In my practice, I am frequently asked this question by dating singles. The answer is simple…and not.
For the vast majority of us, chemistry is important. This can be especially true at the beginning of a relationship.
I remember when I was dating and how important it was for me to feel chemistry with whomever I was seeing at that time. Without some initial chemistry, I just wasn’t interested.
However, I found that even the relationships with the best chemistry didn’t necessarily stand the test of time.
As I grew up a bit, chemistry was still important to me, but I eventually discovered that it wasn’t everything.
Let’s look at this a bit more to see if any of the following resonates for you.
What is chemistry?
Chemistry is about that reaction we feel when we are strongly attracted to someone. It’s when those great dopamine receptors in our brain get activated that we feel this so-called “chemistry.” That’s why we call dopamine the “love hormone.”
Contrary to popular opinion, though, our initial attractions are not always based on physical appearance alone.
This physical attraction helps fuel the idea of “falling in love at first sight.” Those feelings are real. But strong emotional reactions are also part of the equation.
An initial spike in these chemical reactions (aka chemistry) could signal a good match ahead. But, it can also cloud our judgment.
Is chemistry enough?
This is a great question. Having talked with hundreds of couples over the years, I come away with the following conclusion: While chemistry is a wonderful way to start a relationship, it tends to take a bit of a back seat for couples who have relationships that last longer than a few weeks, months, or years.
Long-term relationships that are fulfilling (because a relationship that has lasted a long time doesn’t necessarily mean it is fulfilling for one or both partners), depends so much more upon emotional intimacy and friendship. These are the qualities that help sustain a great relationship that lasts.
Interestingly enough, chemistry isn’t absolutely vital to be in a satisfying relationship.
Is there anything more important than chemistry?
Actually, yes! In the long run, mutually shared values, respect for each other, and feeling aligned with your partner overall are more important than chemistry. In other words, are you compatible?
Of course, it’s nice if you can have both chemistry and compatibility, because good chemistry can enhance compatibility and vice versa.
Do I have to feel chemistry right away?
I used to think that you did. I was wrong. It turns out that you can develop chemistry over time. It’s not always going to be immediate “fireworks and rockets.”
For reasons unknown, sometimes chemistry simply builds over time.
Are strong feelings of chemistry a good sign?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
Strong chemistry can indicate that there is a strong attraction to this person.
But you have to ask yourself this: Who else have I had a strong attraction to? What type of person am I attracted to?
Were these healthy relationships for me, or did the chemistry based solely upon strong physical and emotional attraction, draw me towards “bad boys” or “bad girls”?
How did those relationships work out?
Do I have to give up chemistry? Or, does chemistry fade over time?
The answer is no, not necessarily. You can still have chemistry as time goes on. It can even build over months and years. Those feelings are a beautiful thing!
Your feelings of chemistry can also lessen over time. There are any number of reasons for diminished or lost chemistry. For example: As we age, our body’s hormonal levels naturally tend to diminish over time. This can impact our libido. Don’t fret. There are wonderful advances in healthcare that can often help in this situation – for women and men.
Don’t necessarily give up on chemistry and think it’s gone for good. There are any number of things you can do to establish or regain chemistry, so long as you are both committed to it. If you have questions about the medical aspects of this, definitely talk with a healthcare professional.
The bottom line
The most tumultuous relationships I see have been based almost exclusively on very strong initial chemistry. So, while chemistry is a wonderful way to begin a relationship, by itself, it’s not enough to sustain a relationship over time.
Chemistry is great!
If you have it – wonderful!
If it takes some time to develop – also wonderful!
If it’s your sole criteria for what you think might make a good relationship, well, not so wonderful.
My own experience earlier in life, as well as observing the role of chemistry in my clients, friends, and family has led me to this conclusion:
Chemistry is a wonderful feeling to have.
And, it’s not enough.
I hope that this article was helpful. Issues of chemistry and compatibility are very common themes for many couples. If you would like to explore this more, simply contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if I can answer any of your questions that relate to your specific situation.