In Part I of this series, I explored the topic of racial equality. For Part II, we talked about another area of life: personal success. In this final post of the series, we are going to explore whether there is room for everyone in love by exploring compromise and chemistry in relationships.
CHEMISTRY in relationships
Organic chemistry: What everyone desires to have in a relationship and the class most biology majors dread taking in college.
I was 16 years old when I had my first “official” boyfriend and it was also the first time I learned that great relationships require more than just chemistry. There were three guys who wanted to date me at the time, but I was more afraid of heartbreak than love.
I grew up in church and I remember many of the church mothers saying boys only wanted one thing: sex. I don’t know if they were just trying to shield me from teen pregnancy or if they were speaking from personal experience. In either case, I was careful about dating because I didn’t want boys to crush my heart and innocence!
I was so confused about which I wanted to date. I figured I should go for the one that could be my husband somewhere down the line. That was very premature and rigid thinking. The only problem was I couldn’t see far enough into the future. How was I supposed to know which of these boys would make husband material at age sixteen?
I thought the answer was chemistry. Whichever I felt the most attraction, passion, and “love” for must be the one, right?
In desperate need of advice, I spoke to one of my mentors who I thought had a great marriage.
Me: “I am so confused. I like them all for different reasons and I think I have a lot of chemistry with at least two, but it’s different with each one.”
Mentor: “Listen, girl, don’t be confused and swept away by having chemistry with someone. Do you think you are only going to have chemistry with one person in your lifetime? We are human! You may have “chemistry” with a lot of different people in this world. But, don’t confuse having chemistry in relationships with meaning you are supposed to date that person, much less spend the rest of your life with them.
A great relationship needs strong organic chemistry, but it must be built on much more than that. A lot of people might want to have a relationship with you throughout your lifetime. Don’t be fooled. Chemistry is biological and emotional. A strong partnership includes real love and true commitment, which is something much deeper than chemistry.”
With that advice in hand, I picked the guy I thought was the best choice for me. Guess what? It lasted six months! He was a certified player. Let’s just say I learned a lot after that and internalized what my mentor said.
Through experience, I understand exactly what true love and commitment are and also what it is not. There is a noticeable difference when you find a relationship that works on more levels than just organic chemistry.
Chemistry in relationships is important, but it is not everything.
There are five different kinds of chemistry: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Sometimes, once you discover you have “chemistry” with another person, you are tempted to jump into a relationship without considering the other factors that make a person a good life partner. It is easy to get excited or desperate (we have all been there) “in love” and allow good “chemistry” to:
- make you believe the relationship is “meant to be”
- try to force it because the chemistry “is so strong it must be meant to be.”
Do NOT do the things above simply because you feel you have “good chemistry” with another person.
Good chemistry is lovely and necessary, but it should not translate into anyone staying in a relationship that causes them to compromise their happiness, morals, or character. Choosing a life partner should include thinking about how the person fits into your life, whether you are both confident in your own identity, and how willing you both are to compromise as each individual grows and changes.
So, in terms of “chemistry,” there is NOT room in your heart for everyone you have “chemistry” with.
Let’s talk about COMPROMISE
Is there room for the both of us to be happy?
Sometimes relationships are not all honeymoon phases and rose petals. If you have experience in any kind of romantic relationship, then you know that hard times can make you question whether there is enough room for both of you to be happy. Even in the best relationships, it will not always be good times. But, a good partner helps us grow.
Sidenote: There is a definitive line between understanding that no relationship is perfect and settling for foolishness. Sometimes that line is very obvious: cases of physical and verbal abuse or clear incompatibility. In other situations, the line is blurry. If you are questioning whether you are in the right relationship, speak honestly and openly with someone you can trust (and who has experience or evidence of success in a relationship). Consider whether it is time to move on, if you can repair or improve the relationship, or if you are manifesting other issues and insecurities.
Creating space in a relationship for both people to feel loved, happy, and safe requires both people to be willing to make that a priority!
Healthy relationships require two whole people. I can say from experience—both personal and observed—it takes two whole individuals to create a great relationship. Both people must actively work on becoming the best version of themselves.
Making “room” in the relationship requires both parties. It looks and sounds something like this: “I lay down some of my baggage to make room to love you more, as you lay down an equal amount of yours to make room for me. Love is about two people deciding to share their love with each other.
It is possible to have a great relationship with great chemistry with someone else who knows how to make room for both of you through healthy compromise. When you find that person, you know exactly how refreshing and awesome it feels! If you haven’t yet, just know that it is possible.
So, in terms of relationships, there IS room for everyone (the two of you) if both people are committed to healthy compromise.