Compatibility and Chemistry in Relationships

Compatibility and Chemistry in Relationships

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Most dating advice glosses over the concepts of compatibility and chemistry, assuming most people having an intuitive grasp on what they are and why they’re important. When you have chemistry with someone, you just feel it. When you’re dating someone you’re not compatible with, it’s obvious — like biting into a piece of spoiled fruit, the discomfort is impossible to ignore.

Compatibility and chemistry are mostly ignored by dating advice because they’re things that can’t be faked or changed. Instead, we spend most of our time studying self-improvement, presentation, and the technical mastery of social minutiae, all in an attempt to excel at the sales job of our romantic and sexual services to possible partners. Dating advice is designed to get that person who we feel is out of our league, to somehow trick or coax or cajole them into noticing us. The girl we’ve never had before. The man we’ve fantasized about. And if that guy or girl who’s out of our league is actually not compatible with us, well, we don’t really want to hear about it.

Compatibility and chemistry, although not the same thing, are often used by people interchangeably. They’re words people use loosely to define an ephemera which exists in the space between two people; the unspeakable and unseen connection, or lack thereof. But they’re different and their difference is important to understand.

Compatibility is a natural alignment of lifestyle choices and values between two people. A priest and a stripper have a major incompatibility and I doubt many end up dating each other. That’s compatibility. Put simply, if I value women who are intelligent and educated and I meet a high school drop-out who values guys who have big muscles and like to hunt deer, then we have a fundamental incompatibility that will probably never be overcome and we will never date one another.

Compatibility usually corresponds to the long-term potential between two people. High compatibility between people comes from similarities in their lifestyles and values. Educated and liberal people usually date other educated and liberal people. Hedonists usually date other hedonists. Insane religious nuts usually date other insane religious nuts. For no other reason than people of opposite moral values, quite literally, repel each other. And sometimes violently.

Chemistry on the other hand, represents the emotional connection present when you’re with each other. Two people who have a high degree of chemistry have emotional make-ups and personalities that bring out warm-fuzzy emotions in the other, creating a kind of positive feedback loop through which they continue to make each other feel better and better. When you have a high degree of chemistry with someone, they monopolize your thoughts and/or your free-time. You’ll stay up talking until the sun comes up and not even feel like an hour went by. You’ll hope that every call or text is him/her. And it will be. You’ll walk through life constantly wondering, “What would he/she think about X?” where X is a song, a bird, a walk through the park, a traffic jam, or a tenuous visit to the dentist.

Call it passion. Call it love. Call it sickness. The basic traits of your/their personality and your/their slightest behaviors ravage each others’ dopamine receptors in a neurological orgy of starry-eyed dreaminess. When you’re together — which simultaneously seems like all the time and not enough — it’s dominated by whispers of sweet nothings, liberal usages of the ‘L’ word, and a disgusting level of cuddling that nauseates all persons within a 20 foot radius.

Specific examples of what creates strong chemistry are harder to peg. It may be the way a girl laughs at your jokes, the questions she asks you about your day, the way you hold her in bed, or how you help her move into her new apartment. Chemistry is made up of subtle behaviors and dispositions that positively correspond with the other person. It’s a closed karmic loop. Chemistry is felt immediately and by both parties equally. The most important rule about chemistry is that whatever you’re feeling, she is most likely feeling it too; you almost become empaths for one another.

The artist Alex Grey once said, “True love is when two people have pathologies that complement one another.” He was only half-joking. High levels of chemistry usually come from opposite yet complementary qualities in people. A girl who is high-strung, energetic and slightly neurotic will have a high degree of chemistry with a guy who is relaxed, mellow and open. Introverts usually have natural chemistry with extroverts. People who are orderly and intense planners often work best with people who are spontaneous and unorganized.

Unlike compatibility, a lack of chemistry doesn’t repel one another. A lack of chemistry simply results in a lack of emotional intensity. Things just feel kind of dead and boring when you are together.

Chemistry is also reflected in the bedroom. A lack of chemistry will mean boring, emotionless sex. A high-degree of chemistry will mean intense, life-altering, heart-pounding sex that causes your mind to cosmically splatter itself on the walls of your consciousness.

Compatibility and chemistry don’t necessarily always occur together. A relationship with high compatibility but little chemistry is likely to be a boring yet convenient series of meetings and conversations, dry and dull until both parties simply stop caring and drift apart, or they consummate their mutual convenience by getting married and promise themselves a lifetime of simple and asexual companionship. Sadly, this arrangement isn’t uncommon.

Chemistry without compatibility on the other hand, usually leads to disaster. Sometimes it can be as simple as not living in the same part of the world. But usually it’s far more complicated than that. It’s when it feels so right, when you know it’s so wrong.

It’s the person who you know is bad for you but you can’t stop seeing her. Your behavior becomes completely irrational. Your thoughts distort. And soon, you and your fellow torture-victim-of-choice initiate a perpetual cycle of mutual emotional-immolation, both spiraling through love/hate cycles together at the speed of life. You suddenly find yourself spitting out phrases such as, “I don’t care if he’s married to a convicted felon, we’re meant to be together,” or “Look, I know she faked being pregnant to get me to propose to her, but you know, it may just be fate, right?” while your friends all stare at you, jaws agape, unsure whether to risk backlash by trying to snap you out of it, or to feign support while you continue to spin helpless and deluded in your tornado of love, wrecking your own life in the most unsubtle of ways.

High levels of chemistry with major incompatibilities is bad news. really bad news. These relationships usually begin quickly and passionately, exploding like a flaming geyser, which then extinguishes just as quickly as it began. Logic kicks in. Reality makes itself known. And you suddenly realize how fucking offensive you find each other. They’re traps. And getting out is easier said than done. Your heart says yes, but your head says no. And then you convince your head to say yes, which in turn makes your heart say no. Which makes your head say, “Wait, what the fuck?” So your decision-making falls back to your penis — because this girl is so fucking hot, after all — even though you know your penis rarely makes wise decisions, which leads to bloody satin sheets, embarrassing public arguments, unpaid drink tabs, thrown iPods, changed locks, unanswered phone calls, tear-ridden voicemails, and the sterile interior of a clinic, or if you’re lucky, the famous oh-god-please-don’t-give-me-a-false-positive-you-piece-of-shit-$9.99-pregnancy-test-from-7/11 experience, which is guaranteed to challenge any man’s sanity. And then there you are (wherever you go, as they say), and you find yourself jobless with two one-way tickets to Bermuda that were never used, six stitches, slashed car tires and a shattered cell phone. But at least that fucking cunt is gone (even though you still kinda miss her).

Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything. Nope.

The experience is vicious yet thrilling. And will never let you forget that we are, after all, animals.

Navigating the dating territory of life with confidence requires that you understand these concepts. If you want to ultimately end up spending your time with amazing men/women/whatever who you enjoy — and I don’t just mean enjoy fucking (that should be a given), but I mean really, truly, enjoy — then it’s important you get a cognitive handle on these emotional indicators. The most important aspect is understanding what you want — what makes a person compatible to you, what personality traits have chemistry with you? The first question I ask everyone I work with is “What do you want?” It’s crucial you know. You need to know what you like and what you want in a partner. If you don’t, then you need to cautiously gain enough experience until you do know.

I’ve found over the years that I’m incapable of dating girls who aren’t incredibly smart. I can make it 2-3 dates with a woman of average intelligence or less and that’s usually solely by merit of drowning my face in alcohol until I become incapable of listening to her any longer. It becomes insipid and dull, and I refuse to be an insipid or dull person. Since a long-term relationship with these types of women would necessitate I take up alcoholism as a hobby, we inevitably part ways. I also don’t work well with girls who are particularly religious or who have socially conservative values (I shouldn’t have to explain this one). I need a girl who likes to travel. And who cares about politics. These are important things to me. I’ll still sleep with women who aren’t compatible with me, but I know better than to try and date them.

I’ve learned that I have chemistry with women who are driven and ambitious. Their personalities work with mine in a unique, yet comfortable way (for both of us). I’ve found my personality meshes well with women who are a tad neurotic, as I’m generally too laid back for my own good. I also “click” with women who appreciate a dark, sarcastic wit and are very giving and caring. I regularly find myself seeing teachers, nurses, social workers, volunteer workers, etc. multiple times and sometimes having a serious relationship with them.

These are the women who work for me. Who works for you?

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49 Comments

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  • Reply

    Madamada

    6 months ago

    Wow, you can’t describe better. One of the most important article in my opinion on this site.

  • Reply

    Madamada

    6 months ago

    One can not wonder why the fucking song of Rihanna et Eminem got so much praise (besides the hype”.

  • Reply

    Gully

    6 months ago

    Great article man.

    Thats one thing I have always felt; no matter what your style is, your looks, your tactics, etc, you click(have chemistry) with some girls, and some you don’t. I don’t focus too much on pua tactics, more just living my life, enjoying myself, as I know when the right girl comes along for dating, you can sense it. One valid emotional connection is worth way more then lots of sex but no connection imo.

    With all this being said; surely the more confident, attractive, intuitive, experienced, open we are; the more we can click with people and have chemistry? Im not sure.

    My experience is that having proper chemistry with a girl is fairly rare. I’ve had only had a few, and its really a blessing. You meet someone you finally click with – and if the circumstances/compatibility is there – you are really are on cloud 9 and it makes all the bullshit, rejections, meaningless sexual hook-ups etc worth it.

    Thats just my two cents. I live for chemistry. Its an intuitive thing.

  • Reply

    Tim

    6 months ago

    Love this article. Nice to see the passionate, batshit crazy funny Mark after a period of serious (but equally useful) articles. I’m curious as to what influences/muses you had that helped you formulate these ideas, other than your own experiences?

  • Reply

    António

    6 months ago

    Hey, stay away from my turf, don’t you come over here. That’s exactly the type of girl I date.

    Now I see why I really like your blog. It’s like it was written by me, on my inspired days :-)
    Love the article.

  • Reply

    michael

    6 months ago

    Mark,

    Something I personally believe and feel that you left out is that you said that “chemistry” is an emotional connection. I may be slightly anal for doing this but…

    I feel that chemistry is actually more of a mental connection preceded by a physical connection. However, before one (man or woman) would even want to suggest the idea that the person they are talking to could be a potential romantic partner, they have to find that partner at some level physically attractive.

    While men are self aware of their own need for physical attraction, women seem to often deny this aspect, maybe at an unconscious level. they would look at at the tall, well build, square jawed model looking guy and in their heightened arousal state rationalize through their physical instinctual attraction that it is “chemistry”.

    My point is, at least for chemistry, I feel that a physical connection must be needed, if not at least initially for men AND women to say that there is a chemistry, whatever it is.

    This would help account for our smell or odor which helps us find people that contrast our genetics more attractive.

    As for the mental aspect of chemistry, I still haven’t figured that one out completely yet.

    But, you are writing about a very important concept that many in the community refuse to accept, or believe, most often by the people who are marketers.

    • Reply

      Gully

      6 months ago

      Micheal all I can say from my experience is that your analysing too much. Chemistry is, as entropy said ‘unspeakable’ and ‘unseen’. Its not something you can artificially create, or always intellectually understand.

      Although I do concede that there are logical reasons for why your likely to have chemistry with certian girls more than others.

      For me love and dating is great BECAUSE of the unknowing element of it. I think too many PUA’s want scientific sure fire ways to get a women. But the real beauty is the mystery and chance of it all. imo.

    • Reply

      Mark

      6 months ago

      I disagree. I’ve had amazing chemistry with women who I didn’t totally find physically attractive at first. What happens is the chemistry makes them BECOME physically attractive in your eyes. There is a cut-off though, I suppose. Either way, I don’t think physical looks are nearly as important as say, psychological disposition.

      Hence the statements you see around this blog such as, “I’d rather have a 7 with a Ph.D than a 10 with a lobotomy.”

  • Reply

    Dr Feelgood

    6 months ago

    Awesome, awesome article, Mark! That’s another concept I haven’t heard anywhere else and which I know instinctively must be absolutely true (my life experience tells me). Besides, it’s written really well (eg nice rhythm of language and funny too).

    Have you developed this concept completely by yourself or did you read its basics somewhere else?

    The more I learn in life, the more I have to wonder why we were only learning stupid shit at school. We learned about Sinus and rhombuses, about the reactions of hydrogen and in detail about how our ears are built. But nobody ever told us about right nutrition and sleep, about the mental states necessary to achieve big goals and about concepts for life like this one. Dale Carnegie should be mandatory for second grade (or whatever).

    When I look around, very, very often I see people with high compatibility and low to medium chemistry marrying. You have to be careful, because for the most part you can’t look inside people, but I find myself thinking again and again: “Oh my god, how much better could they be off had they only searched for a little longer!” Of course, the real nightmare will probably only come to them 10 or 20 years after that… I understand they find each other bearable, but with 7 billion people in the world(and some of them even living in your city), why not go for the full score?

    I’m attracted by similiar women as you (80% correlation – with creativity being a big point too) and wondering whether to say “It’s only possible for me to date highly intelligent women” means kissing your own ass (you have to do it behind your back…) while telling yourself what a smart boy you are? There are different types of intelligence and I wouldn’t be surprised if Einstein had run into some difficulties with do-it-yourself home improvement. Anyways, sometimes it’s obvious how a girl is built…

    • Reply

      Da5id

      1 month ago

      You didn’t have Physical Ed in high school? We definitely learned about nutrition and sleep in Seattle.

  • Reply

    Mark

    6 months ago

    When I say intelligence, for me it’s more a curiosity and an ability to grasp ideas. I’m the type of person that my mind is always going 100 miles an hour, and if a girl can’t at least listen to my thought vomit and have some vague idea what I’m talking about, then it just doesn’t work. Yeah, I may be kissing my own ass… but I’m not going to kid myself, I’m really fucking smart, and unless she is too, I’m not as happy.

    The concepts have been fleshed out over the years based on my own experience.

    Tim: To answer your question, nothing in particular “set me off.” The passion in the writing is derived from my own experiences and those of close friends. I just kind of felt myself get on a roll, so I went with it.

    • Reply

      Brett

      6 months ago

      I understand what Dr. Feelgood means, I think. If you feel like you’re really fucking smart (I do too), there are certain situations in which it is prudent to keep those opinions of yourself…well…to yourself. (Allow myself to introduce…myself. Anyone?). Sometimes it can be tricky to keep the situations where it’s best to be a little on the shy side separate, on an emotional level, from the situations where you should just be yourself. For example, work vs. personal life.

  • Reply

    Frank

    6 months ago

    This article is fucking awesome. So much perspective.

  • Reply

    Marc

    6 months ago

    Great article. How often do you meet women who you have great chemistry with? How do you not feel scarcity mentality when they are so rare?

    • Reply

      Mark

      6 months ago

      “Great chemistry,” I’d say 1-2 per year. The great thing about women you have great chemistry with is that you naturally vibe off each other so well, that you don’t really have to worry about losing her or acting needy. Sure, they make you a bit more nervous than the average girl, but you KNOW that chemistry is there and that you’ll always get along, so it actually gives you more confidence in a way…

      I hope that made sense.

  • Reply

    Brian

    6 months ago

    Is chemistry being attracted to certain personality? Let’s say me, I’m a natural introvert and i have a strong attraction for extremely outgoing ditzy girls. But the thing is, why would extroverted girls be attracted to someone introverted?

  • Reply

    John

    6 months ago

    Hi Mark–I just found your site. That was an insightful and well-written article. Let me share a little about myself in the hopes that you can give me some advice.

    I’m 22, and in the last four years, I’ve gone on dates with dozens of women who I met at my uni, or, since I graduated, on a dating site. Almost all of them dumped me after a few dates, telling me that we have no chemistry. I’ve never been in a relationship that lasted more than a couple months. “whispers of sweet nothings” is not something that I naturally do. Neither is flirting or touching. When I do these things, it feels forced.

    I’m a scientist, and science is the main thing that occupies my mind. When I’m with my male friends, we debate and share ideas, and we play cards and sports. I don’t know how to interact with women affectionately, and I don’t see how I’m going to learn.

  • Reply

    Kenji

    6 months ago

    Dude, SICK article! And entertaining as hell to boot!

  • Reply

    Vincent

    6 months ago

    Great article my friend !

    HMM I always found to be mega attracted to goth and emo girls ( myself being no where next to looking such as a goth and so on),while I basically look casual, suave and artistic…

    So does this have to do anything with the compatibility issue or should I just ignore this and walk away?

  • Reply

    Taylor

    4 months ago

    Hi Mark –

    I came across this article while looking for some direction in my current situation. I know this is one of your older posts, but if you have the time, I would appreciate your reply.

    First let me say that I think the points you make are spot on. Thinking of both the chemestry and compatibility aspects of relationships really helped me make sense of things. My current experience is different from most of the replies in that in my current relationship (2 years) we have complete chemestry. Talking, intimicy, etc…is all amazing. Our compatibility on the other hand is conflicting in a few key areas. From an overall life perspective, we share consensus…we have similar dreams & values. However we are completely different in terms of dealing wtih conflict and responsibility. This culminates in semi-frequent no win arguments that blow up into painful episodes. On the flip side of this, we share a deep connection, and the times that are good are amazing.

    The part I am struggling with now is…to quote your article…”My heart says yes, but my head says no.” When I sit down by myself and think about it from a logical perspective, I tell myself it can’t last. But then when I try and come to terms with it, I can’t imagine being with anyone else. So my real questions are, how do you accurately weight the pros and cons? How do you make the distiction between being able to say – “We are truly incompatable”, or “I am expecting too much and should just be happy”

  • Reply

    Tyler

    2 months ago

    This is bar none one of the best articles on this site, I am amazed that it is not listed on the classics or best of section.

    Mark, how would you say is the best way to go about finding a girl that you would want to be with for the rest of your life? I’ve heard a lot of interesting perspectives on this, but I am deeply curious as to the optimal way you would see that situation playing out.

    I have read Models multiple times, as well as every article on this site since 2009 (thank you), so I am very familiar with your take on masculinity and relationships. To give some direction to my vague question, I suppose I am asking for some type of a “Model” (ha) that I can wrap my head around so that the process is enjoyable and efficent, enabling me to find the best woman I possibly can while I am in my prime. I know that you are not necessarily looking for the same thing as me, but given your depth of knowlege and experience on the subject, is there a hierarchy of qualities you’d designate that will help you be clear on whether or not this is THE woman that you want to spend the rest of your life with?

    Is it chemistry first, then compatibility? Does chemistry only come in varying “seasons of life” and thus compatibility should be prized first? Can chemistry be “faked until maked” if the girl is extremely compatible?

  • Reply

    The Baroness

    1 month ago

    Nice to see I’m not the only one on the planet with the awareness that compatibility + chemistry = relationships that fit well. I’ve spoken on the matter for years, and come to accept over the last few years that out of close to everyone I know I’m one of the few who would rather hold out for that “good stuff” and continue walking my path happily alone than settle for a relationship that really does not satiate me emotionally/mentally/spiritually/sensually.

    Mark, you’re fortunate to encounter the types of women you relish 1-2 times per year. I’d calculate I encounter the types of men I value every 4-5 years. Once you lived a good amount of time (34 years for me) you really “know” when you meet said people, and it’s such a wonderful, memorable reality. Sadly, the few I’ve met were all already in relationships and being men of integrity wouldn’t dream of leaving their partners for another which is fine with me. I’ve come to truly know in my soul that once I’m more established in my new field (I’m transmuting from a critical & cultural studies approach of ‘knowing’ to a creative, ‘expressive’ life path) I’ll more than likely cross paths with the men whom I share emotional compatibility and lifestyle choices with. I was impatient for it for many, many years and would on occasion “settle” at the urgings of my more ‘co-dependent’ friends who would implore me tolerate men I had no business tolerating. But these days I know myself inside-out and will never put myself through being with someone whom I just do not and cannot share the relationship I desire.

    Sincerity – the most delicious quality a man can embody – truly. Honest men who respectfully speak their mind with eloquence and thoughtfulness. Witty with incredible insights due to living all over the world and marinating in a myriad of cultures and subcultures (I’ve lived in 4 countries and possess dual citizenship). Being an “out there” personality I notice the best connections I have are with men who enjoy my quick wit, color, creativity and passion and compliment it with their more grounded yet creative, mellow but always up for an adventure personality. Knowing when to step forward, when to step back interchangeably with one another as at different scenes and cycles people with strengths lead the way for that duration of the relationship journey. Love, absolutely LOVE secure men. Secure men who know who they truly are, good bad and ugly value us women who are also secure in themselves. Insecure men misappropriate communicative, passionate, forthright women as a menace or threat and end up becoming emotionally and physically abusive in an attempt to ‘tame’ something they consider ‘too wild’ – exhausting, dehumanizing stuff that I won’t stand for. When folks like us ‘respect’ our partners well and truly due to the brilliance they shine with, it ignites the passion even more and we can become quite insatiable. Nothing like a vapid human being to make you NOT want to spend the whole night doing to them what makes them happy :)

    Best of luck to all the sincere lovers. I hope you all one day (if you have not already) meet the mate (or mates) you deserve throughout your lifetime. In the meantime, stay clear headed and focused on self excellence.

    *tips top-hat*

    Goodnight.

  • Reply

    Da5id

    1 month ago

    I disagree that chemistry and compatibility are inherent and unchangeable. Both can be affected by your health, happiness, and other factors. For example, if I am just off a good day of rock climbing I have more chemistry with just about everyone. And if I’m in a very secure place I tend to be compatible with more people.

    “But these are temporary states!” I hear you cry. That may be, but making temporary states in to normal states is what practice is for.

  • Reply

    Lauri

    1 month ago

    I have found myself right now in a relationship where our chemistry is great but starting to fade because we are so uncompatible. Also, he is just as extroverted as myself. I’m finding it hard to break away from it because a part of me just simply likes the sex and what it was like when we first started hanging out. Now I just want to scream and wonder why the hell he acts like such a girl. Gross! I could go on and on really. Sad thing is I only involved myself because I thought it would be just about the sex without emotion but that’s now all he ever talks about. I just don’t see us going anywhere but I’m having a hard time saying goodbye. I once used to enjoy his company (sort of) and now I’m just waiting for him to tell me how much I don’t show him any sort of emotion. I do explain it but he sems to think that I’m hiding what I really feel. I have now recently again, told him that I actually say what I mean and mean what I say. I know I should end it but I don’t want to lose the friend part or even the sex of it really. Ugh! So dumb.

  • Reply

    kelly

    23 weeks ago

    Absolutely loved this article! Thank you for the insight! Dealing w ending a chemistry-less relationship currently and that got me on the search of what is really important to me. We couldn’t have been more compatible if we tried, but there was zero passion. I feel like I made the right decision. Again, really appreciate the insight to this article!

  • Reply

    Gess

    19 weeks ago

    I love this article because even though it’s somewhat obvious that both chemistry and compatibility are requirements to a successful and healthy relationship, people don’t often admit that. I’ve had a relationship with someone I had intense chemistry with but little compatibility with and it was just as you said, violent and messy. I just recently got out of a relationship that was the opposite; we were best friends beforehand and everything was great on paper but there was no passion. I think people sometimes forget that so many things have to come together both for good chemistry and for good compatibility. For example, I blamed myself for the lack of passion in my last relationship. It was easy to get upset thinking, “If I had done this or this differently, maybe there would have been a spark.” This article helped me realize that that’s probably not the case.

  • Reply

    Booboo

    16 weeks ago

    I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for 5.5 years. It was wild and passionate from the get go, but even back then, I could see some incompatibility. I ignored it because ‘We were meant to be!’ I’m emotional, neurotic, introverted, passionate, a bit insecure. My partner is also emotional, insecure and neurotic – but a bit more outgoing and utterly wreckless, especially when booze is involved. We thought we’d found our soul mates because we were so similar. However, after a few months, I could see we were becoming a bit destructive. Typically I’m not an argumentative person. All my previous relationships have been characterised by a lack of arguments. Not this on. Nope. Fighting, screaming, locking myself in rooms, food getting thrown across the room (yup). My partner has cheated on my twice, yet we’re still together because, ‘We’ve been through so much together.’ The sex is great. We have a cat and a house and the last time I considered breaking up with him, I was plummeted into the reality of being 30 and having to live in a shared house with a bunch of strangers. Lame, but yeah, I was too scared to put myself in that situation.

    Then in walks random guy who I’d never really go for on paper. I typically go for these creative types who share my alternative culture interests. I met this guy through work. We don’t work together in the same office, but our companies are combining for a project and we’re working together on it. I went off to my first meeting with him and BAMB! It was really odd. He’s clearly sensible, normal, laid back, pretty run of the mill – but we have excellent chemistry and get on really, really well. Obviously, I find him attractive too.
    We clicked in the first 2 minutes and our 1 hour meeting turned into a 3 hour laughing session. I’d always placed so much value in meeting someone with the same interests in music and film, but overlooked the fact that it doesn’t necessarily lead to the same life philosophy or make you compatible. I’ve met hot guys who I share nothing in common with before and haven’t felt anything, so I know it’s not just me going all gooey eyed for a hot guy. While me and this guy don’t have some things in common, we share others, like an interest in adventurous travel, exploring, having fun and joking about. He thinks I’m a funny person, full of life and passion (which is how I and my closest friend view me). My partner on the other hand describes me as uptight, irritable and too serious, but likes my ‘wit’ and the fact I play computer games. Oh…

    I walked away from my meeting with ‘normal guy’ feeling utterly confused. He made it clear he likes me, but decided to be loyal to my emotional wreck of a boyfriend and play it utterly cool as we’d recently decided to make our relationship ‘work’. So now he thinks I’m not interested in anyway and has gone and got himself some preppy girlfriend. Great. We’re now a bit weird in our interactions and the project is ending soon. I need to sort out my situation first and then I dunno, make some kind of move, but I’m too afraid and I do feel a bit trapped in this destructive relationship with my current partner.

    • Reply

      Pavel Nosikov

      9 weeks ago

      Hi there,
      seems I am not a person to be supposed to reply to your comment, but anyway Mark is unlikely to reply you, and maybe you find something valuable in my reply for you.

      What are you afraid of?
      To lose a partner that you have a destructive relationship with (you named it so, not me)?
      You’ve already lost him.

      The stepping stone of Mark’s philosophy is “Fuck yes or no” (have you read this article?)
      So if it isn’t “fuck yes” for a long time with your current partner – it should be “no”.

      You should just what do you want and what is better for you.
      To live with your partner with that one pain – or to move out from him and to live with another pain being alone?
      Just take your time and make this decision.

      I personally agree with a viewpoint that if you are uncomfortable to be alone – it’s a sign of a problem, that you try to avoid yourself in general and that problem in particular.

      I know that it’s easier said than done and it’s easy just to write it to you via internet – but anyway a written advice it’s the only thing you can take out of any website.
      Good luck!

      • Reply

        Marie

        2 weeks ago

        Pavel, thank you for your insight. At the very least, your advice helped me figure things out. I like how you wrote “To lose a partner that you have a destructive relationship with (you named it so, not me)? You’ve already lost him.’ That was a major eye-opener. I now know what to do.

    • Reply

      Ken

      9 weeks ago

      Booboo,

      Sometimes you read something and get a gut level instinctive reaction that tells you that you’ve seen it before many times and know it very, very well. I had that while reading your post. So please take my comment from that perspective, and also with as many pinches of salt as you feel comfortable with.

      If I have to be completely uncensored in my thoughts and put the no nicities aside for a second, what I’d say is this: I get a very strong vibe from what you say that your current relationship is destructive because it is co-dependent. And that your relationship is co-dependent because you are co-dependent.

      It appears you want a new relationship because your emotional needs are currently not being met. But that is a lot less the fault of your current partner than you think. It is really because of low emotional integrity, honesty, openness, vulnerability, and ultimately real closeness, and that is coming from your end as much as theirs. If you up these things, it’s likely your partner will too, and the quality of your relationship with improve. But that will involve you doing some work on yourself and also facing many fears.

      Changing relationship is an easy eat out, bit will not fix your problems, because you will recreate a relationship where your emotional needs are not being met; this until you have dealt with the underlying fears, which in turn come from inner shame you are avoiding.

      In the meantime, your unfulfilled needs are driving you to focus massively on yourself, and you are being very selfish in your thinking. Your concern with your current partner stops at where he relates to you, but I perceive little empathy for him as a separate person. You are likely to hurt people badly in that state.

      I don’t mean to judge: I have been there myself, and it took me a long time after to see the truth of what had been happening. Now I feel I can spot the patterns a mile away, though of course it is well possible I’m utterly wrong, and I would apologise in advance if I am. This is a gut level reaction to your very short post, so it’s all I have to go on.

      • Reply

        B

        4 weeks ago

        I don’t know if it helped her, but it helped me. Thank you for posting! Hope you see this…

  • Reply

    A

    13 weeks ago

    “I’ve found my personality meshes well with women who are a tad neurotic…are very giving and caring. I regularly find myself seeing teachers, nurses, social workers, volunteer workers, etc. multiple times and sometimes having a serious relationship with them.”

    Sounds like you just like feminine women! Those qualities and occupations are typically female.

    Your taste is pretty typical: feminine women who are intelligent, but not necessarily intellectual.

    (Intellectual girls tend to come with baggage or are aggressive and masculine.)

  • Reply

    Pavel Nosikov

    9 weeks ago

    Hi Mark,

    seems you haven’t answered any of 28 previous comments to this article, but anyway I’ll try to get your attention.

    Do I understand right, that you write that:
    * compatibility between people comes from similarities,
    * chemistry come from opposite yet complementary qualities&

    If so, how could it be together?
    Do you mean that two should have both compatible and opposite qualities, both of them enough to create both substantial level of compatibility and substantial level of chemistry?

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      9 weeks ago

      Compatibility comes from lifestyle-based similarities: “We both like playing frisbee, she loves to travel, so do I, etc.”
      Chemistry comes from complementary, yet opposite, personality/emotional traits: “She’s very organized and I’m always a mess. She’s usually stressed out and I am always relaxed. Etc.”

  • Reply

    Angel

    9 weeks ago

    I loved your article. What you say about chemistry and compatibility is true. But sometimes incompatibility isn’t as obvious as career choices or intelligence. For example, I have two MBA friends who ended up with the “unpaid drink tab” scenario. In that case, their incompatibility was over not being able to prove to the other they were loved and cherished. Their romantic styles were different. She found him clingy and reserved and he thought she was too social and untrustworthy. I also have, two intelligent top of their class friends who found the other to be too long winded while expressing their intelligence. If you’ve read The Art of Seduction, a seduction killer is being long winded. The person isn’t boring because they are smart, and the other is stupid, they are boring because they are boring. Me, me, me is a great way to warm up a song. But that isn’t the lyrics to the love song we’re waiting to hear you sing. Just something to think about.

  • Reply

    Cameron

    7 weeks ago

    “The artist Alex Grey once said, “True love is when two people have pathologies that complement one another.” He was only half-joking. High levels of chemistry usually come from opposite yet complementary qualities in people. A girl who is high-strung, energetic and slightly neurotic will have a high degree of chemistry with a guy who is relaxed, mellow and open. Introverts usually have natural chemistry with extroverts. People who are orderly and intense planners often work best with people who are spontaneous and unorganized.”

    I have to say this struck me as simplistic at best, personally I’m extroverted and loud and have basically zero chemistry with introverts (finding them dull) And as for the intense planners being attracted to unorganized people? I’ve been in too many of my friends houses where it’s obvious that if one partner is very conscientous and tidy, they cannot stand a partner who is messy or unorganized.

  • Reply

    Rick

    7 weeks ago

    Wow, I really needed to read this. I was in a relationship with high chemsitry and low compatibility so I came to my senses and left. Now I’m in a relationship with high compatibility and low chemistry and feel unsatisfied. Should I be searching for a middle ground?

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      7 weeks ago

      I think so, yes.

      • Reply

        B

        4 weeks ago

        which is fine unless you’re married with kids

  • Reply

    Just another animal

    7 weeks ago

    I forwarded this article to 16 people that I thought would benefit from it in some fashion or another… including my ex. He no longer sends me hate filled messages and I no longer want to steal his dog (because she’s fucking awesome) and burn his house to the ground, so it’s all good! We had a laugh.

  • Reply

    Ghost

    6 weeks ago

    Mark,there is this girl in my life,she approached me (i have some really fucked up ‘looks’ issues) and she isnt exactly a looker and i never had a girlfriend.We eventually started going out.We have very high compatibility but about chemistry,i dont know.Throughout this relationship she has been widly in love with me…while i wasnt..yes,i did have feelings for her,but my looks issue keeps cropping up and we had a really great time for 6 months we had been going out…but somehow i always felt i was settling for less…i dont know why..but i was stupid in the looks issues.I am the world for her but for me,it isnt the same thing.Some months into our relationship…this really good looking girl who i previously liked (just because she looks good..i did not know her) started talking to me..and usrprisingly i gave her more attention than my girlfriend…i guess i was just secretly hoping for her..but anyways i got back with my girlfriend and sorted the issue..i stopped talking to this girl…and i had a great time with me girlfriend thereafter.I have Validation issues too.
    But i dont know why..my girlfriend always seemed to come short…all our conversations were mostly about me..what happened in my life…and i am an extrovert and she is an introvert..so i naturally enjoyed it…but i did feel that i was misleading her.
    After a couple of months,it became unbearbale for me..i couldnt take it..i was constantly comparing her to other better looking girls..and i had a meltdown of sorts…i couldnt sleep…i was down in the dumps…then,i broke up with her…and for a week i almost died with guilt…she loves me,but i dont or i am not sure…i am not sure of anything now…but recently i came to terms with my mistake and i accepted that i fucked up…and i am happy that i dont have mind-crushing pressure now..either of comparing her to other girls or lying to her…i could never give myself to her completely…but she is still in love with me and i have no idea about anything right now…i wonder if i could go back to her without going mad with guilt…i do have a soft corner for her and its likely that we wont date anyone for the next year as we both are still in college and we know almost everyone…i wonder if could stay with her for one more year till college ends…but i dont want to have any doubts about being with her..she will be okay will a one-year only relationship…we will come face to face in college everyday,it will be difficult.While i am happy that the uncertainty is over,i would like to think if i could go back to her.Also,i felt like i needed to undergo therapy when i was with her because i admit it is my fault that i did not love her completely just because of her looks.I am confused and would like to know if there is a way back temporarily. Sex is not a problem,i live in a country where teenagers dont get laid often(though we have sex and its good but i feel she is inadequate,mostly because i am a porn addict). I have really low tolerance level and abnormally high expectations in everything and in all my personal relationships.I told her that i need to get therapy and broke up.
    I am struggling with coming to terms with the fact that she isnt the right one..but i have no idea of dating anyone except her for the next year.I read articles on love and feel sad,because she is a great person and i am generally a shitty person to live with,extremely negative,insecure,arrogant and a lot more things,she puts up with all this and loves me,she dosent have a problem with these things and i wonder if i will find someone like her again..i am really confused.
    Please reply,thank you(I am bad at writing,sorry)

  • Reply

    ShePuentes

    6 weeks ago

    Finally! I’ve been searching the net for some article to explain my most recent date. I met this great-on-paper guy at a store. We had a great exchange, so despite the fact that he was way older than me, I wanted to give him (edit – us) a chance. When we met again, he seemed to look even older. Again, I gave us a chance. We had some good conversation and I could tell we were very compatible – it was so scary but great because I didn’t think I would meet someone like this so randomly; I thought I could only find someone like him on a dating service. Anyway, we had a coffee date, then a happy hour date (back-to-back). Even though we shared a lot of values and interests, there wasn’t any chemistry (emotional connection) on my part, and the urge to get to know him more started to wane. I had planned to give us some more time, but when he tried to kiss me, I turned my cheek. He still kissed me by grabbing my face at first, then kissed me again by grabbing my arms. I totally was not emotionally connected enough to kiss him yet. It only turned me off completely. I sent him a text canceling our plans for the next day. I’m so confused now. What do you do when the chemistry is low and you are unsure if the attraction will grow? Do you wait 3 dates as some “experts” suggest? Or do you cut the dating off after one date like I did? What if the other person is highly attracted to you and initiates contact before you are ready and/or interested? Sigh, I wish I knew what “men work for me.” Still working on that – perhaps a complementary and emotionally attractive personality mixed with some type of physical attraction? At least now I know that compatible lifestyles and values are not the end all, be all.

  • Reply

    R

    5 weeks ago

    Thank you Mark for your article. These last few months I have been seeing this man, although him and I have not made it exclusive. Actually, we have not really spoken about our status or the actual situation. We have just been hanging out regularly, messaging one another everyday etc. However, from the beginning, I knew that nothing could eventuate between us two. I guess I tried to ‘go with the flow’, and so from there, chemistry, emotional feelings and attachment occurred.

    These last few weeks I feel as though I have been completely irrational. I knew from the beginning that we were not compatible. I am a friendly, highly educated and independent woman, but lately, I have felt like I have almost settled for what’s in front of me. I desire for someone who is ambitious, smart, and driven, but this guy just doesn’t seem to possess any of that. He is a nice, caring, and respectful man, but that’s about it. There are limitations on what we talk about, and most of the time, I feel that I need to simplify some of the things I say just so he would understand. It sounds like I’m up myself, critical and judgmental, but I am actually a grounded person. It’s just that I have been with enough men to know what I want and what I don’t want. Anyway, what really stood out to me in your article was this section;

    ‘Chemistry without compatibility on the other hand, usually leads to disaster. Sometimes it can be as simple as not living in the same part of the world. But usually it’s far more complicated than that. It’s when it feels so right, when you know it’s so wrong.

    It’s the person who you know is bad for you but you can’t stop seeing her. Your behavior becomes completely irrational.’

    So, Mark, thank you for taking the time to write this article as it was a mere reminder to me that there are such limitations when you get into a relationship with low compatibility. As for chemistry, that occurs easily, however when that fades, then what? As Mark said, ‘disaster.’ We need to be realistic, focused and rational.

    The advice I can offer to everyone else is to keep in mind that this is the time to define who you are – factors such as career and relationships form this. If you’re going to commit and be in a relationship, be sure that it doesn’t just feel right. You KNOW it’s right. How many more unfortunate experiences do you need to go through in order to learn from them? There’s just no time for that. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs if you are just going to wait and see how it develops. This might just deter you from meeting that one person that’s for you.

  • Reply

    Jo H

    5 weeks ago

    YEP!! This article totally I can relate to. I have not experienced such HUGE emotional interpersonal chemistry with someone. He’s unattainable but since we’ve met, we both have been through highs in our relationship and lows. It feels like a movie sometimes, sometimes surreal. When something electrifying happens with him, it’s like time stands still with him and me, at least in my perspective so this article really helps. There’s a huge connection. Today he smiled and it didn’t even match with the comment I made to him. We were the only ones in each other’s space in the room, everyone else faded out. And he gave me the hugest smile, and I swear I was reading his mind, “I really like you.” is what I made out. I don’t read anyone else’s mind but his, and it’s happened twice lately! The other thought was “this isn’t any easier for me than it is for you!” a couple of weeks ago.
    It’s totally wierd. So this article really helps because the chemistry is so crazy, it definitely is a high. And feels like love but hard to know since we’re both unavailable.
    I’m grateful for the positive memories though, I’m open with my heart as I fell this guy is the man of my dreams- so many things just add up. I even picture myself doing some kind of charity work with him and myself helping kids in need as he has such a huge heart for children and so do I. We’ve both been in our job location both dealing with children for the same amount of years too. It’s so crazy!

  • Reply

    Michelle Morissetti

    4 weeks ago

    This is one of the best written articles I have read about relationships. Even though this should be obvious to most people, clearly it isn’t practiced, and therefore is not generally understood. When I went through my mid-life dating period, at first I had a time of feeling like a snob because I would only date people who were really bright, but then I realized that knowing who you are and what you need to feel alive and have a stimulating, full life with a partner means that it’s okay to select carefully. I met lots of wonderful, compatible people for whom there was no chemistry.. and kept going until I met one where there is both. It is worth the wait.

  • Reply

    Bruno Babic @PickUpFlow

    3 weeks ago

    Hi Mark, I’ve truly enjoyed reading your article from start to finish.

    Women who work for me are definitely sporty, fit and intelligent babes who are ambitious and passionate about their own personal growth in the context of creating and leading their dream lifestyle.

    So, in terms of compatibility, I prefer hot looking, fit and intelligent women who like to dream big, so to say, because I am into sports, am well educated and passionate about creating my dream international playboy lifestyle surrounded by hot and fit babes.

    When it comes to chemistry, I like to choose women who are as sexual as me in terms of being happy and excited to play along with my sex banters and sexually charged statements that I often use as my attraction material. In short, I’m talking about a very strong sexual chemistry with my ideal kinds of women that are totally comfortable with my direct approach presented in a playful and cocky way because that’s my favorite way of approaching women. So, everytime I make such women uncontrollably laugh at my sexually charged opener, I feel extremely excited and fulfilled.

  • Reply

    Laura

    2 weeks ago

    Insightful. Your articles always hit me in a profound way, and leave me questioning my own life. Thanks for keeping me mentally stimulated Mark!

  • Reply

    Lorena Romero

    7 days ago

    I can’t quiet express how dumbfounded your article left me. I have to admit there is an undoubtful wit and fun to your words, they’re great and they are genuine which is hard to find nowadays. Ironically I didn’t come searching for ways to make my relationship work, but answers to why my current one is so damn good; so good I think our thoughts might be on the same wavelength.

    P.S: I think it’s great that you know you like intelligent, eloquent women, because nowadays I find that in order to communicate with most people I have to dumb myself down to communicate with most people. Intelligence is so refreshing and in a way kind.

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