Instant chemistry. The story goes that when you meet "the one," you'll have this explosion of attraction that will lead you down wedded bliss for the rest of your lives. Hollywood movies and television shows gush variations on this theme. Dating advice columnists build manifestos on it. Teenagers dream about it as they begin dating, and even through the challenges and hardships, carry pieces of that narrative with them far into adulthood.
There's much to pick apart in the story, but for today I'll just focus on the chemistry thing. The following is from a blogger who has been posting her online dating experience stories. She writes:
It was going on two hours and we decided to call it a night. I was disappointed in myself because I couldn’t see anything wrong with Kevin, but for some reason again, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t find that chemistry—that elusive instant chemistry—that I’ve been looking for.
When I read this, I felt a twinge of sadness. Because in my experience, instant chemistry has almost always been a lie. The times I have had that flash-bang chemistry, that I gotta screw your brains out and never leave your side kind of thing, have been crash and burn events. A few weeks or a month of hotness, followed by the realization that we had little in common. Or our values were wildly different.
With every woman I have dated for a longer period of time, including those I ended up having long term relationships with, there was a more gradual build up. Which is not to say that it began with nothing. Some connection was there right away, but the level of that connection to time to uncover. Took shared experience to see whether it was fleeting or something deeper.
Here's the thing about chemistry. Unless you know someone from a different context (friendship, co-worker, etc.), you are meeting a total stranger. You tend to know next to nothing about them, and so whatever is pulling you towards them is unclear, unexamined, and untested. You have no idea if what you experience on the first date is their true selves or some mask they have developed to weather the dating storm. You don't know how this person will react when the inevitable stresses/conflicts of a relationship occur. You don't even know if they will want anything more than a hot night or two of sex.
Seriously, believing that instant chemistry is the main ingredient of your dating dish is delusional. Painfully delusional. It's as if people have this idea that everything will just fall into place right away, which doesn't happen even between couples that experienced that kind of chemistry in the beginning.
In fact, I would argue that the worst aspect of the story is the ways in which it lies to us after you meet someone. The challenges of learning each others' way in the world are either diminished, or considered signs that things aren't working out. The natural, and needed, growth that comes from working through conflict together is left out entirely. And the pressure for everything to be fucking fantastic all the time is heightened. Which is tragic, given how nothing is always fantastic, not even the most wonderful, fulfilling relationship.
It's time to shed these lies. They aren't serving anyone, and they don't lead to lasting love.