Whether we’re strangers, acquaintances, close friends, co-workers, family, or lovers, getting along drives our perception of the quality of the relationship and how secure we expect us to feel in the future. Think of getting along as the things we do to have harmonious and friendly relationships with others so we can be happy and get what we want from life. In other words, getting along is how we meet our emotional needs.

We get along with people with whom we share common ground. We establish this connection with someone or a group because of sharing opinions, interests, and other similarities. For example, background, attractiveness, personality or life stage, despite our other differences. 

Although we’re all unique and have our own needs, fears, beliefs, desires, expectations, feelings, opinions, experiences, motivations, and more, we can find common ground even with what seems like huge differences. Now granted, in any given relationship, that ground may be flimsy, rocky, temporary, professional, personal, solid and/or expansive. Still, where we stand with people matters

Where we stand with people matters.

When we believe, regardless of how intimately we know that person (and they us), that we have something (or a lot of things) in common, it’s because we feel, even if we don’t have proof, that we share interests, characteristics, outlook, intent or something we perceive to be of value. We like them. We feel we agree on some (or many) things in the areas where we think it most counts. Or we assume we will based on how we’ve gotten on so far or on what we’ve gleaned or assumed about them.

Over almost two decades of exploring dating and relationships, common ground is the pothole people stumble into again and again. Obviously, we need it to create, forge and sustain intimate relationships, but we’re often too simplistic about it. We prioritise superficial qualities and characteristics—secondary values—and don’t pay enough attention to and value core values. In doing so, we miss the wood for the trees.

How much can we really have in common with someone if the relationship is unhealthy or unfulfilling? These are signs of incompatibility.

Humans have a lot of superficial stuff in common with more people than we think. 

To create, forge and sustain healthy, intimate, loving relationships and to be fulfilled humans in our own right, though, we need to share core values where it counts. Core values speak for our character, priorities, and direction in life. Without shared core values, we are incompatible and won’t meet our emotional needs.

When you share core values with someone, the relationship is harmonious, stable, healthy and growing. You can be more of who you really are.

The funny thing is, when you genuinely get on with people, you don’t have to keep talking about “common ground”. You just get on with things. So, if you’ve spoken about it a lot, it’s a call to go deeper. It might, in fact, be time to consider what you don’t have in common.

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