The night of my first date with my ex, I felt strong, instant chemistry. The butterflies in my stomach felt more like large birds, and each kiss felt like 4th of July fireworks. Actually, even just looking at him made me feel fireworks!
We became official, and from there…it went downhill. Why? We were lacking consistency and things that came along with it, like trust. Once I wasn’t so blinded by chemistry, I realized we weren’t compatible and there were aspects of the relationship that were not healthy. When it came down to it, we wanted different things in life. There were parts of him I could not accept and parts of me that he could not accept.
I learned it the hard way: Sparks are fun, but they’re not what makes a relationship last.
This isn’t to say chemistry isn’t important in relationships — of course it is, particularly at the beginning! However, people who have experienced amazing, unbelievable chemistry (like me) can be the first to tell you that chemistry does not equal consistency, and it definitely doesn’t equal a long lasting and healthy relationship.
As with many things, the key is balance. Chemistry comes naturally and easily, and that’s part of what’s so great about it. Consistency, on the other hand, takes work and dedication to a partner.
To better understand and break down chemistry versus consistency, I spoke to Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S and Talkspace therapist.
“Chemistry is the initial feeling we have when we are attracted to someone. It has also been described as the biological effects of lust and attraction,” Catchings explains. “Experiencing these feelings can mean we feel we are on cloud nine and somewhat blind to reality. Although chemistry is a fantastic feeling, it is not the most important predictor of a good relationship. Basically, it is just a feeling that masks our significant other’s worst traits and lures us into putting up with them. Now, is chemistry fun and worth the ride? Absolutely, but only if we are aware that it is just part of a phase.”
You might be aware of this phase, often referred to as the honeymoon phase. During this time, fights are often minimal (or perhaps even non-existent) and it seems like our partner can do no wrong. Chemistry is peaking, butterflies are flying, and a lot of sex is probably being had.
Once the honeymoon phase is over, consistency is key. Any couple can probably make it through their honeymoon phase — it’s what comes next that’s harder and determines whether a relationship will last.
“Chemistry is necessary and good because it creates the desire and is part of the relationship game,” Catchings says, “However, consistency has to take over for that relationship to succeed.”
Feeling pure lust is a great feeling, and the honeymoon phase is super-fun, but we also must acknowledge the fact that chemistry alone isn’t going to establish an extra-solid foundation for a relationship. Certain relationship aspects, such as trust, don’t really bloom out of chemistry. They’re aspects that must be worked on consistently throughout the relationship.
“Consistency is a combination of behaviors that include dependability, trust, and a true desire to have a companion and form a serious relationship.” Catchings adds, “People who are more consistent with their interactions with one another, such as having predictable behaviors and good communication, have longer and more successful relationships.”
Successful relationships will last once chemistry is no longer at its highest, and once partners have learned enough about each other and their flaws. In the long run, chemistry isn’t always as important as you might think it is.
“Think of a relationship as a cake,” Catchings suggests. “The chemistry is the frosting and the consistency is the bread. The frosting can be too sweet or melt, so it’s okay if it is not there. It just gives the cake a nice look and some sweetness.”
If you’re just starting out in a new relationship, encourage yourself to dig deeper than the chemistry and initial attraction. Learn about your partner, and allow your partner “inside” your world and your past so that they can learn about you, too.
It’s also great to be upfront about your desires and needs throughout the relationship. If you’ve already been together for a while and you’re missing the feeling of exciting chemistry, you can attempt to bring some romance and excitement back into your partnership by trying new activities together, experimenting with new things in bed, or going on a romantic getaway!
As Catchings puts it, “consistency is a more pure form of love that lets us know that we are in the right relationship.”
In the end, every relationship is different, and every couple will encounter their own set of problems. Each relationship will balance chemistry and consistency in different ways.
It may take a lot of work to find the right balance, or even to find the right partner to get the balance right, but when it comes to relationships, everything is a great learning experience.
Hopefully, you’ll end up with a delicious cake — topped just the right amount of perfectly sweet frosting.
Originally published on Talkspace.
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