Survival, Security, and Compatibility

Compatibility is associated with our levels of basic needs, so when you choose a partner with the hope of living happily ever after, it’s helpful to have some idea of need levels. Let’s consider compatibility and its connection to survival/security.

First, what does this survival/security need look like? As you might expect, it influences how we view food, shelter, money, and safety. It affects what risks we’ll take and whether we prepare for tomorrow or take each day as it comes.

This article is one in a series  
You can find the first article in the series here.

According to Choice Theory, couples with similar levels of the survival/security need are more compatible than couples with very different levels. Why? Let’s look at three situations:

William and Rachel have sky-dived and bungee-jumped together since they met—on a white-water rafting trip. Whenever there’s an opportunity for adventure, they go, picking up just enough work to live. Life is exciting and any frightening experiences just add to their closeness. Both William and Rachel have a low survival need, and their relationship thrives.

Jessica and Michael have discussed how they view money and risk, and how it affects their lives, their health, and their livelihoods. They agree on a budget; their approach seems to align naturally. Both Jessica and Michael have a high survival need, and their relationship thrives.

Conflict can arise if the partners have very different levels of survival/security need unless that difference is balanced by a willingness to put the relationship first.

John and Emily are planning their wedding. Emily has a low survival need, and she has dreamed of an elaborate wedding since she was a little girl.

John has a higher survival need, and cringes at the thought of all that money spent on “just one day.” He wants to marry Emily, but a wedding at the courthouse would work as well for him. You can see how a conflict could arise, can’t you?

John or Emily may be able to coerce the other. For example, Emily may try to control John with, “If you loved me, you’d let me have the wedding I’ve always wanted.” John may try to control Emily with, “If you loved me, you’d see that a down payment for the house we want is more practical.”

Coercion may work in the short term, but doesn’t bode well for the long term, does it?

For John to feel satisfied, he needs a level of security that seems excessive to Emily. For Emily to feel satisfied, she needs love & belonging (having friends and family at the wedding,) and power (having a day that people will remember.) Those needs rank higher for Emily than survival/security.

There’s no “correct” strength of any of our needs. We have the levels we have. However, it’s important to avoid mistaking one partner’s need for security for a lack of love.

If John and Emily are both prepared to work together, they can ensure that each gets what they need to a satisfactory extent.

Survival/security is not only about money, although that’s one area where it can show up as a relationship conflict. Do you think similar levels of survival/security are important for compatibility?

The next article in this series is here.
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