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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Energetic Compatibility

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Science Needs Your Help to Uncover the Mystery of "Energetic Compatibility"

Last time we discussed some basic theories of love and attachment. Successful and committed romantic relationships boil down to the interaction of three simple ingredients between two people: Passion, Friendship and the level of Commitment.

So how do you know when you and your partner have the right levels of these ingredients?

Ah, that’s the million dollar question… and I do mean literally.  Dating sites have implemented all sorts of matching formulas trying to find that magic recipe so they’ll grab more customers. It should come as no surprise that almost all dating sites that offer matching systems claim that theirs is the best in the industry. But let’s put aside sales and marketing hype a moment and look at this question from a different angle. New research suggests that as you start to establish and nurture a serious relationship, you should pay close attention to what your body is saying. I don’t mean sexual feelings here; I’m referring to the experience that the matching company MatchMatrix ( calls “energetic compatibility.” 

Energetic compatibility is a somewhat ambiguous term, but in many ways it cuts right to the heart of the matter. According to MatchMatrix, energetic compatibility refers to how the biorhythms or energy patterns between two people create passion and friendship, which form the foundation of a strongly committed relationship. This aspect of relationships hasn’t really been studied from this perspective, which is why my scientific team is conducting research to understand and test these ideas better. We need your help with this effort!  Below I’ll provide the link for you to participate in a simple and fun survey, but first let’s explore why the subject of energetic compatibility seems generally plausible.

Energy Patterns -- Real or Not?

New research has discovered that how a person feels physically -- energized and alert versus drained and tired -- when the partner is present reveals insights into how compatible two people are. In particular, the lack of physical fatigue experienced in the company of your loved one can be modeled as a sign or symptom of a compatible relationship, along with the more traditional signs like feelings of attachment, trust and sexual arousal.

Physical fatigue -- or the lack of it -- makes sense since people often express underlying thoughts and feelings via somatic mechanisms. In other words, physical ailments (headaches, body aches or upset stomach) can be signs of psychological distress, not just symptoms of a medical condition. Psychologists refer to this as somatization, and this problem occurs regularly within the general population. 

There are four general relationship issues that can induce somatization -- or another way to think about, four issues that might amplify negative energy patterns. In this article we’ll review two overt issues, and next time we’ll discuss two covert issues.

  1. Stress Reaction. A relationship has the potential to be a great source of support in stressful time – yet, for those people that deal poorly with stress the potential deterioration of the relationship can only add more stress. The relationships of couples that have less productive reactions to stressful life events may suffer when such events occur.  In addition, negative stressful events during the workday contribute to angry marital behavior in women and withdrawal in men and in general to negative marital interactions. According to some research, minor daily stressors, such as chores, childcare and errands have a major effect on the emotional lives of the partners and the nature of family relationship.  While some experts argue that gender differences are somewhat overrated when it comes to dealing with stress, several studies have demonstrated that men tend to use withdrawal (both emotional and behavioral) as a coping mechanism, whereas women are more likely to be critical, verbally confront their partners, and initiate conflict. It has been noted that marriage is one context in which women are more likely to express more anger than men. These gender differences appear to be more pronounced under stress. Thus, stressful episodes already seem to promote a situational negative energy pattern between men and women, broadly speaking.
  1. Conflict Resolution. The ways that individuals approach and resolve conflict situations can greatly influence their likelihood for establishing successful relationships. Conflict resolution skills are essential to overall relationship satisfaction, and working on developing skills in this area can produce a significant improvement in the couple’s happiness.  By the same token, problematic conflict resolution style (competitive, dominating, passive-aggressive, withdrawal or submissive) in one or both partners leads to marital distress.

One study showed that when couples experience conflict in a variety of areas (specifically affection and attention, jealousy, finances, sex, chores and control and dominance), spouses feel less esteem for one another.  As conflicts are inevitable in long-term relationships, the ability to negotiate solutions to a variety of issues in a non-threatening way is essential for the very survival of the romantic bond. 

Moreover, parental conflict has a negative impact on children’s adjustment and can lead to their maladaptive behaviors, and this is especially true for girls.  There are many different ways of dealing with conflict, some more productive than others – whether or not respondents have what it takes to resolve conflict is essential to consider.  In addition, some individuals are more likely to get into conflicts than others; hence, this is important to consider when pairing subjects. 

How You Can Help…

Remember, Stress Reaction and Conflict Resolution are just two variables that set up negative energy patterns in a couple. Scientists are still studying other variables that have the same effect. Now there’s a new study that aims to add to our knowledge on the issue.

A great thing about this new study on energy patterns is that YOU can help!  Anyone who is currently in a committed relationship, or who has been in a committed relationship in the recent past, is eligible to participate in the study. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions about their current or most recent serious relationship. The study will run through December 2009, and the basic results will be released shortly thereafter. Your specific responses will remain completely confidential. Please help us in this important study and encourage your friends and family members to take part as well.

The survey may be accessed via the link below:

Begin survey:


Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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