Nomalanga: “Chemistry” In Romance is Nonsense

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chemistry_of_loveBy Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

In the month of February, there is more talk about love than any other time of the year and we hear things like “love is in the air” or some other cliche that has a feel good tone to it. While I have no problem with those who choose to confine their expression of love to one month, or one day and call it Valentine’s day, I think it is important that we keep our feet on the ground when we talk about love.

The feeling that people often describe as “love”, unfortunately, is usually some variation of a strong attraction which varies from !ust to infatuation and even some irrational attachments. While I understand that the high that we often feel when we first “fall”  in “love” is part of the relationship pattern, I am often concerned when I hear people say some of these cliches.

Most relationships follow a simple path which starts with the high of new love and then they move on to the power struggle (this is where most relationships and marriages will end) and then, if they make it past the power struggle, they settle into the third phase  – acceptance. The reason why I am borderline irritated by hearing things like “we have chemistry” or some other cliche, is that I believe that relationships are more about learning the skill of loving another person and loving yourself than some chance meeting with someone with whom you have “chemistry”. Personally, I would rather build chemistry and sustain it than have it appear from nowhere and then eventually disappear into the nowhere that it came from.

In his book, “Getting The Love You Want,” Harville Hendrix, Ph.d., asserts that we often end up in relationships with people who will cause us to explore and potentially heal our childhood wounds. The reason why I share this is that I believe that our attitude about love and relationships is much more important than “chemistry” or initial attraction. When we enter relationships with an attitude of service and a desire to build the skills necessary to love another person and be in a relationship with them and also have a willingness to learn, heal and to grow, we are more likely to build healthy, passionate and sustainable relationships.

While some people will “fall” in love and and then, when the high subsides, will have the willingness to learn and grow with another person, there are far too many who will just assume that the “chemistry” is gone and then go looking for it somewhere else. Of course this tends to form a pattern or cycle of constantly running from one relationship to the next.

I’m not suggesting that sometimes people are not justified in ending a relationship and moving on, but instead, I am suggesting that we get honest about what it means to really love another person and build a solid marriage or relationship. I don’t pretend to know everything about love and relationships, but one thing I know for sure is that real love relationships are built by two people who commit to doing the work they need to do. Real love takes an attitude of willingness and an openness to learning about yourself and your partner and also being willing to build the skills to love them and be open to their affections as well.

Too many of us have the desire to love and be loved but we lack the skills to be in healthy and functional relationships. The good news is that you can learn! You just have to have the right attitude and a partner who is also committed to learning and building and then together you can make magic!

Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s Facebook page or Follow her on Twitter

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6 Comments

  1. Good points which needed further development. I would add even our notions of love is bogus not merely the concepts of chemistry. These notions have debilitating effects on the lives of children and disjointed families. Hopefully you will keep this going as a series if discussions about relationships and our realities and fantasies

  2. The word love has many meanings to many people. Frankly, I think many people say “love” when they really mean lust. Of course love sounds much more romantic than lust. therein could be the source of many relationship problems.

  3. I’m one of those who believe in Chemical attraction–but have never really studied it in any Scientific way—–hopefully is does not mean “LOVE and RUN”—-some of us are not Mature in the Nature of “LOVE”— or the flip side of this Wonderful HAPPENING— We Humans love beginnings–without thinking about or planning on the endings.

  4. All we are is chemistry, to denie this fact is just foolish. It comes in different form and at different stages. Some when we meet, some during the the power struggle and it is what gets us to the acceptance phase! Chemistry is everything! And we change chemically the whole time!

  5. As a person who just got out a relationship with no “chemistry”, I love this article, if only for the fact that it validates my approach to the relationship. There wasn’t a crazy spark but I loved everything else about his and though with openness and honesty, my partner and I could tell each other how we want to be loved and the best way to make each other feel desired and appreciated. His philosophy was it isn’t there so I’ll supplement that with someone else. In the end, maybe with a different partner it could have been overcome but as you said “Real love takes an attitude of willingness and an openness to learning about yourself and your partner.” That openness wasn’t there and so now the man I once saw as a husband will likely never be my friend.

  6. As a person who just got out a relationship with no “chemistry”, I love this article, if only for the fact that it validates my approach to the relationship. There wasn’t a crazy spark but I loved everything else about him and thought with openness and honesty, my partner and I could tell each other how we want to be loved and the best way to make each other feel desired and appreciated. His philosophy was it isn’t there so I’ll supplement that with someone else. In the end, maybe with a different partner it could have been overcome but as you said “Real love takes an attitude of willingness and an openness to learning about yourself and your partner.” That openness wasn’t there and so now the man I once saw as a husband will likely never be my friend.

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