Can Other People See Chemistry Between Two People Who Are Unaware?

By Jessica E. Bennett|Updated July 27, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

Wouldn't dating be easier if other people could tell if we worked well together before we even noticed there was chemistry? It would make dating easier if our friends could spot it before we did. Romantic relationships can be nerve-wracking and come with a lot of questions.

You might wonder which traits will make or break the connection? If other people may have a better perspective on your potential relationships than you do? Or if they can tell whether you have chemistry with someone or not?

Chemistry Is Rare To Find But Can Be Hard To Spot
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Many people say getting the approval of family and friends is important to them. For some, even the dog's opinion comes into account. But should we invest so much effort into other people's opinions? Are they able to see chemistry in your relationship?

As you might expect, the answer is complicated. Before we get to that, though, what even is chemistry?

What Is Chemistry In Romantic Relationships?

Romantic chemistry is sometimes called the "spark." It's when two people go well together. According to Reader's Digest, it has four factors. They are emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual attractions.

Emotional attraction is that feeling of love, infatuation, or attachment. They make you happy and excited about the future. Physical attraction is the desire to have sexual intimacy with them, even if that only means wanting to hold their hand. Intellectual attraction is when you can have in-depth discussions that leave both people thinking and feeling like equals. Spiritual attraction is a little harder to pin down. It might be that they have a similar religious background, and you can talk about that together. It could also be a feeling of connection that goes deeper than emotions and can be hard to explain, or it could be unspoken attraction.

Chemistry isn't only in romantic relationships, though. You might also notice siblings or friends who have great chemistry. You can tell because they seem to "click." They're comfortable around each other and have an easy time talking to each other. Romantic chemistry will look similar.

It's when you feel comfortable being around each other and like you understand each other with ease. Keep in mind; this doesn't mean everything in the relationship will come easy for you. And sometimes, it takes time to build enough trust for that chemistry to build and shine through. Any relationship will need maintenance once and a while.

Is Chemistry Something We Learn Or Are We Born With It?

It's been known for a long time that people tend to pair up with someone similar to them. Partners tend to be of the same race, religion, social background, and education level. The similarities can go even deeper than that. A study from the University of Colorado Boulder found that married couples were more genetically similar than two individuals chosen at random but that educational similarities were more prominent than genetic similarities.

So is chemistry a nature or nurture phenomenon? It appears that things you can't control play a part in choosing a partner, such as race. Yet, learning does play a part in incompatibility. The religion you choose to follow and your education level will also be large factors. Hans-Peter Blossfeld says there are three reasons why education is important to partnerships:

  1. People prefer associating with educational equals (this contributes to intellectual attraction)
  2. The educational expansion increases a person's network and contacts at the age that they're looking for a partner.
  3. Women are playing a larger role in the workforce, which increases the importance of their education and motivation to work.

People with similar education levels also tend to make similar amounts of money. By choosing a partner of the same economic class as you, there is less pressure on one partner to be the breadwinner. Many places have turned towards a dual-earning system, so it's helpful to have two people who work. When partners feel like equal contributors to the relationship, it avoids feelings of inferiority or lack of building up.

That's not to say that there aren't still stay-at-home partners. Or that those partners will feel inferior. Every relationship is different. As long as both people can be open and honest with each other, you can make many situations work well for your relationship.

Another surprising factor in romantic chemistry is the way you talk. A study published in Psychological Science tested the importance of language on connection. They recorded interactions between individuals during a speed dating experiment. Even though the conversations all sounded similar on the outside, small distinctions made the difference between some pairs feeling connected or forgetting about each other in the end.

Function words such as "the, a, be, anything, and, that, will" were observed. The use (or lack thereof) of these words could predict how individuals felt after an interaction. "The pairs whose language style matching scores were above average were almost four times as likely to want future contact as pairs whose speaking styles were out of sync." In other words, they wanted to see people again who had similar speech patterns as themselves.

A second study that measured function words in writing style found that couples with similar styles were 80% more likely to be dating three months later. Seemingly meaningless words can have a big impact on how much chemistry we feel with another person.

So, Can Other People See The Chemistry Between Two People Or Not?

The answer is yes, and no. It depends on the person. Some people are better at reading into people's behavior than others. The things they use to define chemistry also make a difference. Someone who thinks you have good chemistry by talking to each other could be more accurate than someone who bases their judgment only on how much you laugh together.

Online dating platforms claim to have the magic formula for pairing people who are more likely to have chemistry. However, an analysis by Samantha Joel found that no combination of traits and preferences could accurately predict the outcome of a relationship before any dates had occurred. The study concluded that predicting who will have chemistry is hard to measure and hasn't been done accurately.

Everyone is an individual, and even if they are similar to another potential prospect, that doesn't mean they'll have chemistry. It suggests that there are some factors to chemistry that are harder to measure. Your friends might have an easier time than online dating sites at knowing when you have chemistry with someone before you know it. They have more information about your likes and dislikes, as well as who you gravitated towards in past relationships.

Not everyone is great at seeing the chemistry, and there's no go-to system to predict it yet. The good news is, though, you can get a good idea about it based on your compatibility with someone. Another thing that matters is the approval of the people around you. Even if it sounds crazy, there's evidence that the opinion of family and friends can matter more than you think in the success of relationships, even as much as chemistry in some cases.

Why The Approval Of Family And Friends Matter

While chemistry is hard to pin down, our friends might be better at predicting the outcome of our relationship than we are. A 2001 study measured heterosexual couples' perception of their relationships compared to how their friends perceived their relationship.

The friends tended to have a more negative view of the outcome compared to the couple. However, they tended to be more accurate, especially friends of the female couple member. The researchers predicted that it had to do with how much was disclosed. They thought that females in a couple are more likely to talk to their friends about relationships than males. So the female couple member's friends would have more information to base their judgment on. It could also be that they were a better judge of chemistry than the male friends, but that's hard to measure.

Chemistry Is Rare To Find But Can Be Hard To Spot

In the case of parent approval, most people have greater relationship satisfaction if their family approves. Those who don't tend to have less relationship satisfaction. What about people who feel closer to their partner if or when their parents disapprove of their relationships? An article by Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., calls this resistance the Romeo and Juliet effect.

Seidman says these heightened feelings are short-lived and don't provide a solid foundation for a long-term relationship. While living your life based on other people's expectations can lead to regret, having a partner that your family doesn't like can wear you down and cause relationship strain. We're social creatures, so we need to feel like we have a community around us that we can depend on. If your parents oppose your partner, that feeling of community is less strong and stable. Feeling insecure about your relationships can be hard on you and your relationships.

Your parents want what's best for you, but sometimes the qualities they're looking for in your partner don't match up with the ones you're seeking. An example Seidman uses is that parents tend to look for people from a good family and have a similar religious background for their kids. While you, on the other hand, might care more about finding someone with a good personality and with who you have good chemistry.

Even if your friends and family don't give you a clear idea of how they feel about the relationship, your perception of their view matters too. LGB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual) youth perceived their parents as more encouraging of their individuality and accepting as children had healthier relationships with partners when they got older.

Parents with these traits also tended to act more positively to their children coming out. And LGB men with parents like this tended to have lower romantic attachment anxiety in relationships. LGB youth with healthy parent/child relationships had higher relationship quality, optimism, and trust. As much as we may not like it, the way we see our parents matters to our future relationship success, especially for members of the LGBTQ community.

While this might be disheartening and we can't change our parents, we can heal from childhood wounds over time. If you are looking for support and don't know who to turn to, ReGain is a great online resource. They have a long list of experienced professionals who can help you improve your mental health and relationships going forward. You get to choose who you work with, and you can do every session from anywhere with internet access. You get to choose where you have the conversations. Regain makes it easy to talk to someone, so you can make positive change happen in your life.

Whether people can recognize chemistry in your relationships or not, there are concrete things you can look for in a relationship. People tend to look for a partner who mirrors themselves and views them as equal in education and intelligence. And even if things are going great and you have a lot of similarities, take the opinions of your close family and friends into account. Don't live your life based on other people's expectations, but do consider their thoughts. Romantic relationships aren't the only relationships you'll have in your life. Having a close-knit group of people around you is beneficial to your health and well-being overall.

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