Does Chemistry Matter In A Relationship?

Someone asked me recently if chemistry matters in a relationship and my answer is, yes. Chemistry matters. Chemistry makes a huge difference in a relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. you can have a relationship without chemistry. Probably even a good one. I’ve never tried it, but thousands of years of arranged marriages, across dozens of cultures, seem to suggest that something was (is) working.

Besides, I’ve talked to hundreds of married couples, most of whom who have been married longer than the two minutes I have, and not a single one of them has failed to mention the importance of friendship. In fact, they always get kind of serious when they talk about it. They lean in and look around, like they’re telling you a secret.

Friendship is what gets you to twenty years, thirty years, fifty years. Not passion.

But does that mean that “chemistry” doesn’t matter? I doubt it.

The hardest part about “chemistry” as we understand it is that it often points us in the wrong direction. Don’t you think? Chemistry is powerful. Feelings are powerful. Sometimes even more powerful than our thoughts, so if you’re anything like me, sometimes chemistry has walked you into some really unhealthy situations.

Does that mean we start ignoring chemistry?

Does it mean we date with our heads instead of our hearts?

I don’t think so.

When I was dating, I used to think that I only had “chemistry” with guys who were kind of rude to me, who were cold and disinterested. I would get so frustrated because I wanted to date nice guys. I really did.

But I just didn’t feel that chemistry. You know?

So I went back and forth for a long time. What should I do? Should I date nice guys that I didn’t feel chemistry with? Should I keep dating for chemistry, even though it seemed to turn into bad situations?

I never really came up with an answer to those questions. Instead, I realized that the “chemistry” I felt with certain people said more about me than it did about them, and more than it did about our relationship.

Which meant that I had to ask myself some hard questions.

What did it say about me that I was always attracted to men who were only halfway committed?

Turns out that looking at my “chemistry” with certain people gave me opportunities to find healing. That’s why chemistry was important to me.

I have really strong chemistry with my husband. Really strong.

And chemistry, with us at least, can look like a fourth of july firework show, or it can look like Chernobyl. It can be a romantic evening spread on a blanket on a riverbank, admiring the beauty. Or it can be wreckage.

Chemistry matters. Because we get to choose.

Popular culture loves to talk about chemistry. It’s the most important thing to us. We fall in love at first sight, and then fall out of it. Whatever. We just want to be happy.

If we make chemistry our God, the result will be cataclysmic.

But what if we just allow chemistry to inform us?

What happens when we see chemistry as an opportunity to see ourselves, our brokenness, our twisted thinking, our identity crisis? What happens when we see moments of chemistry (anger, frustration, passion, elation) as opportunities to grow?

Question: Has chemistry ever pointed you in the wrong direction? Do you have chemistry with your significant other now? 

25 comments on “Does Chemistry Matter In A Relationship?

      • It’s clear from your post that you haven’t quite put your finger on what chemistry is. That’s OK. 😉
        I’m not here to bash you or tear down your writing. Starting a conversation like this can be as important as “having all the answers (which for the record, I do not).”

        Let’s start at the beginning; nothing (other than God) just exists. Like the desk in your office, everything comes from somewhere and the same is true of intangible things like feeling and thoughts.

        Chemistry falls into the category of intangible things. That’s what makes it so hard to define and dissect. It’s easy to see that your desk is made out of wood- I’m assuming this since I don’t know what your desk is really made out of; it could be made from recycled Bazooka Joe comics for all I know. The point is that you can see how your deck is constructed, some wood here metal legs there and BANG! Chemistry on the other hand, takes a deeper look. It comes from a scrapbook of romanticism in our minds, but before we get there let’s define chemistry.

        Chemistry is the reciprocal positive reaction to each other’s company.
        From the outside chemistry can look like it was describe by other posters. It’s when you “click” or when you “just know” but what do these things really say? Why do you “just know”? Why do you “click”? The answers to these questions are different for everyone, but they work the same in everyone.

        Everyone has “ignitions points” that open the doors for chemistry. Ignition points can range from the acknowledging that a person matches your vision of an ideal partner to sexual attraction. Chemistry is reciprocal because it takes two people to experience chemistry. If only one person is feeling it, then it’s attraction. It’s like if I dumped oil into was water, there no dillusion or reaction it stays separate.

        Attraction is what you described here:

        When I was dating, I used to think that I only had “chemistry” with guys who were kind of rude to me, who were cold and disinterested. I would get so frustrated because I wanted to date nice guys.

        This isn’t chemistry because the guys were disinterested. Naturally, this made you crave their validation which drove you to attraction. This is what I would call an “ignition point”. If the guy saw something in you (maybe he really enjoys your sense of humor because it reminds him of his best friend from grade school) then there would be a possibility for chemistry. Here’s a less abstract break down.

        1 Guy ignores you.
        (This was an ignition point for you, attraction starts to develop)

        2 You get the guy’s attention by making him laugh.
        (This is an ignition point for him, attraction starts to develop)

        3 You both let your guard down and exist in this new space.
        (Chemistry is established)

        How long will this last? Who knows! This breaks down further into perceived roles and compatibility. I won’t delve into that. Let’s go back to chemistry.

        Chemistry doesn’t matter in a relationship.
        (Here’s why.)

        1 Chemistry is a byproduct not a core component.
        (Chemistry is the result of ignition points firing and both people receiving them, acknowledging them and existing in them. If the purpose of a relationship is solely chemistry then yes it matters but relationships serve more purposes than that.)

        2 Chemistry can be wrong.
        (If your ignition points are unhealthy than you’ll create unhealthy chemistry. Let’s pretend that you never calibrated your ignition points and you wanted your husband to ignore you for chemistry to occur. This is why I have a hard time calling Chemistry essential. Loving you might mean that your husband (in this hypothetical example) fights against your ignition points.)

        I will say that even though chemistry is not essential it does enrich a relationship.

        What do you think? I thing this comment is about 600 words too long 😉

        • Wow! The way you broke that down was amazing! I’ve been dating Mr. Perfect for a few months now and waiting for sparks to fly but I understand now that my ignition points have always been negative and unhealthy, so they need to be recalibrated. I’ve been attracted to the wrong men all of my life thinking that it was chemistry and really it was just attraction to negative behavior and superficial traits, which I really wouldn’t want in a partner. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you have truly changed my perception of chemistry and attraction.

  1. For me, Chemistry is more or less connection and being able to “click.” As a woman I’ve always reacted by how I felt and it only led me down a path of hurt and disappointment. This is where your comment about friendship really resonated with me. I have found that once we establish a foundation of friendship, everything else just seems to fit naturally on their own.
    When I was a teenager to the time I turned 21, when a guy showed me any kind of attention I thought there was ‘chemistry’. Wrong. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more focused on establishing a friendship first and letting God do the rest.

    I believe Chemistry is that moment we ‘just know’. I have yet to experience that feeling.

    • Julie, thanks for taking a stab at the definition. You’re onto something with the “just know” description, although in my experience that can be a slippery slope, too. Sometimes we “just know” because we want so badly to know… kind of what you described above, the sense of affirmation that comes when someone really pays attention to you.
      But yes, also, I “just knew” deep in the pit of my gut, when I met my husband, that he was the right guy for me.

      • I kind of wonder if we can’t take the concept of the “just know” and change it from a positive statement into a negative one. As in, I “just know” that I don’t have chemistry with someone. There have been a few times in my life where – even when there was expectation built up for one reason or another – I just knew there wasn’t chemistry.
        Of course, reliance on that sense could be the same kind of slippery slope. After all, my mom “just knew” my dad was a flake for the longest time. 😉

  2. I heard a teaching about the three words of love from the Hebrew language found in the scriptures of the Holy Bible. It gave some great insight to how to make it 50 years in marriage. The words translated to English were the words ; friendship, passion and commitment.
    It was such good teaching that I have used it with couples in my counseling. All three are important and work together to create a healthy intimacy in marriage.

  3. Like you Ally I’ve had chemistry with the wrong guys. Major attractions that for me I couldn’t explain. I’m dating a wonderful man now and have been for 9 months and I didn’t have that “feeling” in the beginning. It was really confusing to me that I almost walked away. We DO have chemistry it was just in a quieter sweeter way than I felt before. Before him the feeling was like a rush of attraction and passion. I’m grateful that I thought and talked it through and didn’t miss out on this relationship. I’m glad you wrote about this. I think Hollywood also has blinded some of us to think how things should be or how we should feel that may not be actual reality. So glad you’re blogging again!

    • Mary Jane. Yes, yes, yes. I can totally identify with you. I’ve explained the chemistry with my husband as a small spark that seems to grow with every passing day, rather than a blazing fire that fades over time, like the feeling I had felt before.
      Good to be back blogging. Glad to see you around here!

  4. This is so fantastic. I was a chemistry-seeker, an addict. Grab the first guy that had chemistry (read: attention) and run with it.Somehow, I managed to get through all of that without too many bumps and bruises. I have been married for ten years, and my husband and I have that chemistry, but more importantly, friendship and commitment.

  5. Oh Ally – CHEMISTRY – without question there are so many valid and honest interpretations here but the one I digested and am hanging on to in my 1.5 minute old marriage is that of “friendship, passion and commitment.” that James speaks of above. Like you and Darrel, Alex and I have an amazing chemistry – but it began with an INCREDIBLE friendship.
    I struggled with chemistry for a long time – past childhood hurts, a broken marriage, dysfunctional friendships with men & women and four kids watching what path I’d take – it all centered on (and I am so thankful) when Christ is at the core of a friendship that HE blesses into something more THEN comes that AMAZING (fireworks like) chemistry that I believe you’re talking about.

    My sweet amazing Grandparents thankfully modeled that chemistry for me….71 years they were the best of friends with engaging vibrant conversations. Holding hands as they walked & kissing each other every single night! 😉 And all of this, was with Christ at the center of everything they did until they each met Him face to face!

    I love your writing – thanks for doing what you’re called to do!

  6. Wow. Beautiful post that probably just changed my life, thank you so much for sharing your story! I so admire bloggers who are willing to share pieces of themselves so we can all learn and share. 🙂

  7. I think this is so insightful, Ally.I have had some history of feeling like I had chemistry with the wrong sorts of guys. Not feeling it for the nice guys sort of thing…
    Yes chemistry matters. But, yes, we have a lot of control over it. We feed into it with our own thoughts & emotions, etc…
    We should not be pulled along with it, but we should work to create it with the right person.
    My husband & I have great chemistry. But I did not feel it initially when we first met 10 years ago. And it took a while. It took friendship, conversation, & it was gradual.
    We work to “feed” our marriage well & the chemistry is strong & it does help to hold us together. It is rather circular. We feed the chemistry to keep it going strong & the strong chemistry helps to feed our passion & round & round it goes.

  8. I have been looking for answers to this question for the longest time – why am I always attracted to the kind of guys who are unavailable; why don’t I have that chemistry/attraction with my best friend and if I were to compromise, is that fair to him?So, your post makes a lot he sense to me and I am so glad I found it!
    I am starting to realise that if you are constantly attracted to a personality type that does not enrich your life, what does that say about you? And if you work on these things that you discover about yourself, will the people you are attracted to change? In which case, is better to be with the people you are compatible with in the hopes that as you grow, your attraction to them will grow as well? Still a work in progress clearly!

  9. Yes, everyone has a view. Attraction is so important. 3 levels that God
    has given.

    1 sexual attraction (desire)
    2 emotional attraction (friendship)
    3 spiritual attraction (affirmation for each other)

    You need all 3 to function in a relationship. You cannot operate without
    with 1 or 2 its impossible.

    3 stages to maintaining an ongoing relationship.

    In any relationship you start off with a wow!! Sexual connection.
    How to keep the wow!! you form a friendship Emotional connection
    How to maintain all three you affirm each other. Spiritual connection For a male affirmation is his aphrodisiac for a woman, its when she is beheld and made to feel there is no one so beautiful as her.

    Anyway that is how God made us allot more can be said.

    warmest regards

    John

  10. I met a guy didnt really feel any chemistry at first but after we spoke for months he was very different and very confident and authoritative which intrigued me. But i knew he was not the guy i should be involved with. I was curious so we dated, we were intimate, then started to see each other more. He was interested in me, he was nice ,i started to see him as someone i would date exclusively, i started really liking him and my feelings grew stronger toward him. And when i told him he just wasn’t interested anymore. And for months i tried to bring it back to when he was interested. And i could not help my attraction for him. He told me he could not be with anyone until he retired which may be in a few years his work demanded all of his time 7 days a week and 12 hour days we lived in different cities and i would still see him every few months the more i saw him the more i liked him and my feelings just kept getting stronger toward him and his were not. I was fine with it because i liked him so much and i cannot figure out why? Maybe because i was continuing to see him? I would have waited for him to retire to be with him. It got to the point where i was initiated every single conversation with him, i was the one who would message him first he would ALWAYS reply he was always available. I really liked that. But he would never initiate the conversion or ask me how i am first. Which clearly meant that i was into him and he was not. he had even told me there is nothing wrong with my having feelings toward him even tho he is too busy to with work to think of getting any for me. For some reason i was satisfied and happy with just that, i kept thinking maybe he will change. Then one day he just got upset with me over something so small and never spoke to me again. I feel so disrespected by him, so upset about it. i cant stop thinking of him. I know he is very rude and disrespectful but i feel like he is the only guy i ever liked like this. Im not sure what to do?

  11. i have been in a relationship for 3 months at first i thought there was chemistry but lately he told me that he can’t feel the chemistry between us and that something is missing
    on the other hand he always makes sure that i understand that he loves me and he doesn’t want us to break up
    what should i do?
    i am lost

  12. You wrote:

    “What did it say about me that I was always attracted to men who were only halfway committed?

    Turns out that looking at my “chemistry” with certain people gave me opportunities to find healing.”

    Could you elaborate, please?

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