Chemistry can be such a tease. In the beginning, it can totally fool you into believing that you have true compatibility and connection with someone, only to discover later that it was a spark that quickly faded.
As a relationship counselor, I can identify three ways to determine whether what you have is genuine compatibility or just chemistry.
01. Your relationship has been tested through time
Over and over again, I see people rush into relationships quickly. I know you’ve seen it too, people posting stories of heartbreak after a relationship ends; then, a week later, you see them back in love, and, of course, this time it’s “different.”
I’m sorry to be the messenger, but you cannot develop deep and meaningful intimacy in a hurry. There are three essential ingredients (three Ts in fact) that are critical to pay attention to when getting to know someone and they are: talking and togetherness, over time.
Talking is so important, and, despite trends in relationships today, you cannot text your way into a great relationship. Engaging in conversations that continue to go deeper and explore critical topics such as values, relationship expectations, family history, and relationship history are a must. These conversations will help to peel back the layers of the person you are dating, ultimately revealing their character.
Togetherness is how you are able to see different sides of a person. How does he or she act when around their friends, under stress, at work, at a restaurant, or when angry? Doing different things together will provide you with a diverse set of experiences in which to see the person you are dating. Their consistency or lack thereof will clue you into whether or not your partner and the way that he or she treats you is real or just a facade.
Time cannot be manufactured or rushed. This T is one of the most important because it allows patterns to emerge. You can then take what you’ve learned from talking and spending time together and see whether or not this information is consistent in the long term.
It is always a good and safe practice to enforce some boundaries in the early stages of a relationship. This will allow you time to talk and do things together that will provide such great insight into whether or not your connection is true compatibility or just chemistry.
02. Friends and family approve
When there are major red flags in dating, sometimes everyone but you can plainly see them. If your friends or family have expressed hesitations or reservations about the person you are dating, squash your natural inclination to become defensive and take serious note.
Instead of feeling protective of your relationship or pulling away, become curious. Ask your friends or family what they notice. Do your best to take in their concerns and compare them to your experiences with your partner. Does it match up? Is there some truth or reality to what your loved ones are saying?
As hard as it can feel in the moment, try to take heart that your loved ones are coming from a place of care and concern. Keep this in mind when you decide how to react to their opinions.
On the flip side, if your friends and family are singing your partner’s praises, this can be a great indicator of true compatibility. Sometimes loved ones notice a pattern in the type of person you pick or how you develop your relationships, yet don’t say anything. So, if they comment enthusiastically about this choice or this person, that’s a great sign!
03. What you share in common goes beyond feelings
This may seem like a no brainer, but you can tell the difference between compatibility and chemistry because you are actually compatible.
Chemistry has this way of creating a false feeling of compatibility, which can accelerate the pace of a new relationship because it all just “feels so right.”
To check this out, take a moment and reflect on core areas of compatibility such as personality, spirituality, morality, values, and lifestyle. Are you two compatible in these important areas? Is there depth to what you’ve explored about one another?
And a quick side note: compatibility doesn’t necessarily mean being the same. Being similar in some areas such as values and morality are important, but complementing one another’s differences can also go a long way in areas like personality and interests. Sharing some differences, that are not too extreme, can challenge you to become better than you would be on your own. This is a good thing.
So, evaluate how deeply you and your partner have explored your compatibility. Does it just “feel right” or have you really gotten to know your partner on a deeper level and learned that you two are a great fit?
You owe it to yourself and your partner to consider these three points and learn whether what you’re experiencing is long-lasting compatibility or temporary chemistry. After all, the distinction can mean all the difference, for both of you, between joy and heartbreak.