I was reading an article at (where else?) Boundless the other day where a reader wrote in with a question about the importance of chemistry. Three years ago, the reader, a college student, had a passionate – and apparently chaste – relationship with a young man who excited her emotionally. (Unsurprisingly, he played in a band and did spontaneous things for her.) According to the reader, they had an incredible connection with each other. Alas, the young man dumped her, and eventually she started dating another young man who was his exact opposite: predictable, responsible, faithful, and intentional. They have been together for two years, and although they are not (yet?) engaged, he has indicated to her and her parents that he would like to “love and cherish only [her].” The reader claims that she loves this young man (who is a pre-med student) but feels no chemistry with him, especially not in comparison to the band guy, and even goes so far as to say that if she and Pre-Med broke up, she could go on without him with no problem. Recently, she met up again with Band Guy, and all of the chemistry they shared came rushing back, reminding her of how powerful a connection between two people can be. Now she is conflicted – does she hold out for chemistry with a spouse, or should she proceed with Pre-Med?
Candice Watters wrote what I felt was an overly judgmental and completely missing-the-mark response. First, she chastised the reader for “acting married” with Band Guy and then stated that if the reader hadn’t had a prior relationship with Band Guy, she and Pre-Med would already be married. Because, apparently, if Reader hadn’t had that Band Guy relationship to compare Pre-Med to, she’d have been ga-ga over Pre-Med. Or something.
But Candice didn’t stop there. She then stated that chemistry is just a “polite way” of saying sexual attraction, and went on to relate two other readers’ stories where the young women didn’t think there was any chemistry initially but changed their minds after several dates and are oh-so-grateful that they did. Candice also advised Reader not to marry someone she didn’t want to marry, but not to NOT marry someone just because he doesn’t measure up to Band Guy. She then more or less urged Reader to proceed with Pre-Med, saying:
It sounds like you have a great man in your life. Are you friends? That is foundational. Are you both committed to living for Christ? That is essential. Do you spur one-another on in your faith and service to God? Are you together looking toward a God-honoring, fruitful marriage? These are the first questions to answer. From there, you can let love grow. And as I’ve seen in the stories of others, chemistry may rightly follow.
Needless to say, I think Candice was so far off the mark she might as well have set a course for China. First of all, Reader has been dating Pre-Med for TWO YEARS. How the heck much longer is she supposed to wait to, by Candice’s definition, become sexually attracted to this man? Also, what kind of man stays with a woman who, after two years together, says that they could split up and she’d be fine?! Any Roissy readers (or readers of any other Game blog) could easily diagnose what’s going on here in a jif, and it is not that Reader played marriage with irresponsible Band Guy and thus ruined herself for a quality Christian provider like Pre-Med. The real problem is that Pre-Med is a classic, boring Beta who knows zip about female attraction psychology, has DLVed himself to a level of almost zero by virtue of his publicly broadcasted Oneitis and pedestalization, and, I’d wager a guess, not only has no clue about what’s going on in Reader’s head, but probably hasn’t made any meaningful sexual moves on Reader, either, out of “respect.” A toothless baby sounds more dangerous than Pre-Med. If anyone truly cared about Pre-Med’s precarious relationship health, he would send Pre-Med to Roissy and force him to educate himself before he lost Reader for good.
My other bone of contention with this response is with Candice’s definition of chemistry. Between a man and a woman, yes, there is usually a component of sexual attraction in chemistry, but it is not the whole of chemistry. And it’s not just men and women who have chemistry between them. Two men can have chemistry, as can two women, though not sexual (well, unless they’re gay). A better definition of chemistry is simply the intellectual and emotional “clicking” of two people. Chemistry happens when two people’s energies feed into each other and produce a harmony of existence. When two people have chemistry, conversation flows with ease. Jokes don’t have to be explained, nor do they sail over the other person’s head. Silences are not awkward. Quite often, two people with the right chemistry can go for years without seeing each other or speaking to one another, yet can pick up right where they left off whenever they do see each other again. Similarly, two people with the right chemistry can meet and be chatting with each other like old friends almost instantaneously.
This is the chemistry that I think Reader was referring to in her letter, both what she had with Band Guy, and what she is lacking with Pre-Med. A woman longs to be known by the men she loves. She wants to feel that he understands what is going on inside of her and that he has special insight into her mind that no other man has. Women want love in general, but they also want a specialized love from their man. This specialized love is what Pre-Med is sorely lacking in. Women do not suffer feeling generic. Ten bucks says that if Reader and Pre-Med break up, Pre-Med will treat his next girlfriend exactly as he’s treated Reader. The success of that relationship will hinge on whether or not Pre-Med and New Girl have any natural chemistry between them.
As for the sexual component of chemistry, it’s a must for any marriage. Few things make a woman recoil in fear and disgust more than the prospect of having to have sex with a man to whom she is not sexually attracted. For most women, sexual attraction grows as their general attraction to a man grows; it’s not uncommon for a woman to see or meet a man and not feel anything for him until she gets to know him. But I also think that sexual chemistry is actually chemical. The point of sexual reproduction is genetic diversity, which strengthens the species, so we will therefore seek out matches that will result in that diversity. How else to explain someone who is great on paper, and you may even get along well, but there is inexplicably just zero sexual attraction? Yet sometimes you meet someone, and even though the person may not be your “type,” there is just that immediate pull towards the person, like you physically have to be in that person’s space?
Generally speaking, women, upon meeting a man, will place him in one of three categories: (1) Yes, Please, (2) Wait and See, and (3) NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS. I think that subconsciously, this is heavily chemically chemistry-based, especially for categories (2) and (3). Sometimes a Yes, Please doesn’t pan out; he’s not the guy you hoped he would be, or, equally as likely, his looks worked for you, but his body chemistry just didn’t mesh with yours. But a Wait and See often means that his body chemistry doesn’t turn you off and you just have to wait and see if there’s more from the intellectual and emotional end that works for you. (And vice versa for Never in a Million Years.)
It’s the Wait and Sees that I think women should be more open to. But I resent the evangelical push to make women feel guilty about rejecting a solid Christian provider man when he is clearly a NIAMY (AND a boring beta to boot).