No chemistry with a guy you’re dating? How to decide whether to give it time or let it go

No Chemistry with a Guy

Question: I’ve been on two dates with someone new, but I don’t feel any chemistry. If there’s no chemistry with a guy I’m dating, should I keep trying with him or move on?
– N

Answer: This is a great question, and one that I think resounds with most women who are out there dating right now. We all crave that immediate and powerful connection that keeps us up at night and leaves no doubt in our minds that we’ve found the perfect man. It’s addictive and exciting, and we know from date one exactly how we feel.

The problem is that sometimes we confuse chemistry with attraction, and what I described above is attraction. You can feel a very powerful attraction to someone, and think it is chemistry – but what if that attraction isn’t reciprocated? Is it still chemistry? If you have strong mutual physical attraction, but disagree on most things in conversation, is that still chemistry? If you can talk and laugh with someone for hours, but don’t find them physically attractive at first, is that chemistry?

In reality, chemistry is far from black and white. It is multifaceted, nuanced, and changeable. It depends on when and how we meet someone, where we are in our lives, and what we’re looking for. It can change based on how long we’ve known someone, what their personality is like, and how they treat us. So in this article, I’m going to focus more on what I think the crux of this question is: attraction.

As women, we have a unique ability to develop attraction to someone over time, even when no initial attraction existed. Think about that guyfriend from university or high school; you know, the one you felt zero attraction to at first, but ended up with a devastating crush on six months later. Maybe you hooked up for a while, but it never went anywhere, and you always wondered why.

There are important differences between men and women when it comes to chemistry and attraction. For men, attraction happens instantaneously, and they are driven to pursue it from the get-go. They’ll ask you out on dates, try to impress you, and try to sleep with you – all at a hundred miles a minute. This attraction, if paced, has the potential to bloom into romance, love, and dedication. On the other hand, immediate rejection will not kill the attraction, but it will stunt its ability to bloom into something more – it kills the potential for romance.

For women, attraction doesn’t need to be instantaneous – it is more complex and dynamic. Immediate attraction can fade over time if a man treats you poorly, or if you realize he isn’t a good guy. Similarly, attraction can develop over time as we grow more comfortable with someone, and find their personality attractive.

You are still early in the game after two dates. I wasn’t sure about Daniel until the fifth date, when happenstance was responsible for determining the fate of our relationship. If the weather had been warmer, I would have gone straight home and maybe never seen him again. But it was the coldest night of the year and his place was nearby, so I joined him for one more drink, and everything changed.

But sometimes, a guy you aren’t attracted to is just a guy you aren’t attracted to – and there’s no way around it. If the thought of kissing him makes you recoil, that’s a pretty powerful indicator of your feelings. If you dread the prospect of seeing him, that’s another sign you should listen to.

To determine whether there is potential for attraction to grow over time, these questions will help you evaluate your chemistry:

  • Is he actively pursuing you, and showing interest on a consistent basis?
  • Does he treat you well and make you feel desired?
  • Does he seem to be a genuinely good guy, with personality traits that you find attractive (humour, kindness, intelligence, ambition)?
  • Do you enjoy talking to him and spending time with him on a platonic level?
  • Do you feel any level of physical interest in him?

If the answers to these questions are all “yes”, then I would suggest giving it at least one more date. However for your next date, it is important to ensure that your date involves some sort of adventure. It can be difficult for attraction to develop over dinner and conversation alone – you need to share experiences and activities to bond. An active date can serve to put you both more at ease so that you are genuinely yourselves, rather than being your First Date selves.

Some ideas for adventure dates include going for a hike, or meeting for brunch in the city and then walking around a neighbourhood. You could meet at Spin for drinks and ping-pong, or go to Riverdale Farm and get ice cream afterwards. You could grab some cheese and wine on Queen West, and have a picnic in Trinity Bellwoods park. Or if you are athletic types, you could go for a bike ride along the waterfront path and stop in somewhere for a beer.

Whatever you do, the goal is to choose something that gets you out into the world, moving and experiencing new scenery together in a low-pressure environment.

These types of experiences will help build your emotional chemistry, which has a significant (if slow-moving) effect on physical chemistry. The tricky part is that guys often want to move more quickly with the physical side of things, which is problematic if you aren’t there yet. Sometimes this will cause so much undue pressure that you panic and break it off, simply because you weren’t attracted enough yet to get physical with him.

If you find yourself in this situation, but think he’s a really great guy who you could be attracted to in time, don’t be afraid to let him know that you want to keep seeing him but you need to move slow. He’ll probably be disappointed, but a good guy will respect your request and still want to see you. If he doesn’t have the patience for this, then your decision is made for you – and at no great loss.

During this time I would suggest continuing to date other people, recognizing that he’ll likely do the same, until/unless you agree to be exclusive. Right now, you’re just getting to know each other – you don’t need to jump in feet first. Dating isn’t just romance, it’s friendship-building too – and those bonds take time to develop. If you think there might be potential, then it’s worth a slow burn at first because it can grow into something powerful and enduring.

Remember that the pace of the relationship is always within your control. The moment you stop enjoying your time with him, or develop a stronger connection with someone else, or realize that chemistry hasn’t developed as you hoped, you can end it. For now, just relax, enjoy an adventurous date or two, and see where it takes you.

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