I recently participated in a spirited Facebook discussion about the differences between what men want from an online dating app and what women want. The topic of compatibility became an integral difference – to wit, women care about it, men not so much.
One male friend of mine defended the typical male “shotgun” approach to dating sites – sending messages to as many women as possible in hopes of defeating what he said was a meager 10% response rate. When asked why men send messages to women they’re not actually compatible with, this was his response:
Most men are of the opinion that women in their mid-20s and earlier don’t really know what they’re looking for (versus what they say they’re looking for). Whether or not this is true is a different question, but the result is that men don’t care about compatibility so much as they care about not being filtered out.
This was a real eye-opener for me as a woman, and it got me thinking about different types of “compatibility” and how important they really are to a successful relationship.
Good on paper
Sites like OKCupid and eHarmony have made a crapton of money matching people based on “paper” compatibility – beliefs, hobbies, and personality traits people have in common. The more you have in common, the more likely you’ll be pushed at each other. But who really wants to date a copy of themselves, except for narcissists?
Some of the longest-lasting, funnest relationships I’ve had have been with people who liked radically different music than I did, or came from wildly different backgrounds. I love learning about new things from my friends – why would I want to date someone who only likes the same things I do?
The pheromone challenge
For me, the best indicator of whether I’m into someone enough to stick around and make a relationship work is if we have physical compatibility. Not just sex, but that pheromonal compatibility that I think of as “chemistry”. When someone just smells right.
So until someone builds a scratch-and-sniff web site, the only way to figure out if I’m truly compatible with someone is to meet them in the flesh. And, if it doesn’t seem too weird, smell his neck when he’s not looking.