Chemistry: Have you lost that loving feeling (or never had it to begin with)?

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Have you ever “lost that loving feeling” or just never had it to begin with? Would you ever start dating someone before you felt it? How many people have you filtered out of your dating pool because you didn’t or don’t feel it? If you’re normal, your answers are probably Yes, you’ve lost that loving feeling; No, I wouldn’t start dating someone if I didn’t ‘feel it’; and that you’ve filtered out lots of potential partners. 

Over the years, I’ve often been perplexed why more great people, wanting to be married, aren’t. As I’ve observed and asked around, I’ve learned of several reasons why some people terminate relationships or choose not to pursue them to begin with.  However, one conversation seems to repeat itself more than the others. It goes something like this:

“So why don’t you pursue _________?”
“I just don’t feel it.”
“You don’t feel what? “
“I don’t know, I just don’t feel it.”
“Are you attracted to her?”
“Yeah, I think she’s a cute girl. She’s cool. I like being around her. She loves the Lord-there’s really nothing wrong with her, but…”
“But you don’t feel it?”
“Nah. I don’t’ feel it.”

I’ve heard this from guys and girls. So what is this mysterious “IT” whose absence seems to be such a detriment to romantic relationships?  Some people call it being “twitterpated” or having “butterflies.” I’m going to call it chemistry.

For some reason, with some people and at some times, the brain releases an abnormal amount of chemicals that contribute to these feelings of chemistry. Specifically, the brain releases oxytocin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These contribute to that euphoric feeling that makes us feel like our heart skips a beat whenever they talk to, text, or touch us. This is a great feeling and it is not inherently bad (although it does tend to prompt premature physical touch…). But it is also not inherently good. It is not necessarily attraction. It is not God’s way of matchmaking. It does not mean that a relationship will be great. It does not mean that they are “the one” (because there isn’t just one!). And it certainly IS NOT love. It’s chemistry and chemistry love.

I think we know this when we stop and think about it. How many times have you felt chemistry for someone with whom you knew would probably not be a good spouse? How many times have you not felt chemistry toward someone with whom you were attracted and who you felt would make a great marriage partner? You see, chemistry shouldn’t have the power to determine whom we date and whom we don’t. Yet, we’ve given it more power than even our own brain.

So what do you do if you find someone pretty stellar, but lack chemistry? You can keep an open mind and heart and get to know that person even better. Moving forward in a relationship isn’t a guarantee that chemistry will come, but you’d be surprised how often chemistry comes after you begin a relationship with someone. Just start asking some married couples. You begin by putting more trust in your brain than in chemistry. Test it out and see what happens.  Without the chemistry filter, you will realize how large your dating pool really is.

What do you do if you used to have chemistry, but don’t feel it anymore? Well, you can welcome yourself to the next stage of your romantic relationship, when the viability of your relationship relies more upon your choice then your chemistry. This is normal.  As Dr. John Van Epp put it, chemistry isn’t constant even in the best of relationships. If you like them, find them attractive, and “think your noblest thoughts” when you are around them, then keep going. The chemistry will return. Unlike your love, it will come and it will go seemingly without choice.

Enjoy the chemistry when it’s there. Don’t freak out when it’s not. Whatever you do, don’t let it make all of your relationship decisions.

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9 comments

  1. Yeah let's encourage people to waste other people's time! lol. If it was going to go somewhere, you'd feel it.

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    1. Getting to know people and thinking outside of ourselves (and our emotions) isn't a waste of time :) Because it's not normative to let our mind influence our dating decisions more than our heart, it makes sense that some people would struggle with that. But it's okay, I encourage you to try it on occasion!

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  2. This is excellent advice that more people need to know!

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  3. I'll have to share this with my friends! Good things to know and think about!

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    1. Thank you, Sarah, for reading and sharing!

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  4. I'm skeptical of this advice. I will not an cannot start a relationship with anyone if I'm not feeling it. And I don't think it is right to pressure yourself or other people because to be in a relationship with someone if you simply don't want to be in a relationship with.I'm not against going on dates and getting to know people to see if you are feeling it. But defining the relationship before you feel it is a bad idea. Now if you are in a committed relationship or if you are married and you are not feeling in then that's a different story. Life happens and you are not going to be all lovey dovey all the time. But I think it's risky to just go into a relationship if you are not feeling it. Maybe you should continue dating that person casually or go with your gut and find someone else.

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    1. Thank you for your comments, Lisa. My response to you is… YES! It sounds like we agree that chemistry comes and goes and should not dictate whether or not we stay in a relationship because of that fickle aspect. With this advice, we are not suggesting that you "pressure" yourself or others into entering a relationship that they "don't want" to be a part of. Because you're right, that would be silly! We have been given great choice in the mate selection process. In fact, that's exactly what we're suggesting-- we take control over that choice rather than letting chemistry alone, or lack of chemistry, dictate who we consider to be a viable option to enter into a relationship with. It sounds like you don't desire to enter a relationship exclusively without the chemistry coming beforehand, and that's a fair choice for yourself, but our hope is that you would still be willing to continue to get to know a person adequately enough before deciding that the chemistry will never come. As you suggest, perhaps that simply means to give it a little more time before becoming exclusive but also before breaking anything off. Often times we take people out of the pool prematurely and that can hinder our ability to get to know some really awesome people. So, while we agree with you, we are going to suggest that we wait to make a decision about a potential partner until we have actively put in the time and effort to seek it out in both our minds and our hearts, not solely our "feeling it" aspect of our heart. Thanks again for reading! And seriously, thanks for your comment. It's important for us to know how our messages are being received so that we can alter the presentation of the information till it leaves little room for misinterpretation. Hope to see you back here soon!

      - Madisen, with BYUIDO

      P.S. In regards to your comment below- I love that you point out that the feelings didn't come "right away"! We hear a lot of stories where some won't even ask on a first date without first feeling the chemistry. Which is why we're pushing so much for the exaggerated meaning of a first date to decrease. Feelings don't always come right away, and although we don't want to force anything, it's wise to put in the effort and make choices before allowing said chemistry that is known to change to be THE reason we made a decision. This is good practice for when we "are" married and will be able to make choices to keep us there, even when it's not as easy without the chemistry. Often times the feelings WILL come before exclusivity, as you suggest, because it is wise for us not to enter an exclusive relationship too soon! Which suggests that we've given it proper time and attention before making said decision. Thanks again for your comments; it obviously got my mind going!

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  5. Every person I know who got married to one another LDS or part of another religion felt something with their spouse. Not right away but before they became exclusive.

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  6. I love this so much! I haven't experienced this within dating or marriage yet, but I do know that I don't always "feel" like doing things that my brain tells me would be good. Like others who have commented, I don't believe that we can "force" feelings, but I do believe that we can "act" in ways that will at very least help build feelings. Just like you can't "force" courage, but can act in ways that will build courage, I do believe that we can act in ways that will BUILD that loving feeling. It's such an applicable principle! Thank you for sharing.

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We are excited to hear your insights or questions!