I can’t seem to land on an answer to the question of what’s important, compatibility or chemistry? Logically I know that compatibility is more important to long-term relationship success but is ‘chemistry’ as an idea better left to movies and novels?
I think the reason i’m having so much trouble with this idea is that I grew up as an only child in a household where neither of my parents were particularly affectionate to each other, arguments between them were fairly common and I can’t say I ever really saw any chemistry there. Sometimes they didn’t seem compatible either. I guess I’m happy that they’re still together, even if I can’t shake the feeling that they might be happier apart, but it’s not really for me to say. I just wish I had a better example of what a relationship should look like, so that I could navigate my own easier.
I’m 29 now, and my 20s have been a rollercoaster for relationships. I had one “long term” relationship in my life at 19 that lasted 9 months, was pretty dysfunctional and ended really badly for us both. Afterwards I became really cynical, and my behaviour leaned towards PUA and misogyny, eventually I realised what was happening and that I needed to work heavily on myself and get to therapy.
Now I’ve been single for about 10 years, and honestly I feel pretty good about myself. I’ve grown a self-confidence and self-assuredness that in my early 20s I was really compensating for a lack of. I know what I want for myself as an individual and actively work towards that daily. In the past 5 years, I tried dating again, but the last 4 women I’ve dated (Each for a couple of months) just did not reciprocate in full the intense feelings I had for them and ended things. I also blitzed past some red flags that in hindsight, really should have spelled things out for me.
These intense feelings are what I’ve been categorising as ‘chemistry’ for my entire life, but I cannot name one time where these feelings actually did me any favours in developing a healthy long-term relationship. It always feels more like a drug trip that causes me to act clumsily and out of character and come across as clingy and ultimately cause the breakdown of a relationship rather than give it growth.
I recently met someone on a dating app, we’ve seen each other on average twice a week for over a month. I’m physically attracted to her, the sex is really good for us both and whilst its still quite early to tell, on paper we have shared values and our interests align. But I’m not feeling the usual chemistry that I’ve used to navigate relationships for my entire life, and I just can’t work out whats feeling slightly ‘off’.
She’s demonstrated some clinginess, which I think is partly to do with being off-work during lockdown and having too much free time. The clinginess isn’t a dealbreaker, especially in current times and given my own past, but I’m feeling a bit suffocated whilst I can’t work out what, if anything, I should be feeling towards her. In the past, the teenage-like excitement and euphoria is what motivated me to go the extra mile for someone. Is part of a mature relationship doing that without those feelings at all?
Am I misinterpreting what ‘chemistry’ actually is? Does each individual need to decide for themselves whether to prioritise a relationship of compatibility, or one of chemistry? My gut tells me to keep looking for that spark again, but my past demonstrates that it only ends in unhappiness for me. This could be a really great relationship that blossoms over time, do I just need to ignore the nagging feeling telling me something is missing and commit one hundred percent?