Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

5 Signs of Mistaking Chemistry for Compatibility

4. You're not sure if you enjoy just talking to this person.

Dragon Images/Shutterstock
Source: Dragon Images/Shutterstock

One of the most common dating pitfalls people run into is confusing chemistry with compatibility. Chemistry tends to be the first thing a lot of people focus on during initial dates. When you click with someone and feel chemistry, it can be exciting, especially if you have been going on dates that feel lackluster or don't lead anywhere.

You can’t have chemistry with just anyone, so it feels special. At the same time, you can have chemistry with plenty of people but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re compatible with them. While having chemistry is important in a relationship, it is not a good indicator of whether or not you are compatible with a partner.

Your view of what chemistry should look and feel like also plays a role in your dating results. If you define having chemistry as meaning that you feel immediate sparks or "butterflies," you may be missing out on a deeper, more genuine connection. If you’re attracted to someone and feel calm around them at the same time, you may misinterpret that feeling of calm as being bored or having “no chemistry," while it may actually mean that you’re dating someone who's a healthy partner for you. This is especially true if you are used to relationships that feel like emotional rollercoasters.

Think of chemistry like the frosting on a cake. The cake is comprised of the ingredients that ultimately determine your compatibility with someone (e.g., whether you have shared core values and what type of relationship you’re looking for). Rather than trying to assess whether someone has the right ingredients, many people tend to focus on the frosting. The frosting adds a nice touch to the cake but if the cake has missing ingredients it doesn’t matter how much frosting you put on; ultimately it won’t taste great or be satisfying.

The key to not falling into this pattern is to pace yourself when dating someone new. Rather than focusing all of your energy on one person after a couple of dates, be open to other opportunities. Be honest with yourself about your relationship needs and dealbreakers, and spend your time getting to know someone before you dive headfirst into a relationship without knowing yet if the person is compatible with you. If you’re not sure whether you are falling into this pattern, consider the following five signs that you may be confusing chemistry with compatibility:

  1. The chemistry you feel is so strong that it overpowers anything else. When the chemistry is so strong that it feels overpowering, it’s difficult to concentrate on much else. You may have a hard time pacing yourself and assessing whether someone is compatible with you since most of the focus becomes wrapped up in the fantasy of your future potential, rather than getting to know the person in front of you.
  2. You find yourself rationalizing signs of trouble or red flags. If you’re trying to convince yourself that this relationship will work and ignore things that make you uncomfortable, it’s a sign that you may not be compatible with this person and that you’re compromising your values to make the relationship work.
  3. You have no idea what this person’s values are or if they line up with yours. You’re not discussing things that are important to both of you in a relationship because of all the fun you’re having together. There may even be assumptions that the other person’s values are the same as yours—but you won’t actually know that unless it’s discussed.
  4. If you had to attend the date with your eyes closed and no physical contact, you don’t know if you would enjoy talking to this person. If physical contact were off the table and you couldn’t see this person, would you enjoy talking to them? The answer is telling.
  5. You’ve had this same feeling before and the person wasn’t compatible with you. If the person wasn’t compatible with you each time you’ve experienced chemistry like this in the past, this may be a sign that your body is feeling anxious around this person but you’re interpreting it as strong chemistry.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.

Facebook image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock