Friday, September 10, 2010

Chemistry=Physical Attraction NOT= Love?

What is it? It can be defined as that… well, thing. That “I need to see this person again” impulse. Or that “We click” feeling. But what causes it? Does it need to happen naturally, or can you create it? Does it die over time, or are there tricks to keep the sparks flying? There are so many questions that I have regarding this abstract concept called chemistry and over the years, I have started to understand what it is (maybe incorrectly, so feel free to "educate" me!).  Under my basic understanding, it's this thing that supposedly makes one person attract another person. Put simply, I think chemistry is an animal attraction between two people that is purely physical. The connection appeals to the five senses: The way someone looks, smells, tastes, the feel of his or her body, the sound of that person's voice. One's chemical match, therefore, is often overwhelming and uncontrollable, since everything operates on the subconscious level of the brain.

So, how can you tell if there is chemistry between two people or not? From my experience, when there is chemistry between two people, blood pressure might goes up a little, heart is pounding, the skin may flush, the face and ears turn red and maybe there's a weakness in the knees. Some believe it's some combination of basic psychological arousal and physical attraction, but I personally think that chemistry is purely physical and not at all anything remotely "magical".

Chemistry = Physical Attraction

In the mid-1960's, psychologist Dorothy Tennov surveyed 400 people about what it's like to be in love. Many of her respondents talked about fear, shaking, flushing, weakness, and stammering. Indeed, when human beings are attracted to one another, it sets off quite a chain reaction in the body and brain. But there's a perfectly logical explanation to those intense feelings.

Physical attraction (or lust) generally begins during our first contact with someone. It can DEVELOP into something more over time, yet some pull is there from the beginning. The most well-known love-related chemical is phenylethylamine -- or "PEA" -- a naturally occurring trace ammine in the brain. PEA is a natural amphetamine, like the drug, and can cause similar stimulation.  One of the substances released by PEA is the neurochemical dopamine. A study done at Emory University shows that female voles (small rodents) choose their mates in response to dopamine being released in their brains. When injected with dopamine in a male vole's presence, the female will pick him out of a crowd later. Our love food, chocolate, also elevates levels of dopamine in the brain. For simplicity, just remember that this chemical increases a desire to be physically close and intimately connected.

Physical Attraction NOT= Love

But the question is--- is physical chemistry love? It is believed by virtually everyone that true love cannot exist without chemistry. Therefore, the conclusion most would-be lovers come to is that if they experience these intense feelings towards someone, they have the basis for an ideal and lasting relationship. Right? Maybe not. For this definition of chemistry is limited to one's physical response to another person. And I cannot, under this logic, understand how can chemistry or physical attraction can be the natural conclusion to love.

Perhaps my own cynical view on love was formed in college when I went through my boy obsession crazes, where for one short period of time, I'd have an intense "love affair" with one particular actor or singer. From computer wallpaper to crazy purchasing habits of CDs and DVDs, I become his number one fan, so to speak. Unfortunately, after some time, this feeling of "love" wears off and I move on to another actor or hottie. OK, perhaps, this isn't pure chemistry, since no "physical" interaction is involved, but my point is that those feelings can be defined as almost having a chemical reaction--sweaty palms, racy heart and extreme devotion.

My personal recipe for generating chemistry is quite simple. All you need are two simple ingredients: 1. friendly atmosphere, 2. Handsome / Beautiful person. From personal experience, I think I've felt that "click" often enough to now know how to identify it and limit it only as much as what it is. Let me give you a real life scenario:

Imagine that you are at a party and you see a handsome guy in the center of the room. You make your way to him and both of you start up a nice conversation. As you stare into his eyes and he stares back, the combination of "gosh! he's hot!" and "yes, what an interesting conversation!" causes you to "feel" that connection. Wow, you think to yourself, what great chemistry!" Now, replace that handsome guy in the center of the room with an ugly guy or someone you don't feel physically attracted to. The conversation is the same, but as you stare into his ugly eyes, you do not feel that attraction so the conversation ends and you guys part ways, of course, as friends, but probably nothing more.

Thus, Chemistry=Physical Attraction NOT= Love

If chemistry = physical attraction and most people will agree with me in that physical attraction is important but still a small determinant of successful relationships, then (if I may boldly state here my personal opinion) chemistry is NOT a necessary component of successful relationship or love. In other words, for all those out there who claims that they must feel that "thing" in order to be in love, I say that it's bull--, because if anything at all, chemistry is only a small part of that big equation that holds what love is. If I can be even more bold and quantify "true" love simply, two Venn diagrams:

The circle on the left is successful relationship or "true" love or the real thing, whatever you call it. Many people have tried to define it over the years, here, I just define it simply as some component of chemistry + compatibility. In the circle on the right, we have this mysterious property called chemistry, which can be defined by its physical attraction component (still, there are some aspect of chemistry that is yet to be defined, perhaps). When the two circles meet, in the middle, I'd say these are the people who are lucky, that is, they are physically attracted to each other, there is chemistry and they are compatible (soul mates, maybe?). But, still, there might be others out there who are together as a couple and yet, there isn't so much (immediate) physical attraction to their relationship, maybe they have great conversation together or that they simply "get" each other or they share similar values and moral beliefs. In any case, they can still be in love.

Maybe I'm being too unromantic or unnecessarily too logical (right, Tetsu? :D )... It is my personal belief that love exists on many dimensions and cannot be understood entirely by people. Whether or not chemistry is the necessary component of love--how the heck am I suppose to know?? The reason I wrote this post is not to show that I'm a cynic in love but to demonstrate my point that chemistry isn't a necessary component to true love or in a successful relationship. Obviously, it is important and great if one is so lucky to meet someone who gives them that "magical feeling", that physical attraction and the emotional balance of compatibility. And if not found immediately, I think chemistry is something that can be build up over time with someone I really like. Either way, my shuai-detector will be working at its top capacity to find that lucky him.

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