The Role of Chemistry in a Relationship

What does it mean to have chemistry in a relationship?
on November 10, 2023
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

While we may not all have been experts in science class, the importance of chemistry in a relationship is something we can all agree on. 

If you’ve ever experienced an instant click or spark with a romantic partner, then it’s likely you’ve shared natural chemistry. This kind of connection works on a multitude of levels, from instant physical attraction to deeper emotional understanding. 

Even though we may have felt it with our partner, it doesn’t make it easier to put words on this concoction of passionate emotions. To help you out, we’ve tried to encapsulate the power of chemistry in a relationship and what it means for your romantic future. 

What is chemistry in a relationship? 

Chemistry is an intense emotional bond between two people, whereby they experience an immediate and powerful connection when they first meet. Described by some people as a ‘spark’ or as an immediate ‘click’, this powerful bond triggers a chemical reaction that can trigger a lasting connection with your partner. 

While chemistry can evolve over time, people with a strong chemical connection can enjoy a lasting romantic relationship in an ideal world. 

Studies show that when we meet someone new, we decide what kind of relationship we want to pursue with that person within an hour. If you have romantic chemistry with someone, it’s a natural factor in this often unconscious decision-making process. 

This kind of decision is fueled by the chemical combustion caused by meeting someone with whom you share a physical attraction, and intellectual and emotional connection upon first meeting. 

Types of chemistry in a relationship

Physical chemistry: When you first meet someone, you might experience an immediate physical attraction to this person. Also known as sexual chemistry, this kind of attraction is instant and can be incredibly powerful. If two people experience this physical chemistry, it can spark a very passionate relationship — whereby you constantly want to be in contact. This kind of chemistry is primarily influenced by pheromones, and can naturally fade once the honeymoon phase has concluded.
Emotional chemistry: This kind of chemistry is often considered one of the most important aspects of a relationship, where two people understand each other on a deep level. This connection can be consistently built upon in a long-term relationship, where spending time together allows you both to understand and facilitate each other's wants and needs.
Intellectual chemistry: If two people share intellectual chemistry, they are attracted to each other’s mind. They might challenge, inspire, and interest each other on a number of levels, or may find they think in a very similar way! This kind of chemistry is incredibly important in a relationship, as it facilitates natural conversations and intimacy.

What causes intense chemistry with someone? 

According to research, interpersonal chemistry is the perceived instant connection that exists when meeting a person for the first time. 

When you connect with someone in this way, this kind of chemistry releases neurochemicals like serotonin and oxytocin. These hormones indicate the lust and attraction you feel towards this new person, and usually come with a rush of excitement and emotion!

This chemical indicates that you’re attracted to someone, but these hormones are replaced by dopamine and vasopressin during the bonding stages, indicating your developing attachment to your significant other. 

Therefore, chemistry is just that — chemicals released in your body to indicate your feelings towards your partner! 

How do you know you have chemistry with someone? 

Good chemistry works on many different levels, and while you might click in some ways or feel physically attracted to one another — how do you know if this all adds up to relationship chemistry? 

There are a number of signs that you’re experiencing a natural chemistry with your romantic partner, indicating the prospect of a very fulfilling relationship. While chemistry isn’t everything in a romantic relationship, experiencing this kind of connection can really lay the groundwork for a fulfilling future together!

Also, if you don’t experience this kind of connection on the first date — don’t panic! While some aspects of this connection are instantaneous, you can also build chemistry throughout your relationship. 

5 signs of chemistry in a relationship

Compatibility: While some people have good chemistry, yet poor compatibility, there are a lucky few who get to experience both! Compatibility refers to having similar interests or hobbies and pursuing them together or can refer to sharing similar moral values and personality traits.
Comfortable: While butterflies still make an appearance, chemistry can facilitate a natural intimacy between two people. Even if you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you immediately feel comfortable with them — with feelings of trust and mutual respect fostering this connection. When you spend time with this person, hours can pass and it feels like minutes, as you’re both so comfortable in each other’s company.
Body language: Great chemistry can also be reflected in the way that you naturally interact with someone. For example, you naturally hold eye contact, crave physical touch, and may find yourself naturally gravitating towards the person. If you’re hanging out with a group of people, they may even be able to spot these telltale signs, with your chemistry evident in every interaction!
Intimacy: Lasting relationships are built on physical, emotional, and intellectual intimacy. If you experience a chemical connection with someone, it’s easy to build a natural intimacy from the very first date — as you simply ‘get each other’ and immediately understand each other's love language and needs.
Sexual attraction: Lust and attraction are important aspects of any romantic relationship, with a healthy sex life a natural indicator of great chemistry! While passion is part of any great love story, this aspect of the relationship can slowly fade over time. This is why a successful relationship should have chemistry on levels, rather than just lust or infatuation.

Is chemistry important in a relationship? 

Chemistry is an important aspect of any romantic relationship and is necessary for any fulfilling and healthy partnership.

The combustion of hormones and chemicals that occurs when you share chemistry with someone can feel intangible and hard to pin down. However, this natural spark can positively influence every aspect of your relationship. While some elements may fade over time, one look from your partner can still make you stop in your tracks — even after fifty years together. 

While we may never fully understand it, when you experience it, you know all about it. When you experience this kind of connection with someone, it makes everything else in a relationship easier. As hard as you try, you may not be able to put this spark into words, but this natural intimacy enables you to create a lasting relationship. 

Without chemistry, it feels like something missing. Even if the person you’re dating ticks all your boxes, in theory, you just don’t feel it the way you should. This could indicate a lack of chemistry, with no spark to set you alight. This lack of connection is no one’s fault, as you just aren’t chemically compatible! 

Does having chemistry mean love? 

When you experience good chemistry with someone, this release of hormones can lead to thoughts of soulmates or true love. This rush of emotion can contribute to feelings of love at first sight or professions that you’ve found the one after your first meeting! 

While chemistry can lead to a huge range of emotions, it doesn’t always lead to love. Even though it’s an important part of a relationship, chemistry alone can’t guarantee a successful future with your partner. 

For example, you can share chemistry with someone, but you may not be compatible. While it feels like your chemistry should be able to forge a lasting relationship, this lack of compatibility can erode this connection over time. So while you may share immense love and passion for each other, without shared values or morals, a relationship can’t continue.

“What we are attaching to those feelings, how we are making sense of that rush of energy, gut response to someone when we first meet them is what truly matters,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.

“Because we don’t know this person yet, what we are intellectually falling in love with are the stories we are telling ourselves about this person. We attach meaning to why they might have traveled to a certain place, a book they read, or a career choice they made. But even if we are immediately attracted to someone the reason why they made those big life choices are still just things we are telling ourselves.” 

“So as we get to know someone, the real love grows, and we move from fantasy to see if we can love this reality,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

"We move from that feeling of being in sync and having a magnetic draw to each other to truly knowing a person and loving all the parts of them.” 

A loving strong relationship comes with a profound understanding of your partner and embracing all the ways we feel connected is how we can secure that bond together. 

“So does chemistry mean love? Like most science experiments, what matters is following your curiosity, testing your hypothesis, and seeing what you can grow as you explore each other,” says Seeger DeGeare.

“So that initial spark is just the start, it’s all the ways you build a deeper connection after that truly leads to love.” 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the difference between chemistry and compatibility?

    Chemistry and compatibility are often confused, as it feels like you can’t discuss one without the other. In general, compatibility means that you have important personality traits or interests in common, facilitating a natural camaraderie and connection. However, people may share these interests but have no chemistry. Chemistry works on a deeper level than compatibility — the spark that triggers everything else!
+50k reviews
Are you compatible with your partner?
Download the #1 app for couples to guide you in the process.
petal decoration

Enjoying this article?

A happier relationship starts here.

Question with locked answer