You may have heard people talking about the importance of chemistry versus compatibility in relationships. The truth is that strong romantic relationships have a healthy dose of both. In fact, there are many ways both can be expressed in a way that strengthens the connection in a relationship. What can we learn about the balance of each of these connections?
Let’s use the analogy of picking out a new car. Pretend you have come upon a car in the lot you are interested in. Now really look at it, taking in the shape, the color, the style. You will have an immediate, physical reaction. Your body is reacting and releasing dopamine and norepinephrine. You feel butterflies and a new outlook on life! You feel alive and euphoric. You can’t stop thinking about this car, everything about it excites you. This is similar to the experience of SEXUAL CHEMISTRY.
What is Sexual Chemistry?
Chemistry is the desire towards another. In that example I used a car so you can see how that intensity can appear in all sorts of situations. Sexual chemistry is one of the most exhilarating feelings one can experience. Not only can it lead to a wonderful physical connection, it has a bonus of a myriad of health benefits including calorie burning and immune system boosters to name a few.
Now that we have a basic idea about sexual chemistry, let’s look at the next important element in a relationship… COMPATIBILITY.
The Importance of Relationship Compatibility
Platonic relationships, relationship compatibility, love compatibility, marriage compatibility, there’s so many forms of compatibility… HELP! Let’s return to that new car example and see if we can look at things in a simpler way.
Here we are back at this fabulous new human we have met (I mean car!) This car is everything I have been looking for! I fit well in the seats. I feel like a million bucks while I am in it. All I want to do is talk about and engage with this new car. But what is the compatibility factor of this new car? If sexual chemistry is the desire to be with someone, then compatibility is the longing to stay there.
If we have sexual chemistry but no compatibility, the relationship will fizzle out. The connection cannot be sustained without the element of compatibility.
Long-Term Relationship Compatibility
Enter the next phase—a cross country trip in the car. Can this new car and I handle the long road trip, when life throws it’s bumps in the road including the stress of bad weather, getting lost, needing to refuel, being tired or hungry? Will my desire over the physical connection fulfill me in the long haul?
If the relationship is based purely on sexual compatibility, probably not. In fact, it can easily become toxic. Of course, our logical selves might say, “I would never get into a relationship like that!” But sometimes the euphoria from the chemistry can make it difficult to decipher the actual health of the relationship, especially if all you focus on is how good that chemistry feels. The intense high from it can make us forget about meeting other human needs in the relationship.
A big human need in a relationship is compatibility. An extreme imbalance between chemistry and compatibility leads to cloudy judgment. In time, the sexual chemistry fades. Going back to the car example, you’ll eventually become accustomed to seeing that new car and your body just won’t release the same levels of dopamine and norepinephrine as time goes on. When the chemistry’s high is over, you might suddenly find out that the basics of a healthy relationship aren’t there and that relationship cannot move forward.
So, let’s take a moment to revisit the initial reaction when you were introduced to the new car. Is it a good thing? YES. Those intense feelings are perfectly normal and wonderful to experience. The important thing is to make sure the compatibility elements are there too, in order for this relationship to grow and prosper.
Being Lovers and Friends
When two people are compatible, they will fit in with each other’s lives well. To start, both people must want the same basic things, have shared values, or similar life goals. But they must also be able to build upon that initial compatibility.
This doesn’t need to be grand. It can be the simple things. Saying good morning, asking about the other person’s day, listening to one another, doing small acts to help make the other’s day easier, etc. Having those small but regular interactions helps you grow as friends and stabilizes your relationship overall. Studies show that successful couples are indeed “best friends” and also have other satisfying platonic relationships with others.
One more thing we need to talk about: the idea that only one person can fulfill all of our needs. Our society today has set us up for this misconception. It is not healthy, nor possible, for one individual to fulfill all of our needs. We are also not required to fulfill all of another’s needs. Not only is this an unattainable task, but it is mentally and emotionally exhausting.
Let’s revisit chemistry. Besides the fireworks explosion and lightning rod release of euphoric chemicals into our bodies, what other types of chemistry can we look at?
There is a Knowing sense of chemistry between two people that can be realized in many ways. Think of it as a sense of ease, just feeling “at home” when you are with this person. This type of chemistry isn’t limited to romantic partnerships but can also be significant in them. It may be linked to past life connections, a fated meeting or simply your body and spirit “knowing” this person feels right in your life right now.
Knowing chemistry, however, can be a tricky one, especially if we’re deep in the effects of sexual chemistry! Sometimes we confuse that knowing sense and try to force compatibility that is not there. Remember, no connection can or should be forced.
Spoken and Unspoken Communication Chemistry
Another level of chemistry is the way in which two people communicate with each other. Communication chemistry can include anything from a shared sense of humor to an easy flow in the exchange of banter. You may even reach a deeper level of communication simply through small talk.
Unspoken chemistry is key here as well. How can you communicate without words? Body language, tone of voice, eye contact, etc. Silence won’t feel awkward when you are together. Instead, there will be a sense of ease during moments of silence.
Try this little experiment. Focus on body movements and eye contact the next time you are conversing with someone. You will soon become aware of added signs that the person is truly present in the moment with you. Look for open body postures and frequent eye contact. This is something you can’t do with text messages or e-mails. This requires face to face contact, either in person or at very least in an on-line format where you can see each other.
All these areas of chemistry are like the road markers that allow you to navigate your relationship journey.
Types of Compatibility
Let’s now circle back yet again to Compatibility. Remember looking at that new car? Imagine the person you have just met, or perhaps are currently in a relationship with. No matter what level of chemistry we are at, we must examine our compatibility. There are all different sorts of compatibility you’ll want to look at.
Relationship compatibility is a complex issue because the way we treat others and expect to be treated is based upon many things including, but not limited to culture, childhood role models (or lack thereof), societal norms (what you observe on social media, movies), etc. There are many different categories that can define one’s relationship style. This is where our expectations of others determine the path of the relationship.
For example, let’s take a look at how we might react when our expected outcome of how our partner reacts or responds to us, does not align with how they actually respond or react. We could default to being angry or upset when reality doesn’t line up with our expectations. Or we could make the effort to understand our partner’s expectations based on what we know about their background and relationship style.
Changing our focus on the expected outcome and diversifying our expectations will give this partnership smoother sailing. Communication is of utmost importance and allowing the other to digest what we propose and be open to their response in a patient way, will enlighten you both.
Many cultures revere the matching of two people by means of their natal charts. In addition, the Chinese Zodiac and Astrology can match your birth years to find the compatibility quotient. These are fascinating and insightful to explore, and I fully endorse reading up about it. Knowledge is power and that applies to matters of the heart as well!
Marriage is the committed union of two people. This again ties closely in the past experiences and upbringing of the couple including, but not limited to, religious influences, family role models and expectations, and of course wanting children (or not), and how they will be raised. What each partner truly desires from the committed union are imperative here. Those desires must be discussed and found to be in alignment.
Imagine that new car analogy again. Is this car mostly for local driving? Quick day trips? Long, cross country vacations? Like the car analogy, how will our partnership travel together? Compatibility for marriage is built on a foundation of good communication.
Relationship Chemistry and Compatibility is Everywhere
Remember that one person alone cannot fulfill all our needs. Exploring the healthy parameters of a union will also pave the way to trust and ease during difficult times. The more you love yourself, honor your needs and respect yourself, the more you attract the same coming back at you effortlessly!
Relationship chemistry exists in every relationship we have. That includes the cashier at your local food store, the waitress at a restaurant, your boss, your family members, the people you meet and may never have contact with again. All of these interactions are filled with relationship chemistry and compatibility.
Take a moment to pause about these dynamics. In doing so, you will be more aware of the work that needs to go into relationships, what you can offer others, what type of person you want to be in a relationship, and what you would like to receive.
Instead of being stuck on the mentality of “Where is my perfect relationship?” switch gears and ask yourself these questions:
- What type of person do I want to be in a relationship? (Look for those road markers that will allow you to see if that exists if after the sexual chemistry wanes.)
- Will I still want to take a long road trip with them?
- Will we be able to encourage and support each other through the difficult times?
- Will we still work for the giggles and the joy?
The next time you encounter a new person in your life, revel in the chemistry!