The Key Compatibility Factor: The Worldview

There is, in fact, one thing two people need to have in common if a relationship is going to work.

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(Image credit: Neil Kirk)

I have a weird idea I want to roll out for you guys today, so bear with me while I try to explain it.

I've noticed that when it comes to dating, the KEY factor that needs to be in place if two people are going to be compatible is a similar underlying philosophy about life.

Let's start with a hypothetical. Let's say I meet someone with whom I have everything important in common — he likes to read, rides a bike, loves New York City, eats healthfully, tries to live ethically (and ecologically), enjoys modern art and indie rock... We also have enough not in common that he's interesting. He's kind and has a sense of humor. AND I'm totally hot for his body, and he's hot for mine.

But if we didn't have the same worldview, I'm sure the whole thing would fall apart.

What Is a Worldview?

By "worldview," I don't mean "identical political opinions" (though the two things often coincide, or at least overlap). More than that, I mean "similar ideas about how we should live and how we will find meaning."

My Worldview


Anyone's given worldview is VERY hard to define. But I've noticed that I need to be with someone for whom introspection and self-knowledge is very important. And, similarly, we both need to be thinking deeply about how to find meaning in our lives. I think this is why I've dated so many philosophy majors. The question of what is meaningful is alive and urgent for me on a daily basis, just about. Writing helps me to think about what is meaningful — and I like to imagine that this blog, in its own way, has some meaning for the people who read it on a regular basis. (It certainly has meaning for me!)

Other People's Worldviews


My friend Ruby already knows how she wants to make her life meaningful: She wants to change the world. She works in politics, so that day in and day out, she's working to try to change the law in the United States; it's no coincidence that her boyfriend — also a politico — is doing the same. In their case, political views are very important.


Another dear pal of mine lives out in California, where he's a medical doctor working with impoverished communities. He's also traveled around the world, teaching indigent indigenous populations some basic health and hygiene skills in the hopes of improving their lives. I think it's no coincidence that his partner, too, has dedicated her life to helping people in a very active way. They both have rolled up their sleeves to make small but real and important changes in people's lives — and it's no coincidence that they also happen to be some of the most social people I know. They love people.


There are some folks who think having fun is the ne plus ultra. They may be do-gooders on the side, and often kind and decent people, but at the end of the day, what they want most is to be relaxing and enjoying themselves — perhaps at dinner with friends, at a BBQ on their deck, at a movie or music show. These people usually have interesting jobs that don't necessarily pay extremely well. I'd say this describes a large majority of the population — and a few of my friends.


The people with the extremely high-paying jobs are similar to the fun-lovers — but the high-rollers want more than just fun. They want beauty. These are the people with enormous houses and vacation homes. They have fancy cars and expensive toys and the most luxurious clothes. They want their lives (and often their wives) to look a certain way. They think having fun is fine — great, even — but it's really not proper fun for them unless they're having it in a gorgeous setting, surrounded by gorgeous people. Again, I think at least a few of my friends fall into this category.

What's your worldview, people? Surely I haven't listed them all.