Does “chemistry” matter?

08 Jun 2011

Does “chemistry” matter?

Most women seem to think it does.  In fact, most of the women I’ve worked with say they couldn’t contemplate a relationship with a man, unless they feel more or less instant chemistry with him.

If he’s a nice guy, but there’s no chemistry, then they don’t consider him partner material.

Whereas, if there is chemistry, even if he has red flags coming out of his ears, then they do consider him partner material.

Chemistry must be pretty powerful, mustn’t it?  If it can lead sensible women to “sign up” for emotionally abusive men when they already sense that something is amiss, then it must be an irresistible force, mustn’t it?

But what is chemistry?

Curiously, “chemistry” is one affliction I didn’t suffer from – although that wasn’t enough to stop me marrying an abusive man.  What attracted me was no less powerful, but different. I’ll say more about that later.

But, since I couldn’t define “chemistry” successfully, I thought I’d better make it my business to find out how those “in the know” would describe it.

The results may surprise you.

First, according to dating guru David DeAngelo, most men don’t have a clue about “chemistry”.  It’s not even on their radar.

Second, DeAngelo is one of a number of men who teach other men how to create “chemistry” with women.  According to a blog post on

“Let’s say you meet a very feminine woman who reveals a lot of submissive cues. You’ll be able to create instant chemistry by demonstrating a lot of dominant traits, such as leading the interaction, telling her what to do or what to wear. You can also create chemistry by showing physical signs of affection from the get go. Hug the woman of your interest. Her body will then produce oxytocin.”  (My italics)

What does this tell you?

The short answer is this: an unscrupulous man – and you know there are enough of them around – can “read” you, successfully.  And he will manipulate you for his own purposes, by deliberately creating the “chemistry” you seek.

When you think about it that way, how attractive does “chemistry” look now?

But there is more.

I said that something different, but at least as powerful as “chemistry”, exerted a strong hold over me.  That hold took me into my abusive marriage.  Then, after my abusive marriage ended, it briefly created a powerful attraction – one I resisted – to quite the shortest, squattest, ugliest frog in the barrel.

You see, there is “chemistry”, and then there is the attraction of feeling an almost instant connection with someone.

Emotionally abused women – or more correctly, women who are vulnerable to the dubious charms of abusive men – have little self-belief, and less self-worth.  Whatever scenario they find themselves in, they believe it is their role, duty, or destiny, always to come second.

That’s not a good way to feel about yourself.

I’m not suggesting for a moment it’s your fault; it isn’t.  It’s just the way you’ve been programmed.  You’ve had shame and negativity drummed into you from an early age.

You’ve been taught that you still are, and always will be, the frightened little girl you once were.

So, the thought of creating an adult relationship with a partner can be very worrying.  The idea of revealing yourself to another person, with all your (very human) imperfections and frailties, can be frightening.

If you’ve spent your life around judgmental, critical people, then you expect people you associate with to be judgmental and critical of you.

Suppose you meet someone who is quite different from you, someone who is quite different from anything you have ever experienced before.  You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t spend a lot of time agonizing over how this person will judge you.  Since you don’t even know how his mind works, you can’t know how he will judge you.  Still, your programming has given you every reason to fear the worst.

Because you suffer with the 7 wounds, and lack boundaries, it can feel awkward being with another person’s otherness.  You can find it hard to believe there is enough about you to draw this person to you despite their otherness.

When you meet an abusive man, on the other hand, and you see a few red flags fluttering in the breeze, you don’t have that problem. Instinctively, you know exactly how he will judge you.  There is a reassuring sense of familiarity.  Especially if – as is highly likely – he has picked up on the cues David DeAngelo mentions.

(All the more so if he makes the right noises, early on, about how beautiful you are, and loving you forever, and wanting what you want…)

All these things save you the journey into openness, into laying bare who you truly are.  So, your fear of exposing your vulnerability takes you right back into connection with the kind of man most likely to exploit it.

Curiously, opening yourself up to an emotionally abusive man doesn’t seem terrifying, because there is a strong sense of knowing, of connection.

You have a sense of knowing him and connecting with him almost right from the start.  You have that sense because, whether or not you are aware of it at the time, you do know him or, at least, you know how people like him will react.  You know, because people like him had a hand in shaping you, and creating those 7 wounds we all have.

You have a strong sense of knowing him because his teeth fit your wounds so neatly. In fact, we often mistake for chemistry the neat way his teeth fit our wounds.

In my case, it was this sense of knowing that attracted me to my abusive husband.  (It certainly wasn’t chemistry.  My intuition was telling me I really did NOT like his looks.  And I had a clear sense of his emotional insecurity.)

I, instinctively, knew how he felt about a lot of things.  I knew a lot of his core values – or, more correctly, his core lack of values.  They felt familiar.

They were familiar.

They were exactly the kind of ‘values’ I’d grown up with.

This made getting into the relationship as easy as… well, falling off a log. We didn’t have to get to know one another, because we already did. We both knew what to expect of the other.

I knew who he was, and how he reacted…  I had some sense of his dark side. I just didn’t think he would visit his dark side on me…  I just thought he would carry on feeding my cues back to me in a nice, reassuring way.

Do you begin to see how women’s preoccupation with “chemistry”, and familiarity, can be a dangerous thing?

When you heal your 7 wounds, two vital things change for you.

First, you feel safe with another person’s “otherness”; you no longer need them to be “familiar”.  You can be safe and comfortable owning who you are, and discovering who they are, exploring their otherness.

Second, because you have your intuition, your conscious mind, and your sense of self-preservation (remember that one?!!) all working together, in your best interest, you can, actually, make healthy decisions; decisions that will bring you lasting happiness.

So, the answer to my initial question is this: yes, “chemistry” matters.  But it matters for the wrong reasons, and it leads to entirely the wrong result.  I’ve no doubt you will feel “chemistry” again, as I did, for one, or more, of the uglier frogs in the barrel.  Ignore it.

Look instead, for the kind of connection that slowly, gradually, gently, heals your heart.

If you don’t know how to do that for yourself, that’s understandable, given what you have been through.  The good news is, I can help you.

Women often ask me: “how can I get through this?”  The answer I give them is this: “You will get through this.  You will come out the other side.  But if you’re struggling, it’s a sign that it’s just too hard. You need help.”

Please remember, ‘ the darkest hour is just before dawn’.  My support teleclasses will give you the help, focus and strength you need.

Click here:


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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