When I was in college Chemistry was one of my favourite subjects, and one that I used to ace effortlessly. At one point I think I may even have had the periodic table memorised (it was a requirement at the time but also, I was a big nerd).
There’s something amazing about how two elements can form something bigger (and infinitely more useful) when they come together; they’re stronger together than when they are apart, as the song goes.
It was also a source of endless fascination to this nerd that certain elements attract and can bind with other elements but seem to repel others. I find that a truly apt metaphor for personal relationships and is the one aspect of chemistry that I can honestly say I apply in real life situations.
Chemistry At Work
I work regularly with two men who on the surface are pretty similar and cut from the same mould: intelligent, decisive and brimming with so much confidence that it can easily be mistaken for arrogance (sometimes it is). In short, alpha males who are used to ruling their own little kingdom. Being an alpha female myself, it stands to reason that there might be some impediments to forming a harmonious relationship with these men.
In theory I’d probably develop – at best – a tepid working relationship with both of them. But actually, because of some random unexplainable law of chemistry, I actually get on with one of them really well. He gets my jokes; sometimes we look each other in the eye and I can tell that he’s thinking the same thing that I’m thinking. I know how to read him and I know just how to time and gauge my comments so that they’re received in the way that they are intended. He does the same with me: certain comments that may be offensive when coming from others just sit right with me if he’s the one saying it, I’m not sure why.
With the other one I just can’t seem to do anything right. He laughs at me when I’m actually trying to say something serious. And he takes me seriously when what I’m saying was meant to be a joke. One time I said something in jest and he ended up lecturing me so earnestly that I couldn’t find the heart to tell him I was only kidding. He’s a very nice man but I just don’t feel the same ease and warmth with him as I do with the other.
Chemistry and Friends
I sometimes think that chemistry is the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe. Laugh all you want, but I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think we seriously underestimate the value of meeting and getting to know someone who is on the same wavelength as we are; and that’s true for friends, colleagues, lovers or partners.
I think about all the friends I have and why I’m closer to some than others. I have friends who I interact with when we’re part of a bigger group but I would’t be caught dead having an intimate conversation with them over coffee because it would just be too damn awkward.
On the other hand I have friends that I can randomly call or ask to meet up with, and we’d start off chatting about inane things and we’d somehow end up talking about our hopes and dreams and our plans for the future – all while having a laugh. We’d look at our watches and we’d be amazed that we’d already spent four hours just talking. CHEMISTRY.
Chemistry in Love
On a different and somewhat related note, people who read my blogs regularly know two things about me by now: one, that I am a subscriber to online dating (despite the fact that it goes against everything I believe in) and two, I am something of serial first dater. I’ve gone on a lot of dates but very few of them pan out. Despite how meticulous I am about guys I choose to go out with, despite the fact that they seem to tick all the boxes and are perfect on paper, there always seems to be something missing when I meet them. I now think that something is basic chemistry.
I think about the few dates I’ve had that have panned out and progressed into something more. Ironically, for those ones I didn’t even know I was on a date until I realise I WAS ON A DATE. All I knew was that I was having so much fun: the conversation was flowing, we were having a laugh, he’d get a little touchy feely, I’d get a bit light-headed. There was nothing special planned, no design for the night to be anything than a casual drinks-after-work affair, but because of CHEMISTRY, VOILA: magical evening that I still look back on fondly even though things didn’t quite work out like I hoped they would.
I think about chemistry a lot as I continue to embark on this seemingly never-ending journey to find THE ONE. It may seem shallow, and its true that you can have chemistry with someone and yet are unable to establish a lasting relationship with them (think Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – sizzling chemistry, messed-up lives). But I don’t know, I think if you have chemistry – real chemistry – with someone you will always find yourself going back to them time and time again.
I have a friend who described a relationship he had with someone as having “the best chemistry” he’s ever had with someone in his life. At that point they wanted different things. He made a go of dating other women and she did the same; but they were always on the periphery of each other’s lives, connected by friendship and a love for the same sport.
Eventually they did end up back together. They worked out their differences and they’ve been in a steady relationship for the past three years. And being around them is inspiring because you can just feel how perfect they are for each other and how they push each other to be more. That, to me, is the reason why I don’t settle; why I believe in waiting for the right person rather than being in a relationship just for the sake of having one.
In conclusion to this rambling blog, I think that real-life chemistry is harder to explain than the concepts you read about in textbooks. I think in real life I can be sodium and he can be chlorine but there’s no guarantee that when we come together we’ll form salt (GET IT?!). There is no equation that explains why you get on with some and not with others; there is no formula to ensuring that a date will turn out to be something more.
All I’m saying is that its something to think about when I go on dates and spend hours worrying over the perfect outfit or the shade of lipstick that will bring out my colouring. The superficial trappings don’t guarantee that the night will turn out like you expect. You can’t fake chemistry; you can’t contrive it or make some cheap, knockoff version of it. You either have it with someone or you don’t.
You probably don’t even realise its missing from your relationship until you find someone you have real chemistry with, and then its like the time you realised how dissatisfied you are with the wool coat you got from Primark when you were finally able to afford the real thing from Prada.
So anyway, I guess I’ve now added a third criteria when people ask me what I’m looking for when I go on dates. Its not much really: hygiene, sense of humour and chemistry. The sulphuric acid to my iron, the permanganate to my potassium, the bicarbonate to my sodium. Lol. That’s not asking for too much, is it?
Happy Sunday, folks.