Chemistry vs. Compatibility – What is More Sustainable in the Long Run?

If you were to ask me about ten years ago, what do I look for when dating, I probably would have said something along the lines of “love at first sight” or that undeniable spark (chemistry). Fast forward to now, if someone were to ask me that same question, my response would be, “A male version of myself” (compatibility). Don’t worry, I will break it down and further delve back into the original topic. First we need to understand what the difference is between chemistry and compatibility.

Chemistry – In dating terms, I would describe chemistry as that emotional impulse and gravity you have towards a person without any force as it just comes natural from within. I think a good amount of chemistry is driven by your physical attraction towards someone; however, it is not strictly based on the physicality as there has to also be the emotional substance from the inside in addition to their outer appearance. In other words, you can meet a model who from the outside is pleasing to the eyes solely from a looks stand point but then you find that you have zero chemistry with that person once they begin a conversation with you. My point is, physical attraction is a component of chemistry but chemistry is NOT only physical attraction. It is still possible to have chemistry with someone who you might not even be super attracted to upon meeting at first but once you cross paths, that spiritual connection is immediate. It does not take you five dates to say to yourself, “Oh I *think* I like this person now.” Nah, closer to five seconds because you either feel it on the spot or you don’t.

So if physicality is only a component of chemistry, then how else would you describe it? I would say that chemistry is that feeling you have when it is as though you have known that person for many lifetimes. You can meet one time, instantly click, and easily converse with each other for hours. You do not even notice the time when you are with this person. The spiritual connection you have is deep. The key is, it is NOT a one sided spark, it is a MUTUAL spark. You both feed off each other’s energies and the chemistry is palpable enough where any outsider can not only see it with their own eyes but they feel it too. If it is a one sided spark, I cannot label it as chemistry because it has to be a personal connection that two people share on an extremely intense level.

Scenario #1 – [Chemistry]: You arrive at a party setting where you are faced with many people you have never met before. It is crowded and dark but out of the corner of your eye, you see a guy you never saw before and he caught your attention. He is the only person at the party that was able to appear on your radar and you can’t help but do a double take as you wonder with fixated curiosity, “Who is that?” You then try to observe to the best of your ability to see if he is with someone only to find it looks as though he is single as well. Moments later you lock eyes from afar, now you are hooked on a feeling. A feeling that holds no meaning because you do not know a thing about this person. As luck or fate would have it (you can be the judge of that), this guy shows up in the forefront of your vision and he comes up to introduce himself. Not only is he even better looking in person, once the conversation ignites, it is even more apparent that you both are in an emotional trance with each other sparked by an initial attraction. Hours go by and when the night ends (or perhaps leads into morning since there is no sense of time after all), you both are left with a fervent feeling of bliss questioning when will you get to see each other again while also knowing with one hundred percent certainty that this will not be the last time because this is only the beginning.

Based on the series of events, it goes without saying that this is an idyllic and rather ideal dating scenario. For most people, I think this does not happen all too often so when it does, it actually leaves a lasting imprint on your emotions. Personally, I hardly encounter meeting someone that evokes that intense feeling to begin with. That in and of itself is rare but it can happen and when it does, you know it when you stumble across it. Even if I do meet a person who I feel that connection with, it does not always lead to it being taken a step further where I get the opportunity to have a conversation with that person in which it is not chemistry unless the other person feels that mutual magnetic pull as well. As I mentioned, it has to be a shared desire to want to explore each other and see if both emotional energies flow together. The physical draw is often the easy part to determine but it is the depth of the emotional attraction that qualifies it as chemistry.

Compatibility – Compatibility is measured by how similar you are to another person. There are endless components of compatibility in which I will make a list of some important ones (in no particular order as each individual’s priorities will vary) although I think there are many more besides the ones I listed.

Life GoalsDo you have similar life goals and expectations for how you will live your life along with a similar time frame to accomplish these goals?
Religion/ValuesDo you share the same religious beliefs?
FinancesDo you both have similar spending/saving habits?
Location/HomeDo you both want to reside in the same area and envision the same type of home?
Health/WellnessDo you have similar eating/exercise habits?
Leisure TimeDo you both spend your free time in similar ways and enjoy doing some of the same activities?
Family TimeDo you both have similar preferences with how much time you enjoy spending with your own family and their family?
TogethernessDo you both have similar preferences with how much time you spend together and independently by yourself?
Marriage/ChildrenDo you both see marriage and children in your future?
PetsDo you want to have pets and if so, how many and which animal(s)?

The list above features some key components when examining how much compatibility exists between two people. No two individuals are going to be exactly identical in terms of how much they share in common but the things that matter most should hopefully be somewhat similar when you are in a relationship driven by compatibility.

Scenario #2 – [Compatibility]: You are at Madison Square Garden about to see one of your favorite bands perform. This is your first time seeing them live and you end up going solo because you could not find anyone available to go but you did not want to miss out on a great show. You are in line to buy a drink and the person in front of you is wearing a hoodie with a university logo of the school that you went to. You do not strike a conversation with the person upon making this observation as this person appeared to be with a small group of people and it is not like he had left much of a lasting impression. As luck or fate would have it (again–you can be the judge of that), it turns out this guy and his group of friends are sitting in the same row as you. They have to get up so you can get to your seat and they all start talking to you since you are by yourself. The guy with the university logo hoodie graduated the same year as you and you find out that you have some mutual friends although you never met him before. He moved to the same area as you to take a job and since he is not too familiar with the area, he suggests getting together in the future. You only look at him as a friend but figured why not as you want to accept the friendly gesture. Before meeting up again, in the meantime you keep in touch via text to find out that you have much more in common than liking the same music, living in the same town, going to the same college, and even having some mutual acquaintances. It turns out that you both have a dog, have the same religious background, belong to the same gym, and enjoy playing golf on the weekends. You begin to ponder in admiration, “Is it possible to have this much in common with someone that I just met?” Despite all the commonalities, you are not so easily convinced yet this could lead to anything romantic given you did not really feel that kind of physical nor emotional spark when you first met at the concert but at the same time, you feel a level of comfort knowing you both share so much in common to begin with.

Despite a level of uncertainty whether there is any underlying romance, at least it is certain that there are many similarities that would bring two people together. As the common saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” I think it sometimes can be easier to meet someone that has a lot in common with you, especially in a scenario like this when meeting at a concert in which you already know you share similar music interests and potentially other things in common that go way beyond music.

Now understanding the difference between chemistry and compatibility, what is more important in terms of guaranteeing a more happy relationship in the long run? Of course the simple answer is, the relationship needs both chemistry and compatibility–there is no disputing that. Of course you do want both to some degree. Personally, I do not think I could date someone where the chemistry is non existent and the physical attraction level is below the fifty percent mark no matter how much we have in common. I also do not think it is healthy to rely too heavily on chemistry because over time, you might find you have almost nothing in common. Chemistry (unfortunately) can often times be blinding. You can naturally get too caught up in a moment with someone and think they are everything you could ever want in a romantic partner (that is the first mistake as no one can be that perfect or fulfill your every relationship requirement) and eventually, that feeling can slowly fade away over time once your true differences start to rise to the surface. More often than not, those differences can cause friction on any relationship and one to deteriorate altogether, even a bond that seemingly was so loving in those very early stages of the courtship.

Which leads me to the final point that compatibility is the foundation of any fulfilling long term relationship and when choosing a future life partner. Yes, there should be some level of natural chemistry and attraction towards one another but the relationship cannot survive on just chemistry alone. More importantly, compatibility on various degrees needs to be established which are determined by what you prioritize most in a relationship.

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