Someone asked me recently if chemistry matters in a relationship and my answer is, yes. Chemistry matters. Chemistry makes a huge difference in a relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. you can have a relationship without chemistry. Probably even a good one. I’ve never tried it, but thousands of years of arranged marriages, across dozens of cultures, seem to suggest that something was (is) working.
Besides, I’ve talked to hundreds of married couples, most of whom who have been married longer than the two minutes I have, and not a single one of them has failed to mention the importance of friendship. In fact, they always get kind of serious when they talk about it. They lean in and look around, like they’re telling you a secret.
Friendship is what gets you to twenty years, thirty years, fifty years. Not passion.
But does that mean that “chemistry” doesn’t matter? I doubt it.
The hardest part about “chemistry” as we understand it is that it often points us in the wrong direction. Don’t you think? Chemistry is powerful. Feelings are powerful. Sometimes even more powerful than our thoughts, so if you’re anything like me, sometimes chemistry has walked you into some really unhealthy situations.
Does that mean we start ignoring chemistry?
Does it mean we date with our heads instead of our hearts?
I don’t think so.
When I was dating, I used to think that I only had “chemistry” with guys who were kind of rude to me, who were cold and disinterested. I would get so frustrated because I wanted to date nice guys. I really did.
But I just didn’t feel that chemistry. You know?
So I went back and forth for a long time. What should I do? Should I date nice guys that I didn’t feel chemistry with? Should I keep dating for chemistry, even though it seemed to turn into bad situations?
I never really came up with an answer to those questions. Instead, I realized that the “chemistry” I felt with certain people said more about me than it did about them, and more than it did about our relationship.
Which meant that I had to ask myself some hard questions.
What did it say about me that I was always attracted to men who were only halfway committed?
Turns out that looking at my “chemistry” with certain people gave me opportunities to find healing. That’s why chemistry was important to me.
I have really strong chemistry with my husband. Really strong.
And chemistry, with us at least, can look like a fourth of july firework show, or it can look like Chernobyl. It can be a romantic evening spread on a blanket on a riverbank, admiring the beauty. Or it can be wreckage.
Chemistry matters. Because we get to choose.
Popular culture loves to talk about chemistry. It’s the most important thing to us. We fall in love at first sight, and then fall out of it. Whatever. We just want to be happy.
If we make chemistry our God, the result will be cataclysmic.
But what if we just allow chemistry to inform us?
What happens when we see chemistry as an opportunity to see ourselves, our brokenness, our twisted thinking, our identity crisis? What happens when we see moments of chemistry (anger, frustration, passion, elation) as opportunities to grow?
Question: Has chemistry ever pointed you in the wrong direction? Do you have chemistry with your significant other now?