What Are The Merits Of Chemistry?

GettyImages_122342861Today’s question is from a reader who is here for some advice on love and chemistry.

To the 40-somethings out there who have loved, lost, married, and divorced: What are the merits of chemistry in a relationship and is it something that can grow (and fade) with time?


Her SItuation:  

A guy she knew from her childhood neighborhood keeps popping into her life unexpectedly Chance meetings turn into long talks over tea. The first time right before she headed overseas for work.

“It was one of those perfectly beautiful moments when you connect with an almost stranger and feel that this is the sweetness of life.”

Another chance run-in upon her return led to a short relationship. But they part ways – it’s not working as he criticized her.

“He was an artist and as someone who had walked away from my artistic roots, it was intoxicating to be near someone I felt saw the world the same way as I did. While he claimed he loved me, the fact that I was not pursuing an artistic career made him feel I was “less than”. His disappointment and criticisms felt like daggers.”

Enter new guy  – 2 months after breakup…he’s open and supportive.

“Days with him felt easy and peaceful. We could speak openly about anything and I felt (and still feel) that I am my best self with him and he feels the same way with me.”

The relationship is wonderful but she fears it lacks the “x-factor” and electricity of Marcus.

That “feeling”, the fabled “x-factor” was something I felt to my absolute core. I worry (and often mourn) that after a year together, I have not experienced that with Leo. And yet, I am in a relationship that, with one singular exception, is absolutely wonderful and exactly what I’ve always hoped a relationship could be. Not just fun and easy but substantive and resilient.

So chemistry or consistency? Two 40-something women weigh in…one married, one just recently remarried…

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.49.13 AM copyLife is too short to settle. I believe in chemistry at first sight, whether it’s from the heart or from the brain. Don’t get me wrong, the sex needs to be good too, but that initial electricity will eventually fade and manifest itself in other ways. You still need to take care of your man, but it won’t be the sole focal point. Over time, you need to get butterflies in your stomach when you are about to see your partner or feel love so much that it hurts when you aren’t with him. When my husband is away on business, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning anticipating his return.

Go with your gut. If you don’t feel chemistry immediately, move on. If you do, please make sure you adore his whole being and it isn’t one dimensional.
Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.49.13 AM copyYou might want to check out this recent piece in the NYT about marriage and it’s impact, good or bad, on one’s health.  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/26/the-ambivalent-marriage-takes-a-toll-on-health/?_r=0
The piece makes an important point about marriages where one partner may be unpredictable — nice sometimes, difficult/mean other times – but likely ‘exciting’.  The unpredictability can be challenging emotionally and even take a toll on one’s physical and mental health.  Is she attracted to new guy?  One needs attraction to be married to someone, or I would personally think it would be depressing.  But that attraction doesn’t have to be sizzling chemistry all the time.  It can be friendship type chemistry, or enjoying the person’s company or talents or sense of humor — all things that are meaningful in a long term relationship.
The key question is – are you not attracted to new guy or is the issue that you are searching for some unattainable ‘excitement’ that you are only likely to get from someone magnetic and romantic but challenging in a way that will be negative over the longer term.  My impression coming up on my 9th wedding anniversary is that the more kind and considerate the person whom you marry is (and also supportive and admiring of you), the happier you’ll be.  Marrying someone who criticizes you or your decisions sounds like a nightmare, particularly if you plan on having kids or if any other life challenges arise, which they will.
Hope that helps!


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