Healthy versus addictive chemistry

fun young coupleSingles often ask me how they can tell if they have a sufficient amount of chemistry. They are also concerned about how much chemistry is necessary to ensure a good relationship.

I define chemistry as “the feeling or desire that compels you, when in the presence of a particular person, to want to please them, touch them, and make them happy.” That’s it!

Too many singles associate chemistry with the desperate feelings, longing, and compulsive thoughts that are actually a common sign of insecure attachments or addictive, abusive, or manipulative relationships.

If you think that chemistry is something you should feel all the time, that the person should be on your mind all the time, that your desire to be with them should be intense and constant, and that your fear of living without them should compel you to tears, you will only find yourself in dramatic, intense, and unstable relationships that are prone to extreme emotional upheaval.

I experienced this type of chemistry many years ago and found that, actually, the highs were only high in contrast to the extreme lows. The emotional highs and intense moments of love and affection were no higher than normal relationships, but when coming out of another episode of neglect, verbal abuse, or threat of abandonment, the attention and affection I got seemed dramatically fulfilling and was addictive. I was always afraid of losing this intense connection, and for good reason, since the highs were getting lower (as were the lows), and so I was constantly consumed with thoughts of the relationship. I felt a complete dependence on his validation, affection, and attention and when I didn’t get it I felt compelled to work harder for it—losing myself in the process.

It was so difficult to pull myself out of this relationship that when I created my top-ten list prior to meeting my husband, I absolutely refused to put chemistry on my list. I felt it had betrayed me.

Fortunately, when I met my husband, the chemistry was there anyway. This time I noticed that the chemistry was not compulsive or consuming. I felt the intense spikes of desire to touch him but usually only when I was with him. When I was away from him, I had fond feelings and a desire to see him again, but (after the first few weeks of initial excitement about a new relationship) I was content to see him every few days rather than feeling a desperate need to see him every day. I found it easy to continue my work, relationships, and other associations. I also felt that I would be okay without him and that he was not my only chance for happiness. This is not to say that I didn’t want to be with him. I enjoyed the relationship and felt no desire to end it. I just didn’t feel a compulsive need for him to validate me and my worth all the time. He made me feel safe and secure with myself, with him, and with our relationship so that I could easily live my life and enjoy it. He made my life better rather than making my life revolve around him.

Each time he would call me, come to my house, or I’d run into him while shopping, the emotions would take over, a smile would come to my face, and BAM, I couldn’t help but want to be with him or touch him. But then I could go back to my life. To say these feelings were constant would be wrong. There were many times when I would be with him and I would feel just common or mundane feelings, but, consistently and predictably, the feelings would stir here and there again, and they still do to this day. I can be walking downstairs simply to get a drink when I see him across the room, and before long I find myself scratching his back, acting flirtatious, or finding it difficult to pull myself away and go back to work.

Thus, a healthy chemistry is one you experience when in the presence of the other person. It’s not compulsive, addictive, or consuming. It enhances the relationship and makes physical contact desirable. It’s not the stupid or compelling examples that so many TV shows, books, and movies portray of two lovers throwing away everything they have worked hard for in their lives (their families, careers, values, children, and money) to be together. Only the manipulative, addictive, and abusive would be okay with such reckless and destructive forms of love. It’s important that you understand the difference.

Chemistry is critical to a successful relationship and something I recommend everyone look for, but singles need to be able to tell the difference between healthy versus compulsive, addictive chemistry, or they could end up in a world of pain.

12 thoughts on “Healthy versus addictive chemistry

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