It’s not uncommon to hear single people complaining about how they aren’t in relationships. Sure, there are plenty of people who love being single and are vocal about it, but the overwhelmingly loud message that comes across in popular media and in most conversations about relationships is “dating is hard and being single sucks.” I’ve been guilty of this many times myself. Even though being single is great (which is a whole other conversation), it’s hard not to feel lonely at times, especially when you see other people who are currently in relationships.

I think, though, our insecurities get the best of us and we tend to exaggerate or invent inadequacies in ourselves in order to justify a temporary lack of success in dating. I think the issue lies less with the difficulty of meeting people or lack of adequacy on the part of anyone involved, and more in just the unlikelihood of two people actually being attracted to and good for each other. Anyone reading this has probably heard at some point how unlikely it is for any two person’s personalities, hobbies, life-styles, plans, friends, or schedules to align in relationship-harmony.

An often over-looked but, in my opinion, very important aspect of relationships is physical compatibility. There are many small and seemingly insignificant qualities to each and every one of us that factor into how comfortably we fit in with another person. With the limited experience I’ve had in both relationships and long blocks of dating-frustration, and as an observer of both scenarios in my friends and peers, I’ve listed below some physical factors I think are important for people to compatible in relationships. Some of these may seem superficial or silly, but in any case I thought it would be good to draw attention to them.

A popular scientific finding to cite is that people tend to get into relationships with others who are similar in “attractiveness” as them. While that may be true (though trying to define “attractiveness” is so subjective that I had trouble using the word “scientific”), what is much more apparent to me is that people tend to date other people that look like them, or at least look familiar to them. You could attribute this to similar tastes in fashion and common ethnic/cultural backgrounds, but I feel like even more basic things such as skin tone, eye shape, face size, etc. are involved in a significant want. It’s just an intuition so I don’t have any impressive figures or statistics to throw out, but it’s something people should think about.

Many people have an endogenous smell that is very distinct. Sometimes this smell is pleasant to a partner, sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes it’s not even noticeable (consciously, at least). Of course, various aromatic products can change the dynamics of this particular aspect, but some friends and I have at least have noticed different smells with different partners, and our levels of comfort with these partners have varied accordingly.

Being able to sleep comfortably with a partner is a big deal in a relationship, at least for me. Sleep deprivation and lowered quality of sleep have significant impacts in both physical and mental health. If you’re a light sleeper like myself, a partner who kicks you all night probably won’t work out.

Of course as a member of SHEP I’m going to talk a little about sex. Sexual compatibility, attraction, and consent are all very different things. Just a few things to think about in terms of compatibility are power dynamics (i.e. top vs. bottom, submissive vs. aggressive, etc.), size (height, weight, genitals), fantasies, noise (volume, talking during sex, dirty talk, etc.), favorite positions, and favorite sex acts.