– by Wes Colton, Founder & Coach, Introvert Unbound
If a romantic relationship is going to work, both connection and chemistry have to be there.
Connection involves shared values and meshing personalities, in a word: compatibility. Chemistry—that spark between two people—though just as important, is harder to define.
Lots of people—and most dating coaches—mistake “attraction” for chemistry. However, if you think about it, it’s fairly obvious that just because you’re initially drawn to a person doesn’t mean the sparks will fly. To the contrary, you can be interested in someone for a variety of reasons (i.e. physical appearance, status, personality) only to quickly discover there’s nothing there. In other words, no chemistry.
This is good news for us quiet, reserved introverts who might not always make an immediate splash with the ladies. But while extroverted men tend to get more attention from women in the beginning, if the chemistry isn’t there, they usually don’t get very far.
What this means is, if you’re an introvert, all you need to do to is get on a woman’s radar and if there’s chemistry, you’re in the door. Because once electricity is in the air, I promise you’ll be more interesting to her than the most talkative guy in the room.
This understanding of chemistry is also a blessing to those who might not be conventionally good-looking. Just because you don’t catch a woman’s eye, doesn’t mean she won’t be into you. Likewise, it can clear up some confusion among guys who are more conventionally good-looking but are still having trouble finding the right woman.
Typically, men aren’t as attuned to chemistry as women, mostly because men’s focus on physical appearance and lower inhibitions so far as casual sex is concerned tends to blind us. That being said, women do date, get into relationships, and even marry men they don’t have chemistry with. Usually in those cases, the man might have other qualities that compensate (i.e. a great personality, extreme good-looks, high status, etc.) which allow her to either overlook chemistry or fool herself into thinking it’s really there.
A lot of the time, a woman picks up on a presence or lack of chemistry right away, but sometimes it takes a while. For instance, have you ever gone on a series of dates with a woman who seemed to enjoy your company, but then—seemingly out of nowhere—she ended up dumping you without explanation?
Perhaps you said the wrong thing, or her ex-boyfriend came back into her life, or her cat died. Or maybe she just wasn’t feeling it and—consciously or unconsciously—realized there was no chemistry between you. Lack of chemistry is also often to blame if a woman ghosts you after a hookup, especially if alcohol was involved (another reason not to sleep with women who are heavy drinkers).
Ever notice how many attractive women get into relationships with not-so-hot men? Yes, personality and status are probably factors, but guess what else comes into play: yep, you guessed it, chemistry.
This is why online dating is so lousy for finding someone you actually click with: You can’t tell if you’d have chemistry with someone based on a profile picture alone.
So, what is chemistry exactly? Science hasn’t figured it all out yet, but it’s ventured some guesses. Since it requires being in close physical proximity to someone, it likely has something to do with odor. It can also be tied into inherited resistance to certain diseases, where women instinctively seek men whose immune systems complement their own, so they can pass down a strong constitution to their children. Keep in mind, however, that while chemistry does seem to be tied to genetic factors, it does not appear to discriminate based on race.
Another interesting question is whether chemistry has to be mutual. Could it be possible for one person to have chemistry with someone who doesn’t share that feeling? Or is it simply that other factors are preventing one of the parties from noticing the chemistry, ranging from certain drugs (including birth control), social pressure, or even prejudice?
Whatever chemistry is, it can’t be ignored when seeking a partner. But it’s also only part of the equation. If you have chemistry with someone but no genuine connection and you move things forward anyway, you’re not only setting yourself up for certain disappointment, but possible disaster.
It took almost four decades for Wes Colton to truly understand the importance—and limitations—of chemistry. Ask him about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.