When it comes to evaluating the potential of a relationship, chemistry is the element that often gets the most hype. However, defining exactly what chemistry is and why it matters isn't always easy. Does every relationship need chemistry to be truly solid, or is it also possible to be in a deeply fulfilling partnership that doesn't involve fireworks? Before we delve deeper into whether or not your partner should be setting your feels on fire, let's define exactly what "chemistry" is. According to prominent L.A.-based couples' therapist Dr. Gary Brown, it's a chemical reaction in the brain that causes an intense attraction.
"Chemistry is that delicious feeling we have when we are aware, in mind and body, that we are significantly attracted to someone," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. "It’s when the dopamine receptors in the brain get activated that we feel this so-called 'chemistry.' That's why we call dopamine the love hormone." Even though experiencing this initial dopamine rush can feel amazing, Dr. Brown notes that chemistry can also be experienced as a slow build. "Sometimes there is very little (if any) chemistry when we first meet someone, and then slowly, one or both people begin to develop chemistry," adds Dr. Brown.
Dating and relationship writer Demetrius Figueroa emphasizes the importance of chemistry from his perspective, but also acknowledges that there are exceptions to every rule. "I think that every relationship requires chemistry," Figueroa tells Elite Daily. "That said, it truly all depends on the people in the relationship, and how important chemistry is to them. If a relationship is built on mutual admiration, appreciation, and compatibility, it’s entirely possible that chemistry is not a big factor. The inverse can often be true, where a relationship is built primarily on chemistry, with compatibility being an almost non-factor."
Both Figueroa and Dr. Brown agree that while chemistry is a good thing, it's not always an indicator that a relationship will work out. That's why it's important we don't completely forget about chemistry's less exciting sister, compatibility. "Compatibility is all the things you have in common, whether they're your interests, views on life, or goals, that are critical for you to have in a partner," explains Figueroa. "Think of compatibility as the logical side of attraction, and chemistry as the emotional side of attraction." If you're in a relationship that is lacking either of these elements, only you can decide if it's worth the trade-off. Figueroa and Dr. Brown agree that both chemistry and compatibility work together to make a good match, but again, it all comes down to personal preferences and needs.
When deciding how important chemistry is to you, it can also be helpful to realize that even though chemistry is often what brings people together, it's not necessarily what keeps them together. "As time goes on, the initial romantic fireworks do tend to decrease over the years, and this is particularly true for relationships that span decades," explains Dr. Brown. So, if the sparks aren't flying with bae, but neither of you is overly concerned about it, then it might not be an issue in the long run. Remember, no two relationships are exactly the same. What's most important is that both partners feel the relationship is satisfying their needs, and if chemistry isn't a factor, that's OK too.