How To Tell If It’s Sexual Tension Or True Compatibility In Dating

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couple experiencing sexual tension and compatibility
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When it comes to love and dating, sexual tension may be mistaken for compatibility.

As summer wanes, and we head into fall and then the holidays, dating and romance increase. We are prone to get caught up in chemistry.

The thrill! The passion! Romance! It’s lovely and magical, and such an exquisite experience.

But then, we're also prone to overlooking issues when we get intoxicated by romance.

RELATED: 15 Men Explain The Major Differences Between Sexual Attraction & Intense Chemistry

We can get confused over sexual tension and chemistry, versus connection and compatibility — they're different.

Often, people believe that chemistry is the thing to search for when desiring a relationship. Dating site profiles are teeming with desires to have chemistry with someone.

Chemistry has its perks. The high we feel when we are with someone that we have chemistry with — this shared, invisible blast of hormones — is hard to resist.

It’s highly comparable to heroin — very addictive and not necessarily healthy for us. We confuse being magnetically drawn to someone to someone who's healthy for us.

But being strongly drawn to someone is most likely chemistry. Don’t confuse the two.

True connection and compatibility aren’t synonymous with chemistry and sexual tension.

Depending on the person and their conditioning when they were growing up, chemistry is the familiar feeling we have when someone matches our childhood conditioning.

If you had a loving and supportive family that was affectionate, spent time with you, and took care of you, then you finding that chemistry with someone as a partner will be a healthy thing. It will match a more healthy connection.

Chemistry is that magnetic pull.

However, if you had a less-than-perfect family — one that was not always supportive, or possibly even abusive or controlling — then you will find chemistry with the very thing you will eventually find hurtful and difficult. It’s familiar to our brains.

Our brains are hard-wired with our childhood experiences, emotions, traumas, successes, failures, and societal beliefs. It’s a melting pot of all of it.

When we meet someone who has had similar experiences or carries the complementing wounds that we do, we will feel a strong — almost uncontrollable — magnetic pull.

Our brains can get attached very quickly.

We might not even know what hit us. What we know is this familiar feeling of potent attraction and amazing happiness that we suddenly feel for the person.

We are high on the love drug — the feel-good hormones!

When dopamine is at a very high level, we often cannot make healthy decisions. Instead, we overlook issues.

This is chemistry, and it feels so good in the beginning.

We feel on top of the world... Until the triggers happen, and we find ourselves in the same kinds of hurtful situations we've experienced before.

The roller-coaster ride begins. We feel amazing, and then we feel down and low. It’s confusing.

That confusion can keep us in a loop for a long while.

RELATED: The Real Difference Between Chemistry And Love

But, when there's a true connection and compatibility, the attraction grows.

Sometimes, when we find a person who offers us support, love, and affection, we might not feel any chemistry. It might even feel foreign and off-putting at the start, even bland or boring.

We might question the attraction.

Some describe it as a "meh" feeling. It certainly is not the same as Cupid’s arrow that we feel with chemistry.

We can grow to find that stronger connection and attraction with that person. It will progress and deepen gradually.

This is because the brain is experiencing something different, something outside our comfort zone of what is familiar.

It takes mindfulness of ourselves, our wounds, and our true desires to avoid falling for chemistry and to see the difference.

As we grow and heal, our attraction and chemistry will also change. We can find a deeper connection to someone who will support our self-love and growth.

We still have difficulties, as they too will trigger us in a way that's an opportunity to grow and look at our shadows.

Connection doesn’t feel like we’ve won the lottery — the high of the chemical cocktail we have with chemistry and sexual tension. But it also won’t feel like the pits of hell when it goes sour.

It feels fulfilling and supportive, with ups and downs. It’s contented and grounded like meeting someone we can grow together with. It's a sound foundation.

When we seek romance outside of what our true self needs, we get caught up in desire, passion, and sexual energy until the thrill is gone!

When we realize the other person’s behavior or way of expressing love isn’t like ours, we wonder what we ever saw in that person. We suddenly wake up from the high and get sober.

We quickly get hooked on chemistry and sexual tension.

Thinking I was past the "chemistry" hook years ago, I met a man for tea. I knew about the effects of chemistry and the signs.

We had tea and when I got home, I heard in my head, "Is this chemistry? It feels like a drug." So, it still got me.

What would be, in my mind, tea and friendship turned into a nightmare of rehashed issues and, eventually, abuse.

It only took three meetings to be past the point of no return. In my mind, I thought I could resist it.

Part of me knew what was going on, but something else was at the steering wheel — my subconscious. It confused me enough to question myself.

It takes awareness and will power to resist the power of sexual tension.

Growing from that experience, I now understand we only have a brief span of time before our brains get hooked.

Some experts say after three dates, we're hooked on the heroin-like cocktail and our brains become attached to that person.

It takes a great deal of awareness and willpower to resist that strong magnetic pull. It’s like sobering up before the alcohol has worn off.

I understand that if I question whether or not it's chemistry — it's chemistry. Just because I understand chemistry on a cognitive level does not mean I'm immune to it.

Now, I strive only for true connection and attraction that grows and deepens. I’m committed to avoiding getting caught up in chemistry as if my life depended on it.

I’ll take true connection over chemistry any day.

RELATED: 23 Major Differences Between Chemistry And Compatibility

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Lisa Hawkins is a certified life coach, certified cognitive behavioral therapy coach, and a dating and relationship coach. She has 26 years of experience in personal growth and development, psychology, and human behavior with an emphasis on relationships, which includes the most important one: with yourself. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Consciously Awake Counseling. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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