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What is relationship chemistry (01:17)
The right chemistry has these 3 elements
The chemistry of love has been discussed, written about, explored and dissected from the early years of man's existence. Everyone wants the experience of falling in love, yet no one wants the pain that comes when we realize we have chosen the wrong person. It seems that with all the information at our disposal we should do a better job of finding and keeping mutually satisfying relationships. So, why is this not happening? Perhaps because folks have bought into the myth our culture reinforces that physical chemistry and great sex are what true love is all about. Physical attraction is one part of relationship chemistry, but without other elements, relationships suffer a short life span and/or can leave a lot of damaging and negative experiences in their wake. So, what are the other two essential elements in relationship chemistry? The answer to this will make a lot of sense as you digest what I'm about to share and hopefully will help you to answer the critical "Could this be the one" question somewhere down the road.
Romantic love begins with a first impression. We see someone and think, "Ummm." There is something about the way they look, their movements, and their overall nonverbal communication that draws us in and makes us want to know more. This is the element that love sonnets and poems, romantic comedies, and love songs are all about. Two people encounter one another and it is love at first sight, seen but not heard or experienced in any other way. This attraction is necessary in an intimate relationship but as we all know it changes over time from one of physical intensity to affection and a deeper bond.
The next essential element in a relationship is friendship or what Kahlil Gibran called spiritual affinity. This is that feeling of closeness that is characterized by a sense of comfort, acceptance, and familiarity. It's when you get each other with just a look and can finish one another's sentences. You can be apart for long periods of time but when you come together again, it's like you only said good-bye yesterday. This is the element that helps couples to navigate those challenging times of conflict, stress, and life events that can drive them apart. It provides the glue that keeps them connected through those stages of life that can drive a couple apart with thoughts that there must be something more or better out there.
The third and final element of relationship chemistry is intellectual stimulation. This is when your conversations are a turn-on. You can talk for hours and never run out of things to say, his or her thoughts stimulate and interest you as do yours for them--and you challenge and inspire one another to be the best you can be. Too often I observe couples socially where one or both are texting and/or they are just sitting in silence together, looking around the room. Or couples tell me that they have nothing to talk about, or that their conversations are neither satisfying nor fun for the--and they avoid one-to-one time because it's hard to listen to the other person go on about things they don't care about, are bored with, or find distasteful. Being able to sit down and have meaningful conversations, share ideas and/or brainstorm about something is a big turn-on and keeps couples engaged who are long past the dizzying effects of that first stage of love. When this intellectual need is fulfilled, an individual doesn't go to someone else to meet it, which is what often leads to emotional affairs.
If you have recently begun dating someone, are in a fairly new relationship, or if you are committed (married or unmarried)--assess the chemistry you share with this person through the lens of these three elements to see how well you line up. If you feel a disconnect, distance, or have uncertainties about someone--consider taking a step back and giving it time before moving towards greater commitment. If you are unhappy with your committed relationship--see if you can identify what element is missing and consider seeking professional help to address it. If you try to ignore a missing piece, it won't get better. Most likely you will end up apart after wasting time, energy and potential happiness on the wrong person.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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