Relationship Chemistry – What Is It, Types And Signs

Relationship Advice | |

Mutual chemistry signs between two people can be a tough concept to define. Is it the elusive, indefinable ‘spark’ you feel when you instantly ‘click’ with someone? Is it the sizzle of physical attraction or a really, really great conversation where you feel you’re both on the same page about everything? Is relationship chemistry a major building block, or can we do without it?

“It feels as if I have unbeatable chemistry that is physical in nature with people I have absolutely nothing else in common with, especially on a first date,” complains Alex, “And then I’ll meet a really nice guy but no chemistry. At least not the same sort of instant attraction I usually feel. It’ll be good to talk to them and hang out and spend lots of time together, but that spark seems to be missing. Ah, how rare is chemistry with someone you also feel comfortable with!”

While we fully support a strong physical pull and acting on it for your pleasure, good chemistry can and does go beyond that instant spark of the honeymoon phase with the matching energy in relationships. We asked psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc, Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couple’s counseling, for some insights on relationship chemistry, its types, and signs that you do indeed have it with your partner.

What Is Relationship Compatibility?

“Relationship chemistry is about having a great emotional connect with another person,” Nandita says, “Many people confuse it with a physical connection, but the emotional intensity, too, needs to be really high. In fact, this connection can be termed passion or love. In the initial stages of a relationship, people might say you are infatuated with your partner when this chemistry is at its all-time high.”

The difference between chemistry and compatibility, Nandita says, is that in compatibility, we tend to look at a person’s core relationship values and the possibility of their longer-lasting presence in our lives. “Chemistry is more about how we feel about them on an everyday basis, the warmth, the positivity, the desire to be with each other all the time, and the need to make them happy,” she says.

For more expert-backed insights, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

So, when it comes to compatibility vs chemistry, what is more important in a relationship? Well, ideally, a good relationship would have both. It’s easy to write off chemistry as a short-term need, and something that fizzles out more easily than compatibility. Even though chemistry might start off as something as surface-level as a spark caused due to eye contact, it eventually gives way to a companionable, compatible relationship, lending that extra edge of warmth and desire to the steady flame of compatibility with more time spent. 

How Important Is Chemistry In A Relationship?

This is a burning question: how important is chemistry between 2 people? Nandita says, “Chemistry is very important in a relationship. That said, you can certainly have a secure, steady relationship with little or no chemistry. However, in my book, that is where boredom could creep in. You know you have something that can and will probably last, and that’s fine. But when the chemistry is high, there is energy and passion between a couple, giving it that extra kick, making it more fun and loving.”

Dani, a reader from Berkeley, shares her story, which is a telling example of how chemistry, or lack thereof, can impact a relationship. She says, “My husband and I have been together for 15 years. It was deep eye contact attraction on the first date that drew us to one another. You know, young true love. We were together all through high school and college, so marriage just seemed like the next logical step.

“I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy, and I’m aware that personal relationships change over time, but there is definitely something missing, that sense of ‘he’s my person, no matter what’. We do have compatibility in marriage but it’s just not the same and I don’t know how to re-spark the romance.”

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s nothing wrong with this. But you needn’t go through life being wistful and wishing for a different life. You can opt out of such a relationship, or consider an open relationship or polyamory if you’re so inclined.

Related Reading: 5 Tips To Bring The Spark Back In Long-Term Relationships

Healthy vs unhealthy chemistry

While chemistry plays a pivotal role in sparking a romantic connection and sustaining it, it can also make you feel drawn to people who may not be good for you. That’s why it’s imperative to understand the healthy vs unhealthy chemistry difference so that you can accurately recognize what it is that you’re experiencing

When there is healthy and good chemistry in relationships,

  • Sparks fly when two people are together, however, it’s not just a fascination. The intense emotional connection between them keeps the fire burning
  • The flow of communication is effortless. You speak and listen without censorship or fear of retaliation
  • Constructive conflict resolution is used. You work together to solve problems by coming to an agreement and understanding each other
  • Growth is supported and encouraged. You motivate each other to go after your goals and become your best selves

Unhealthy chemistry in relationships,

  • Although the body chemistry and attraction are strong at first, it soon becomes the only focus of your connection
  • There are strained communication or lack thereof. The two people have difficulty communicating their emotions and comprehending each other’s points of view
  • Limits are violated or ignored. Individuality is stifled and personal space is invaded
  • Growth is replaced by stagnation and complacency. Aspirations and dreams are either ignored or discouraged

Remember, a healthy relationship with good chemistry between two people should make you feel loved, supported, and inspired to achieve personal growth and there should be mutual chemistry signs along with mutual respect. While an unhealthy one can drain your happiness and emotional well-being. Choose wisely and nurture the chemistry that brings out the best in both of you no matter how rare is chemistry with someone. 

Compatibility Vs Chemistry

Chemistry in a romantic relationship creates desire, but compatibility kindles a flame that lasts. It’s the collision of fireworks against the serenity of a sunset. Well, then what is more important in a relationship: chemistry or compatibility? To find be able to answer that, you need to understand the compatibility vs chemistry difference

Eye contact or physical attraction creates sparks of electricity that make your entire being pulsate with excitementA seamless connection between two people that makes the heart light
Exciting and unpredictable, like a wild adventureA sense of comfort and ease, like coming home
Instant bond over shared interests and passions – feels like it’s one true loveDeep understanding and shared values

In a healthy relationship, there is a combination of both, where sparks fly naturally and hearts find refuge in each other’s embrace, as you travel the romantic path.

Types Of Relationship Chemistry

Like relationships come in all shapes and sizes, there are also different levels of connection in a relationship. If you’re wondering how does chemistry work in a relationship, well, there’s no one way. Chemistry isn’t purely romantic love or sexual, the humor and platonic love you share with a close friend is also chemistry. Romantic chemistry is just one aspect of a broad spectrum. For your reference though, here are some types of relationship chemistry:

1. Physical attraction

For most people, this is where it begins – with physical chemistry. That instant sense of being attracted to someone physically, knowing you find them attractive and want to act on it but start subtly with sultry prolonged eye contact. When we talk about losing chemistry in a relationship, we’re often referring to the loss of physical intimacy and/or lack of sexual chemistry.

Physical attraction manifests in the all too familiar symptoms of a racing heart, dilated pupils, butterflies in the stomach, and so on. A connection can begin with physical intimacy, and end when it fades. This doesn’t make it less valid as long as there’s clarity that all parties are looking for a purely physical bond.

You might also wonder “Can physical attraction develop over time by spending time together?” The answer is yes, sometimes a different kind of chemistry can bring people physically close, which can eventually even lead to true love. It doesn’t necessarily happen in a linear order.

types of chemistry in a relationship
Physical attraction is a major relationship chemistry variant

2. Intellectual connection

Do looks matter in a relationship? Yes, but not exclusively. A strong intellectual connection in the relationship between two people is always a plus point. This is where those great conversations come in, those long, deep late-night debates, the way you’re always the best team at trivia nights, and so on.

Connecting on an intellectual level is an example of good chemistry because it means you’ll rarely run out of your shared curiosity and thirst to constantly learn new things together. Maybe you like to take classes together or spend time talking about the science behind obscure concepts. Or maybe you can’t get enough of the lore in the Lord of the Rings stories. Intellectual chemistry means your minds are a match!

Related Reading: 12 Ways To Build Intellectual Intimacy In A Relationship

3. Spiritual affinity

“My best friend and I decided to adopt and raise a child together,” says 37-year-old Andie, an art director, “We’re not really romantic partners, but we have a connection. We view the world through the same lens, we believe that the best relationships have a higher purpose, and ours is to honor the choice of nurturing a life together and helping ourselves achieve personal growth. We both believe we were brought together by the universe, that we’re meant to be in each other’s lives in a spiritual relationship, and that we’re meant to be parents together.”

When we think of different dimensions of good chemistry in a relationship, spirituality is right up there. If you have a strong shared belief system, your relationship chemistry is bound to be strong too. It goes beyond physical attraction triggered by prolonged eye contact. This is important when considering what is more important in a romantic relationship – chemistry or compatibility.

4. Emotional bond

“An emotional connection is built upon core relationship values of shared goals and interests,” says Nandita. Emotional chemistry is all about getting to know the other person, seeing if your communication styles match, and whether or not you feel safe enough with them to open up and stimulate vulnerability in a relationship. This can even translate into emotional compatibility over time. 

A shared emotional bond for most people can be formed with or without a physical connection. The way we feel about our closest friends or even some family members, people we would do anything for, is a reflection of emotionally charged chemistry. When you’re asking, “How does chemistry work in a relationship?”, it’s important to remember that it works in all kinds of ways.

5. Creative chemistry

“I have a colleague I didn’t really get along with at first. I was straight-up bored in a relationship after 3 months of being his deskmate. Then, we were both put on the same project, and I realized our creative chemistry was off the charts. We bounced ideas off each other, had the same vision for the final outcome, and even our artistic skills complemented one another’s,” says Candace, 30, who works as a graphic designer.

Creative chemistry between two people is when you have a writing partner who holds you accountable and also completely gets your writing style. They also help you learn new things. It’s the colleague who understands why you want to approach a job a certain way and provides the technical know-how. It’s entirely possible you don’t click on any other plane, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come together to create something amazing!

Related Reading: Platonic Soulmate – What Is It? 8 Signs You Found Yours

5 Signs You Have Relationship Chemistry With Your Partner

What are the actual signs of chemistry between a man and a woman and/or between the whole spectrum of genders? How do you know that that all-elusive, often indefinable spark is present and being nurtured by both of you? Again, there’s no one, exact way to determine that you do or do not have this chemistry. You can take chemistry in a relationship test but it’s important to be mindful of certain signs of it too. Here are some ways that illustrate that you do, indeed, have good chemistry with another person.

1. You look forward to seeing them at the end of the day

“It seems like a small thing, but to come back to the same face and person day after day and actually look forward to it is a sign of great relationship chemistry, whether you consider them a twin flame or soulmate,” says Nandita. In fact, when you think of losing chemistry in a relationship, one of the major signs to look out for is that you just don’t want to come home to them anymore.

This is especially important in long-term relationships where chemistry as well as emotional connection, can wither over time. Keeping up with a romantic relationship is as hard, if not harder than keeping up with the Kardashians. So, pay attention to the small things – the molecules of relationship chemistry.

What Is My Type of Guy Quiz

2. You feel good when you’re with them

An important question to ask yourself in any relationship is, how do you both feel around one another? In a toxic relationship or a subtly abusive one, you’ll feel anxious or unsure of yourself when you’re around your partner. In a healthy relationship, where the relationship chemistry is present with the touch of personal growth, you’ll be happy and safe with each other. This is one of the most intense chemistry signs there is.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean you’ll never disagree or fight. It doesn’t even mean you’ll be together forever. But for the duration that you are together, even the thought of them will bring a smile to your face, even when you’re beyond the early stages of relationship infatuation where it seems like they can do no wrong.

Related Reading: The Dynamics And Importance Of Sex In A Relationship

3. Your sex life is fun and energetic

Let’s talk about sex, baby! We’ve gone on about how relationship chemistry isn’t all about physical attraction and connection, but it’s time to admit that a healthy and fun sex life is one of the most telling signs of chemistry between a man and a woman, or any two partners, for that matter. Fun sex is all about what’s fun for you. And great chemistry is all about what fulfills both you and your partner.

Although it can be challenging to keep the sex drive going when you are in a long-term relationship, just because the relationship has aged, doesn’t mean the libido has to go as well.

“I find that laughing and being silly in bed is one of my favorite things in a relationship. That’s how I define sexual chemistry,” confesses Amina, a 33-year-old landscape designer, “Every romance novel I’ve ever read talks about how things get really intense and serious when people are passionate, but the humor and good energy a person brings to sex and intimacy just makes me happier.” This is one of the relationship chemistry examples that portray how a strong, fulfilling sexual connection can mean different things to different people. 

compatibility vs chemistry
Sex coupled with humor and playfulness is a sign of relationship chemistry

4. There is intimacy and warmth

Sex is important, but your intimacy beyond the bedroom (and other rooms) counts too and is probably one of the most intense chemistry signs there is. To me, intimacy is a giant, knotted, wooly ball of touch, trust, laughter, tears, words, and silence. And somewhere within these knots, we find overlapping circles with a handful of people whom we have an emotional connection with.

“Warmth in a relationship isn’t just about the heat of the moment when your eyes first meet or how things heat up between you in the bedroom,” says Nandita, “Intimacy comes from sharing small, everyday joys and sorrows, talking about your day, and so on. It’s about non-sexual touch – the forehead kisses, holding hands, a hand on your shoulder, or the small of the back in passing, etc.”

Related Reading: 17 Signs Of Sexual Tension You Cannot Ignore, And What To Do About It

5. There is immense trust between you

Trust is the bedrock of any successful relationship and can be one of the definitive relationship chemistry examples. When you’re mulling over what is more important in a relationship – chemistry or compatibility – think about how much you trust the person in question.

Trust in a relationship isn’t just about fidelity and being faithful, but also about trusting them enough to be vulnerable and open with them. There could be intense chemistry signs on every level, but without trust, or if trust is broken, it’s difficult to sustain a connection.

Key Pointers

  • Chemistry is important between two people in a relationship as it keeps the spark alive
  • There are many kinds of chemistry in relationships such as physical, emotional, and intellectual connection
  • Warmth, trust, and feeling great when you’re together are signs that you have good chemistry
  • Seek the ideal combination of both, compatibility and chemistry for a healthy relationship

Maybe you have some types of chemistry in a relationship, but not others, and you’re okay with that. Maybe you’ve got tremendous physical chemistry, but not much in terms of an emotional or intellectual bond. Would that mean you’ve got chemistry but no compatibility? Not necessarily.

It’s important to know what you’re looking for at any given point in a relationship and remember that perfect couples don’t exist. It’s important, however, to know that your needs can and are allowed to change. There’s nothing wrong with acting on your desires, even if you feel you’ve got more chemistry than compatibility, or vice versa. And it’s also okay to shrug it off and say, “Nice guy but no chemistry.” Be honest with yourself and your partners, and the rest will follow. We wish you plenty of sizzling chemistry in every aspect of your life. Good luck!

This post has been updated in June 2023.


1. What determines relationship chemistry?

Relationship chemistry is determined by all involved partners’ willingness to be open, empathetic, and vulnerable to one another. While some forms of relationship chemistry can be instantaneous, forming an intimate emotional connection and sustaining it requires spending time on friendship, understanding, and kindness.

2. Is chemistry important in a relationship?

Chemistry is important in a relationship, but should not be mistaken for physical attraction alone. It is difficult to say whether chemistry can be created over time, but it certainly requires work to keep it going over a long period of time.

3. How long does chemistry last in a relationship?

There is no definitive period for lasting relationship chemistry between two people. While physical chemistry can change or even fizzle out over time, there are ways to resuscitate it just like recreating the honeymoon phase in a relationship.  As is with emotional and intellectual chemistry. However, chemistry cannot be forced, so if there comes a time when the spark is simply gone, it might be time to rethink the relationship.

Sexual Compatibility: Meaning, Importance And Signs

55 Intimate Questions To Ask Your Partner

May-December Relationship: How To Keep The Romance Alive

Ask Our Expert


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.