What is this Thing Called Chemistry?

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.”


47 thoughts on “What is this Thing Called Chemistry?

  1. Great post!

    I have to object though, to your claim that frum daters, “be they bais yaakov maidels or more modern”, don’t believe in “love” in pre-longstanding relationships. Maybe I’m just showing my out-of-town naivete, but my single friends and I all acknowlegde the fact that we can feel legitimate attraction to people we date. Granted, like you said, we all agree that thoes feelings become much stronger after forming a long, established relationship with someone; however, in today’s day and age, I think that most Americans who have even been nominally exposed to the secular media would have a hard time marrying someone that they didn’t even THINK that they “loved”, even if that feeling wasn’t real yet or whatever.

    I don’t think that “chemistry” is a frum code word for love though. When people use it, I feel like it’s either referring to a lack of attraction, like you said. But that can be related to someone’s physical appearance OR other factors. I’ve felt a lack of chemistry with guys who were definitely decent looking, but our personalities, interests, etc. were just totally off.

  2. I think it’s about compatibility, that you sense a shared personality, attitudes, or approach that might not be visible on the surface. One might be a baalas teshuva from Switzerland and the other a tzugekumener from Borough Park, but when they hit it off like you wouldn’t expect – that’s chemistry.

    I don’t think it’s so much about attraction – plenty of people are attracted to people with whom they have little chemistry. But I think we all find chemistry attractive.

    And it’s Bohr btw. 🙂

    I would imagine that the word “chemistry” came about before biochem got really big. Chemicals are small, usually too small to see, but their presence makes a huge difference in our lives.

  3. Interesting post. (And if you meant Niels Bohr then yes, you got his name wrong. Although the spelling of his name is not far from being everything I know about him)

    I didn’t know that ‘love’ is a forbidden word. I hear it all the time from good BY-educated girls. Not ‘falling in love’, but simple ‘love’ – yes. As for the chemistry -attraction thingy, it’s purely physical. Whenever I discussed it with friends they gave answers like ‘I would never want to touch him’ ‘I can’t stand being in the same room with him for long’ and so on. You can put it in a variey of ways but in essence it’s physical comfort and taking pleasure in the mere *presence* of the other. I like to put it as ‘I can/can’t imagine waking up near him for the rest of my life’.

    It is really as simple as that, and much more basic than common goals, good communication, and other important things. I can’t imagine people taking more than 2-3 dates to figure that out. In the case you get the ‘no chemistry’ answer after a longer period, it’s usually either an convenient excuse (because you can’t really argue with that) or it means ‘the chemistry is there, but, prestige-wise, I can’t live with his/her looks’.

  4. Take this out of shidduchim and into general life and the answer might become clearer. Ever have one woman friend tell you about another woman you just have to meet because you two are just so alike, and have so many interests in common and you are just sooo destined to be good friends? And then you meet and wonder if your introducing friend needs to see an eye doctor? What is missing is the “chemistry,” the spark of attraction–highly personal to each of us–that would draw us to a person, and keep us coming back. It could be something physical, or something emotional, or something intellectual, or, more likely, it’s something we can’t quite put our finger on but we know something’s not there. It’s one of the elements in friendship. So why should it be different in courtship? Call it chemistry or call it “clicking” or use any word you want–it’s there.

  5. Liked this post.
    Isn’t chemistry also about how you feel about the person in general? Like, I dated someone once who was a West Coast perfectly coiffed vegetarian while I’m a meat- eating Midwesterner whose hair is not the greatest. We just didn’t ‘click’- and both of us realized there was no ‘chemistry’. He was attractive to me in the physical sense…we just didn’t have anything in common at ALL.

  6. I think chemistry is something like having good rapport. It just feels “right” to spend time with that person. It doesn’t only happen with dates – also with friends, other people. Some people you are just drawn to and can talk to for hours. Others…not so much. Doesn’t mean you’re going to marry someone just because you have good chemistry, though.

  7. In my experience, “chemistry” can be a catch-all term. While I agree that wavelength is not a factor of chemistry but a category in its own right, I disagree that its use after a fourth date makes it so- the person who uses it as a constituent or surrogate of “chemistry” after four dates may just not be good at analyzing his/her dates, whereas someone else would have realized within 15 minutes of the first date.

    Concerning the “attraction” (I assume you mean physical and not psychological attraction because you talk of biochemistry by way of hormones) factor: This just doesn’t seem to fully embody “chemistry.” Yes, it is a component of “chemistry,” but it is not all of it. Yet, if used for the sole equivalent of “chemistry,” then I think it is being misused. For example, if I was not attracted to a girl, and that was the sole reason for me to say no, I would not use the “chemistry” reason but the “not attracted” reason.

    However, if I didn’t feel that subconscious “click” or “spark” or whatever you want to call it, then I will use a “chemistry” reason. That “click” or “spark” is comprised of not just physical attraction (or mental attraction), but something more on which I can’t sufficiently put my finger. It’s an illogical feeling (as emotions sometimes are). It’s an aspect of “everything coming together in unison” type-of-thing. It’s a feeling where you know your date will never excite you; where you do not look forward to the next date in a positive way (as opposed to a neutral way and surely not a negative way). That is “chemistry-” that irrational feeling that just is, where everything logical is there for a good spouse, but you just don’t “feel” anything and are not interested, excited, etc.

    This is a term that you can use after 1, 4, or even many more dates. Sometimes “chemistry” takes time to develop, but if it doesn’t happen by some subjective time, it’s never likely going to occur. Hence, you tell the date there is no “chemistry” (and not necessarily biochemistry).

    Regarding “Love,” all I can say is that I hope there is deep interest and strong liking, with a permanent infatuation, for a potential spouse before you get engaged. Too many times, I see and hear of guys, and usually of the more yeshivish-puppet-type who ask their rebbeim to think for them, who get engaged because their puppetmasters say that “love” comes after marriage, and the guys feel miserable in marriage because they are still waiting for “love,” all the while not realizing before engagement that the necessary emotions their rebbeim dismissed as unimportant were not there. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

    Please, really really really really like your date and be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for that person, before you get engaged/married. Life is not a fairy tale, but it helps to really like your date, or have Nobel-caliber chemistry.

    Thanks for the post!

  8. I think that chemistry is certainly similar to love in one major way – it means different things to different people, and it can develop (and feel) differently in different situations.

    I know, that’s not very helpful…but there are times when you go out with someone, sometimes even 5,6,7 dates. And they’re nice, you enjoy talking to them. But for some inexplicable reason, you just have no interest in seeing them again. You wouldn’t mind – but you’re not looking forward to it. At all. That’s what I’d say “no chemistry” is.

  9. To me, “love” is when a man will get up in the night to get the baby and give me a breather. Or you’ll step in front of a bullet for. No offense, but I highly doubt (according to my own definition) that I love someone or that he loves me when we’re about to walk under the chuppah. No way I’m taking a bullet for this guy. At least, not yet.

    What about one-sided “chemistry”? Does such a thing exist? I’m sitting there, burbling and witty and maybe even fluttering an eyelash and then he says “Heck no.” My chemistry was not reciprocated.

    Did anyone hear Rabbi Yisroel Reisman’s shiur on motzei shabbos about shidduchim? Memorable.

  10. “if I didn’t feel that subconscious “click” or “spark” or whatever you want to call it, then I will use a “chemistry” reason. That “click” or “spark” is comprised of not just physical attraction (or mental attraction), but something more on which I can’t sufficiently put my finger. It’s an illogical feeling (as emotions sometimes are). It’s an aspect of “everything coming together in unison” type-of-thing.”

    A word on the “click”. It seems to be exactly what everyone is waiting for, that sudden feeling of everything coming together, it’s just “right”, complete ease and openness from the beginning, etc. But I think people very rarely get it, and this has nothing to do with whether or not a couple truly loves each other. Meaning, it seems a mistake to wait for or expect the “click”, or the chemistry, if it is so defined. (Though the “anti-click” is definitely a good reason to end a relationship.) I didn’t “click” with my husband to be, though now I’m madly in love with him. The first date was fun and nice, as first dates can be. No fireworks. Little by little over the next few weeks things became clearer and the realization dawned on the both of us that we wanted to share the rest of our lives together and were falling in love. And the nice thing is that our love for each other developed, it wasn’t instantaneous, so to me it seems truer than the “love at first sight” phenomenon (though I don’t want’ to belittle that).
    And as for people who ridicule others for using the term “love” before they’ve married their chosen ones, and explain that it is merely an infatuation, and such things are not even appropriate for a good, frum Jew – let me just say that Taharat Hamishpacha is geared to keep the infatuation going over the years of a marriage. I don’t think Judaism negates this concept, it’s one of the things that keep couples together and is an important aspect of love. So though it is true that a person to be married may not have yet experienced the well rounded, deeper love of a long-married person, this does not mean that they do not love their intended. Aside from the fact that love comprises so many other things, including respect, admiration, trust and giving, all of which can be felt before marriage.

  11. M’lady,

    Two things.

    One: As I wrote, “Sometimes “chemistry” takes time to develop.”

    Two: When quoting, change all internal quotes from ” to ‘.

  12. On the nitpicky side, since when do nice frum girls use “AD” in their years? Counting time by the Christian god (or messiah, or prophet, or really nice guy, depending on your denomination) is probably Bad For Shidduchim…

    And I would agree with posters 7 and onward who say that chemistry is more of a feeling. It is more than simple physical attraction. It means can you work together, flow together, hang out together. I suppose this can be applied to ordinary friendships as well, but it may make more sense in the business world. Businessfolk in a small committee need to jive with each other in order to be able to work smoothly and effectively. I have heard it applied to student-teacher relationships (ie both parties are very nice, the student is usually a stellar individual whom all the teachers adore, yet the teacher in question didn’t write a good recommendation. Not b/c the teacher was mean or anything. They just didn’t “click.”) It matters more in marriage b/c of the closeness and exclusivity of the marriage relationship.

  13. law school drunk,
    i strongly disagree with you. I am definitely a firm believer in marrying someone you love however i think you have the “clicking” situation a bit messed up.
    Dating is mainly psychological and many factors are involved. Part of the frum world dating crises is the high expectation levels that those who have never really interacted with the opposite sex set about finding the perfect match. obviously many exceptions exist but the existence of a ‘perfect click’ with ‘everything coming together in unison’ is mostly found only in those dating their first second or third girl/guy. Dating for them is still exciting and they are filled with hope and an exuberant attitude about dating.
    I dont know your age or marriage status but know this:
    this mentality of yours is grossly prevalent amongst the elder boys of the yeshiva world >26 who date ad nauseum. I have been called numerous times by friends who just finished breaking up with a 25,26,27 year old after dating 12+ times. The dates went fine, obvious attraction between both sides, but at the end the guy could not take the commit, though all the positive signs where indicative of it being the right one. WHY? becasue they didnt feel the click. UM HELLO?? wat the heck is a click?
    their reply ‘It’s an aspect of “everything coming together in unison” type-of-thing.’
    Granted that in some of these cases the boy/girl finds something that irks them about the other but cant bring themselve to tell the other so they just say “no click”. Thats fine, but in 99% of the cases there is just as much click as the boy who is dating his first girl and is obsessed its just a different situation.
    Some have commitment issues but others are simply waiting for the click….they will keep waiting……

  14. lawschooldrunk –
    1. Point taken. But then I beg to differentiate between the click, which to me is a thing that becomes clear from the start, and chemistry, which you state can develop afterwards and over time.
    2. The grevious crime of poor punctuation has been noted, regreted and will provide a valuable lesson to all readers, I’m sure.

  15. Interesting conversation. I always thought of “chemistry” as being caused by pheromones. In my circles “chemistry” has always been used to refer to physical attraction (or lack thereof).

  16. 1 – the spelling of Neils’ last name is purposeful. Am I the only who feels my spelling is more appropriate for him?
    2 – clearly, chemistry means different things to different people. This is something to keep in mind. So, really, it’s just a catch-all phrase for rejecting someone.
    3 – pheromones? I’ve heard of them with animals, and they generally seem to negate all free-will. I’ve never heard of their effect on humans but I have a feeling they are not that which we are discussing.
    4 – Whether you stick an AD or a CE after the date, you’re still counting from the death of the same guy. It’s just a matter of calling it a spade versus a trowel. Not saying there’s no difference, but there isn’t a huge one.

  17. Bad4, I have a completely unrelated question (sorry to ruin the thread):

    Do your dates know about the blog? If not, when do you tell them? Have you ever gotten no’d in advance and suspected it was because of it? [Also, on an opposite basis, have you ever gotten a date _because_ of the blog?]

  18. I think chemistry means you can relate to someone. “no chemistry” to me means that your jokes go right over each other’s heads, and at one point during the date one person starts talking about something about which the other one has no idea what they’re talking about but is too polite to say so, or it’s just not “shayich” to begin with.

  19. I feel like such a celebrity here (strange as that is). I think I should clarify between my comment here and what was actually written in that post that I linked to. Admittedly, the confusion is entirely my fault. I made specific reference to looks in my comment here, but did not do so in my post. If one were to read the post however, he/she would see that my view on chemistry is definitely more than “I can’t stand her looks” – which wasn’t true, and I never wrote to begin with. I forgive you, Bad4 for that inference. If she looked like Jabba the Hutt (and that wasn’t my thing) I wouldn’t take 3 dates and contemplation over a Yom Kippur-Sukkos break to come to terms with that. Looks were certainly a factor, and ended up being the proverbial nail in the coffin. To me, chemistry is definitely some internal mixture of impressions, interactions, and gut feelings – part of which is derived from physical attraction.

    I’ve heard people say that it isn’t tznius to say that a date wasn’t attractive/good looking. They claim that “chemistry” is a much more neutral way to convey that, avoiding further hurt feelings (beyond the rejection). The word can certainly be used in many different ways, including in the secular world as “physical chemistry” which involves all those things that are assur to do before marriage. Often enough in my own chemistry lab experience, you’re sitting there at the lab bench adding the various reacts in a bubbling soup of sorts contained in a beaker. I think that’s the best metaphor to understand what’s going on here.

    Physical attraction for me is a non-starter if it isn’t there to begin with. Such cases often deserve a second date, just to make sure I’m not overreacting (and for the record I’ve never stopped after one date). As I mentioned in that post, there is a certain threshold that each person has in this area.

    Distinct from that is the element of physical attraction in that bubbling cauldron as the ongoing relationship develops. Sometimes in lab we had an ingredient that would stop the reaction. Sometimes there was a reactant that did indeed interact with the surrounding elements, but there wasn’t a full progression to completion, and there are leftovers – clearly it didn’t work, at least not as much as we’d wanted it to. That is what happened in the case I referred to. She wasn’t repulsive, far from it. But, amidst the mixture all the other interactive and subjective elements that contribute to the butterflies in the stomach response – looks ended the reaction. That positive drive to continue to want to see someone again, as many wrote, fizzled out.

  20. just want to point out that the concept of “love at first sight” does exist in judaism. as a matter of fact its in this very weeks parsha. yaakov sees rachel and he falls in love right away. now ofcourse your going to tell me thats because he was on a high spiritual and … but in that case so was yitzchak and the “proof” (read: concept) of love after marriage comes from him. point is that it doesnt necessarily have to be one way or the other. for the lucky few its love at first sight, for the rest its love after shalom bayis speeches.

  21. Incidentally, I read what I thought was a really good definition of “love” pre-and-post marriage (though I forget which English marriage book it was). The author defined “love” pre-married as an extremely strong feeling of liking the person (perhaps the high-school level of liking to the nth degree) and the “love” post marriage as the real McCoy – with all the depth and grandeur that goes along with it. I think this would fit both our modern definition, as well as potentially Yaakov Avinu’s feelings for Rachel.

  22. Bad4, there is quite a difference between CE and AD. Using AD is inappropriate for a Jew as the “D” stands for “domini,” or “our lord.” May I suggest that you revise it.

  23. Chemistry is more than just looks. To me its a mixture of attraction and personality. One can have great chemistry, but break it off because of the lack of common goals or interests.

    I think this is where a point of contention between those who want single mixers and those who aren’t pro them comes into play. Mixers are all about chemistry and attraction, while the typical dating process (should be) is about people with common goals and interests who are headed in the same direction. Different approaches to marriage, and what it is about.

    While a couple could do a (normative) amount of research into the potential spouse, without attraction/chemistry it will not go through. I believe though that the dating process is about being comfortable enough with the other person that they are willing to take that leap of faith into marriage. Because no matter how much you may think you know the other person, you will never know anything. Many married people will tell you that they learn something new about their spouse everyday. I think this is what they say that love means.

    (although love can come before marriage- yaakov with rochel. Rivkah “falling” for yitzchak, of course the explanation will always be ‘you have to know what that really means’)

  24. Completely agree with you on the avoiding the “L” word, but here are my two cents on chemistry.

    I was dating a man, kind, good looking, middos, good family, bla bla bla. And besides the fact that I simply wasn’t attracted, I also could not stand his smell. Not that he stunk or didn’t shower, but there was a smell that I just could not bare. Obviously, I told the “no chemistry” thing and we never went on a date again.

    Few years later, he got married to a friend of mine (actually friend of friend) and I could not stop thinking, how the girl deals with the smell issue. Somehow I got my friend to investigate the story, and you know what was the answer: “Bad smell?? What are you talking about?? I love the way he smells!!”

    There is something about the way we react to smells, hence a chemistry issue.

  25. Have you ever gone on a date with someone who was somewhat attractive, somewhat interesting, the conversation flowed and wasn’t awkward, hashkafos were on base but yet you had a gut feeling that this just wasn’t going to go anywhere? That is “lack of chemistry”.
    Chemistry is like some invisible matter crackling in the air between you and the boy. It is just something that can not be explained- something that draws you to him, wanting the date to go on longer, and eagarly awaiting the next time you will see him. This can happen even if the hashkafos are not on point- having a combination of the two makes his a prospective husband.
    And yes, physical attractivness can help with the chemistry.

  26. I totally disagree with everyone. What we have here is not a shidduch crisis, it’s a flirting crisis. Flirting is a skill that you use to CREATE emotions in members of the opposite sex. Flirting is a skill that you can learn. The emotions created via flirting are the “chemistry”. What lack of chemistry is supposed to mean is that she’s a big kibbitzer and I’m not, so we can’t get our flirting co-ordinated.

    Shades of Grey and the Eyysdam guys – if you didn’t feel what you call chemistry with the woman of your dreams, don’t dump her. Tell her in FFB-speak that you want her to teach you how to score points with her and you want to teach her how to score points with you. Try it. You’ll like it.

  27. I don’t think flirting can solve the world’s dating woes, as much as it may help relieve some of the general awkwardness that plagues us. Flirting isn’t going to overcome issues of “chemistry” that are related to physical attraction. I would figure a guy/girl would be less interested in flirting if that inner propulsion driven by attraction wasn’t there. I’m also not sure FFB speak would work here, since it may be to obtuse. One can certainly relate something in an eloquent, intelligent, yet tzinus fashion without resorting to asking a person what “turns them on” or whatever.

  28. True BT,
    There may be some truth to what you’re saying, but not much. The idea that you can just teach a girl to flirt, and voila, you’ve got chemistry between her and any guy who finds her attractive, is totally ridiculous. I don’t think Jessica Alba and I would get along very well in a marriage, despite the fact that I find her VERY attractive and I’m sure she knows how to flirt quite well. I know that’s an extreme example, but my point is that “chemistry” has nothing to do with how well a girl can flirt. If the chemistry is already there, her flirting can spice things up, but if it’s not there, no amount of flirting will create it.

  29. on “Love” being used in a more familial type of relationship, I remember being struck by the pasuk saying that yitzchak loved rivka ויביאהא יצחק, האוהלה שרה אימו, וייקח את-רבקה ותהי-לו לאישה, ויאהבהא; ויינחם יצחק, אחרי אימו. realizing the torah had not used a word with the shoresh .א.ה.ב in describing the relationship between avraham and sara I did some investigating and found that the first time the word was used was in describing a parent child relationship (actually between avraham and yishma’el). in fact, most of the occurrences of the word in bereishit are used in reference to a parent-child connection. rivka loved ya’akov, yitzchak loved eisav. so I am endlessly fascinated when it crops up with rivka and yitzchak. granted, from the p’shat and especially from the mepharshim who elaborate on the gaping age difference between the two, we infer that they had a fairly complicated marital relationship. some argue that the reason the torah explicitly states that yitzchak loved his wife was because unlike avraham and sara the love between them may not have been obvious and therefore the torah wanted to make it clear that they did have a loving marriage. what interests me more is that the “L” word (um, “aleph” word?) appears in the same pasuk where yitzchak is comforted after sara’s passing, almost setting rivka as a type of replacement for his mother. I’m always led to all sorts of questions… in the context of bereishit, what does “ahava” really mean? is “love” a mistranslation or misinterpretation? at what point does your spouse become your family?

    I’m still looking for answers.

  30. As every shiur on this sort of thing says, “ahava” is derived from “hav” meaning “give.” You love someone, you want to give of yourself, your effort, your time, your shopping finds. The modern version of “love,” which is what someone will do for you rather than what you would do for them is definitely not what the Biblical version was about. Yaakov waited 14 years for Rochel. Nowadays, one conveniently falls out of love when any sort of difficulty comes up.

    That’s the excuse for divorce nowadays. “I just don’t love you anymore.” You live with an annoying dog for that many years one has affection for it; but one can walk away from a human being without a scrap of emotion?

    One of the things said in Rabbi Reisman’s shiur is that people for quite some time (as in already for hundreds of years) have let their own misplaced priorities prevent them from marrying their bashert, that many marriages are not between soul mates. Scary, huh?

  31. NrinVakilJedi has a nice idea regarding love = give here: http://nrinvakiljedi.xanga.com/579942798/sameach-tisamach-reim-haahuvim/. He basically says that mutual giving between a husband and wife is actually an exchange of pieces of souls, creating a blend of the two formerly distinct souls into a unified whole.

    I’ve also heard ideas similar to what Princess Lea is saying – that there are definitely more than one person who you could possibly marry and have a functional/happy life together. The Gemara in the beginning of Sotah talks about the notions of zivug rishon and zivug sheini – concepts that I have heard explained in a different fashion at every shiur I’ve been to that mentioned it. It’s a very not straight forward thing to contemplate.

  32. Blaaahhh blahhh blahhh…..blahhhh blahhh blahh blahhh blahh blahh….!!!

    Okay, now that I got it out of me…here’s what I think.
    First: Love does not come after the first date, or even after the eighth. It BEGINS to develop then, certainly. Or at least the seeds of it are planted then. But you need many months for anything even resembling love to replace the romantic fantasy that you’ve had up till then. Either that, or you need a really good fight. A REALLY good one. That shakes you up and makes you think twenty times if this is really the right person. And when you LOGICALLY decide yes- not because you’ll feel lonely without them, but because you REALLY don’t see how you’ll benefit by dumping them (with an honest list in your hand), then maybe, MAYBE you can start loving them.

    The difference between chemistry and love is that chemistry goes away after some time, or at least fades slightly. Love will grow. And besides, when pushed up against difficulties – chemistry will never help you stick together, unless you’re not thinking about the rest of your life. If you manage a LOT of difficulties, over the course of a year, with someone, then yeah, you can pretty much say that it’s a miracle you’ve kept together. And during that miracle of a time, when there was so much stress, and somehow you made it, not just intact, but actually having strengthened your relationship..then you can say that maybe you love each other. Maybe.

    But don’t talk to me about love till you’ve actually gone through something that will cause it. Chemistry causes lust, not love. Love is a thing that grows…later.


  33. Rabbi Reisman did not mean in terms of various zivugim; he was saying people can get marry to those that are not remotely their spiritual mates because of misplaced priorities. You know that one, I forgot with which gadol . . . “Rabbi, why I am I still single and so old? Why didn’t Hashem send me my bashert?” “Because you said your bashert had too long a nose and you passed her up.”

    Channelah, I think many of us were saying the same thing as you. So “falling in love,” in my opinion, has the same temporariness of “chemistry,” while “ahava” is most definitely something deeper.

    Blah dah dee blah blah.

  34. It is dangerous to start trying to figure who is/was your bashert. Leave that to G-d.

    Just do your best and make sure your reasoning is sound.

    Have no regrets.

  35. I’m not sure. I watch the live hookup in my shul.

    I’m not saying double guessing about the person you got engaged to. Rabbi Reisman was saying that parents meddle by demanding certain things and not even permitting dates if the other party is not up to their standards.

  36. The Bohr model is indeed boring to us now that we have a much more sophisticated one. But to his contemporaries he was anything BUT boring.

    There is evidence for human pheromones. If I recall correctly, there was some study that evaluated the attractiveness women felt to men with and without the presence of sweat from the male underarm. So maybe there is some physical meaning to the “no chemistry” thing.

  37. When I was in college many moons ago, my pharmacology professor explained that what we (or shall I say, “they”) consider “chemistry”, is actually caused by a rush of biologic hormones. He suggested that we can reproduce the feeling of “chemistry”, i.e. the heart palpitations, blushing, and all the other physical expressions of “chemistry” by spraying some medications such as amphetamines in someone’s face and convincing them that they are now in love with you.

    That said, with my own personal,limited experience with the term “chemistry” in the frum, Bais Yaakov, Jewish sense(and of course hindsight is 20/20), I feel that if the “click” that you’re looking for is actually just tuning in to your spiritual sense and examining if this is possibly your other half that G-d intented for you, then that’s a great click to look for.

    However, if you’re looking for “chemistry” and the “click” to be something reproducible in a chemistry lab, then it may be a meaningless and ephemeral “chemistry”.

    Love you, chan

  38. I read once about a study where they paired up random guys and girls and made them go through some kind of obstacle course together. At the end they were hot and sweaty and rather in love.
    The researchers claimed that the exercise mimicked the feeling you get when you fall in love. But now you’re telling me they just liked the smell of each other’s sweat? Yuk!

  39. Actually, the research is consistent with my professor’s statement. It is the same hormones released by “love”, exercise, chocolate, and some medications….

  40. bad4,
    I just started reading your blog and I really enjoy. One comment on your comment 17.4 – as was mentioned above AD is “ano domini” and it refers to the birth not the death of said guy.

  41. Pingback: Crushing | Bad for Shidduchim

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