You know how in the movies and novels, boy meets girls, sparks fly, and they’re instantly crazy about each other?
That’s basically how we’re made to look at love.
It’s either you have insane chemistry with another person, or it’s just not good enough.
But what if you meet someone who seems to tick all of your boxes, but you just don’t feel any butterflies-in-your-stomach-thing with them? What do you do? Do you immediately shrug them off?
And what if you’re now old enough to believe that “chemistry” isn’t everything? Does that make you someone who’s simply settling for less? Or are you being smart?
It’s enough to make your head spin.
The bottom line, chemistry is a complicated thing. Yes, it’s something you can undeniably feel when it’s there. But even scientists have a hard time explaining why we feel chemistry towards particular people and why we don’t feel a “spark” with others.
How do you define chemistry and is it really a necessity for a successful relationship? What do you do when you feel none? Let’s find out.
What chemistry is, according to science
When there’s chemistry, trust me, you’ll know.
According to relationship expert Margaux Cassuto:
“Romantic chemistry is an effortless attraction between two people that can feel magnetic and addictive. It’s to blame for many second dates. It can come in the form of a physical, emotional, or even intellectual bond. Scientists believe that chemistry is a result of the chemicals in your brain determining compatibility.”
But I think, ultimately, what makes chemistry so hard to define is the fact that it can involve many uniquely different elements.
This is something that biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher explored in her groundbreaking study of love. According to her, love has three distinct stages: lust, attraction, and attachment.
Where and how does chemistry come in?
Fisher suggests that during each stage of love, our body chemistry reacts and behaves differently. Scientifically, she proposes that every stage is categorized by its own set of hormones produced by the brain.
Dopamine, the feel-good hormone, is what causes those crazy, I-must-have-you feelings. Norepinephrine is produced during the “attraction” stage when we feel that energetic, falling-in-love feeling. Meanwhile, oxytocin and vasopressin are the ones that exist during the attachment phase, which makes us basically addicted to someone.
And this is where it gets tricky. While chemistry is an integral part of each stage of love, they can happen separately, and not even in order.
Which means you can get stuck on a certain stage for some unknown reason.
For example, lust and attraction pretty much lead to romantic connections. This is when flings and puppy loves happen because they don’t necessarily reach the third stage of attachment. But if you feel more chemistry more during the attachment phase, it can lead to a more platonic connection, which can cause you to put someone in the friendzone.
This his how love and relationships get confusing. We feel chemistry differently, and sometimes not in the way we’re supposed to be.
Which is why…
It’s important to remember, that chemistry does not always equal love
If you don’t feel immediate chemistry with someone, it doesn’t mean that love can’t and will never exist. Because at the end of the day, chemistry doesn’t always equate love.
Dr. Fisher explains:
“Sexual chemistry does not always equal love, and this is because we’ve evolved distinct brain systems for mating. One system controls the craving for sexual gratification. Another system rules over romantic love – that obsessive thinking, craving, and focusing on one individual.
“They’re not always connected, which is why you can be madly in love with someone and only have so-so sex, while you can have intensely passionate sex with someone you never want to see again!”
Paying too much value on that tingly, giddy feeling can harm your romantic life more than you think.
When you’ve had your fair share of broken hearts and messy relationships, you know that there are much more important things to consider than getting those butterflies in your stomach.
There’s a point in your life when chemistry becomes a bonus rather than a necessity.
If you’ve reached that point, you’ve come to the right article.
What do you do when you see potential in someone, yet can’t force yourself to feel any chemistry towards them? Read ahead.
No chemistry? Here’s what to do when you don’t want to give up just yet, (all backed by science and experts, of course):
1. Find common ground
Research shows that “people tend to choose partners with similar DNA.”
It means that we are generally more attracted to someone who is like us in many ways, from facial features, personality traits, socio-economic background, race, etc.
So perhaps you just haven’t looked that closely yet. You might find that you and your potential partner have more similarities than you think.
And what’s more fun than bonding over shared interests?
2. Try to communicate better
People think that when you’re attracted to someone, you’re automatically willing to open up and be vulnerable with them.
But that’s not always true.
Sometimes, we have walls up that makes dating difficult. And it’s probably the reason why you don’t feel any immediate connection with someone—because you’re just unwilling to let them in.
One study shows that communication is vital in maintaining even long-distance relationships, so why can’t it help to make two people like each other better?
It certainly won’t hurt.
3. Maintain more eye-contact
Yes, studies show that maintaining more eye contact with someone can make them desire you more.
Researchers suggest that gazing directly at someone increases “affective arousal” and even produce an automatic positive impression of you.
Don’t be shy. Try it. When you talk with them, make sure you’re looking them confidently and directly in the eyes.
4. Try to be a little bit more mysterious
According to science, unpredictability can also help induce dopamine in our bodies.
Dopamine production is literally a “seeking system,” the more we want to learn about someone, the more addicted we feel towards knowing them.
So don’t give out all your baskets at once. Try to be a little more mysterious to “spark” that interest from a potential partner.
5. Be more sincere
Sincerity is such an underrated value these days. It’s now instantaneous and incredibly easy to talk to someone, that we’ve basically lost the art of intention in communication.
Don’t just say something because it sounds good. Say it because you mean it. Do it because you want to.
Be honest with yourself. Everything else comes easier that way.
Psychology professor Kelly Campbell explains:
“If a person is comfortable with themselves, they are better able to express their true self to the world, which makes it easier to get to know them. Understanding oneself would also make a person more tolerant and accepting of other people, even if perspectives on important matters differed.”
So if you want to establish any connection with someone, be more genuine.
6. Take good care of yourself
It might seem obvious to others, but maybe not to you, or maybe you want to find someone that sees more than the way you look.
And you’re absolutely right. True love puts more importance on your personality than your looks.
But science shows, looking good makes you more attractive.
And I’m not saying you or your partner need to look like a supermodel. I mean, you just have to look clean, healthy, and look as if you’re taking good care of yourself.
So do a makeover. Workout together. Try to look good for each other. Not only for the purpose of having chemistry, but of feeling good as well.
7. Just enough touching
Dopamine is also called the “cuddle hormone” because it is released during touching. That’s why we feel so good when we are being touched by our loved ones.
But there’s an intricate balance.
Too much touching and you appear too eager, even creepy. Too less, and you seem disinterested.
If you want to let chemistry grow, you need to learn the art of touching.
As online dating consultant Stacy Karyn explains:
“With too much touching, you can risk turning things into a ‘buddy’ vibe. With not enough touching, things will feel cold and formal. But with just the right amount: fireworks.”
8. Go on more fun and spontaneous dates
Maybe the dinner-and-drinks just don’t cut it out for you.
Studies actually prove that couples who engage in novel activities that emotionally arouse them—whether it be thrilling or spontaneous—make them fall more easily in love.
Relationship expert and psychologist Antonia Hall supports this, saying:
“Doing things outside of your comfort zone or going on road trips can create a bond with someone, increasing the likelihood of sexual chemistry.”
So get more creative. Go on a food hunt. Try your local carnival. Go on a nice hiking trip.
It doesn’t need to be extravagant or elaborate. You just need to be a little more spontaneous. Not only can this create more chemistry in a relationship, but it also helps sustain romance for long-term relationships.
9. Laugh together
Various studies have shown that laughter is essential in every romantic relationship. In fact, one study shows that it’s essential in making the courtship process a success.
Marriage and family therapist Dr. Mathis Kennington explains why:
“Thinking of and acting on a wacky behavior … will foster a sense of creativity in your relationship that is hard to repeat anywhere else. Like sharing a memory, sharing a behavior cultivates vulnerability because it is unlikely you would be willing to embarrass yourself in front of anyone else. But unlike the memory, you not only share your vulnerability, you demonstrate it.”
You don’t have to be comedians to share a laugh together. Laughter can’t be forced, but if you’re both willing to lighten up make fun of or with each other, you’d be surprised how much chemistry it could create.
10. Get personal
There’s this thing called The Social Penetration theory. It suggests that the more gratification we feel from open communication, the more likely we are to disclose personal information. This continues the cycle and helps create a deeper sense of intimacy.
I’m not saying you start revealing every detail of your life on the first date. On the contrary, don’t. As I mentioned above, creating a little air of mystery can help create more chemistry.
But don’t be too closed off that any potential partner thinks you’re not interested. Just be open enough so you give out the signal that you’re willing to get to know them on a deeper level.
11. Stop comparing them to your ex
This is a mistake a lot of us make, especially when we’re fresh off a relationship.
It’s impossible to feel a connection with someone else when you’re still stuck on your ex. When you’re in this self-sabotaging mode, you’re blind to the potential of others.
Psychologist Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker explains why this is dangerous:
“No relationship was ever helped by such comparing and supposing. Perfectly fine partnerships end because of fantasies about other people’s wonderful pairings, comparisons with past relationships or imaginations about someone who would be more perfect than the perfectly fine person someone is with.”
If you want to feel that “spark” again with someone else, you need to stop looking at the past. You’re just sabotaging your chances of finding new love.
12. Adjust your perspective
Maybe you’re just going at it too blindly, focusing too much on trying to find that instant connection without really working on it.
So be productive instead. Evaluate and look at the situation at hand. Do you honestly take time to see this person, to get to know them? Do you reflect on their good qualities? Or are you only focusing on what’s missing?
Marriage and sex therapist Jane Greer says:
“You can’t manufacture the stomach butterflies and racing heart rate when you see a person—that has to come naturally. But think of it this way: Perhaps you’re used to a roller coaster of emotions in a relationship, and you’re accustomed to conflict, jealousy, and angst.
“In the absence of these emotions, you may worry you don’t have chemistry, but before you rule someone out, think about whether you feel like you have a lot of fun with them and have emotional chemistry.”
Try to adjust your rose-colored glasses. Maybe you only think of chemistry in a one-dimensional way.
Can chemistry really be developed?
If you’re still not convinced the steps above will help you create chemistry, let’s tackle the big question.
Can chemistry be developed?
The general consensus is yes.
For women, it’s way easier to develop chemistry. According to renowned psychologist and researcher Dr. Robert Epstein:
“Women, in fact, are pretty good at that, maybe because they’ve had to be throughout history. So, women can do that to some extent. (However), men are very bad (at that), extremely bad; they are hopeless. It’s probably not going to happen immediately, but over time women can, in fact, fall deeply either in love with or in lust with a man’s sense of humour, a man’s kindness, a man’s money, or a man’s power. For a lot of women, that turns into genuine physical attraction.”
It also takes a certain level of consciousness to make it happen.
If you’re closed off right from the start, how could chemistry grow? Moreover, if you don’t even know what you’re looking for, how can you recognize it when it’s there?
I think this all boils down to how much you know yourself. When you know who you are, you know exactly what you want from life and relationships. It’s easier to determine whether something is workable or impossible.
You also tend to attract equally-minded and confident people. And when you’re both on the same page, increasing attraction and chemistry can be a whole lot easier.
So yes, chemistry can be developed if both people are open to it. Not just you, but your potential partner, too.
When to hang the curtains
Maybe you’ve already done your best. Or maybe this person is just not as interesting as you think. Either way, you can’t make up something that’s just not there.
Chemistry can take time to develop if you have the right tools to make it happen. If you don’t have enough commonalities or you don’t “vibe” maybe you’re not meant to be together.
It’s true that you shouldn’t bank too much on the first few dates. They’re usually awkward and forced. There’s too much pressure to be liked.
But if you’ve kissed, touched, or spent time with this person enough times and still not feel, “it,” perhaps it’s time to accept that it’s not meant to be.
It’s also okay to move on. But it’s important you know when.
If you’re merely tolerating someone, rather than enjoying their company, it’s a definite sign that things will never work out.
Ultimately, you have to find the right balance between giving something a chance, and learning that it’s not for you.
Otherwise, two things can occur:
- You’ll end up with unreasonably high standards, chasing for that intense chemistry and never finding anything “good enough,” or
- Yoúre stuck settling for something less than you deserve, and not creating an opportunity of finding true love.
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