3 min

Compatibility’s price tag

Star-crossed lovers - or just crossed?

Credit: Tony Fong

“And here is my heart which beats only for you,” Paul Verlaine wrote while in prison in 1874.

Maybe you’ve fallen so deeply in love, you thought you might die. And maybe you remember the first time you rolled over in bed, looked at a person whose had made you weak with lust and were suddenly so bored to the point of vomiting.

Is there a middle ground between rapture and nausea? Is the romantic compatibility of a couple etched in the stars – or is it merely hard work? Are compatibility and passion at the same end or opposite ends of the spectrum?

In the streets of Paris, London and Brussels, 19th century French poets Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine loved, feuded and scandalized until an incident with a loaded gun scared them into calling the relationship quits. Their desire for each other was unquenchable, but their ability to get along was… non-existent.

By contrast, the famous lesbian literary duet of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas come across as full of mutual admiration, respect and enduring compatibility. As for their passion: We know nothing about what went on between them when the lights went out. They were adamant about not showing affection in public.

“The average relationship lasts five years because people are simply too fucking lazy to work at it,” says psychotherapist JJ Witherspoon. She’s blunt about what people expect and get from relationships.

“It’s too easy to start over when things get hard,” she says. “But, on the other hand, I see unhappy couples who fall into a routine that makes it easier to stay than to leave.”

Some couples continue to get along, while formerly passionate ones end up harbouring murderous fantasies starring their significant others.

“Scientific research,” says Witherspoon “shows that common interests keep a marriage going. That applies to same-sex relationships, as well.”

To keep passion alive, Witherspoon advises spending more time together, having fun as well as experimenting with sex toys and the like to fan the flames of romance.

“No relationship is perfect. There are always going to be hills and valleys,” she says.

Actor Diane Flacks, who has been a relationship with youth worker Janis Purdy for more than six years, says people in a couple know they’re compatible if they can be in the same room doing parallel things and there’s no stress.

“It’s basically a chemical thing. You hum together – even when you’re both silent – at a great level of frequency,” Flacks says. “I know this sounds like the way old people are together, but you can still be excited by someone without being stressed.”

Graphic designer Lucinda Wallace, who’s been in a relationship for almost four years, insists that you can’t expect to get along with anyone else until you’ve worked on yourself.

“Insecurity is self-created and unattractive to people. Women especially wait for things to come to them,” says Wallace. “Women, including lesbians, haven’t been raised to take care of themselves professionally and romantically…. Relationships can only last when two independent people are together. Love is the realization of the other person’s freedom.”

Yogi, a Toronto psychic, aura and tarot reader and remover of evil influences, is adamant that there are two kinds of romantic relationships: Those that last forever and those that simply don’t last at all, regardless of how hard each person tries.

“People phone in to me on TV,” says Yogi, who appears on Talk TV’s Crystal Ball show, “and the first thing I tell them is to change their attitude. That with a shit attitude you are never going to get a mate. Hosts Ben Mulroney and Carla Collins have told me that I’m too gruff, but I tell it like it is.

“When you meet someone, you think it’s going to last forever. It doesn’t. A soul mate does, though. And a soul mate is someone you spend your life with because you were together in a past life. That’s why you stay together, through thick and thin, good and bad.”

As for finding a soul mate, Yogi says to “start looking in different places. Change your routine. If we break a pattern and do something different, it works. Gay men have a rough exterior, but are human and as love-struck as anyone else.”

Using a fascinating mix of psychic tools, Yogi tells me that I was once an 18th century Scottish artist. That, I am happy to report, now allows me to narrow down my soul-mate search.

Ralph Hamelmann, a relationship workshop facilitator and founder of the Q-Age Spiritual Network, emphasises the need to be realistic.

“There is always going to be a sexuality issue,” Hamelmann says. “What is going to happen with two bottoms, for instance? Is anything going to happen?”