I’ve always been pretty horrible when it comes to science, and understanding chemistry is no exception (like that pun I just used). Just to be clear, we’re talking about that indefinable quality of being attracted and feeling connected to someone. Some call it vibing, or making a connection. What’s clear, though, is that for a relationship to work, chemistry is a necessary ingredient.
Dating Sans Chemistry
I recently went on a date with a guy named Dave*who I met on Zoosk. Dave was nice. He was a self-described Ivy-league graduate (his words, not mine. I actually think calling yourself an ivy-league graduate is kind of pretentious, and should be saved for when your grandmother is trying to set you up with her bridge partner’s niece, but that’s for another post) and worked in an accounting firm in midtown.
We had been texting for about a week, and let me tell you – texting someone you’ve never met before is hard. Online messaging within a dating site is also hard, but you have the crutch of being able to easily refer back to a dating profile and there isn’t the assumption, inherent in text messaging, that you should be responding pretty quickly.
Based on our profiles we had some similar interests and I was excited to meet up for happy hour after work. We both worked in Midtown, so we agreed to meet in the middle between my office on the west side, and his office on the east side. It was all very Sharks meet Jets. Except, he didn’t really know any good bars in the area, and to be honest, my knowledge of area hotspots is limited to lunch places in a two-block radius.
So we settled on a coffee shop that I knew (lunch spot!) that was close, and had decent hot chocolate, since as it turns out, Dave was not a coffee person. It’s not that I saw that as a negative…but it would have been nice if he was as into coffee as I was. A starting common ground, if you will.
But Was There Any Chemistry?
To be truthful, I wasn’t exactly excited for the date so much as open minded. Sometimes you meet someone and the chemistry is just there. This person gets me; I like how their face looks; I want to talk to them more. But it can be deceiving, too. There could be chemistry, but your goals for yourselves, where you are in your lives, your levels of emotional maturity could just not add up.
In other situations, there’s an absolute lack of chemistry – even if on paper everything else about the two of you seems perfectly aligned. In that case, you’re faced with that ultimate question of can and will chemistry grow, and how long could and should it take?
After a few minutes talking to Dave, I could already tell this was going to be one of those lack of in-person chemistry/lack of attraction situations. The words “Um, what else” were actually uttered at one point, I believe right after awkward silence number three. He liked CBS sitcoms and crime procedurals; I like dark scifi dramas and absurdist comedies. He liked watching sports in his free time; I like working out and reading.
We didn’t even have the same cultural references and sometimes having these things be different between two people is fine, because it’s a conversation starter. In this case it proved to be a conversation killer. I made a judgment call after the date that in Dave and my case, there was no seed from which chemistry could grow.
Getting Chemistry Tutoring from the Online Dating Experts – The Sites Themselves
As I’m sure is true for most people, I’ve had chemistry with and been attracted to guys who turned out to be pretty awful when it came to basic human niceties, like returning a text (and I’ll save discussing the fade out for a whole ‘nother post as well). I’ve also messaged and texted with guys who I thought were really great but once we met in person for drinks, I realized holding a conversation was clearly going to be an impossible task.
The unpleasant truth is that if I’m not attracted to someone and the conversation isn’t engaging, I don’t say yes to a second date. I’m not proud of this fact since my friends and family continuously encourage me to be more open-minded, but I’m sharing with you all anyway in an effort to be more truthful about where I’m coming from.
Match are great about trying to match up their users based on personality. I mentioned this in my first post, but each site asks question upon question about your background growing up, what you like to do in your free time, if you’re more cerebral and introverted or consider yourself the life of the party. The result is an optimized search so you have a better idea which guys (or girls) you should be focusing your time on.
Zoosk puts messages from guys who I’m more compatible higher than other messages in my queue. Match sends daily matches of guys they think I’ll dig to my email inbox. It literally could not be easier, and is perfect for those too lazy to search through a site’s user base (although that’s also an option at all three!)
These sites know what they’re doing, and you can bet that their recommendations are valid, since each online dating site stakes its reputations on making successful matches. There’s something sort of funny about a business that measures its success based on current members no longer needing its services, but that’s online dating.
I think if I’m already physically attracted to someone I’m more likely to wait and see if the chemistry grows, or conversely, if I’m not initially attracted to someone, but talking to them is a blast, I’m more willing to be open to a second and third date, knowing my partner’s “attractiveness” is going to increase the more time we spend together.
Dave wasn’t one of my matches, but he did search out my profile. So I wonder if and when I go out with someone that one of the sites deems a good fit, maybe I can finally graduate a date two (and three)?
*obviously not his real name, and some defining details have been changed