they all have one key ingredient in common, which is taking space so that instead of reacting, judging, and concluding we switch over to inquiring and being curious about ourselves, another person, and the circumstance.

RELATED: The Simple Way To Know If You're Compatible With Someone

3. Attunement

The ability to recognize, understand, and respond to another person's emotions in a sensitive and empathic manner. It involves being present and fully engaged with another person, tuning into their emotional state and physical state, and acknowledging their feelings without judgment.

Example: Linda and Bobby have just taken an 18-hour flight to Bali to purchase a property. They arrive with little time to get a ride to get situated before their appointment. Linda is "hangry" and Bobby is aching from the long flight. Bobby makes sure they get quality food before anything else, and Linda insisted Bobby get a massage before they go see the property. Both are happier, able to stay attuned to each other, and far more emotionally resourceful for their meeting.


Emotional attunement is an important aspect of interpersonal relationships, as it promotes empathy, effective communication, and a deeper connection between individuals. This skill is particularly important in parenting and intimate relationships, as it fosters emotional security and allows for healthy emotional development.

4. Empathy

The capacity to understand and share the feelings of others, be sensitive to their emotional state, and respond with compassion and support.

Example: Jennifer notices that her friend seems upset and instead of brushing it off, she asks how she's feeling and listens attentively, offering support and understanding.

Our tendency is to automatically define all situations and emotions based on how we would act or respond. Developing empathy involves active listening, open-mindedness, and a willingness to explore and reflect on the experiences and emotions of others.


RELATED: Best Emotional Compatibility For Each Zodiac Sign

5. Active listening

Paying full attention to the speaker, processing their words and emotions, and responding thoughtfully, fosters effective communication and deeper understanding.

Example: When a coworker expresses frustration about a project, Adam focuses on what they're saying, asks clarifying questions, and repeats their concerns in his own words to show he understands their perspective.

When couples are asked what the most important ingredients of a successful relationship are, feeling both seen and heard ranks at the top. Active listening is required to accomplish this critical connection.


6. Effective communication

Expressing one's own emotions, thoughts, and needs clearly and assertively, while also being receptive to the emotions and perspectives of others.

Example: Angela calmly and assertively tells her roommate that she feels disrespected when her belongings are used without permission, and suggests they discuss boundaries to prevent future conflicts.

It is important to not accuse and point fingers when communicating a concern or challenge. In the example above Angela states, she felt disrespected, versus accusing her roommate of disrespecting her. It is subtle yet essential to follow this path and not blame. Blame and shame will only create pushback. Instead, always describe how you are feeling and provide a solution that would improve the situation.

RELATED: The Smartest People Possess These 4 Traits Of Emotional Intelligence


7. Adaptability

The ability to adjust to change, navigate new situations, and cope with emotional challenges in a healthy and resilient manner.

Example: Katie’s new car breaks down while leaving early to drive her kids to school so she can get to work in time for a major presentation. She quickly adjusts his plans, calling a friend to grab her children, AAA to pick up her car, and catching an Uber to her office, while maintaining a positive outlook on the situation.

It’s super easy to panic, get angry, or feel like a victim. None of these behaviors support quick and useful solutions. The new car has a warranty. Our children are almost always along for the ride. What a great time to demonstrate solution finding. Hopping in an Uber creates the emotional space to take our minds off the road and be even more prepared for the meeting. Adaptability often results in up-leveling the average and routine to something more special.

8. Conflict resolution

Being able to identify, address, and resolve conflicts and disagreements in a constructive and respectful way, while considering the emotions and perspectives of all parties involved.


Example: When Debra and Paul disagree on how to decorate their new home, their interior designer mediates the conversation, encouraging open communication, and helping them find a mutually beneficial solution.

The day will come when one person in a relationship has a completely different perspective or set of beliefs that result in a hard no to your enthusiastic and/or demanding yes. If you have proclaimed one of us is right and the other is wrong, then you will never find a resolution. The truth is there are always two or more perspectives. Both are true for the person holding them.

Discovering that truth, which will include beliefs, concerns, and often judgments must be identified and acknowledged before a solution is possible. 

Getting an impartial third party involved is extremely valuable. As a Relationship Restoration Coach, this one area keeps me the busiest. And it’s also the most fulfilling to resolve for everyone. Criteria are simple: Both must want it and finding that resolution must be more important to the relationship than being right.


RELATED: 10 Subtle Signs Someone Has Low Emotional Intelligence — Be Aware

9. Social skills

Building and maintaining strong, healthy relationships by demonstrating respect, trust, and cooperation, and interacting with others in a positive and emotionally intelligent manner.

Example: At a networking event, Maria introduces herself to new people, engages in active listening, and finds common interests to build rapport and establish connections.

Being a great listener is the primary tool here. What makes for a great listener is an open and very curious mind. Be prepared to learn on the fly. Good active listeners are constantly saying to themselves, “I didn’t know that.” They listen like they are reading a great novel. They literally don’t know what they are going to read next, and it’s exciting. There are many kinds of rapport builders of which non-judgmental curiosity is easily the best.


For the introverted folks that find it challenging to introduce themselves, listening with a heightened sense of curiosity makes the introductions for you.

10. Emotional reasoning

The ability to use emotions to guide decision-making, problem-solving, and creative thinking, while also considering rational factors and logical analysis.

Example: Tom considers both the logical aspects and the emotional impact of his decision to relocate for a new job, taking into account the effect on his family, the opportunities for professional growth, and the potential to build a new support network.

This practice of self-examination that recognizes and honors emotions while also considering other contributing factors creates a comfortable level of certainty that instills trust and confidence in oneself and others.


RELATED: What You See First In This Image Reveals How Emotionally Intelligent You Are

11. Self-motivation 

Harnessing one's emotions to achieve personal goals, maintain a positive attitude, and persevere through challenges or setbacks.

Example: Despite facing setbacks in her job search, Emma maintains a positive attitude and continues to apply for positions, attend networking events, and learn new skills to improve her chances of success.


Whether in work or relationships, obstacles are certain to happen. In fact, this is usually where our greatest growth takes place. The fortitude to bring oneself back into focus and direct one's energy to what is most important and needed with a positive attitude is a foundational attribute to master.

RELATED: 7 Rare Signs The Person You Love Is Meant To Be Your Life Partner

So, are you truly compatible?

When my clients ask, “How do we discover whether we’re emotionally compatible?” we discuss and evaluate the list you’ve just read. That process alone is very eye-opening!

And we make sure they are approaching the question with a discipline of inquiry. First and foremost, they must become curious and inquisitive. They must stop judging and drawing conclusions.


True inquiry does not exist while we are making conclusions. When you’re looking for proof, you eliminate the possibility of being surprised by the truth.  You also instantly lower your EI and EC. Strive to achieve your highest level of EI and EC will follow.

There may be people that appear not to be a match in this area, but they have huge potential. You can see it, feel it, and hear it. But, do you want to be your partner’s teacher? There may be so many other amazing characteristics that you’re OK with that. If it’s like pulling teeth, you have the wrong partner.

If the experience flows and is full of wonderful and fulfilling discoveries, that’s a good sign. 

If you can have a conversation that reveals you’re very similar in your insights and behaviors, don’t ever turn away from that. At the very least, this is a friend for life who just might become your romantic partner.


RELATED: Why Expecting Your Spouse To Be Your Best Friend May Or May Not Be Unrealistic

Larry Michel is the Founder of the Institute of Genetic Energetics and a Relationship Restoration Counselor, helping individuals and couples discover the deepest influences that drive their relationships to flourish.