When I think back to my first date with my current partner, I knew pretty early on they were the one. We met online and started out by emailing for a couple of weeks before I agreed to meet him for drink and to catch a screening of Gremlins — a local theater was doing a series of '80s throwback movies. Basically, it was the perfect to date to take me on; the dude just got me.
While the date stands out most in my memory, I really could have answered "Are we compatible?" after our very first conversation. Right away, he was getting my jokes, throwing back all kinds of obscure horror movie references (I am a horror movie junkie), and generally vibing with me in a way that I knew we would just click. But beyond that, there was a sense of comfort and ease to the conversation, which eventually led to me agreeing to meet him. Our first date was a lot like that first conversation in that it had set the tone. In other words, we were compatible.
We've been together for several years now, and I credit that same compatibility for our success, but at the time I didn't know because I wasn't looking for it. I was just going on my gut (and a fair amount of trial and error). As it turns out, there were actually a handful of things I could have picked up on in that initial conversation that would have clued into our potential for a future. I reached out to some dating and relationship experts to help identify them so that you know who to keep and who to ditch next time you talk to someone new. Here's what they said.
1. You Feel Relaxed Talking To Them
You can tell a lot about compatibility from a first conversation. For one thing, do you find the conversation flows naturally, or are you having to force it? Is there a natural rhythm, or are there awkward silences where the conversation dies? “For reasons you may not be able to articulate, you feel a strong sense of ease. Something in their vibe, demeanor, and attitude allows you to take a breath and present the best version of yourself,” says relationship expert Susan Winter. “Feeling relaxed in your first conversation means a natural flow exists between you and your date. This is a good marker for future romantic success.”
2. You’re On The Same Page When It Comes To Spelling
Spelling? Really? Yes, stay with me here. It’s pretty common for the first time you speak to someone to be over some kind of text message. There is one distinct advantage to this, in that you get to literally see how they communicate. Don’t underestimate the power of grammar and spelling, especially if you are online dating, says The League’s Head of Communications, Meredith Davis.
“This is a big one on The League! You can tell a lot about a person based on their spelling and grammar!” she says. For example, if you’re someone who feels strongly about the proper use of your/you’re and they respond with “ur,” well, that might be a red flag that you are not on the same communication wavelength. “The answers to these questions really vary person-by-person. But, the real rule of thumb is that if you're not vibing with their spelling, then it's probably a no-go!” says Davis.
3. You’re Actually Interested In Talking About The Same Things
The one thing worse than uncomfortable silence is when the person you’re talking to is just rambling on about boring subjects that you have no interest in or opinion on. Like really, dude, we need to talk about your CrossFit routine for 45 minutes uninterrupted? Nightmare.
If you find everything they talk about to be only normally interesting or flat-out boring, then keep it moving. However, Winter says that if, “rather than topical chitchat or meaningless banter, they’re talking about things that excite you,” you may have a winner on your hands. Very few things in life are as fun as when you really connect with someone about the things you are excited about. In those situations, the conversation tends to naturally take on a life of its own, and you may even find yourself so swept in up in the moment you don’t notice how much time has passed. That, folks, is what compatibility looks like. “When you share the same passions, it’s a clear indicator that you’re a good match,” says Winter.
4. They Are Geographically Desirable
Proximity matters. One thing you should find out in that first conversation is roughly where they live. If you live in a big city, what neighborhood are they hailing from? You should know before things move forward exactly how much travel is required if you are going to make a go of it with them.
“There is nothing worse than meeting up with someone that seems promising only to find out that they live on the other side of city,” says Davis. “Even if the two of you are compatible, commuting from the West Village to Williamsburg or from North Beach to the Sunset District is essentially a long distance relationship, which will make having fruitful encounters hard early on in the relationship!”
While this isn’t make or break, being able to see each other regularly is definitely a factor in compatibility.
5. You Get Each Other's Sense of Humor
A good sense of humor is seriously make or break for me. Not only does a potential bae need to make me laugh, but they have to get my jokes, too. I love to make people laugh, and if someone I am dating just stares blankly at my goofy side, well then, boy bye.
Winter agrees, and she advises that if someone isn’t able to get get your humor and dish it right back, then they are not “exhibiting the fact that they’re an equal match for your wit and cynicism.” Humor is a big deal; not only is it part of the initial attraction phase of a relationship, but it’s also what helps to get you through he hard times. Don’t go through life without someone who doesn’t make you giggle.
6. Their Weekends Look Similar To Your Weekends
“How was your weekend?” sounds like a pretty basic question to ask, but don’t overlook its importance in gauging compatibility, says Davis. Knowing how someone likes to spend their free time is a great way to know what a shared life with them looks like.
If your weekend was going to a film festival and then curling up with a good book, and theirs was a full marathon followed by a Spartan race, then you’re probably not super compatible. “So the next time your match messages you with this question, rather than roll your eyes, try answering as thoroughly as you can!” says Davis.
7. You Like Their Personality
OK, this one may seem obvious, but it’s actually more complicated than you think. It’s not just that you enjoy their personality, because there are tons of people who you really like but would never date. Are you thinking of that one friend you have who is a ton of fun, but could never get it? Yeah, me too.
It’s not just about having that good vibe with someone; it's about, as Winter explains, having a personality the feels “just right.” Beyond liking their personality, they should be someone you think is “agreeable.” What that means varies from person to person, but you'll know the feeling when it happens. "Liking your initial interaction and finding an agreeable personality makes ongoing dating an easy fit," says Winter. Don’t make dating any harder than it already is!
As you can see, there’s a ton you can learn from a single conversation with someone, and knowing how to spot these signs (and the red flags) will save you a ton of wasted energy on dating folks who weren’t the right fit from the very beginning.
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