Why do we do all manner of [painful] things to impress and win over romantic partners? We want to get along, and we think it’s the same as compatibility, something we assume we have when we experience common ground. Think of common ground as the connection we establish with someone or a group due to sharing opinions, interests and other similarities despite our differences (e.g. background, attractiveness, personality, struggle, experiences, and life stage). 

Humans trust and feel connected to familiarity. These remind us of ourselves (or who we’d like to be), of someone we know, like and trust, or of somebody we still crave attention, affection, approval, validation or love from. For example, let’s say we meet somebody from the same place who shares the same culture and background. We assume that these similarities are shorthand for They understand how we think. Add romantic interest, and boom; we assume compatibility. 

Much of dating and relationships is based on ‘getting along’ being equated to compromising ourselves to make it more likely that we’ll get what we want.

We behave like dating is an audition. We also mistakenly assume that getting on while dating means that the other person is interested in us and/or a relationship and/or that things will be the same in a relationship. It feels super confusing when they’re not, but it’s because dating isn’t the same as being in a relationship. We all have different benchmarks for ‘getting on’, and this explains why we don’t hear back from someone who ‘gave great date’

Identifying something ‘in common’ is not just our way of saying we like someone. It’s also how we;

  1. Build a case for being attracted
  2. Build a case for expecting reciprocation and…
  3. Why we think we can, will and should be and stay together.

As a result, sometimes we exaggerate and manufacture connection and common ground. Or we dismiss crucial similarities and differences that suggest incompatibility

Getting along, ultimately, is something we can do with a hell of a lot of people because it’s at a superficial level. Workplace environments are a great example of this. We all do certain things in seemingly ‘socially expected’ ways to get along. Compatibility, however, can only occur with authenticity because it’s based on the intimacy of shared core values.

It’s only natural and necessary for us to desire common ground. However, the basis on which many of us build and use it to build a case for a relationship is deeply flawed. It’s only common ground if your common ground is the same as theirs. That, and no one really wants to go out with their clone, a robot, or their parents.

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