What Is Chemistry, And Can A Relationship Survive Without It?
What does it mean to have “good chemistry” with someone? Scientifically, chemistry is how elements interact, combine, and change to become something new. The chemistry between people works much the same way. Read on to learn how the intuitive, immediate sense of connection you may feel when meeting someone can often indicate you are compatible for an emotional relationship—or, sometimes, just a physical one.
What Is Relationship Chemistry?
Researchers at the American Psychological Association define interpersonal (relationship) chemistry as feeling an instant connection the first time you meet someone. The bond may feel instinctual and can take many forms—often with overlap between friendship and romantic chemistry.
How Does Chemistry Influence Dating?
While the initial “spark” can lead to a deeper connection, building a genuine emotional and intellectual bond is generally required for a long, healthy relationship. Studies show that technology has initiated a shift in modern dating, with dating apps changing the perception of romantic chemistry. Dating apps can reroute your neurobiology by affecting the reward centers of your brain, essentially leaving you addicted to the endless flood of options over seeking a deeper connection.
What Causes Chemistry Between Two People?
Have you ever met someone and instantly knew that you would get along? Chemistry doesn’t always have to be romantic, and you may occasionally meet people you instinctively want to spend more time with for various reasons. Perhaps their individual pheromones entice your senses, or maybe you are physically attracted to them. Some people know within moments if there is the indefinable "spark" of chemistry.
“When individuals experience chemistry, they experience their interaction as something more than the sum of their separate contributions. Interpersonal chemistry requires coordination, in that the interacting individuals share and match their goals and efforts, supporting each other in the process.” — Chemistry Between People: A Sum of Their Connections
Types of Chemistry
Exploring Compatibility In A Relationship
Chemistry may initially attract you to someone, but determining your compatibility takes further effort. Compatibility extends beyond the preliminary attraction and helps you evaluate how well their lifestyle, personality, and values align with yours. Just because you are drawn to someone when you first meet them doesn't mean a relationship between you would be healthy and thriving. Some people simply aren't compatible with one another romantically.
Chemistry Vs. Love: What’s The Difference?
Chemistry and love are often confused, but love is a much deeper connection built over time where you value their thoughts and feelings and consider how your actions affect them.
Recognizing A Lack Of Chemistry
Sometimes, you may meet someone great on paper, but when you see them in person, it just doesn't click. Explore some of the signs that romantic chemistry may be lacking.
- The conversation is difficult and stilted, and you struggle to relate to each other.
- You don't seem to agree on essential issues or have vastly differing values.
- You have no desire to get closer to them or get to know them better.
- Time moves very slowly when you’re together.
- The connection between you feels more formal than romantic.
- Eye contact is awkward, not romantic.
- You’re not physically attracted to them.
How Does Chemistry Fade?
Relationship experts often correlate romantic chemistry with the emotional connection between two people. If you and your partner allow distance to grow between you and emotional intimacy to fade, your chemistry may fade with it.
“Countless couples complain of losing the 'spark' in their relationship. Some chalk it up to evolved differences, a slow growing apart, or sheer familiarity. The wave of 'deadness' that can submerge a relationship after the first thrilling months or years have caused many couples to lose hope and even look elsewhere for the excitement of newfound intimacy.” — Lisa Firestone, Ph.D.
Turning Good Chemistry Into A Solid Relationship
If you have good chemistry with someone, it could mean there’s a connection upon which you can build a solid relationship. One of the best ways to find out is by spending more time with them and seeing if there is more than a spark between you. If you have chemistry at the beginning and are compatible with one another, you might make a good couple.
When Chemistry Doesn’t Lead To An Emotional Connection
By contrast, good chemistry doesn’t always mean you will develop an emotional connection with the subject of your interest. For many people, chemistry doesn’t extend beyond an initial attraction. You may discover that what you thought was a romantic attraction is more geared toward friendship.
Can A Relationship Last Without Chemistry?
Whether a relationship can survive without chemistry depends entirely on the people involved. Many couples find that physical intimacy matters less as they age, so it is often not an issue for many older adults. If you have an emotional connection with someone but not a physical attraction, that may come with time—if you choose to give yourself enough to let it develop.
Talk To Your Partner
If you notice the lack of chemistry between you, there’s a good chance your partner does too. Open, honest communication is at the heart of many successful relationships. If you have concerns, take them to your partner and discuss what you can do to move forward together.
Find Common Ground
Something drew you together in the first place. Find your common ground and use those similarities to frame ways to spend time with each other that you’ll both enjoy.
The big issues in relationships are important, of course, but often the little, everyday occurrences help you feel close to your partner. Take time each day to talk about what happened and keep them involved in your life.
Stimulate Oxytocin Production With Frequent Touch
Your brain produces a neurochemical called oxytocin, a hormone related to your mind's pleasure and reward centers, which is released when you are near someone you love. Physical touches, such as hand-holding and cuddling, can stimulate the production of oxytocin and build on your connection with your partner.
Make Eye Contact Often
One of the benefits of chemistry is that it allows you to feel seen and understood by your partner. Making and holding eye contact lets them know they’re the focus of your attention, which can strengthen the connection and chemistry between you.
Highlight The Physical Features They Like
If you're seeking to build or rebuild the physical chemistry with your partner, entice them by dressing to highlight the features you know they like. It will make you feel more confident, and they will likely appreciate your effort, reacting favorably.
Tips For Building Or Reigniting Chemistry
- Find ways to laugh together.
- Focus on shared values and other commonalities.
- Learn to speak and understand their love language while sharing yours.
- Touch each other often.
- Make yourself emotionally vulnerable.
- Discuss your fantasies, desires, and wishes openly.
- Make them feel seen, heard, understood, and accepted.
- Spending time together should be a priority. Try a regular date night.
- Make time to talk about what's happening in your lives.
- Share plans for the future.
How Couples Therapy Can Help You Reconnect
If you feel like your relationship used to have that spark but lately lacks chemistry, consider working with a licensed therapist online through a virtual therapy platform geared toward relationship troubles like Regain. Couples therapy can help you and your partner identify the underlying issues that lead to emotional distance and decreased chemistry so you can work through them together with the support and guidance of a mental health professional.
For years, researchers have studied how effective various methods of psychotherapy are. Recent research published by Frontiers in Psychology indicated no significant difference in online and in-person couples therapy outcomes. Online therapy is often available at lower costs, with shorter wait times. Both groups showed decreased symptoms related to depression and anxiety while experiencing increased relationship satisfaction.
Chemistry can be an essential part of a relationship, making you feel drawn to someone. However, it may not be enough on its own to serve as the foundation for a solid, healthy relationship. The information presented in this article may offer insight into how chemistry can develop, what to do if it fades, and when to try turning it into a relationship.
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Meet More Therapists
Heather Connors - LCSW, PPSC
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Stephen Robinson - MA, LCMHCS, LCAS
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Dr. Patrick Casthely - LMHC, MCAP, PHD
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Debra Jenkins - MSW, LCSW-C
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Continued
How Do You Know if You Have No Chemistry with Someone?
Relationship advice experts agree that when you meet someone and can walk away from them with no desire to talk to them or see them again, you have no spark with this person. If you have to work that hard to try to like someone, you need to ask yourself if it is worth the effort. It is perfectly normal to have no compatibility with everyone you meet.
How Do You Know if You Have A Connection with Someone?
It is a feeling. If you feel a deep connection or attraction with someone, then it exists. When you meet someone and dislike being in their presence, you have no connection with this person.
What does a spark feel like?
It, with a partner, woman, man, or anyone else, can feel euphoric. You’re happy, and you don’t know why. Your brain is sending messages that you want to be around that person. When you’re attracted to someone, the mind sends happy hormones to you, including oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. You want to be around that person more and more because they make you feel good. Your connection isn’t only about a physical aspect though. It’s about the intellectual bond between the two of you. You care about what makes that person feel good, and they feel the same way. Your partner makes you happy. Maybe you long to feel connected with them and send each other texts during the day. It’s a small way to maintain that happy feeling and spark that’s already there. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can talk to a person, and find yourself lost in their eyes. You can’t fake a connection, it’s either there, or there's no connection. If you’re unsure if your partner is right for you, and you want to work out some of these concerns, you can talk to a couple’s therapist. Maybe the spark was there, and now there's no spark. That doesn’t mean you can’t get it back. A couple’s therapist understands how intimate relationships work and what can spark a connection. Consider talking with an experienced therapist who can mediate between you and your partner and help bring that spark back.
In Online Dating, How Do I Know if There’s No Chemistry?
Just like in real life, if you have no feelings for the person, there’s no spark. Here are some other ways you can determine if your match may have a good connection.
- You respond to each other’s messages as soon as possible, but you also respect the fact that sometimes, the other party may not be able to talk right now.
- Most of your interests are similar, or you’re very open-minded about learning the interests of your match.
- You’re in similar phases of your life. Obviously, someone can fall in love with someone else who is in a different phase, but the more similar, the more of a chance you have in hitting it off.
- You’re already making plans to see them. This is a sign that online dating is working.
- You start ignoring the other people you’re chatting with.
What is Chemistry and Why it’s Important?
It is the emotional connection you have with another person. When you think of a good spark, imagine two chemicals in a vial mixing together. If there’s a good connection, they blend together in harmony, and the result is something that’s magical. No chemistry or spark may result in the chemicals not mixing at all, or exploding in your face.
Odds are, you know someone who you hit it off well with. You bounce off each other like trampolines. Meanwhile, you may know someone who you work with or have to associate with who you no connection. That’s an example of a poor or no connection.
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