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The Chemistry Factor - Is This Something We Have to Wait for or Something We Can Create?

25/09/2014 17:05 BST | Updated 25/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Chemistry is one of those tricky to define, impossible to pinpoint parts of being attracted to someone. Do you find yourself saying, "there was just so much chemistry" or "without chemistry, I could never be with him or her?" Sometimes people speak of the incredible butterflies they felt when they kissed someone for the first time, even though on paper, they didn't have anything in common; while others find they have a never-ending list of things to talk about with a potential partner, yet when it comes to the crunch, the attraction just wasn't there.

Chemistry is undoubtedly a positive connection or that spark that makes you feel excited, physically attracted and interested in that person. But if there is no chemistry, is a fledging relationship doomed to fail?

Chemistry vs compatibility

The perfect blend of chemistry and compatibility will hopefully equal relationship success. There are many theories about what creates chemistry, including factors like smell, appearance, humour and familiarity. It is always felt immediately, by both parties and works on a sort of positive loop, where each person feeds off the other. Chemistry relies solely on biological forces and regardless of the different theories surrounding what exactly it is and how the feelings occur, there is no real tangible logic to why we feel chemistry with one person, rather than another.

Compatibility refers to the long-term potential between two people, including how they like to spend their time and their lifestyle choices, what they want in the future and their intrinsic values. Essentially it's about not having to make too many compromises about the way you live when you are part of a couple.

Sadly chemistry and compatibility don't always occur alongside each other. Chemistry without compatibility often spells disaster, with much drama and emotional turmoil, while compatibility without any chemistry can often mean a romance gets stale very quickly.

But going back to the original questions, does compatibility mean that we can create chemistry over time based on our shared interests?

The difference in the sexes

According to some scientists it is women who can develop feelings of chemistry over time. Renowned psychologist and researcher Dr Robert Epstein believes that woman can develop an attraction for a man who they admire.

"Women, in fact, are pretty good at that, maybe because they've had to be throughout history. So, women can do that to some extent. (However), men are very bad (at that), extremely bad; they are hopeless," he says. "It's probably not going to happen immediately, but over time women can, in fact, fall deeply either in love with or in lust with a man's sense of humour, a man's kindness, a man's money, or a man's power. For a lot of women, that turns into genuine physical attraction."

However, he does add, if a woman finds a man and finds him physically unattractive then it is unlikely that she will find perfect chemistry with him.

After a study on arranged marriages, the Harvard academic also claims it is possible for an attraction that has developed to have just as much longevity as an instant one. He says the attraction of people in arranged marriage is often twice as strong as regular marriages.

How does this translate to online dating?

When we date online, we can only judge people on the information we have about them in their profiles and the pictures they choose to post of themselves online. If someone ticks all the right boxed and they seem perfect on paper doesn't always mean that when you meet, fireworks will fly. We've all been in those situations where you are emailing someone and become convinced that they are perfect for you, yet when you meet up, it falls flat.

One extensive study published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest sought to answer some critical questions about online dating, and concluded that one of the main people may unknowingly skip over potential mates for the wrong reasons. The person you see on paper doesn't translate neatly into a real person and, and "there's no predicting or accounting for the chemistry you might feel with a person whose online profile was the opposite of what you thought you wanted."

When online dating, it's very easy to say "no" and quickly move on if someone doesn't match our ideals perfectly but it's important to give all sorts of people a chance. Sometimes chemistry and compatibility is more random than we may think. If someone messages you who doesn't tick every box, unless it's a deal-breaker then give them a chance and then decide what feels right there and then.