Have you ever experienced instant connection with someone, be it your current partner, an ex or even your girl or guy friend?
Of course you have!
Have you ever shrugged and attributed it to “chemistry” being present, without seeking to understand the nature of the simpatico?
You wouldn’t be the only one…
I hear this expression all the time, and it still makes me grind my teeth. In truth, wheeling out the dreaded C descriptor makes me want to cry. It’s so stupid!
Certain things, for example why sometimes my favorite grapes taste a bit fishy, are almost beyond explanation. These things I happily throw into the Things I’ll Never Understand pile.
Romantic chemistry isn’t one of The Things. It isn’t some weird, mysterious process. You can pretty much predict it.
And it isn’t a pointless thing to know – the contrary. If you understand why you enjoy chemistry with certain people, it means you know what you are looking for in potential partners and friends. Alternatively if your chemistry is for one of the unhealthier reasons (see below), you can choose not to foster the connection.
Here are some logical reasons why you feel an instant connection with some people and not others.
In other words, here is your romantic chemistry explained.
You two are similar somehow
This has to be the biggest reason you feel a spark with some people and not others. You’re similar to them!
Research shows that we are a lot more likely to feel an instant connection to those who are similar to us. Here is the reason for that.
Upon first meeting a person, if we perceive at least some similarity, we may feel more at ease disclosing information about ourselves, because we believe the other person will understand us. In other words, we are more open with them.
And what does openness, plus familiarity create? That’s right…clickety click click click.
Interesting fact: research even indicates that we are attracted to people with similar DNA. Thus, we are attracted to people with similar facial features, personality traits, and language styles.
We seek people who are similar to ourselves because on a level, we understand that long-term compatibility is more likely with someone who shares the same traits.
You have complimentary personality types, or you are a person that experiences chemistry more often
Okay, so what if you two aren’t especially physically alike, and come from totally opposite backgrounds, but still you get on like a house on fire?
You could have complimentary personalities. This works especially well if you are one of the rarer personality types.
I’m an N on the Myers Briggs system (ENFJ and an Enneagram 7 FYI). All the friendships that I have enjoyed over a long period are with other Ns. I do know some Ss, but they are family members and not those who I have actively sought a friendship with. I only want to know and be around the other weirdos like me.
When you learn about personality psychology, you really see how predictable chemistry, including romantic chemistry, is. Our personality constructs literally slot well with certain other types. (Not convinced? Read this.)
It’s true that friendship chemistry is a little different to romantic chemistry. An interesting snippet for you: research has shown that we are more likely to experience friendship chemistry if our personalities are Open (e.g., adventurous, imaginative, and emotionally in-tune), Conscientious (e.g., competent, disciplined, hard-working), and Agreeable (e.g., friendly, cooperative, and considerate). (These terms are from the Big Five Personality Model).
Openness and Conscientiousness were key determinants of romantic chemistry as well, but Agreeableness was less important.
So be rude to your date! They may like you more for it…
There is a high physical attraction
This is the most obvious reason for your romantic chemistry. I’m sure you’ve already considered it…
Physical attraction can seem mysterious in the way that you can seem to be attracted to both blondes and brunettes (crazy hey?), or those with completely different facial features. Visual cues matter hugely, but in effect, as there are so many different types of beauty, and so many arrangements of it, this isn’t as significant as we think it is.
Attraction is a complex cocktail of looks, smells, voice pitch and even your environment. It’s crazy to think those things all have such an impact, but they do. I think we’ve all experienced that alcohol can if not cause, enable romantic chemistry.
By the way, here’s an interesting snippet for you: an element of unpredictability is what keeps us attracted initially. We are attracted to people who might like us, as opposed to having certainty on that.
When receiving clear signals of interest from another person, we are momentarily pleased but adapt quickly, and the case is closed.
But when interest is unpredictable, this leads us to seek out an explanation, causing us to think of little else. Eventually we interpret this arousal and stimulation as a sign of liking the other person.
This is why “playing hard to get” in the initial stages of a relationship actually holds some truth. Just don’t take things to extreme okay?
They remind you of someone for whom you have positive associations
Now we are wavering into deeper and more complex territory, that not everyone has an appetite for….here goes:
A lot of what we identify as chemistry is positive transference.
Transference happens when you attribute qualities of those you experienced a deep connection with in the past to someone in your present. Humans are so crazy, we do this all the time.
They remind you of someone with whom you have unfinished business
On the less healthy side of things, sometimes we are drawn to someone who reminds us of someone who hurt us in the past, and with whom we are still trying to secure love/validation or approval.
In addition, much chemistry and passion can be created from a codependency, or two people that combine an anxious with an avoidant attachment style.
You’re sexy and they know it
Think about it. We are a lot more inclined to look favorably on those who seem interested in us. Unless we have appalling self-esteem, we like those who like us reinforce what we think about ourselves – that we are decent, attractive people.
Therefore, you are more like to experience romantic chemistry with people who seem into you.
That’s the last reason.