Hygiene, communication matter more than common interests in relationships, survey shows

NEW YORK — If you and your partner can’t agree on what to watch during your next movie night, don’t sweat it. Having opposite tastes may be a sign your relationship is thriving. A new survey finds that dissimilar tastes don’t necessarily spell out failure for a relationship.

Sixty-six percent of Americans who are dating or in a relationship say that liking the same kinds of entertainment is not an important factor in judging compatibility with their partner.

In fact, 68 percent reported that their tastes in books, movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment are dissimilar from their partner’s. The vast majority (85%) even said that the differences in their and their partner’s taste in movies, music, and video games have introduced them to new titles they would never have considered, but ended up loving.

Commissioned by EliteSingles and conducted by OnePoll, the survey of 2,000 Americans dating or in a relationship probed both the behaviors and other factors that people believe attracts them to their partner.

Lovers like a clean partner

When asked which habits Americans feel makes them most compatible with their partner, the answers surprisingly center around hygiene. While cleaning habits (32%), exercise habits (36%), eating habits (42%), and even morning/evening routines (41%) were all singled out as important, the habit that most respondents considered key to compatibility was actually their self-care routines (45%).

This marks a shift from the traditional notion of a couple as an intertwined unit to a partnership of individuals with distinct emotional needs and wants both separately and together. It’s a mentality that Sophie Watson, a spokesperson for EliteSingles, says can only benefit couples.

“Taking care of yourself is so crucial to being a good partner that many don’t think about, so it’s heartening to see the survey data reflecting it,” Watson says in a statement.

“Spending time apart to relax, re-focus and develop your interests is a great practice for couples at any stage of their relationship.”

“Similar lifestyle goals and way of living in general,” “financial habits,” and “trust and truth” are some of the other answers respondents offered when citing compatible habits.

What a shock: Communication is still key in relationships

Everyday routines aren’t the only things that can keep a couple together for the long haul, though. Mutual respect and understanding (54%) is the top big-picture factor respondents cite as crucial to compatibility. Sharing interests (52%) and goals for the future (49%) are also significant for half of the respondents as well.

Another factor that looms large is communication. Specifically, respondents say the style of how they communicate to their partners that they love them is very important. Seven in 10 respondents claimed they and their partner communicate love the same way, which likely goes a long way towards streamlining communication.

“Communication and common goals are, hands-down, the most important components of a great relationship,” Watson adds.

So the next time you’re tempted to squabble about what to watch on Netflix, Watson says it might be helpful to remember why you’re really with your significant other.

“No matter how compatible you are with your partner, compromise – at least on the small stuff – will always play a role.”