Most dates have the potential to be pretty bad. So why do we keep dating? Why do we keep signing up for an experience that often winds up being a letdown? Well, the answer is actually pretty obvious — when a date is good, it can be really good. There are usually signs you'll have good emotional chemistry pretty quickly in the first few dates, but learning to interpret them properly takes practice.
That's why even bad dates are a good thing, because according to relationship expert Susan Winter, "Reading the situation properly depends upon your level of experience with human nature, and dating." She adds, "The more you date and the more you learn about people, the better your skills of discernment."
But what exactly makes for good emotional chemistry? According to Sasha Aurund, social psychologist and founder of Psych N Sex, "Chemistry is the emotional connection when we feel 'drawn to' someone else. Our subtle behaviors and dispositions that positively connect with another individual keep a positive empathic loop going." In other words, your date is picking up the energy you’re putting out and sending it right back your way.
While good emotional chemistry is more about a vibe you share than any actual biological function, there are some behaviors and specific feelings you get when it's happening. Here's how to know for sure if the chemistry is there right from the beginning.
1. You Feel At Ease With Them Almost Immediately
Meeting new people, even ones you've talked to online or on the phone, is always a little nerve-wracking, especially on a date. But the thing about good chemistry is that it can make those jitters melt away. When you're on this kind of a date, you immediately feel comfortable. "Your new date's energy and attitude puts you at ease," Winters says. "There's a palpable difference with this person, and it feels easy and natural to be in his or her presence."
2. You Are Comfortable Just Being Yourself Around Each Other
One way to know you're clicking is that the date doesn't require too much effort. You can simply be yourself with someone you share good emotional chemistry with. "Your new date has the kind of vibe that allows you to be yourself," Winters says. "You automatically since that you don't need to edit yourself, your statements, or your attitude. You can simply 'be.'"
3. You Have The Same Level Of Openness To New Experiences
One of the ways that you can tell that the good chemistry is something that will extend beyond the first few dates, according to Aurund, is a shared level of intellectual curiosity. In other words, are you both on the same page about being open to new experiences? She explains that "good emotional chemistry isn’t the same as having the same interests, but rather having a similar level of intellectual curiosity and wanting to try new thing - specifically with this person." Aurund says that this is a big factor in your compatibility, because, if you have similar levels of openness, "you’re more likely to be open to trying new things, that you both will enjoy," down the road. So it creates instant chemistry and bodes well for your future connection.
4. You Don’t Feel Pressure To "Sell" Yourself To Them
Sometimes dates can feel like a job interview. Your dating app profile was the résumé that got you the interview and now it’s time to show this would-be "love employer" why you should get the job.But here's the thing — if you have good emotional chemistry, there is none of that nonsense. "You don't need to 'sell' yourself,” says Winter. "In the past, you'd often feel the need to impress your new date. Somehow, in the presence of this person, you can simply relax and feel OK about yourself." So, if you find yourself feeling the pressure to prove you're worth on a date, get the check and G.T.F.O. — this person isn't the one.
5. They "Get" Your Sense Of Humor
The most obvious sign of good chemistry is if they get your sense of humor and vice versa. "Whether you're prone to sarcasm, wit, or just plain being goofy, a date [with a good emotional chemistry] understands your sense of humor and likes it," explains Winter. Because what’s the point of spending time together if they don't make you laugh or don't get why you are hilarious in your own way?
How To Be Sure What You're Feeling Is Real
Finding the holy grail of a good date is the best feeling there is. And, for the most part, you will know it when it happens. You can trust your gut. However, there is one thing to watch out for, according to Winter, and that is fooling yourself into seeing what you want to see. "We imbue our new partner with heightened qualities of intellect and interest. We color in the fantasy of our perfect partner as we create the design of what we imagine them to be. This is an aspect of the 'new love haze' that can occur, to a greater or lesser degree, for all of us," she says.
If you feel like there is chemistry, but you want to be sure that it's not just "love haze," Aurund says the best policy is to just ask your date if they are feeling it too. "Usually, with chemistry, you know what you’re feeling and think you can safely assume that the other person is feeling it too," she explains. "But the only sure way to confirm this, and save yourself a heartache, is to ask. You don’t need to ask in a way that sounds too pushy or direct if you don’t feel comfortable doing that. You can use subtle cues and smaller indirect questions."
Dating can be hard, but when you find someone you really click with, wow is it totally worth all the work — so hang in there!