Is It Chemistry Or Is It Love?

Is It Chemistry Or Is It Love?
Have you ever been in a relationship with a person who made your heart flutter?

Who made your toes curl?

Who gave you butterflies?


There’s no feeling like it.

Your eyes meet, your hands touch, and you’re suddenly consumed with a new partner.

You live for the present, you dream of a future, and your heart outraces your head.

All you know is that you wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything in the world. If this is how strongly you can feel, why ever settle for anything less?

Then it happens.

You start to fight.

You learn he’s jealous, or controlling, or irresponsible, or unethical.

He starts to pull away.

You begin to walk on eggshells.

You don’t know where you stand.

When we talk about being “in love”, we’re often talking about a feeling, as opposed to the enduring bond experienced between two people for a long period of time.

You crave the pure feeling you had before, but you spend more time worrying than feeling peaceful about your relationship.

And then it ends.

He tells you he needs space.
He tells you he wants to see other people.
He tells you it’s not right.

Or, who knows, maybe he doesn’t tell you at all. Maybe he just fades away.

All you know is that you let him into your heart and fell in love.

Or did you?

I mean, yeah, you loved him – intensely, unconditionally, with all of your being.

And yeah, he said he loved you – and, for a time, you never felt more connected to another human being.

But does this really meet the test of true love?

Not by my standards. And probably not by yours.

Love doesn’t flee. Love isn’t jealous. Love doesn’t cheat. Love isn’t cruel. Love doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself, or insecure about your future.

Love endures.

When we talk about being “in love”, we’re often talking about a feeling, as opposed to the enduring bond experienced between two people for a long period of time.

If you’ve mistaken the passion of being “in love” for true love, you’re not alone. My entire dating coaching practice is designed to illustrate to you how you’ve naturally been making the same mistakes your entire life, and how to course-correct instantly.

Now you know from reading my material that I have a whole bunch of challenging thoughts on love, but this “Chemistry vs. Love” theory isn’t something I pulled out of thin air. Even Wikipedia backs this up:

“Lust is the initial passionate sexual desire that promotes mating, and involves the increased release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen. These effects rarely last more than a few weeks or months.”

I’m guessing you’ve probably experienced this. The high passion that feels so good, but often comes to a crashing halt. You’ve probably also experienced this:

“Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that as people fall in love, the brain releases a certain set of chemicals…which act in a manner similar to amphetamines, stimulating the brain’s pleasure center and leading to side effects such as increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and an intense feeling of excitement. Research has indicated that this stage generally lasts from one and a half to three years.”

Yep. This is when all the excitement and newness of a passionate relationship wears off.

When sex is no longer exciting. When you’re finding flaws with your partner.

When you struggle to remember how amazing it was in the first few months. Says Wikipedia:

“Since the lust and attraction stages are both considered temporary, a third stage is needed to account for long-term relationships. Attachment is the bonding that promotes relationships lasting for many years and even decades. Attachment is generally based on commitments such as marriage and children, or on mutual friendship based on things like shared interests.”

Ah. The third stage.
The third stage is the one that determines whether your passion actually turns into the love that lasts a lifetime. If you look back, you may be shocked to find that all of your lust and attraction has NOT resulted in stable, happy, long-term relationships.

Funny how that works.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is not to convince you that you’ve never truly been in love (although it’s possible).

What I’d like you to consider is that the EFFECTS of lust and attraction have been HURTING your chances of finding love.

What you’ll notice is that when you’re incredibly attracted to someone, all of your critical thinking powers immediately go out the window.

This is why you’ll put up with a man who only calls you once a week, a man who doesn’t call you his girlfriend after three months, a man who doesn’t propose after three years.

When you’re incredibly attracted to someone, all of your critical thinking powers immediately go out the window.

If you were thinking critically, you’d never put up with this, but you’re not. You’re under the biological effects of lust and attraction – hereby known as “chemistry”.

And all I’m pointing out is that while chemistry is an incredible feeling, it is in no way a solid predictor of your future. It’s literally just a feeling. A feeling that masks your partner’s worst traits and allows you to put up with them.

So instead of chasing chemistry at a cost to your own mental health, take a second to realize that if you feel that high feeling, you are likely ignoring something fundamental which will later break you up.

You don’t have to trust me. Just look back on the greatest chemistry you’ve ever felt and think about how those relationships ended. Ask yourself if you want to be in another relationship where you’re always fighting and you never feel secure in your future.

I’m guessing you don’t.

If you want to find love – a love that endures – you have to find a new way than the one you’ve been using for your whole life.

Start by distinguishing between chemistry and love, and you’re on your way. And if you need a helping hand, that’s what I’m here for.

Sometimes you can be the smartest woman in the world and still have blind spots.

Join 7 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (59 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 31

    But how come men get to feel the wonderful effects of chemistry?  They won’t go without it!

    1. 31.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Men get into crappy relationships based on chemistry just as well – and make horrible mistakes because of it. Why? Do you think that they don’t?

      1. 31.1.1

        Hi Evan, I do think men get into crappy relationships based on chemistry as well. I’ve seen it many times. Nice guys who put up with women who do not appreciate them, and everyone thinks, “OMG, why is he with her”. Then, other guys say, “well, she must do something for him to make up for being so nasty to him”  The answer must be chemistry…. And vice versa, it works that way too. I’ve seen men also ruin stable marriages and seen families ruined over a man’s short, discovered passionate fling with a mistress, and, who, afterwards, were heartbroken over the demise of their marriage and wish they’d never done it!  Chemistry can take us all over. The best and worst physical experiences I’ve ever had were due to chemistry. The highs do not lift up the lows. Biology has dealt us all  a difficult stack of cards……

  2. 32

    I think men don’t date without any chemistry, whereas women are taught to “get a guy to grow on them” and trade his excitement for stability….

  3. 33

    I met a great man and was excited just to see him and be with him and he always told me that he just wanted to be with me regardless of the fact we were sleeping together and we didnt always have sex when we were together we just loved each others company, we had everything in common and we really “got”each other, but then he told me the ‘spark’ just wasn’t there for him (he loved me but wasn’t in love with me) needless to say we are no longer together, we were close friends and knew each other for a cpl of months before we slept together, he’s looking for that “spark”he had as a 16 yr old and now he’s nearly 50. I personally think as we age (I’m 50) it’s very different, for me it’s more about compatibility. companionship and real love/ trust /respect that can be built upon, not a fleeting feeling of euphoria that wears off.And Annie is right(I’m in Australia) when you like a guy you have dated a few times they think there’s something wrong with you when you don’t want to have sex with them,preferring to wait a few months to see where the relationship is headed and if the bond between you is real and  could last a lifetime, they think were playing hard to get, but one problem is that there’s so many women here with very low or no morals it makes it hard for the rest of us looking for a real connection.

  4. 34

    For me, chemistry is as described by Selena (25).  I know what LUST is and/or sexual attraction.
    Say Evan, what do you think chemistry is?

  5. 35

    Hi, am getting engaged to this guy who I have known for 7 months. His sweet tall dark and handsome. His almost everything a girl dreams of.
    Every time we French kiss I don’t feel anything. His the first guy I kissed. Al i know is I should feel something but I just feel his lips against mine. I don’t feel butterfly’s when am with him. There’s no chemistry at all. I know part of me love him because u care about him a lot, and I miss him if he doesn’t call. :(((. But his a really good guy I think am lucky. There’s nothing wrong with him. But yet I know deep down something is not right.

    1. 35.1

      Nura – If something doesn’t feel right you should not get engaged or married to this man, until you can get over that feeling. If you can’t shake the feeling that something isnt’ right, you shouldn’t be with him.

      It sounds to me as if you aren’t in love with this man, but you think you “should” be.

  6. 36

    I put this comment in another (older?) blogpost (am I the only one who can’t see dates on comments?):
    I think there is a major selection bias in the statistical analysis of chemistry vs little-chemistry argument, which is similar to the argument supporting arranged marriages.
    More arranged marriages last specifically because the kind of people who agree to them are not the kind of people to end marriages (unless there is major abuse).  Similarly, those willing to enter a relationship without that chemistry are probably willing to endure long periods of discontent for the sake of maintaining the relationship.  
    If you define the success of a relationship by its longevity then yes, those starting out with little chemistry will be more successful. But this says very little about relationship satisfaction, which is far more difficult to assess.
    Personally, with the feeling of being in love so universal and seemingly part of the human condition, I don’t understand wanting to deny  one of life’s true pleasures.  Surely, while acknowledging that it does not last for long, it can be seen as an essential foundation on which other elements of a fulfilling relationship are built?

  7. 37

    I am happy to have found this site. Ive been in an undefined relationship but basically we know we are friends and weve been talking for a 2 years. We are miles apart but we are able to build a strong relationship.  The constant communication we have made us attached to each other. He told me that he was emotionally attached with me and he wants to progress the relationship. He visited me once, I visited him once in the two years span. I can tell that there was no spark in our first meeting,  nor the second but the latter has a different feeling to it. Even that there was no obvious spark but I can feel the attachment I have to him, its a different feeling than chemistry,  just far far more different.  My heart doesn’t flutter and there’s no electricity but im happy and contented and I like to be around him. He have a lot of flaws, but I found all of those charming about him. Though after the last
     visit and a week of contemplation,  he said that we cannot be more than friends for there was no spark which I found a shallow reason and was just too confusing for me cause what we have is far more and beyond just attraction, we still didnt really talk about it and I don’t know he have the feeling I have. But what can I do. I have to let him go and find someone he has a spark with. 

  8. 38

    I have definitely confused being in love with chemistry and paid the price!  I think for women, this may happen even easier than for men.  The moment women get intimate with someone we feel chemistry with, all these attachment hormones (oxytocin) take over, and we think we’re in love.  It was the most intense feeling I ever had and I really believed he was the one. I’m not naïve and I’d had several long-term relationships.  Clearly, this man had many faults, was narcissistic, made me miserable, enjoyed making me wait, was manipulative, not really attractive, yet, I could not stop the relationship and wanting to see him.  I am a normal, intelligent person and generally calm. Yet, I lost all my judgment.  After about one year, he suddenly wanted to “disengage” and subsequently dropped me like a bomb because he wanted “new experiences” He was in his mid-50s, me 15 years younger. Of course, now I wish I’d never met him. He appeared so sincere, educated, kind and said all the right things in the beginning, such as “feeling so attached to him” and that “what we had was nothing like he had ever had before”. Like another commenter said: Yes,, the passion was unbelievable, something I can never forget, but the misery is absolutely horrible when it ends. Now they say this type of “addiction” is like having to quit heroin. I’ve never used drugs, so I would not know. Only that kicking this kind of chemistry is horrible.  I will never forget him, but I wish I had never met him.  I am in a much calmer relationship now, with less passion, but feel loved. And that, I am building on and feels much better.  It is good to read that I was not alone in this and hope we all make better choices in the end.

  9. 39
    Amanda from tennessee

    When I first started dating the man I’m with, it was 5 years ago. We fell in love instantly. Or I did. I immediately felt like he was the one I was supposed to be with. It was a feeling of, I just knew. He cheated and it killed me inside. I dealt with it over and over and eventually ended up cheating myself. We stopped cheating and I guess you could say realized how much we meant to each other. That was the first year. Now, I’m lost In our relationship. I love him dearly. But I’m now feeling like I’m destined for so much more. Like I’m supposed to be living this great love story. He has proposed, I’ve accepted. But that was three years ago this Christmas and were still not married. Every time I try to plan our wedding, I get discouraged by him and I feel like his whole heart isn’t in it so I stop the planning process. Its like I feel like it’s never gonna happen. So at this point, I’m asking myself, after 5 years of this yoyo, what do I do?! Bc I literally am ready for the next phase of my life to start.

    1. 39.1

      Amanda @39 – I think you already know what you should do, but it’s just very hard to do it.  Good luck to you.

    2. 39.2

      If you’re not happy, leave him. It’s that simple. A relationship requires MORE than just love. It requires that both people are vested in meeting their partner’s reasonable needs and helping him/her in their quest for happiness.

      If he isn’t or doesn’t want to meet your needs…and it sounds like getting married is a need for you and is a perfectly reasonable one considering you’ve been dating 5 years — you need to leave.

      It sounds as you’re each other’s habit. It’s hard to kick a bad habit. Sometimes even when you know it’s killing you.

  10. 40
    Kath Jacka

    I think this is a pretty astute theory and one that we all need to hear more often. I have just decided to end a relationship with a man I’m still in love with (whatever that means) but who I don’t love in the true sense of the word. We had an intense, chemistry-fuelled 18 months but it emerged that he was irresponsible, self-absorbed and neglectful of those around him. I saw an unhappy future for myself and decided to walk away.
    It has not been easy but I had a deep realisation that charming, charasmatic types are great fun for a while but not a good bet for a truly loving and committed partner. They are half formed people and you cannot change them if they can’t change themselves.

  11. 41

      IM a guy kinda in this situation. Our first few years together were great. Some problems but they were handled. We have been married for 7 years the last 4 years me as a guy thought it was ok. She on the other hand didnt. Yes I fussed yes I forgot her but I’ll explain that. I forgot to show her constantly how important she is to me. I never once forgot to say I love you. But that saying only means so much if it’s not constantly shown.I know my flaws I know we’re I messed up and I’m trying to make an honest chance of improving myself. I’m not your average guy once I realise what I was doing was wrong I make a decision to change my bad ways. The thing about our marriage is we both forgot to try. I have been married 2 times now she has had 4 every guy she left before has never tried to fight for her or even tried to make a change in there life to make it work. I love my wife know I messed up and want to be a better man so it never happens again. She on the other hand dosnt want to try she wants to do like the other break ups and just move on take a chance on another person. Am I wrong for thinking if your trying to change its a good thing. I can only try and so far I have been shot down. We both forgot to pay attention but lol I’m the guy so it’s completely my fault right. I admit I fussed alot and yes I said something when she didn’t come home from going out with her friends till 3 or 4 am once or twice a month. I did worry because I never got a text or phone call saying she was going to be late. But hey I was only sitting there alone wondering if she was even alive. That argument landed me in the your sucking the fun out of my life category. Lol. I’ll learn to deal just wondering if you had any advice for a guy that has a broken heart because I screwed up and people always tell her a guy can’t change you can only change guys go find a better one.
    I love with all my heart yes I forget to constantly show it but I try. I gave never cheated but have been cheated on. That rips your heart out why I’ll never do it. Just figuring out how to deal at least reading your post has helped me be a better person for later on in life. I hope she can realise some guys can change if they care enough.

          Thanks.  End of rant. 

    1. 41.1

      Why don’t you try to let her read this message?

    2. 41.2

      I am in the same boat. Keep fighting.

  12. 42

    Hi guys,

    I think I’ve never fallen in love if you put it this way, I’ve only fallen in chemistry. The thing is, I’ve always needed at least some chemistry to be open for the idea of a relationship. I am doing something wrong? If there is no chemistry, I am not even interested.

    I think my role models (read parents) never had a happy relationship. They have never been each others support systems. Actually, they make life difficult for each other. Since I am growing up now, I’m coming to see this. I am in my mid twenties now.
    In my previous relationships I have been very critical to my partners, as my dad does to my mom. I really want to change this and I also want to change the habbit of falling for chemistry. My future partner deserves to be loved, not criticized.

    Life can be such a surprising journey.

  13. 43

    Krazzie I have shown her and I try to constantly show. It but Ive already been told the words no man wants to hear. I don’t love you I don’t want to live with you I ! Ont want to date you and last but not least I don’t want counseling.  She’s to the point she wants to live her life alone maybe date again but right now I’m one of the other guys that never tried to change or admit they had a problem. Like I said she has never had anyone to fight for her or even try. Now I’m trying to make myself a better person incase god forbid she finally decides I’m not worth coming back to later. Can only work on myself right now.

  14. 44

    I also thought the same, and married a good guy for a secure, caring relationship. Without spark sex was just an obligation, and I couldn’t bring myself to have his babies so we divorced. I stayed single not to  make the same mistake again. I wasted my young years with someone I was not in love with. I would not advice any woman to settle for a safe guy who does not make her heart flutter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *