Which is more important in a relationship: chemistry or compatibility? Or are they equally important? Do men and women have different standards for chemistry and compatibility? Let's begin with the latter.
In my experience as a dating coach, most women will give men a chance (or two or three), unless they are totally turned off on a first date. The majority of women in my practice are interested in an emotional and intellectual compatibility first and a physical compatibility/chemistry second.
The men I've polled usually judge a woman's date-ability by how physically attracted they feel on the first date. If they feel chemistry, there is a second date. No chemistry? Next!
In online dating, a woman's profile picture is the first and most important way to get a man's attention. Again, men seem to place much more emphasis on a woman's looks than her profile essay. Most women will be interested in what's behind that handsome face. Is there good character? Does he have integrity? Does he seem emotionally available? A nice face is attractive, but a nice guy is a keeper.
Compatibility is based on common values and life goals, a high level of comfort with each other, shared experiences and the ability to have fun with each other. These are essential components for a lasting relationship.
Chemistry is about looks and body type, but it's more of a gestalt thing. A person with moderately good looks can be irresistibly attractive if he/she has a great personality. A little tension between the two of you makes things even sexier. There's got to be some Yin and Yang, some polarity for things to heat up in the bedroom.
A story of compatibility over chemistry:
Lori met Harvey through an online dating site. He was overweight and not her physical type; he dressed poorly, but she loved many of his qualities. He was smart, successful, grounded, and kind. He treated her with tremendous respect, always driving over an hour to meet her. And he had beautiful eyes.
Lori is used to men who treat her poorly. Her previous boyfriends didn’t go out of their way to drive to her. She was always driving to them. And paying for them. And cooking for them. (Notice a pattern?) I coached Lori to stop allowing men to treat her poorly. She needed to recognize selfish men and not go anywhere near them. She had to stop doing so much for men in order to be able to receive their love. I advised her that the best way to know if a man was interested in her was for her to sit back and do nothing at all. I coached her to date men who seek her out. Harvey is a guy who is pursuing her, and Lori likes being chased and desired.
It’s too early to know where this relationship will go, but for now, Lori is happy. She has broken a toxic dating pattern. She and Harvey have fun together. They have great conversations. There is some physical chemistry. Harvey is becoming more attractive to Lori. And Harvey is a very happy man.
My question for you is: If the tables were turned, how many men would give an overweight, semi-attractive woman a chance? Let me know your thoughts.
For More On Relationships From YourTango: