Chemistry–Enhancing or Imploding Your Relationship?

Chemistry--Do you feel it?

Chemistry … it’s talked about a lot … on the college campus, in the workplace, and amongst acquaintances, family, and friends. We’re not referring here to the chemistry of science that is controlled and measured, but to romantic chemistry which is rarely controlled or measured! Have you experienced it? That “zing” in a dating relationship that you can’t quite explain, but that is very real! Romantic chemistry. It’s an actual thing. Something you can feel.

There are several types of relational chemistry (yes, “chemistry” can be experienced in more than just romantic relationships!). One type of relational chemistry that you may have experienced is ”purpose” chemistry. Remember a time when you found yourself really enjoying a project because of a great connection with a teammate? Not only did you work well together, but you had a common bond—wanting to see the project or team succeed. These are people we have great synergy with, because we are working together toward a common goal. Many times the connection is due to shared values and a similar work ethic. We bring out the best in each other whether we’re leading, following, or working side by side. The Bible actually gives us an illustration of this type of chemistry in the relationship of Joshua and Caleb (you can read all about it in Numbers 13 and 14, Deuteronomy 1, Joshua 14, and Judges 1).

Another type of chemistry we can experience is friendship chemistry. Do you have a friend you enjoy and get along with especially well? Someone who’s your kindred spirit? Someone you can be yourself with because they instinctively understand you? It’s comfortable to kid around and joke because you know you can be completely transparent with this special person. You’re comfortable and secure in this relationship. You feel that when you are with this person you are in a no-judgment zone. The relationship brings you joy, comfort, and security. This type of chemistry doesn’t give you a “zing”, but it does provide you with a secure bond of honesty and loyalty that can only be found in a true friend. The Bible illustrates this kind of chemistry in the relationships of David and Jonathan as well as Ruth and Naomi.

Romantic chemistry is a third type of relational chemistry that we can experience. This is where we experience the “zing!” Romantic chemistry is often exciting and sexually charged. Have you experienced this in any of your relationships? How have you handled it? It’s that feeling that makes you want more of the other person on every level. It’s what keeps you curious and interested. Chemistry makes you want to be with that other person all the time (like chemicals in the science lab attracting!). This type of chemistry is talked about in full-blown intensity in the Bible in the book of Song of Songs (but within the boundaries of marriage!).

Essentially, all types of chemistry are ways in which you get along especially well with someone, albeit in different ways. You just naturally understand each other. You have a genuine appreciation and understanding for who the other person is and what drives him or her. You want to be together. And sometimes it’s possible to have more than one type of chemistry with the same person.

God has given us the capacity to deeply “connect” with other people in this way, and we can bring Him glory by honoring Him and His intentions in all our relationships. Unfortunately, as with all good things, the feeling of “chemistry” can lead to inappropriate thoughts and behavior. We ultimately need to be on guard against letting our feelings overpower our reliance on God to guide us.

Romantic chemistry can be especially powerful. It can enhance relationships when appropriate, but it can also be perplexing. Purpose and friendship chemistry have pretty definite boundaries, but when it comes to romantic chemistry, all kinds of confusion can arise. This is because of the exciting physical component that plays into romantic chemistry.

Today’s culture seems to overemphasize the physical chemistry between two people–often at the expense of developing a solid relationship. Because of all the messages being sent through the media, people can become obsessed with the desire for chemistry. Warning signs in the relationship can be ignored because the “zing” makes us feel so special. It’s wise to ask yourself, “Are we coming together and helping each other build a solid relationship, or is this just a sexual spark?”

Once the powerful physical component of romantic chemistry comes into your relationship, it can be difficult to think logically or to focus on other aspects of growing together. Building a relationship on romantic chemistry alone can often lead to an explosion!

Sometimes romantic chemistry is not immediate, but can develop over time in a relationship that starts out with a different focus. This can often be ideal, because we have already gotten to know the other person without romantic feelings distorting our view.

Regardless of how our relationships develop, God wants to be the foundation of them all! Don’t let romantic chemistry cloud your vision, or take your eyes off of God. While romantic chemistry can be exciting, it’s God’s leading and instruction that will ultimately make a relationship succeed.