Were Romeo and Juliet compatible?

The world's greatest lovers met at a masked ball in Verona. He watched her dance, and later they spoke briefly together before Juliet's mother broke up the conversation. After the party, and in the early hours of the morning the conversation was resumed - he in the garden, and she on her balcony. They were already in love with each other.

Shakespeare understood the mating game only too well. Anxious that Juliet should not be regarded as a lady of easy virtue, she chastises herself for failing to play 'hard to get'. When the couple agree to get married later that same day, Romeo straightway goes to Friar Lawrence to make the arrangements. But the good Friar cautions him that "young men's love lay not truly in the hearts, but in their eyes."

It would be a very different world if mens' eyes played no part in the mating game at all, or indeed if womens' eyes were denied similar judgement on this vital issue. Where might be the fashion and cosmetics industries now if men cared not how women looked? But we all know what Friar Lawrence meant; looks are important, but they are not necessarily a passport to life long happiness. Something else is needed to end the story with those immortal words: "and they lived happily ever after".

The question of compatibility has taxed men and women for centuries. If we really knew the answer there would be no marital arguments, no separation, no divorce. Relationship counsellors would not exist, and the lawyers would be poorer. Of course this takes no account of the fact that someone in a compatible relationship might well meet someone else with whom they were compatible. Compatibility does not necessarily mean exclusivity. Yet many, many couples seem to have found something in their relationship that keeps alive the spark that first ignited the flame of love between them, and often makes the flame burn brighter as the years pass by. How do they do it?

In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare provides two clues to their compatibility, and one major drawback. First, both lovers are the children of Italian noblemen, sharing perhaps a common culture that might reduce the scope for later disagreement. Secondly, they enjoy a night of passion from which we might conclude that they were sexually compatible. The drawback is that their respective families hated each other with a venom that goes well beyond a joke at the mother-in-law's expense. They had it seems, an unfortunate propensity to kill each other.

Although it helps to have supportive 'in-laws' we know that compatibility is not merely the discovery of someone who shares the same background and ideology, and whose appearance is pleasing. Much more important for a long term relationship is 'character balance' - the match between two people that provides a positive personality link that each party recognises in the other without necessarily understanding what it is. Just as we know instinctively that we like the physical look of someone, so this is the instinctive intellectual response to their character. And because for human beings the greater part of seduction is intellectual, character balance is the greater part of innate compatibility.

For over 4000 years astrologers have sought to define personality traits in relation to our birth dates, and this has proved to be much more accurate than what the stars may foretell in your daily horoscope. For a start, most newspaper or magazine horoscopes deal only with one sign - the position of the Sun at the moment of birth. If you've ever taken the trouble to get a full horoscope, you will know that every planet in the universe has its part to play in your future, and in particular, the position of the Moon at the moment of your birth explains a great deal about your character.

Compatibility analysis is a complex business, but Western astrology relies heavily on two very important signs - our Sun sign, and our Moon sign - whilst Chinese astrology also relies heavily upon two signs - our 'Animal year' (and what they call the associated 'element') and our lunar month 'Animal', and its 'element'. To check innate compatibility between two people requires at a minimum a comparison between their Sun signs, their Moon signs, their Chinese year signs, and Chinese month signs - in all, a total of seven tests that take account of every facet of an individual's innate personality, and matches them against the other person. One final test can be provided by Chinese numerology.

These eight tests are the basis of the compatibility program that requires nothing more than the two birth dates of the couple whose innate compatibility you want to check. Each test is scored separately, and if the total of those scores exceeds 25 (out of a possible maximum of 38) you have a truly compatible relationship. As Romeo and Juliet are purely fictional characters we can only speculate how matters might have turned out had they not tragically died on the second day of their relationship.

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