“Dear Quirkyalone: Advice for QuirkyLiving” is a guest column by Lisa and Christina (crossposted at Quirkyalone). When you’re making up your own road map for (quirky)living, you need thoughtful advice. We’re here for you. Quirkyalone and Onely welcome your questions; send them on to onely AT onely.org.
I have gone out on 4 dates with a guy. We have a great time together, but I’m not feeling any chemistry. Is chemistry always an instant feeling or can it come along later? –Aimee
Thanks for your classic question. A key tenet of Quirkyalones (or Quirkytogethers!) is that we enjoy spending time on our own, and so we won’t commit to any romantic relationship unless our partner really makes us go, “Wow!” Not as in, “Wow, I can’t believe how long his nose hair grows,” but rather, “Wow, how did I get so lucky to meet and connect with this person who makes me all tingly and goofy?” For Quirkyalones, chemistry is a must–but what is it, and how do we recognize it?
Like all classic questions, this one is difficult and has no clear answer, except for maybe “It all depends,” which I won’t say because that’s the world’s most annoying response (albeit always the truest). So let me break “It all depends” down into some arbitrary specifics for you. I believe that there are approximately three kinds of “chemistry”:
Type 1 Chemistry: Slam-click at first sight.
Type 2 Chemistry: Slam-click after a series of interactions, where you recognize attractive aspects of the person that were not apparent at first sight, and respond to them emotionally or physically.
Type 3 Chemistry: Intermittent giddy feeling that stems from recollections of and references to a long history together and which could not be provided by a recent love interest (think of a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary walking on the beach hand in hand). We will not discuss Type 3 in this post.
In your situation, it’s not a bad thing that you didn’t immediately feel the SLAM-CLICK of Type 1 Chemistry. However, I think that four dates is probably enough time to start SLAM-CLICKing in the style of Type 2, where you discover that your date has a great laugh and a fascinating knowledge of 18th century Czech watercolors, and you can barely keep your hands off him whenever he tells a Tuvia Beeri anecdote. If this doesn’t happen, then you might have made a new friend, but not a Chemical friend. If you really want to click with your date, but you don’t feel the Chemistry, try giving him chances to generate that connection. For example, if you admire artistic men but the last time he touched an easel was with fingerpaints, don’t just assume he can’t match your interest. Ask him to a paint-your-own-pottery studio and see how he engages with the project. He may surprise you!
I would be more concerned if you said you had instant chemistry from the very second you first bumped into each other at the gallery. This Type 1 Chemistry is fun, but you should take it with a grain of salt. Here’s why: it’s hard to tell the difference between a real connection and a connection manufactured by your brain’s subconscious reaction to the other person’s smell, look, voice, and mannerisms. For example, you exchange hellos with Steve and immediately like him. A lot. What are you basing your opinion on? Your subconscious brain carries a plethora of data it uses to make sense of the world, which it then feeds to your reasoning mind. To give a simplistic example: Steve’s nose might resemble the nose of a beloved aunt who died when you were four years old. Your subconscious remembers your aunt’s face and tells your thinking mind, “A nose like this once belonged to a nice person who gave me cookies,” but the message garbles in translation to your conscious, which hears, “Steve has a nice nose–I can’t wait to eat his cookies.” SLAM-CLICK. It’s a powerful illusion. Enjoy it, but don’t expect it to inevitably carry over into Type 2 Chemistry, which is what you want if you’re aiming for a long term relationship.
If any readers out there *are* feeling Type 1 Chemistry, don’t panic. It might be for real! Test it: Try to articulate why you are drawn to this person. List certain attributes that appeal to you, rather than “She makes me feel all giddy, full stop.” For example, “She makes me feel giddy because she can untangle a Gordian knot,” bodes well. “She makes me feel giddy because of something about her,” might also bode well, but it could just as easily bode badly. It all depends.
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