道不同不相为谋 – dao4bu4tong2bu4xiang1wei2mou2
Literal meaning of each character – road/path – not – same – not – mutually – for/do/accomplish – idea/plan/scheme
One dictionary defines this Ancient Chinese Proverb as “people with different principles will not make common cause”
My understanding of this proverb is to do with people’s outlooks on life and life goals. I most often use this proverb when talking about marriage. If 2 people don’t have the same or similar goals in life they aren’t compatible for marriage. It doesn’t necessarily mean one person is better than the other, they just simply aren’t compatible.
This might be something one could use in order to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend in a nice way. I have never tried it myself, but it would be a logical usage. It’s a nice way to say “we aren’t compatible”, only if what you are saying is true of course. You would have to be on a different “path” then your soon to be ex-partner.
Basically any situation where you have different goals or different life paths, so working or being together will not accomplish anything of mutual benefit, in fact it may make life harder and therefore it’s better to part.