Initial chemistry says a lot about compatibility

A single friend once said to me, “I’ll know within the first two minutes of meeting someone if he is The One.”

Really, so you can make a decision about something as important as a potential partner, faster than you can make a decision about what food to order at Mr. Chang’s Chinese and More?

The fact is, not even fictional characters in Hollywood know that quickly. Think of the girls from The Notebook, Titanic and When Harry Met Sally. I mean even they haven’t been taken in by the dreaded Chemistry Illusion.

It is a myth that you will ‘just know’ when you meet the right person. In relationship theory, we belong to one of two schools of thought: ‘destiny’ or ‘growth’. The way you approach romance is ultimately how you view relationships.

Credit: Anthony Lopez

Credit: Anthony Lopez

When presented with a rose garden, the believers in ‘destiny’ see Prince Charming running towards them, rose in mouth, while a symphony plays in the background. Those who believe in ‘growth’ will sow the seeds carefully with the knowledge that the garden will flourish given the right care and attention.

‘Love at first sight’ or ‘instant chemistry’ is heavily based on appearances and the superficial level of someone’s personality. It is more immediate. The inner package takes time to get to know; much longer than a two minute speed date, for sure. If you haven’t already clocked it, I believe in ‘growth’. My own husband attended my pilates class for a year and a half and I never noticed him. Had I believed in destiny and the subsequent two minute rule, I would not be happily married to him today. If I had followed ‘destiny’, I would be married to the hot 24 year-old Brazilian bartender I met in Rio. Sparks and electricity are great, but are they the best indicators of a happy, long-term relationship?

Of course you need to be attracted to your partner and of course there needs to be a spark, but it doesn’t need to smack you in the face within a minute of meeting them. That, my friends, is called lust – and that’s a whole different ball game. Credit: Tine Ten

So, the ‘proof’. The science.

A study that followed newlyweds for 12 years found that those couples who fall in love rapidly and get married quickly often divorce. However, those divorces did not occur until at least seven years into the marriage. Why? Because the intense feelings of passion that are felt at the beginning of the marriage are inevitably replaced by other feelings as the marriage progresses. Passion is replaced by trust, loyalty, intimacy and companionship. While this happens in all marriages, it seems that it had a more detrimental affect for those who had fallen in love quickly, perhaps because they had placed greater importance on those qualities, like lust and passion, that existed at the beginning of the relationship. When those feelings subsided, as they inevitably do, they felt the relationship was over.

Rather than using superficial and unhelpful indicators to find a partner, start looking at the ones that really count: curiosity, generosity, intelligence, humour, empathy. Sparks are exciting, but they also burn, and fizzle out quickly…