No, I’m not talking about the physical science. I’m talking about dating terminology. Walking the Grey Line, a commenter, used it once to mean “I can’t stand her looks.” And I went: “Ooooh. Is that what it means?”
I’ve always wondered. I’ve never used the “no chemistry” excuse to break up because I have no idea what it means.
If you ask google to define “chemistry” it gives you lots of stuff related to things you can’t see but for some reason are supposed to care about anyway. Only one definition relates to relationships: “How two people interact” with the sample sentence “The chemistry of that relationship was wrong from the start.”
Yep, definitely sounds like some of my dates.
But seriously, that’s a very benign definition. It could easily mean that you just weren’t talking on the same wavelength. You know those people? You think you understand them and give an intelligent answer. They give a brief pause and an even briefer confused microexpression before answering, and you know you completely got the wrong end of the stick.
So nope, that can’t be what “chemistry” means. Because you often hear daters use the phrase like so: “We went out four times but… there was no chemistry.” It doesn’t take four dates to realize that you and the other person don’t understand each other.
So, step two: when google fails, ask a real, live, human being. Like maybe one of those people who talk so readily about lack of chemistry.
“So, Mr./Miss Dater. You say that you went on a date on August the 23rd of the year 2009 CE and there was no chemistry. How would you define ‘chemistry’?”
Be prepared to see someone act out “prevaricate” and “obfuscate” and a few other fun words you don’t often get to use. You may not come out knowing what “chemistry” is, but you’ll get the vague notion that it has something to do with feelings, relationships, attraction…
Ah, attraction. This is similar to Walking the Grey Line’s definition. Not Attracted = No Chemistry.
But people are attractive for various reasons. One could say that the popular girl in a class is attractive to all the girls who flock around her. It’s a friendly attraction, and bears no resemblance to anything related to Bore’s atomic model (er, did I spell his name wrong?) or compressed nitrogen or bubbling test tubes.
Here’s my hypothesis: when people say “chemistry” they really mean “biochemistry.” And by that I mean not atoms or molecules so much as amino acids and proteins… or hormones.
Upon various occasions I have suggested to young women that “no chemistry” means “not falling in love.” My hypothesis is always greeted with loud guffaws, be they bais yaakov maidels or more modern. “Love?” snicker the more modern ones. The BY types just look affronted.
Love? That’s for cheesy novels and Disney animations. A goyish concept. It’s not about love. It’s all about ezer kinegdo, don’t you know? You fall in love after marriage. Of course, you don’t want to marry someone who revolts you but really, you don’t know what love is until after you’re married. Everyone knows that. Love? You think “no chemistry” means “not falling in love”? How could it? Love is a passing infatuation. Not a Jewish concept. Really, you have such strange ideas that you could be one of those blogger people.
Okay, I get it. I said the “L” word. Wash out my mouth with soap; I won’t make that mistake again, except when I turn up the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack to “Do You Love Me?” There’s an intriguingly ambiguous song. After years of sharing everything, does love matter? (Are we self-conscious about wanting it because we believe the answer is “no”?) What is ‘love’ anyway? Is it hormones? It is something deeper? Is this a confusing case of using one word for two distinct concepts?
Maybe… maybe Orthodox Judaism has contributed a distinction in usage to the English language. “Love” is only to be used on long-standing relationships – your parents, grandparents, siblings, kinfauna, and best friends forever. To use it on anyone else is to invite censure. “Chemistry” is to be used for short-term bursts of hormone-driven attraction.
You can’t be in love with your spouse until you’ve been married a while, but you can have some Nobel-Prize caliber chemistry going until then.
Or biochemistry. Try that one on the shadchan. “He’s a great guy, and we had a great time, but… the biochemistry isn’t there.”