As seen in APeeling February 2020
February is the month of love! It’s a time for romance and excitement. It’s also a time when we are prone to getting caught up in chemistry. The thrill! The passion! Romance! It’s lovely and magical. We are also prone to overlooking issues when we are in the thrill of romance. We can get confused about chemistry versus connection.
Connection and chemistry can be different. Oftentimes, people believe that chemistry is the thing to search for when wanting a relationship. Certainly, it has its perks. The high we feel when we are with someone that we have chemistry with—this shared, invisible blast of hormones—is hard to resist. It’s a high that is comparable to heroin. It’s very addictive. And it isn’t necessarily what is healthy for us.
We confuse being drawn to someone with someone being healthy for us. Being drawn to someone is most likely chemistry. Don’t confuse the two.
True connection isn’t synonymous with chemistry. Depending on the person and their conditioning when they were growing up, chemistry is that familiar feeling we have when someone matches our childhood conditioning. If you had a loving and supportive family that was affectionate, spent time with you, and took care of you, then you will find that chemistry with someone will indeed be a good thing. It will match a more healthy connection.
But if, like most of us, you had a less-than-perfect family, one that was not always supportive or maybe even abusive or controlling, then you will find chemistry with the very thing you will eventually find hurtful and difficult. It’s familiar to our brains. Our brains are hardwired with our childhood experiences, emotions, traumas, successes, failures, and societal beliefs. It’s a melting pot of all of it. When we meet someone who has had similar experiences that we have or carries the same wounds that we do, we will feel a strong (almost uncontrollable) magnetic pull. Our brains can get attached very quickly. We might not even know what hit us. What we know is this familiar feeling of strong attraction and amazing happiness that we suddenly feel for the person.
We are high on the love drug! High on hormones. The feel-good hormones!
This is chemistry, and it feels so good in the beginning. We are on top of the world. Until the triggers start up and we find ourselves in the same kinds of hurtful situations we have experienced before. The roller-coaster ride begins. We feel amazing, and then we feel down and low. It’s confusing.
In contrast, in a true connection we find a person who is the opposite of our wounds, who offers us support and love and affection; but here we might not feel chemistry. It might feel foreign to us in the beginning. It might even feel off-putting at the start. Some describe it as a “meh” feeling. It certainly is not the same as Cupid’s arrow that we feel with chemistry. But we can grow to find that stronger connection and attraction—it will progress and deepen. This is due to the fact that the brain is experiencing something different, something outside our comfort zone or what is familiar.
It takes mindfulness of ourselves, our wounds, and our true desires to see the difference. As we grow and heal, our attraction and chemistry will also change. We will find a deeper connection to someone that will support our self-love and growth. We will still have ups and downs, as they too will trigger us in a way that is an opportunity to grow and look at our shadows. It won’t feel like bricks hitting us and the high of the chemical cocktail we have with chemistry. It will feel fulfilling and supportive. It will feel contented, like we have met someone we can grow together with.
When we seek romance in a way that is outside of what our true self needs, we get caught up in desire, passion, and sexual energy—until the thrill is gone! When we realize the other person’s behavior or way of expressing love isn’t like ours, we begin to wonder what we ever saw in that person. We suddenly wake up from the high and get sober.
I had thought I was past the “chemistry” hook a few years ago. I had known about the effects of chemistry and knew the signs. I met for tea and even though when I got home I heard in my head, “Is this chemistry? It feels like a drug,” it still got me. What was going to be tea and friendship turned into a nightmare of rehashed issues and eventually abuse. It only took three meetings for me to be past the point of no return. Part of me knew what was going on, but something else was at the steering wheel.
I’ve come to realize as I grew from that experience that we only have a very short span of time before our brains get hooked on the heroin-like cocktail and we become attached to another person. It takes a great deal of awareness and will power to resist that strong magnetic pull. It’s like sobering up before the alcohol has worn off.
I understand now that if I question whether or not it is chemistry, it is chemistry. Just because I understand chemistry on a cognitive level does not mean I am immune to it.
Now, I strive for true connection, and attraction that grows and deepens. I don’t want to get hit by bricks anymore.
Lisa Hawkins is a relationship coach