Spark of light. Worried there's no chemistry in your relationship

Worried because there’s no chemistry in your relationship? Think again…

You might be here because it feels like there is no chemistry in your relationship. And it’s true, the chemistry between two people is important, especially when you’re dating. Because let’s face it, it’s not enough to be partnered with a kind, stable, thoughtful, attractive, interesting, and fun person, is it? No, mere decency, values, and character won’t cut it. You want to feel the feels. You’re craving “chemistry.”

How do I know this? I’m a dating coach. And I have these types of conversations frequently:

  • Jen tells me about a date, saying, “I was so excited about him– he’s perfect on paper. He’s exactly what I want. But… he doesn’t give me butterflies. We’re not going out again.”
  • John tells me about the woman he’s been dating for months. “She’s wonderful. I really like spending time with her. I know we could have a great life. My mother loves her…” “But?” I prompt. He sighs, “I just kind of want more passion. I want to see what else is out there.”

Both Jen and John are making the common dating mistake that destroys potentially amazing relationships. They both want to feel the intense, obsessive, “I can’t live without you” craving of early-stage romantic love. When that’s missing, their relationship feels easy, reliable, and straightforward…  and they assume that something must be wrong.

“He’s a nice guy, but there’s just no chemistry in my relationship.”

I get it; chemistry matters. In fact, I spend a lot of time working with my Denver dating coaching clients to help them up their own “chemistry quotient” in order to be more attractive to the kind of people they want to date. If there’s no chemistry in your relationship, there’s no future. It’s that simple.

However, in addition to helping people “find the one” as a dating coach, I’m also a marriage counselor. I know what it takes to create a happy, healthy long-term relationship. When I’m working as a dating coach, my number one priority is not just getting people dates, but helping them see the big picture — what a lifetime of love actually involves.  So I tell my Jens and Johns exactly what I’ll share with you now:

Never confuse anxiety for love. Never prioritize chemistry over character. And never believe that a “chemistry feeling” is a reliable source of information as to whether someone is going to be a good long-term partner for you.

In fact, the exact opposite is often true: The people who are most likely to make you feel “chemistry” — an anxious churning in their presence, sleepless nights thinking of them, and feelings of euphoria when you’re around them — are often the ones who are the most emotionally (or literally) dangerous for you to get involved with.

For example, a mercurial, highly sexual, unpredictable woman will make your heart pound in a way that the loving, kind kindergarten teacher with a fondness for Dansko clogs will probably not. Likewise, a rakish, troubled bad-boy will light you on fire, in a way that the earnest CPA who cares enough to iron his shirt and show up on time won’t. But who do you want to try and build a life with?

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Let’s rethink what “chemistry” is in a relationship…

“Chemistry” is a cocktail of lust and danger that wrings the dopamine out of your neurotransmitters. You know that giddy, nervous feeling you have getting into the roller coaster car before it starts ratcheting up for the first big drop? And how, although intellectually you know it’s okay, your body is reacting like you might be about to die? That’s not a bad approximation to the giddy / euphoric / so-nervous-I’m-about-to-throw-up feeling we can have about someone we have intense chemistry for.

New idea: Feeling this way about someone is actually a danger signal. As I teach in my online dating coaching class, and write about in my breakup recovery book, “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love“, chemistry is strongest when you feel anxious, insecure, or afraid. This is why illicit affairs feel so intoxicating and have the power to destroy a family… and why the very same relationships are often so frustrating and disappointing in the cold light of day.

Feeling attracted to your partner is important. Wanting to be around them is a good thing. Feeling happy in their presence is fantastic. You need those things, and you deserve them. But it’s a huge mistake to believe — as too many modern daters do — that feeling generally happy and attracted to a kind and good person without that roller coaster feeling is “settling.”

As a marriage counselor, I’ve had a front row seat to what happens long term when people prioritize chemistry over character. It’s not pretty. Trust me: It’s terrible to realize that you confused excitement, passion, and anxiety for love, and then tried to build a life with a self-centered, impulsive person who made you feel agony, ecstasy and insecurity…. But who was never able to truly love you back.

I want to save you from this sad fate. You can certainly have a healthy, enduring relationship with someone you feel passionately about. But, if it’s going to work, the person you choose must also have substance and strong character.

To keep yourself on track as you date, remind yourself what true love actually looks like:

  1. True love shows you that your needs and feelings are important… instead of jerking you around emotionally and making you feel bad.
  2. True love stays loyal, and committed to you… even during the low points of your partnership.
  3. True love is respectful, engaged, pleasant to be around, and a good friend to you… even when it isn’t getting its way.
  4. True love isn’t a top-of-the-mountain peak experience. True love shows up in small, humble, self-sacrificing ways every single day.
  5. Most importantly, true love takes responsibility for behavior, and is willing to make changes… just because it’s important to you.

No chemistry in your relationship? No problem!

There’s a huge difference between toxic, crazy-making chemistry and true love. True and unwavering love is not showy. It’s not agonizing. It doesn’t make you feel insecure, or bad. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s reliable. It’s trustworthy. It’s often quietly pleasant. It can also be too easy to brush aside, especially when you’re busy chasing the flash and glitter of “chemistry.”

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Growing Self Counseling and Coaching

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49 Comments

    1. Too much chemistry is basically lust. Lack of chemistry is for friends. I never felt chemistry for .my husband. We were friends for 9 or 10 months before we had sex. He was a rebound relationship after my crazy chemistry relationship with an alcoholic. I wanted to get married after only dating 14 months. We have been together a long time but I always sensed I forced a square peg into a round hole. We have mostly had a mediocre sex life from the beginning. Fast forward 25 years, and I’m so unhappy. Been in therapy for years. Should I leave?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. My ex & I had incredible chemistry but I realised I was on a roller coaster and it was damaging my health & well being. It was a disaster I never want to repeat. It certainly wasn’t love.

    1. What if you once had chemistry, and now Everything is fine except the point: Most importantly, true love takes responsibility for behavior, and is willing to make changes… just because it’s important to you.

      I’ve tried everything to communicate the importantance, but nothing changes. Intimacy, passion, desire, and sex play a very important part of a healthy relationship… They once did in mine at least. Without these, I’m finding it best to move on and accept the single life.

  2. Thanks for this. I’m still a bit confused though, I’ve been seeing this guy and he is literally perfect from what I’ve seen so far. He’s nice, thoughtful,we have very similar values..etc. But every time we spend time together I’m just…bored. Sometimes we have nothing to talk about. I tried doing a fun new activity with him and I hoped that would bring out the fun and goofy side of him but no. He’s an introvert and doesn’t talk much or laugh much…or anything really. There’s definitely no spark. I’m an introvert as well but I’m pretty expressive and bubbly one on one. I don’t know if it’s a compatibility issue or if he’s just slow to warm up since it’s only been 3 dates and a handful of phone calls (usually about an hour long, and we learn a lot about each other but still boring). I’m not looking for crazy chemistry, just at least wanting to be around him and being curious but I’m loosing interest already. I’m scared to give up on a guy who’s this great only because I didn’t give it enough time but I don’t want to hurt him (he’s clearly still interested) or waste my time on someone who isn’t good for me either. What should I do?

    1. I think it’s awesome that you are being patient, and that you understand it takes time to get to know people. It may be the case that on just date three he still feels a little uncomfortable around you. But also, the reason why we date is to get to know people! If you are getting to know him and feeling like there’s no connection, nothing to talk about, and no “there” there, it’s also okay to let it go.

      Yes, instant, “I want to attack you and rip off your clothes right now” chemistry is almost always a warning sign. But at the same time, you should feel interested in what he has to say and generally enjoy your time together. It sounds like you don’t.

      This might be a “great on paper” guy who is just not your person. (And you might not be his either). Don’t force it!

      All the best,
      LMB

  3. This is a great article, thank you! I have been seeing a guy for 4 months now, 2 months in, he told me he did not love me, but wanted to see, where it goes. I told him i did not love him either, because i practically did not know him much. Couple days ago he said he still does not love me, he said he is missing chemistry, but on the other hand he enjoys time with me, tells me personal things etc. Lately we only hang out at my place, i have never been to his place, did not meet his friends or family… We agree that we share important valis, but he had chemistry in his last relationships…. on the other hand he admited that his previous relationships are over and ended for similar reasons. I feel very vulnerable yet i want to know if we have any future together… is it wrong to stay with a person who clearly stated they did not love me?
    Thank You

    1. Martina, of course I have no idea what is really going on with this person you’re dating, and what the future may hold for you.

      The only thing I know is that I have worked with numerous clients, particularly men, who have spent a long time in relationships — sometimes years — with women who’s company they enjoyed and who they had a nice time with and who were good social partners, etc… but who they didn’t like enough to commit to. They were happy to continue these relationships with these “perfectly fine” women until something better came along. When it did, the guys jumped ship and left their partners shocked and heartbroken.

      They would rationalize this to themselves by saying things (to me) like, “Well, I told here that I wasn’t really ready to commit.” Or, “I told her that I didn’t love her.” In their minds, they were being honest with the women they were involved with, and figured that those women were grown adults who knew what they were doing. (And, now that I’m thinking about it, I have also worked with men who actively misled women they were involved with and offered assurances about their feelings and commitment what were not the full truth, because the *real* truth would have lead to them getting broken up with. And they didn’t want that, because on many levels they were enjoying the relationship and they didn’t have any other immediate prospects.)

      So, while I have no idea what the truth is for you, and your partner, and this particular relationship, I have learned over the years to listen to what people are saying about how they feel — both through their words and the way they behave. I firmly believe that YOU deserve to be in a relationship with someone who is crazy about you, and if you know for sure that this is not that, you might have enough information to stop messing around with this dude and go find someone who loves you the way you deserve to be loved.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  4. Thank you. I really need to read this. Long story short my partner and I broke up after 4 years together. I started questioning my feelings for him as things between us didn’t have any spark any more. He’s perfect in every other way. He’s handsome, kind, loving, thoughtful, shy (I’m a shy person as well) and is like my best friend but there wasn’t any spark in the bedroom due to his shyness.

    After we broke up I met a new guy who I seemed to sweep me off my feet. He was outgoing, charming, handsome and very connected to his sexual side. In the start I couldn’t believe I’d found someone I loved. I finally felt confident in the bedroom and enjoyed it. However a few months in he started emotionally controlling me and making me feel bad. It was a rollercoaster of highs and extreme lows until I had to end things for my own mental health.

    Out of pure luck I ran into my ex (the guy I was with for 4 years) and we decided to give it another try. He’s not changed one bit. We’ve both been with other people so it’s strange to be together again but he’s the ideal life long partner. We don’t argue and he still is my best friend. I feel so comfortable around him however I can not help myself but over think about the spark issue. I don’t know how to help him out of his shell in that department. I want to be with him for the rest of my life but I wish sex could be more fun and enjoyable.

    1. Hey Sarah! So, first, if you haven’t already, please read “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love” NOT for guidance about releasing an attachment, but because there are several chapters that discuss the mechanics of romantic chemistry and what it does to you mentally and emotionally. I think that would really help you get a handle on what is happening here. It is also worth considering what it is that “excites you….” because those things can sometimes be diametrically opposed to the types of things that lead to high quality, stable, healthy long term relationships. (As it sounds like you’ve learned the hard way).

      Secondly: Sex therapy! It sounds like there are so many strengths in your relationship, and that it’s worth investing in. Many, many couples need to do intentional work around improving their sex life. It does NOT just happen, it is created. There are so many things that great sex therapist can help you with, as a couple, to improve your physical intimacy. Be warned though, this is a growth process: you will likely learn lots of new things about yourself along the way that surprise you. Creating chemistry may have a lot less to do with your partner… and a lot to do with YOU, and how you are showing up in this relationship. (And will similarly probably lead to lots of powerful growth opportunities for him too.)

      If you’d like to do this work here at Growing Self I’d recommend you schedule a free consultation with my colleague Dori Bagi. (If you don’t see her as having availability in our online system, call our office — she might be able to work you in). She is a sex therapist who specializes in coaching couples around improving their sexual intimacy.

      Wishing you lots of sweaty hotness in your future! 😉 Lisa Marie Bobby

  5. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 8 years. We haven’t had any intimacy AT ALL in three years. He says he is going to work on it, but the truth is that even in the beginning (with the exception of maybe the first month) we haven’t really been sexually compatible. What he is interested in in bed literally turns me off, and he’s not into it without that. Having said that, we both find each other attractive and we are both extremely compatible in other areas. I just find myself tho king that we are just going to end up living out our life of boringly compatible. I mean it’s been 8 years already. I’ve been in terrible relationships with amazing chemistry and now amazing, but no chemistry. I feel like this can’t be all there is, but I don’t want to throw away a relationship with someone I love because I maybe have my wires crossed. Please help!

    1. I would strongly encourage you to seek the support of a sex therapist who can help you two talk about what is going on, and see if there are opportunities for improvement. It sounds like this is a relationship with a lot of strengths, and one worth investing in. I’m also hearing that this doesn’t feel sustainable for you, long term, unless something changes. Sex therapy is the path to creating that change, I hope you consider it. LMB

  6. Interesting read. I am a woman who acts on “chemistry” and “sparks” and have experienced disappointment each time. I tried, i really tried to give a good, kind, nice man who adored me, a chance by dating.. we can talk, we have things in common, he is attentive and caring to me. When we finally kissed…. nothing.. nothing at all. I ended it that same week because I felt that he deserved better. Since then, i once again, fell for a guy that i felt great chemistry with. It was my first “this is a casual relationship only” and it was thrilling to me. We took a trip together which went very well. However, at the end of the day, he wants nothing more than occasional and casual and now I feel empty and embarrassed of myself. So, it looks like i have an issue that I need to deal with. Dam that wonderful feeling of Chemistry!

  7. My boyfriend and I met five months ago on a dating app. We started going on dates and built a foundation of knowing each other, which was important because we were quite literally strangers. Each date, each interaction inched us closer together. Two months in, we discussed our feelings and desire to be with each other in something exclusive, that allowed us to explore commitment— a real relationship, but one that wasn’t prescribing meaning. No, we talked about how relationships need room and freedom to naturally evolve. It’s been wonderful and real. We have always felt comfortable with each other. From our first kiss, he later confessed that it just felt right: intuitive and natural and effortless. Our sex life has been great and we’ve discussed how that physical intimacy had always been good and easy.

    Two days ago, he told me that he thinks we should break up. He isn’t certain that he is falling in love with me, because every time he gets close to that feeling, it seems to go away. It reaches a plateau. I was blind-sighted by this, not just because I was happy, but because I felt that our relationship has been so comfortable, safe, and healthy. We talked about it, how his last relationship was also his first, nearly a decade ago when he was in high school, and how this doesn’t feel like that.

    I was ready (though very saddened) to accept this as our ending, until I asked him: “when was the last time you liked me the most?” I thought he would say it had been a long time ago. Instead, he said that he felt that way on our second to last date, two weeks ago when he visited me in my hometown over the holidays. After that time, we texted each other consistently. When he saw me in person after, on our last date, he said he didn’t feel like it was a Big Moment. I think he thought all the build up would push him into an “intense” feeling of love. Only it didn’t. We had dinner in a crowded restaurant. Our conversation wasn’t the most flirtatious. The most intimate moments happened later that evening, at my place. So, he seemed to make this decision based on a lackluster date.

    Knowing that, I told him that I believe he is making a mistake, that he’s throwing away something that has always felt so good and right (his word!) because it doesn’t feel the way love is depicted in the movies. I also asked him, ”Are you really confident this is the right thing to do? Because I’m not— what we have, how safe it feels when we’re together, when we are just getting to know each other, that’s a rare feeling. You have never felt like a stranger to me, even when you were one. Even our ability to have this painful conversation, to find the levity in it, to be kind and patient, that is not something you find everywhere. It’s rare.” He immediately said “No, I’m not confident.” He also agreed that he has always felt comfortable with me. In his words, it’s why he has felt conflicted.

    I asked him if he was willing to try, either in scaling back our relationship to something casual, or keeping things as they are, or something in the spectrum of that. I also said that, because I’m applying to graduate schools, I’ll be moving out of his city in a few months. If we have a natural end, I asked, why can’t we see where this goes and try?

    He asked for time to think. Of course, I agreed that he should take it. We scheduled to meet later next week, after the long weekend, when we are both back in town. We agreed not to text during these days apart.

    I guess, I’m wondering, what can I do now? How do I move forward and prepare myself for any of the possible scenarios that may arise? I don’t want to convince someone to stay if he really wants to go, but his willingness to talk and to take the time to think and to meet with me again feels important too. In my gut, I feel like this relationship is a good thing. So, I don’t want to abandon it without trying, but I also don’t want to overextend myself. What is the healthiest and kindest and bravest way to see this through?

  8. Thank you! I’ve historically been blinded by chemistry, missing/ignoring red flags & ending up in highly-toxic, long-term relationships. I’m ready for stability & the slow burn…

  9. My boyfriend (23) and I (24) have been dating for almost three years now. He is a wonderful person, I know it’s completely normal to be different from your partner (he’s pretty introverted and I lean more towards being extroverted). I’d say most of the time we mesh well together but there are times I feel like we lack “chemistry” and I often find myself highly conflicted due to multiple reasons, like society’s pressure on THE ONE and the pressures that come along with that because society says you have to be married at a certain time or even my battle with anxiety and depression, causes me to feel and think that he shouldn’t be with me or vice versa, also due to us being different people we have different ways of receiving and giving in our interactions. I’m the type of person who’s love language is words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time and he’s the type that really enjoys spending time with me. We’ve taken that quiz to better understand how we function in our relationship and how we can tend to each others needs. I’m highly goofy but chill and crave deep convos and he’s the coolest cucumber and quiet. So, at times I’ve brought up my concern that maybe we aren’t a good match because I feel like we aren’t at the same level. I feel like I have to dull myself down because he’s not as interactive as me (it feels quite uncomfortable/awkward and sometimes my anxiety will eat me alive). I’m not sure if this is all making sense but we’ve also spoke about how no one has ever really challenged him outside of his comfort zone. He asks for my patience as we keep trying to grow our relationship. He encourages me, he’s thoughtful, goofy, kind, a talented musician. There are moments I feel like I have an expectation for how I want him to be in our relationship and I’ve been trying to navigate that and if I’m overthinking too much or if there’s something wrong with me for wanting more. I’d really appreciate any insight on this, thank you so much in advance.

  10. My husband of 20 years (two kids together) left after not being able to get the kind of sexual chemistry he wanted. We are highly companionate, and at the mid-point of our marriage I tried to address the difference in our sexual energy and styles by getting my courage up to suggest we see a sex therapist to find a middle ground that would work for us both. He declined and things went downhill, slowly and in the context of jobs and teenagers and aging parents, until the only option for him was an open marriage – which meant any romantic focus going to someone else while I was the at home partner.
    My biggest grief is that he did not give the marriage the chance with sex therapy. He has since had two failed relationships filled with what he describes as the passion he craved, but is now single again and not seeking, instead returning to therapy to try and figure out his lifelong bad patterns. He doesn’t believe he could return to reconsider our lifelong connection and what he agrees is a high degree of compatibility and love because he “ruined” what we had.
    It has been a challenging two years, and at 52 it’s pretty challenging to explore intimacy of any kind with such a background of loss, and feelings of aging, and economic precarity, and middle aged men who date 10-20 years their junior. I’m trying to make peace with it all.
    Mostly, I’d like validation that sex therapy (with buy in from both sides) *did have* the *potential* to make a difference. I honestly think it would help me to move on if I could get away from the sense that, as my ex likes to believe, our relationship had a ‘fatal flaw’ from the beginning in our sexual connection. To be clear, I have plenty of sexual energy and have had great sex with a lot of crappy partners. I think our goals were misaligned (mine toward strong partnership and support, his toward strong sexual connection and validation) but I was the partner willing to walk toward the middle ground, where his desires were non-negotiable, and so he sublimated for so many years.
    I hate to think of this ending as a forgone conclusion. It’s harder when the life you were planning on walks away with no notice.

  11. I was with my husband for 16 years, we separated for 18 months and have recently reconnected. He is my best friend and I missed him a lot, however in some ways he feels like a brother to me, the sexual attraction was never really there. Whilst we were separated I was with someone who I was very sexually attracted to but even this fizzled after a while. I am not sure if this is a problem with me, and being unable to sustain that or if I just have never met the right person. I didnt have many partners before my husband

  12. I met a man through a dating website about a month ago. We have since gone on 8 different dates from hiking to dinner to brunch to lunch to a vineyard. We have amazing conversations and I have truly enjoyed every encounter. He is a perfect gentleman and didn’t kiss me until we had been on about 5 dates. The kiss was very nice, but not over-the-top passionate (not as one of my friends would describe as the kind where “I want to rip his clothes off” kind of kiss). I didn’t feel that type of “chemistry” or zing. On our 7th date we took a drive and then went to dinner and he put his hand on my leg (he asked me if it was okay) as we were driving. On our 8th date we held hands as we were walking and on the ride back to my house. He has never once made the moves on me, so-to-speak and the most he will do in public is give me a hug. Which is fine, since I’m not really into PDA.

    This all sounds like we are young; however, we are both in our 50s!!! We both have been married before, have older kids (my youngest is 16 and his youngest is 21) and we’ve been in other relationships, so it’s not like we both aren’t experienced in that department. Part of me thinks that he is just a gentleman, but then I wonder if there just isn’t the chemistry for either of us, and like me, he’s not sure what to do about it since we both enjoy being around each other.

    Part of me thinks I should come right out and ask him if he’s feeling any type of chemistry for me, but if he says “yes”, then what do I say in response without hurting his feelings?

    A close friend of mine is adamant that if there isn’t a spark or the type of chemistry where I want to rip his clothes off, then I need to do the kind thing and end it right now.

    I just don’t know what to do. He is such a great man and unlike any man I’ve ever dated and nothing like my ex-husband (in a very very good way). I’ve been with very pushy, controlling and abusive men in the past. I’ve also been with my share of men where I was the bread-winner and they expected me to pay for nearly everything. This man is the complete opposite. He is kind, he is caring, he listens when others talk, he has a great career and is genuine.

    So, what is wrong with me? Do I need to get out of my own head? Do I just need to give it some more time? Or should I do the kind thing (as my friend put it) and end it now?

  13. What your saying makes so much since. I really think my husband and I could use some couples therapy. We have been married for 19 yrs been together for 25. Over the last 5 years our sex life has not been that great. We got so stagnant. It started to feel like when we did it was about his needs and not ours . In 2019 we went 4- 5 months without having sex. I was unhappy and tried to express myself with him. Well an ex came back into my life through FB. Needless to say I had an affair that I am not proud about. It went on for 8 months. There was that dangerous chemistry you are talking with him. It was always like that with him. The affair ended very ugly with him exploiting me online and to family and friends. He didn’t like that I was trying to end it. Needless to say my husband knows! We our trying our best to get past it and work on our marriage. In some ways it has brought us closer and other ways not close. Sometimes I feel like sexy is the big elephant in the room! So much pressure now! He has made changes. His testosterone’s were low. I am having trouble with desiring him. There are a lot of times I don’t feel anything in his touch. It was like this before the affair. I love my husband and we are great friends but I want to be on a Mose intimate level. When we do have sex before the affair and after, it was always just sexy. We do not make love. It makes me sad and I don’t know what to do. I was hoping you all could give me some insight

  14. I couldn’t agree more. My ex & I had incredible chemistry but I realised I was on a roller coaster and it was damaging my health & well being. It was a disaster I never want to repeat. It certainly wasn’t love.

  15. Thanks for this. I’m still a bit confused though, I’ve been seeing this guy and he is literally perfect from what I’ve seen so far. He’s nice, thoughtful,we have very similar values..etc. But every time we spend time together I’m just…bored. Sometimes we have nothing to talk about. I tried doing a fun new activity with him and I hoped that would bring out the fun and goofy side of him but no. He’s an introvert and doesn’t talk much or laugh much…or anything really. There’s definitely no spark. I’m an introvert as well but I’m pretty expressive and bubbly one on one. I don’t know if it’s a compatibility issue or if he’s just slow to warm up since it’s only been 3 dates and a handful of phone calls (usually about an hour long, and we learn a lot about each other but still boring). I’m not looking for crazy chemistry, just at least wanting to be around him and being curious but I’m loosing interest already. I’m scared to give up on a guy who’s this great only because I didn’t give it enough time but I don’t want to hurt him (he’s clearly still interested) or waste my time on someone who isn’t good for me either. What should I do?

  16. I think it’s awesome that you are being patient, and that you understand it takes time to get to know people. It may be the case that on just date three he still feels a little uncomfortable around you. But also, the reason why we date is to get to know people! If you are getting to know him and feeling like there’s no connection, nothing to talk about, and no “there” there, it’s also okay to let it go.

    Yes, instant, “I want to attack you and rip off your clothes right now” chemistry is almost always a warning sign. But at the same time, you should feel interested in what he has to say and generally enjoy your time together. It sounds like you don’t.

    This might be a “great on paper” guy who is just not your person. (And you might not be his either). Don’t force it!

    All the best,
    LMB

  17. This is a great article, thank you! I have been seeing a guy for 4 months now, 2 months in, he told me he did not love me, but wanted to see, where it goes. I told him i did not love him either, because i practically did not know him much. Couple days ago he said he still does not love me, he said he is missing chemistry, but on the other hand he enjoys time with me, tells me personal things etc. Lately we only hang out at my place, i have never been to his place, did not meet his friends or family… We agree that we share important valis, but he had chemistry in his last relationships…. on the other hand he admited that his previous relationships are over and ended for similar reasons. I feel very vulnerable yet i want to know if we have any future together… is it wrong to stay with a person who clearly stated they did not love me?
    Thank You

  18. Thank you. I really need to read this. Long story short my partner and I broke up after 4 years together. I started questioning my feelings for him as things between us didn’t have any spark any more. He’s perfect in every other way. He’s handsome, kind, loving, thoughtful, shy (I’m a shy person as well) and is like my best friend but there wasn’t any spark in the bedroom due to his shyness.

    After we broke up I met a new guy who I seemed to sweep me off my feet. He was outgoing, charming, handsome and very connected to his sexual side. In the start I couldn’t believe I’d found someone I loved. I finally felt confident in the bedroom and enjoyed it. However a few months in he started emotionally controlling me and making me feel bad. It was a rollercoaster of highs and extreme lows until I had to end things for my own mental health.

    Out of pure luck I ran into my ex (the guy I was with for 4 years) and we decided to give it another try. He’s not changed one bit. We’ve both been with other people so it’s strange to be together again but he’s the ideal life long partner. We don’t argue and he still is my best friend. I feel so comfortable around him however I can not help myself but over think about the spark issue. I don’t know how to help him out of his shell in that department. I want to be with him for the rest of my life but I wish sex could be more fun and enjoyable.

  19. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 8 years. We haven’t had any intimacy AT ALL in three years. He says he is going to work on it, but the truth is that even in the beginning (with the exception of maybe the first month) we haven’t really been sexually compatible. What he is interested in in bed literally turns me off, and he’s not into it without that. Having said that, we both find each other attractive and we are both extremely compatible in other areas. I just find myself tho king that we are just going to end up living out our life of boringly compatible. I mean it’s been 8 years already. I’ve been in terrible relationships with amazing chemistry and now amazing, but no chemistry. I feel like this can’t be all there is, but I don’t want to throw away a relationship with someone I love because I maybe have my wires crossed. Please help!

  20. Interesting read. I am a woman who acts on “chemistry” and “sparks” and have experienced disappointment each time. I tried, i really tried to give a good, kind, nice man who adored me, a chance by dating.. we can talk, we have things in common, he is attentive and caring to me. When we finally kissed…. nothing.. nothing at all. I ended it that same week because I felt that he deserved better. Since then, i once again, fell for a guy that i felt great chemistry with. It was my first “this is a casual relationship only” and it was thrilling to me. We took a trip together which went very well. However, at the end of the day, he wants nothing more than occasional and casual and now I feel empty and embarrassed of myself. So, it looks like i have an issue that I need to deal with. Dam that wonderful feeling of Chemistry!

  21. What if you once had chemistry, and now Everything is fine except the point: Most importantly, true love takes responsibility for behavior, and is willing to make changes… just because it’s important to you.

    I’ve tried everything to communicate the importantance, but nothing changes. Intimacy, passion, desire, and sex play a very important part of a healthy relationship… They once did in mine at least. Without these, I’m finding it best to move on and accept the single life.

  22. Too much chemistry is basically lust. Lack of chemistry is for friends. I never felt chemistry for .my husband. We were friends for 9 or 10 months before we had sex. He was a rebound relationship after my crazy chemistry relationship with an alcoholic. I wanted to get married after only dating 14 months. We have been together a long time but I always sensed I forced a square peg into a round hole. We have mostly had a mediocre sex life from the beginning. Fast forward 25 years, and I’m so unhappy. Been in therapy for years. Should I leave?

  23. Martina, of course I have no idea what is really going on with this person you’re dating, and what the future may hold for you.

    The only thing I know is that I have worked with numerous clients, particularly men, who have spent a long time in relationships — sometimes years — with women who’s company they enjoyed and who they had a nice time with and who were good social partners, etc… but who they didn’t like enough to commit to. They were happy to continue these relationships with these “perfectly fine” women until something better came along. When it did, the guys jumped ship and left their partners shocked and heartbroken.

    They would rationalize this to themselves by saying things (to me) like, “Well, I told here that I wasn’t really ready to commit.” Or, “I told her that I didn’t love her.” In their minds, they were being honest with the women they were involved with, and figured that those women were grown adults who knew what they were doing. (And, now that I’m thinking about it, I have also worked with men who actively misled women they were involved with and offered assurances about their feelings and commitment what were not the full truth, because the *real* truth would have lead to them getting broken up with. And they didn’t want that, because on many levels they were enjoying the relationship and they didn’t have any other immediate prospects.)

    So, while I have no idea what the truth is for you, and your partner, and this particular relationship, I have learned over the years to listen to what people are saying about how they feel — both through their words and the way they behave. I firmly believe that YOU deserve to be in a relationship with someone who is crazy about you, and if you know for sure that this is not that, you might have enough information to stop messing around with this dude and go find someone who loves you the way you deserve to be loved.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

  24. Hey Sarah! So, first, if you haven’t already, please read “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to An Ex Love” NOT for guidance about releasing an attachment, but because there are several chapters that discuss the mechanics of romantic chemistry and what it does to you mentally and emotionally. I think that would really help you get a handle on what is happening here. It is also worth considering what it is that “excites you….” because those things can sometimes be diametrically opposed to the types of things that lead to high quality, stable, healthy long term relationships. (As it sounds like you’ve learned the hard way).

    Secondly: Sex therapy! It sounds like there are so many strengths in your relationship, and that it’s worth investing in. Many, many couples need to do intentional work around improving their sex life. It does NOT just happen, it is created. There are so many things that great sex therapist can help you with, as a couple, to improve your physical intimacy. Be warned though, this is a growth process: you will likely learn lots of new things about yourself along the way that surprise you. Creating chemistry may have a lot less to do with your partner… and a lot to do with YOU, and how you are showing up in this relationship. (And will similarly probably lead to lots of powerful growth opportunities for him too.)

    If you’d like to do this work here at Growing Self I’d recommend you schedule a free consultation with my colleague Dori Bagi. (If you don’t see her as having availability in our online system, call our office — she might be able to work you in). She is a sex therapist who specializes in coaching couples around improving their sexual intimacy.

    Wishing you lots of sweaty hotness in your future! 😉 Lisa Marie Bobby

  25. I would strongly encourage you to seek the support of a sex therapist who can help you two talk about what is going on, and see if there are opportunities for improvement. It sounds like this is a relationship with a lot of strengths, and one worth investing in. I’m also hearing that this doesn’t feel sustainable for you, long term, unless something changes. Sex therapy is the path to creating that change, I hope you consider it. LMB

  26. My boyfriend and I met five months ago on a dating app. We started going on dates and built a foundation of knowing each other, which was important because we were quite literally strangers. Each date, each interaction inched us closer together. Two months in, we discussed our feelings and desire to be with each other in something exclusive, that allowed us to explore commitment— a real relationship, but one that wasn’t prescribing meaning. No, we talked about how relationships need room and freedom to naturally evolve. It’s been wonderful and real. We have always felt comfortable with each other. From our first kiss, he later confessed that it just felt right: intuitive and natural and effortless. Our sex life has been great and we’ve discussed how that physical intimacy had always been good and easy.

    Two days ago, he told me that he thinks we should break up. He isn’t certain that he is falling in love with me, because every time he gets close to that feeling, it seems to go away. It reaches a plateau. I was blind-sighted by this, not just because I was happy, but because I felt that our relationship has been so comfortable, safe, and healthy. We talked about it, how his last relationship was also his first, nearly a decade ago when he was in high school, and how this doesn’t feel like that.

    I was ready (though very saddened) to accept this as our ending, until I asked him: “when was the last time you liked me the most?” I thought he would say it had been a long time ago. Instead, he said that he felt that way on our second to last date, two weeks ago when he visited me in my hometown over the holidays. After that time, we texted each other consistently. When he saw me in person after, on our last date, he said he didn’t feel like it was a Big Moment. I think he thought all the build up would push him into an “intense” feeling of love. Only it didn’t. We had dinner in a crowded restaurant. Our conversation wasn’t the most flirtatious. The most intimate moments happened later that evening, at my place. So, he seemed to make this decision based on a lackluster date.

    Knowing that, I told him that I believe he is making a mistake, that he’s throwing away something that has always felt so good and right (his word!) because it doesn’t feel the way love is depicted in the movies. I also asked him, ”Are you really confident this is the right thing to do? Because I’m not— what we have, how safe it feels when we’re together, when we are just getting to know each other, that’s a rare feeling. You have never felt like a stranger to me, even when you were one. Even our ability to have this painful conversation, to find the levity in it, to be kind and patient, that is not something you find everywhere. It’s rare.” He immediately said “No, I’m not confident.” He also agreed that he has always felt comfortable with me. In his words, it’s why he has felt conflicted.

    I asked him if he was willing to try, either in scaling back our relationship to something casual, or keeping things as they are, or something in the spectrum of that. I also said that, because I’m applying to graduate schools, I’ll be moving out of his city in a few months. If we have a natural end, I asked, why can’t we see where this goes and try?

    He asked for time to think. Of course, I agreed that he should take it. We scheduled to meet later next week, after the long weekend, when we are both back in town. We agreed not to text during these days apart.

    I guess, I’m wondering, what can I do now? How do I move forward and prepare myself for any of the possible scenarios that may arise? I don’t want to convince someone to stay if he really wants to go, but his willingness to talk and to take the time to think and to meet with me again feels important too. In my gut, I feel like this relationship is a good thing. So, I don’t want to abandon it without trying, but I also don’t want to overextend myself. What is the healthiest and kindest and bravest way to see this through?

  27. Thank you! I’ve historically been blinded by chemistry, missing/ignoring red flags & ending up in highly-toxic, long-term relationships. I’m ready for stability & the slow burn…

  28. My boyfriend (23) and I (24) have been dating for almost three years now. He is a wonderful person, I know it’s completely normal to be different from your partner (he’s pretty introverted and I lean more towards being extroverted). I’d say most of the time we mesh well together but there are times I feel like we lack “chemistry” and I often find myself highly conflicted due to multiple reasons, like society’s pressure on THE ONE and the pressures that come along with that because society says you have to be married at a certain time or even my battle with anxiety and depression, causes me to feel and think that he shouldn’t be with me or vice versa, also due to us being different people we have different ways of receiving and giving in our interactions. I’m the type of person who’s love language is words of affirmation, physical touch, and quality time and he’s the type that really enjoys spending time with me. We’ve taken that quiz to better understand how we function in our relationship and how we can tend to each others needs. I’m highly goofy but chill and crave deep convos and he’s the coolest cucumber and quiet. So, at times I’ve brought up my concern that maybe we aren’t a good match because I feel like we aren’t at the same level. I feel like I have to dull myself down because he’s not as interactive as me (it feels quite uncomfortable/awkward and sometimes my anxiety will eat me alive). I’m not sure if this is all making sense but we’ve also spoke about how no one has ever really challenged him outside of his comfort zone. He asks for my patience as we keep trying to grow our relationship. He encourages me, he’s thoughtful, goofy, kind, a talented musician. There are moments I feel like I have an expectation for how I want him to be in our relationship and I’ve been trying to navigate that and if I’m overthinking too much or if there’s something wrong with me for wanting more. I’d really appreciate any insight on this, thank you so much in advance.

  29. My husband of 20 years (two kids together) left after not being able to get the kind of sexual chemistry he wanted. We are highly companionate, and at the mid-point of our marriage I tried to address the difference in our sexual energy and styles by getting my courage up to suggest we see a sex therapist to find a middle ground that would work for us both. He declined and things went downhill, slowly and in the context of jobs and teenagers and aging parents, until the only option for him was an open marriage – which meant any romantic focus going to someone else while I was the at home partner.
    My biggest grief is that he did not give the marriage the chance with sex therapy. He has since had two failed relationships filled with what he describes as the passion he craved, but is now single again and not seeking, instead returning to therapy to try and figure out his lifelong bad patterns. He doesn’t believe he could return to reconsider our lifelong connection and what he agrees is a high degree of compatibility and love because he “ruined” what we had.
    It has been a challenging two years, and at 52 it’s pretty challenging to explore intimacy of any kind with such a background of loss, and feelings of aging, and economic precarity, and middle aged men who date 10-20 years their junior. I’m trying to make peace with it all.
    Mostly, I’d like validation that sex therapy (with buy in from both sides) *did have* the *potential* to make a difference. I honestly think it would help me to move on if I could get away from the sense that, as my ex likes to believe, our relationship had a ‘fatal flaw’ from the beginning in our sexual connection. To be clear, I have plenty of sexual energy and have had great sex with a lot of crappy partners. I think our goals were misaligned (mine toward strong partnership and support, his toward strong sexual connection and validation) but I was the partner willing to walk toward the middle ground, where his desires were non-negotiable, and so he sublimated for so many years.
    I hate to think of this ending as a forgone conclusion. It’s harder when the life you were planning on walks away with no notice.

  30. I was with my husband for 16 years, we separated for 18 months and have recently reconnected. He is my best friend and I missed him a lot, however in some ways he feels like a brother to me, the sexual attraction was never really there. Whilst we were separated I was with someone who I was very sexually attracted to but even this fizzled after a while. I am not sure if this is a problem with me, and being unable to sustain that or if I just have never met the right person. I didnt have many partners before my husband

  31. When I met my late husband, I felt comfortable. We got along, we were funny together, sex wasn’t brilliant (I was young and naive and nervous), but we had a good marriage and loved each other. But, I never felt those “butterflies” with him – it was all easy, we even bought a house together without even talking about marriage. And I didn’t particularly enjoy sex with him (sorry hun!) Now, five years after his death, I met someone else. I met him on a zoom call at the beginning of a pandemic. I didn’t see him, but he saw me. He sent me a picture which was HORRIFIC. But, he was so charming in his writing, interesting, educated, intelligent (all things that are VERY important to me), I decided to take the jump to start face timing with him. He looked nothing like his picture! He’s a handsome man, but he’s a little overweight. But, in the beginning, I just thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a chance because there were no “dealbreakers.” Nothing. But now, a year later, it’s just like it was with my late husband – easy. No fighting, no butterflies, just easy friendship and, oh, UNBELIEVABLE SEX! I am 58 and had no idea what sex was really like! I have only had sex with seven men in my life, and he blows the others all away. And he just has to touch me to turn me on. So, yes – people might look at us and wonder whether he’s got money (no he doesn’t) or power (nope) (he’s slightly dumpy and I am a tall, statuesque blonde who has modeled in the past), but he’s a lovely, kind, trustworthy man with amazing insight into the female body and there is nothing that would make me leave him. So, to me, looks matter to get you interested, but I learned that men just do not take good pictures. And to women (and men), men need to be better in bed – if women knew what the female body is capable of (endless orgasms for hours), they would be fighting to be in bed with their man 24 hours a day. It’s possible. And you can’t tell by looks. You have to take that chance. I recommend you write down what you absolutely must have in a man – and the dealbreakers. For example, I needed intelligence, well read, has a decent income/job, grown children, likes music, movies, theaters, books, pets, enjoys dinner parties, and travel. Dealbreakers were smoking, hard drugs, alcoholic, school aged children, no income, bad hygiene, emotional unavailability, Trump supporter, hates cats or allergic to cats. So if I met someone and he had no dealbreakers and he didn’t look like Robert Redford, was I going to dismiss him? And then I had to go to bed with him to make sure he was good in that area too. And “good” was a hope that I might have fun too. I had no idea what was about to hit me! I think women (and men) place too much emphasis on looks, cars, jobs, clothes. Looks fade. That hunky 30 yo will have a beer gut in 15 years anyway! Anyway, I just want people to widen their horizons a bit. Love can happen, and butterflies are NOT a part of it if you get on well and he (or she) are not playing games.

  32. I feel like I’ve never had passion for anyone. I dated my best friend for awhile but always felt something was missing because I didn’t feel anything with the kiss. I ended it and ever since have been dating but still never feel anything in the bedroom. I may feel attracted to them but the actual physical touch does nothing. Do you have any sex therapist recommendations?

  33. Can I just say that this is the single most helpful, insightful and plausible article I have ever come across! It helps explain my relationship history and my part in my own downfall at times to be honest but most importantly it has given me clarity and great optimism! Many thanks from a new fan in the UK

  34. Hi Holly, yes, we have a few sex therapists on the Growing Self team, Dori B. and Renelle N. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with one of them, you can fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you! Thank you, also, for sharing and being a part of the conversation. I’m sure others can relate to your experience. xoxo, Lisa

  35. This is wonderful advice Suze! Thank you very much for sharing your story, and reminding us all that being open to people without making a lot of judgments or assumptions going in can really pay off. I fully agree, great relationships (even where the sex is fantastic) feel easy, not anxiety provoking (aka “butterflies”). The best kind of relationships are true friendships at the core. How wonderful that you have found someone to have a positive new chapter with after losing your husband. It sounds like you’re having a fantastic time, and I’m so happy for you! Wishing you all the very best, Dr. Lisa

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