Your gaze drifts out across the crowd at the party.
It hasn’t been the most interesting get-together, but that’s okay.
As you begin to take a sip from the drink in your hand, you suddenly freeze. The person leaning against the wall catches your attention. Your eyes meet, and then, it happens!
That feeling washes over you from deep inside that lets you know “sparks” are flying.
Is this really relationship chemistry you’re feeling or could it be something else?
In fact, it could actually be the start of just another relationship rut that goes on the pile of similarly terrible relationships you've been collecting.
The reality may be less clear than you realize.
What Are Those Sparks Anyways?
When people experience what they think is an instant connection with someone, they often use the term “sparks.”
It's supposed to express that instant, amazing, over-the-top-romantic connection that gives you this naturally addictive high when you "hit it off." Something between you and the other person that is as noticeable as sparks of electricity flying across the room.
Instant chemistry, or "love at first sight," is a romantic notion that we're all familiar with. Yet, chemistry isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
Chemistry vs. Familiarity
Not to burst your bubble, but instead of chemistry, what’s more likely happening in those moments is that you notice (even unconsciously) aspects of the other person that you find familiar. And that familiarity puts you at ease and lowers your guard. You feel more open to the other person. Drawn to them through some inexplicable force.
It’s exciting for sure!
However, even though the release of endorphins and dopamine in your brain makes you feel elated—on cloud nine—that doesn’t mean you have sustainable relationship chemistry. Familiarity can be a good thing... but not always.
The Ugly Side of Familiarity
The flip side of familiarity is that it also often leads us to making the same crappy decisions we've always made in relationships in the past.
For instance, you see someone who interests you. You start talking, flirting, hitting it off. Of course, this feels good. In fact, you think that perhaps this person is different than those with whom you've been in previous relationships. Sadly, in the end, you often realize that instead of things changing, you wound up with the same lousy relationship again.
“Why does this happen to me?!” you may lament.
To put it simply, it's easy to fall into the familiarity trap.
You see, the problem with familiarity is that it can blind you to reality. The person that you are connecting with may seem different and, of course, in some ways they are, plus you are attracted to them! Yet, have you learned enough–about them or about you–to know whether they would really make a good partner for you?
In fact, have you paused and asked yourself what actually makes a good relationship? What attributes make for positive relationship chemistry?
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, STOP! SLOW DOWN! Don’t get pulled into the same old cycle again. Rather, start thinking about what’s important to and for YOU!
Taking Stock of What’s Important
Instead of jumping into another disaster of a relationship, step back and take inventory instead. Consider what qualities you believe are important for a healthy, lasting relationship.
How about, for example:
Now, think back and reflect on your previous relationships. Did your past partners exhibit these qualities?
Moreover, how did that instant chemistry you previously felt eventually turn into a relationship rut? Is there anything that you could have done differently to avoid the situation in the first place? What’s needed for you to experience true relationship chemistry?
Getting Professional Help for Dating and Relationships
Everyone has a story about how they thought they had an instant spark and relationship chemistry with someone. Yet, as discussed, these initial feelings can lead you into a relationship rut time-after-time.
So, what can you do?
The first step is doing some careful reflection about your dating and relationship habits. The second is asking for help.
A counselor can be especially helpful with providing an objective point of view and guiding you to identify qualities you value in a relationship. They can also assist you with absorbing the lessons from past relationships so that you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.
If you're struggling with understanding relationship chemistry and how familiarity influences your personal choices, contact me or find out more about my approach to relationship counseling. Together, we can uncover what is happening in your dating life so that you can have a future relationship that consists of more than just sparks flying.