Why Amazing Chemistry Doesn’t Always Translate To An Amazing Relationship

So you’ve met the love of your life, or so you think. Now you have to figure out if your incredible chemistry can blossom into something long-lasting and secure. Sadly, just because you have amazing chemistry with someone doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a successful relationship with them. Here’s why it’s not quite so simple.

Sex isn’t everything. Sure, someone might make you dizzy just by raising an eyebrow, but can he speak openly about his emotions or retain the stories you tell him about your childhood? Can he do his own laundry or make your friends laugh or show up on time when you make a date? He might be the most outrageously compatible sex partner you’ve ever had the very literal pleasure of experiencing, but there are more things you need from a partner. Amazing chemistry is one thing, but how will that translate to a larger relationship?

Relationships are mundane. As soon as you start sharing a toilet, the sexual electricity will fade pretty quickly. Like it or not, life goes on, and you will have to buy groceries and fold laundry. The flames of passion are not best stoked while washing the dishes at 7 p.m. on a Thursday or changing the kitty litter every weekend. If all you have is amazing chemistry, you’ll be in for a rude awakening when you try to integrate your relationship into normal life.

Being sexy is exhausting. If you’re a person who wears makeup, your favorite part of the day is probably the part where you take it off. This is harder to do when you’re busy seducing someone at the end of an evening. No one wants to rush to the bathroom mid-foreplay to get the makeup wipes, nor does anyone want to get up at 4 am to reapply mascara so their date doesn’t see them bare-faced. Yet many of us have done this, because when you’re in the throes of intense sexual attraction, you will stop at nothing to be irresistible. This is not sustainable. Eventually, you’ll have to transition back to everyday underwear and sporadic shaving.

Chemistry has a flip-side. Sexual attraction is based on recklessness, spontaneity, and mystery. But when the fog of lust begins to fade, these qualities can look a lot like irresponsibility, unreliability, and emotional unavailability. Needless to say, such characteristics are not a recipe for the perfect long-term partner.

You might be overlooking people you’re more compatible with. Chemistry is often an intoxicating, nearly instantaneous connection that you make with someone you hardly know. While there may be plenty of great long-term relationships that start this way, it’s also true that a lot of relationships take time to reach their full potential. Someone who seems painfully awkward on your first date may end up being your soulmate. Basing your attraction on first impressions may prevent you from finding someone truly special.

You can’t rely on chemistry. Chemistry will not get you through arguments about money or whose turn it is to take the trash out. It won’t solve your trust issues or make your partner try harder when they’re falling short of your expectations. Chemistry will not see you through your first big fight about something that can’t fix itself. When that happens, you’ll have to rely on your unsexy but very serious commitment to each other, if such a thing exists.

Relationships require more than biology to succeed. Sexual chemistry is based in large part on biological processes such as pheromones (chemical substances we release that influence the behavior of those around us), physical appearance that signals sexual prowess such as muscles or curves, and natural production of estrogen and testosterone that give us the urge to recreate. These factors are clearly not enough to sustain a happy, years’ long attachment.

Lust and love are not the same. You may think you’re falling head over heels for someone, only to find that you’re bored to death of them after the third date. Lust takes on the appearance of love by making your emotions tumble out of your control. You will think you’ve found your soulmate and that your search for eternal love has finally come to an end. But this is a classic case of mistaken identity. Actual love is not the result of chemistry alone. It’s the result of knowing someone on a deep, largely non-sexual level, and deciding their strengths probably outweigh their flaws.

The rom-coms get it wrong. You know how most romantic comedies end with some variation of “they lived happily ever after”? Either there’s a wedding or a first kiss or a running-through-the-airport sequence. All of these resolutions conveniently avoid the majority of the characters’ lives by focusing only on the chemistry phase of their relationship. In reality, if these couples stay together, they will inevitably have to work through painful life transitions, fights, boredom, and maybe even divorce. In other words, chemistry is not going to save them after the credits roll.

Chemistry is easy to come by. Compatibility is hard. Think about the number of times you’ve caught someone’s eye on a night out or in class at college or in a meeting at work. Now think about how many happy, long-term relationships you’ve had. One of those numbers is probably bigger than the other, and it isn’t the first one. Sexual tension is readily available. There are a lot of horny people out there. But actual compatibility, the kind that will create and sustain a loving relationship, is like finding a good movie on Netflix. It takes time.

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