Chemistry vs. Compatibility – Debunking “Love at First Site”

Chemistry or compatibility?

Chemistry or compatibility?

I’m often asked if there’s such thing as “love at first site.”  That blinding realization that hits you like a bolt of lightning that this is the person you were meant to be with.

I’ve talked to several couples that describe the moment they first locked eyes when they knew for sure this was the one they were destined to be with.  Others couples didn’t have that immediate kismet sensation, but still have a lasting, loving relationship. 

So what is it about our obsession with achieving love at first site?  To break this down, I think you have to look at chemistry vs. compatibility.  Chemistry is what I’ll define as that instant connection you feel where as compatibility is the longer term prospect of an enduring relationship based on common interests, values, and goals. 

Chemistry can be comprised of a variety of factors.  Sexual attraction is an obvious one.  It’s always tough to discern which head you’re actually thinking with.  The way a girl projects herself to you, the body language she utilizes, the smoldering glances she shoots your way, can all breed a feeling of connection, like you are the only two people on the planet that matter for that moment.  All you want to do is be around them.

It could be what they remind you of as well.  After you’ve broken up, you have to be careful not to confuse chemistry for similarities(or differences) from your ex.  If you are still missing your ex like crazy, you might be more likely to feel a click with someone that reminds you of her. 

If you still hate your ex, then someone that’s the exact opposite will be more appealing.  But, that may not be what’s right for the long term.  Your mind is playing tricks on itself thinking that a connection is valid, but if it’s based off of a relative comparison to your ex, it’s not going to be the long term move.  But I digress.

In the grand scheme of things, chemistry is really just a bonus.  It’s not going to make a relationship work over the long haul.  It’s not reasonable to expect that feeling of “love at first site” to last for the length of your relationship.  Your dopamine sensors are going into overdrive due to your new found attraction in a similar way that a drug activates the pleasure sensors in your brain.  That feeling isn’t scalable over the long haul in the same way that a drug addiction isn’t.

The best relationships are built on a solid foundation of empathy, mutual respect, selflessness, passion, and attraction.  That’s where compatibility trumps the other “C-Word.”  Compatibility consists of similar values, interests, goals, mentality, background, and upbringing.  That’s what will form the structure of a companionship that’s built to last.

I’m pretty romantically inclined compared to most bros, but my pragmatic side has trumped the “butterflies” and I’m now of the mindset that relationships start with compatability and chemistry can be built with time to strengthen your bond exponentially more.

It’ll take a few dates to see a glimpse of that potential long-term chemistry.  So, don’t bail after coffee date #1 if you’re not being whisked away in an ambulance from soulmate-induced heart attack.  If you share a lot in common interests with her, have some laughs together, and there’s a solid level of attraction, then give it a few dates to see how things progress.

There doesn’t have to be an immediate, palpable, jaw dropping chemistry, but you do need to occasionally feel that everything just “clicks.”  Things simply begin to make sense between the two of you from a romantic and pragmatic perspective.  Your interaction will be natural, organic, easy, in a calming way. 

So, be careful not to overly embrace “love at first site” as a pre-req for your next lady friend.  Through mutual compatibility, chemistry can be built over time.  So, if you’re not knocked off your feet next time you take out a Tinder date, try to give it some extra time and see how you feel after a 2nd or 3rd date.  You’ll be better equipped to make a call if she has long term potential.