Your date ticks all your boxes. They like long walks on the beach, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, champagne-filled picnics, and bouquets of wildflowers. They like slow, home-cooked meals, an occasional glass of mint tea, avocado toast, cricket songs, and foreplay. You don’t call them back.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. As of 2019, at least 59 percent of us had fallen in love with someone who actually doesn’t meet the requirements on our checklist (via Singles in America). You’re searching for chemistry, not a curriculum vitae. Maybe throw your expectations out the window. Concentrate, instead, on spark: the very real, chemical reactions in your brain that fill your body with the natural aphrodisiacs, pheromones, and hormones that make you feel sensual, comfortable, and attached to the person you’re falling in love with (via Greatist).
Gone are the days of dating past, when two people were likely to bump into each other on tragically doomed cruise ships and enjoy love stories destined to be eternalized by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. No, most of us, according to Match’s 2019 Singles in America Survey, found our last date online. And in the world of online dating, when a single, hour-long encounter could be all you’ll ever see of your potential partner ever again, understanding whether you do or don’t have chemistry with someone has never been more important.
Do you feel a bond after a few seconds?
You may only need 30 seconds to make a longterm, reliable judgement about a potential partner. Just ask Sean Horan, assistant professor in communication studies at Texas State University. His research shows that your first half-minute of meeting someone can be an accurate predictor of how you’ll feel in the future (via Greatist). However, it’s important to note that first impressions don’t have to leave you completely sure. You don’t need to be immediately physically attracted to a potential partner either. But it’s not a great sign if you feel like bolting for the nearest exit, calling a cab, and booking the next flight out to Iceland after you’ve shared the same space with someone for a couple minutes.
Of course, during your first half-minute of getting-to-know-yous, discussing even the weather might be a stretch. What should you pay attention to? Eye contact is a good place to start. Susan Trombetti, CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking notes that the ability to maintain eye contact is both “an easy tell that you two have good chemistry” and also “helps create a sense of intimacy” (via Bustle).
You might also try grazing your potential partner’s arm. No need to convince your future beau that it’s a good idea to french kiss, Romeo and Juliet style. On the other hand, if you get a rush out of a touch on the shoulder or a hand placed timidly on the lower back, that’s a solid indication that you’re off to a good start (via Greatist).
Do they make you feel comfortable?
Even if you don’t get butterflies on your first date, think before ruling out a second. As Anita A. Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist told Elite Daily, “first date sparks are overrated.” In fact, not feeling an explosion of fireworks might be a good thing. Take it from clinical psychologist, Dr. Annie Hsueh. Feeling simply “comfortable” around someone could well be all the foundation you need for a stable, lasting romance (via Bustle).
Sure, you would be thrilled if a one-night-stand lead to true love, like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have in Before Sunrise. Realistically, though? You might want to let Hollywood do Hollywood’s thing. Start concentrating on other more subtle, but nonetheless telltale, signs of chemistry. Do you find yourself continuously debating the best ways to eat strawberries? Or do your conversations run deeper? If you find that you can be vulnerable with your date, that’s a good sign that you have chemistry, according to senior matchmaker Erika Kaplan (via Elite Daily).
Does the other person push your buttons?
Humor’s important, sure. Contagious laughter and unintentional smiles when you’re getting to know someone? Those are all surefire signals that you and your date are compatible (via Bustle). But your date should also push your buttons, albeit in a good way.
As licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Anna Hiatt Nicholaides told Bustle, “compatible couples are always challenging one another on a variety of levels.” Yes, but what does that mean, exactly? Challenging doesn’t mean disagreeing with you or pushing you to do things that you don’t want to do. You shouldn’t, for example, climb Mount Everest without protective gear just because your significant other decides that that’s a good thing to do.
Challenging means pushing you to be your best self. Do you secretly want to be the next principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre? Or maybe you think you can surprise-drop a new album as good a Taylor Swift’s? Your partner should help push you towards those goals. According to relationship expert Damona Hoffman, you want to look for someone that makes you “reaffirm your values” and inspires you “to learn more about yourself and your partner” (via Elite Daily). If, on the other hand, you feel consistently bored or drained around your partner, that’s a sign you may want to head in another direction.