Understanding Chemistry: How Much Is Enough?

love u podcast

Chemistry may be the most intoxicating feeling in the world, but if I’ve learned anything in my 13 years of dating coaching, it’s that chemistry is not the best predictor of whether a relationship will last. Join me in this special Love U Podcast on one of my favorite subjects, where I’ll teach you how to compromise (not settle!) your way into lasting love.

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  1. 1

    On note: the last couple of podcasts on the player here on your site your voice comes in very low.   The music is fine, but I have to strain to hear your words.   The rest of YouTube is loud and fine so I just wanted to let you know.

    About the first part of the podcast.   I think that there are a couple of ways to look at it.   If you’ve never experienced that blinding chemistry or you haven’t experienced it for a long enough time, I think it’s hard to give the idea of it up.   Some people can learn from observation, others have to go through things themselves.   I think that some people, like you did, have to experience the other side of the wave of chemistry sometimes multiple times to finalize realize how rare it works out.   And it’s fun, no? Just ride that wave.   🙂   Maybe people just want to do that for a long, long time.   Then people who have had the chemistry, maybe they need more than a 7 (not compromising on compatibility, though).   Maybe they just need a 8 or 9 for those two years. We know that it wears off. We know, we know.   But some people really need the memory of those two years to move forward with the next 38 or so.     I don’t know anyone over 30 who expects it to last forever.   People just want it.

    Some people aren’t even looking for someone they are going to be compatible with for the next 40 years. I know because some of these same people have tried to date me!   LOL.   They just wanted to ‘let it flow’ as one man put it.   Or maybe they want something short term. I hadn’t the heart to tell them that if they can’t keep me interested long-term, I will get bored real fast short-term.   The sexual haze will and does wear off and then what? Do it all over again?   The meeting, the in-between uncertain stage, the content boyfriend/girlfriend stage, etc.   It’s like searching for a continual high. I realized pretty early on that I didn’t want to spend my life chasing that first high over and over and over again.   But that’s me.   When I speak to some men they look at me like I’m bonkers.   🙂   ‘Not have hot sex over and over”   Are you mad, woman?’   Hee.   Just I know that other side is coming and that wave will eventually cycle down.     I’ve only found much older men in my life to finally, finally realize that.   But the rest, even family members, are about riding that wave as long as they can.

    1. 1.1

      I’ve been enjoying your posts S–that was really well said.   You’re preaching to the choir here.   I’m one of those people who had to repeatedly crash on that wave of blinding chemistry…before finally learning my lesson.   That kind of chemistry is a very powerful feeling. It was the emotional equivalent of being on drugs and getting a “high”.   But even that “high” wasn’t worth the incredible lows that followed.

      Now I’m in a relationship sort of like how Evan describes his with his wife.   I always found my guy attractive and enjoyed spending time with him.

      Yet I also didn’t “obsess” over him, the way I did with those other “blinding chemistry” guys I dated before.   With the others, I used to hang by my phone when I wasn’t with them, breathlessly waiting for them to contact me.   I almost felt like my world had stopped, and wouldn’t continue until I heard from them again.

      This time, though, it was more like how Evan describes himself while his wife was away.   I really was fine.   I actually enjoyed the alone time, to get certain things done for myself that I needed to do.   I was happy when I did hear from him (as I always did).   But I was still able to go about my day and function normally until then.

      Now that we live together, I’m always happy when he comes in the door.   Yet I don’t stare at the clock and breathlessly wait for it either.

      Perhaps that’s a sign that my relationship now is more secure.   Deep down, I felt certain that he would eventually contact me.   So I didn’t need to hang by my phone and wonder if he would.   Now, I know he’s always coming home to me.   So I don’t feel the need to watch every minute on the clock (I know the traffic on his commute is awful, so I’ve learned to expect it). I suppose I don’t panic any longer because our relationship is strong enough to withstand a little temporary separation (whereas, the fact that my prior ones felt like they hinged on one text shows how shaky they were).

      I think I finally found the right amount of chemistry, with the happy medium between not being attracted at all and wildly obsessive about someone.

  2. 2

    This was really good. However, for me, a piece of the puzzle wasn’t addressed.

    You stated that chemistry typically lasts for 1.5 to 3 years, and the original purpose of this was to make sure the male stuck around through pregnancy and to help raise the child. You also said that, once the chemistry wears off, couples can then look at what’s left and decide whether they have enough for a long-term future together. From my understanding, if something works then that chemistry (or infatuation) gives way to real love, due to the fact that you’ve spent so much time with each other. Chemistry doesn’t just ensure that you’re there to raise a child, it keeps two people in a relationship long enough to allow real love to develop.

    If you don’t have that feeling of chemistry or infatuation in the beginning, how can you stay together long enough for real love to develop? There are going to be temptations to make you stray (people you do feel chemistry for); doubts about the relationship; a lack of drive to move the relationship forwards, etc. Don’t you need chemistry just for the purpose of holding your interest long enough to really get to know and become familiar with someone?

    1. 2.1

      Hi Enchanted-I’m not trying to debunk you but…while I believe chemistry is important because I’m assuming its also a sexual relationship-you can love someone without having the sexual aspect. We can love our friends and family. While I have a distinct “rapport” with one of my sisters; it’s not like I don’t love my other sisters. To me, love isn’t a term used just “romantically”.

      1. 2.1.1

        Enchanted, I didn’t explain that well:).   I think you’re forgetting Evan said a 10 in comparability and a 7 in chemistry/attraction.   My ex and I were probably a 10 in attraction at first, and it overshadowed some important compatability issues. He quite frankly is a moody and generally unhappy person. My guy now we are probably an 8 in attraction and 9 in compatability. Our compatability is fabulous except in politics. It’s not that we have to agree; it’s that we have to agree to disagree amicably. Unfortunately, he’s not always quick to remember everyone has a right to their own opinion in this arena. He told me on our last beach trip how much easier I am to get along with than his ex. He told this story about them going to the beach with the kids. They circled all these restaurants to find one that suited her. Well, it took so long the kids were in tears they were so hungry and tired. I noticed he’s always been very aware if I’m happy with the accommodations   wherever we go. He asked me if I thought this restaurant would be okay; I pretty much said “well if   you don’t like it we can just have a beer and try another”. Another time on the way to Nola, we had a flat in the rain and he actually bent the jack it was so flimsy. People even stopped and tried to help but nobody’s jack would fit his Volvo. He was so frustrated and apologized profusely (like it was his fault). I just laughed at his “wet dog” condition and told him I had help on the way. What did we ever do without iPhones? It rained the whole night in Nola and we cheerfully shared an umbrella ducking in and out of fun spots.

        1. Enchanted

          Your original reply didn’t make sense to me, as we are discussing romantic love, specifically.

          As for your second reply – did you mean that you think that if the attraction is high enough (7+) then you won’t be tempted to stray, despite the lack of chemistry?   I kind of feel like it might not matter how good looking they are.   If there’s no chemistry a guy, I might still bump into someone new who gives me it.

          It’s all so confusing, as I’ve felt chemistry with people, e.g. an ex, who I’d only rate around a 5 in attractiveness.   The chemistry helped me to overlook that, and his looks wouldn’t have been an issue in the long-term, once the chemistry wore off.   There were other reasons for relationship failure.

  3. 3

    Hello Enchanted, once again I apologize for not making myself clear.   I think generally folks have a skewed view of what love in general is. Example, I love my entire family. While I love my mother she can make me feel insecure many times. While I love my 3 sisters, I have a definite rapport with one. Out of all of the ladies in my family; who would you think makes me feel loved and accepted most? That’s compatability. I talk or text everyday with her and she with me because we fill a need in each others lives. We laugh and tease like schoolgirls yet we are able to confide in each other our deepest fears without the fear of rejection or judgement. We could live together with minimal conflict. whereas while i love my other sisters; we’d probably be at odds too often to maintain a good relationship. lIMHO, romantic love is this personal compatability plus attraction. NOT infatuation. Not that off the charts, uncontrollable (albeit pretty heady) unrealistic stuff. That 10 in attraction tends to blind us to if we have the personal compatability. That’s where evan makes the case to have a good level of attraction (7) where you can see the whole picture and not just act impulsively. And please, don’t confuse the silly generalized attractiveness scale of 1-10 with your own personal scale of attraction. Just because he/she may be a “5” in JUST looks; it certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t someone’s “7” because of their body language, charisma, caring attitude, sunny disposition and more. I don’t think evan is saying you can’t have a lasting loving relationship with someone you’re infatuated with; you just may not be so lucky to find you are personally compatible at a level of 10 when the lust fades. I think he’s just saying find the best of both worlds.

  4. 4

    Excellent  podcast.   Just in case this provides any insight, here’s my epically long story:

    I’ve had great chemistry in all 5 of my relationships, but varying levels of compatibility.   The past 4 relationships were each 2-7 years long, starting when I was 16 (I’ve never done anything short term beyond a few dates).   I’ve felt the high of being completely in love 3 times, but youth and my critical nature ruined the one relationship of 3 years that probably would have lasted a lifetime if I’d met him later in life and knew what I knew now (we had extreme compatibility coupled with plenty of attraction).   Oh well.

    The longest relationship (7 years) was based mainly on this INSANELY strong connection we felt (if you believe astrology you’d see why in our charts), and yet connection and attraction don’t mean much when some of your core values are opposites.   We just didn’t enjoy the same activities and I’m all about doing things WITH the people I love.   I think lots of people find connections like this and believe it conquers all, but it doesn’t (my newly divorced friend agrees with me on this).   This was the boyfriend I was least attracted to, so I don’t mean a lust-fueled connection.   We’re still friends and chat regularly, but the mental connection masked what turned out to be very low level compatibility and I started to see that there were lots of things we disagreed about.   We actually fought a great deal throughout the relationship even though we understood each other very well.   In many ways we were very much alike, probably too much so, while also different in ways that made the relationship difficult.   I used to say the the Beatles song “It’s Only Love” defined this relationship (what a sign if only I’d recognized it!).   However, I don’t think this relationship was ultimately doomed, and in fact could have probably worked out if I’d wanted it to, but I reached a point where I just wasn’t willing to compromise anymore, so I left.   We’re better off as friends.

    Unfortunately (and fortunately, in terms of learning about myself and relationships and developing more empathy), the last guy was actually really, REALLY wrong for me and even emotionally abusive.   This last “relationship” and being in my early 30s by then made me so scared of making another mistake that even though I started to get butterflies early on with my current boyfriend of nearly a year, I shut the feeling down and willed myself not to feel the high of being in love (it’s such a great feeling, too! but blinding!).   I also started to feel quite insecure about my choice as soon as he called me his girlfriend (6 weeks in, exactly when Evan predicts it), constantly second-guessing everything when we were apart (fueled by his disinterest in texting and the phone, which made him seem distant, even though he wasn’t), but enjoying each moment we were together (he lives a couple of hours away so I see him every weekend and occasionally during the week).   My boyfriend has actually never done anything to make me feel insecure, I realized (he has even texted or spoken to me every single day since we met).   It was me that produced these thoughts based on the bad experience I had with the most previous ex and me that felt paranoid about doing something wrong that would drive him away.   Additionally, conversation and connection is generally so easy for me, but the one thing my boyfriend and I lack is VERY easy conversation (he’s simply not a talker and enjoys his alone time).   In fact, we still talk plenty (he is comfortable now) and have always had lots of fun and have so many common values and interests, not to mention many, many comfortable silences.   He’s extremely devoted, responsible, easy-going, intelligent, practical etc.   We’re compatible in every way I can think of!   We’re also very attracted to each other (he’s the boyfriend I’m the most physically attracted to!) and have good, regular sex.   Sex is another interesting aspect because sometimes it’s amazingly good, and sometimes it’s “just” normal good (I realize this is the first year).   I’ve been so spoiled by so much great sex in my life that I almost thought our consistently good sex wasn’t good enough for me!   He says he didn’t know what good sex was until he met me!   Hooray!

    Anyway, when I took the time to hash my feelings out by writing them down (this has always provided the most clarity for me), I realized he is someone I genuinely could be with for a lifetime.   Sure, I’ve had slightly better  sex and easier conversation in the past, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t tick all my boxes and that there isn’t a very high level of compatibility, attraction, and general fun-having.   Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, so I’ve decided not to let silly fears and memories (it’s proven that humans have terrible memories anyway) ruin what is a perfectly wonderful, easy (so easy it’s hard to believe), fun relationship with someone whose character is incredible.   I think in my case I’ve had to firmly tell myself that just because I’ve had it slightly better before in some aspects of the relationship does not mean that what I have now isn’t very good, or at the very least, good enough, in all aspects   This is the first time the future has seemed smooth and clear.   Sometimes it takes a lot of learning and time to get to this point.   I’m 35, he’s 36, and yeah, we’re still young (enough).   I think we’re both in the right place for the right relationship to happen.   We’ve put work into it, but mainly work on addressing my fears and being patient with his flaws (which, btw, seem more minor with each passing day).   He has not seemed bothered by any of my flaws, and in fact I think he helps me to not be critical, which is my biggest flaw.   It is NOT hard to love him, and NOT hard to be with him.   We get immense pleasure out of doing normal everyday things together, and that is the best part 😀

    Thank you, Evan!   For everything you do!   Your advice is priceless and I simply would not be in this mature, patient state to recognize my luck and make the right choices without you.   I’ve gotten this far with your free material!   I’ve actually purchased a bunch of your stuff but have yet to crack those books/Uni (sorry)!   Imagine where I’ll be when I do!   I’m going to get this one right, and it’s the only one that matters!

  5. 5

    Wise guy 😘

  6. 6

    I have to admit that I’m apparently not bright enough to figure out this whole scale thing (whether with chemistry or attraction).

    Now, I can understand putting a scale on how attractive someone is based on their looks (as in: how good-looking they are) but that has absolutely no correlation to how attracted I am to that person. I could easily rate someone a 10 in looks, but not feel attracted to them at all.

    And who’s scale are we going by? Woman who like well-groomed men in suits, for example, would likely rate a rough-looking lumberjack rather low. While women who like the rougher men would likely not find the suit type of guy attractive.

    I love the “rougher” guys. Scruffy, weathered faces, burly, naturally strong bodies (not gym rats), calloused hands. Men who get their hands dirty for a living. So I guess that would be my 10. A woman looking for the opposite would likely rate him a two, at best. So for me to scale back, would I need to go for a “softer” man? And would she have to go for a “rougher” man? And what one woman thinks is good-looking, might be off-putting to the next.

    That being said, my exes couldn’t look any different from each other if they tried (and no – they weren’t the type above). From extra tall and rail thin to short and burly to extremely overweight. Black hair to blond, all color eyes, completely different facial shapes, lifestyles, incomes, etc. They also weren’t considered very attractive by any of the women around me (who had no qualms about informing me of that).

    My second problem is that I’ve never felt a different level of attraction. (that goes both for just sex, or dating/considering someone for a relationship). I’m either attracted to someone, or I’m not.   I’ve never been more attracted to one person than another. And if you showed me a line-up, I could only tell you yes or no. Not “that one the most, that one next, etc.”

    If you asked me how good-looking they are, I could give you a definite scale in that same line-up. But it would likely not have anything to do with whether I’m attracted to them or not.

    Also, attraction for me does not grow over time. I’ll come to care about a person more over time, but I do not feel more attraction for them because of it.

    Then there’s the fact that, while I do have a type I could describe, that doesn’t automatically mean I’ll actually be attracted to a man of that type. Likewise, I can find a man completely opposite of my type attractive.

    Basically, neither a certain type nor a certain look equals attraction to me. And who I find attractive wouldn’t necessarily be considered attractive to other women. Most of the time, I cannot understand how so many women can find some of the famous “heartthrobs” so attractive.

    Faces, to me, are the deciding factor, I’ve noticed. Looks wise, nothing else matters. Although I’ve yet to find anything the faces I am attracted to have in common.

    So how do I find some sort of scale? Are there others out there, like me, who do not   have a scale, but simply a yes or no?




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