If I feel incredibly compatible and happy with someone, can it be true love? Or are we missing some crazy-in-love element?
This was one of the most popular questions we received from SSD readers. We reached out to expert dating coach, Evan Marc Katz, and here’s what he shared.
“Being “in love” is the most commonly used phrase to describe the feeling of ‘chemistry.” People “in love” have obsessive thoughts about their partners – huge highs when things are good, and deep lows when things are bad. While chemistry is an incredible feeling, it is in no way a solid predictor of your future. It’s literally just a feeling. A feeling that masks your partner’s worst traits and allows you to put up with them.
So instead of chasing chemistry at a cost to your own mental health, take a second to realize that if you feel that high feeling, you are likely ignoring something fundamental which can later break you up. Look back on the greatest chemistry you’ve ever felt and think about how those relationships ended. Do you want to be in another relationship where you’re always fighting and you never feel secure in your future?”
Our view: When people think of romantic chemistry, they often think of a physical attraction that can be invigorating, akin to a physical high. People often look to this chemistry as a sign of compatibility. But what we choose in terms of compatibility depends on what we are looking for in a partner.
Given the popularity of the subject, we also engaged Dr. Alex Smithmixter to shine light on another way to look at attraction.
Think of the last time you fell head over heels for someone, admired everything about the person, amazed by all that the person did. The chemistry was so strong that maybe you lost your sense of self, and felt as if you were in a drugged state. You may not have felt your best—grounded, stable—but you felt really, really in love. It’s intoxicating, like an altered state of consciousness. The media tells us that this is a sign of “being in love,” that you love someone so much, you do crazy things for them. The media’s representation of this makes us think that’s what we should strive for, that it’s healthy (you found an easter egg!). You love someone so much it hurts, but in fact, all it does is hurt.
Maybe you’ve dated someone who you chose to love with all your heart, and you felt that the person brought out the best in you. It wasn’t a combination of dopamine and serotonin changing how you felt, like it was when you fell hard, head over heels for someone. Think of chemistry as a gradient with a spectrum from No Attraction ———–> Full Attraction. No attraction means you don’t get pulled off your center at all, and can be fully yourself. But when we are totally, fully attracted, we get pulled into the other’s universe. Somewhere along the spectrum is that sweet spot. That spot where you pull one another off center just enough to challenge each other to be better than you are alone, without losing the sense of what is important to you.
Healthy attraction isn’t someone we worship, and it’s not someone who worships us. And thus you often hear the sage advice, “Just be yourself.” The reason it is so important to be yourself is that then you are truly falling in love with the person for who they are. And after the initial infatuation period, you find that there is still so much to love. If you weren’t yourself, then after that infatuation period, your partner would otherwise feel like they were left with a different human being… and wouldn’t that feel strange.
Here’s to Finding Your Sweet Spot!