Stop Basing Your Relationships On Chemistry (Unless You Want To End Up Alone)

Sometimes what we think is chemistry is really a toxic addiction.

woman hugging a man, looking confused fizkes / Shutterstock

By Raymond Baxter

As a young boy, I grew up choosing my romantic endeavors by the fluttery feeling of butterflies in my tummy. I would always find myself chasing someone or something that was just out of my reach, going off of a feeling instead of any potential chemistry.

It would happen gradually. First, I’d get to know a lady, and then, after a while, I’d begin to have feelings for her.

I would find myself romantically chasing her or, depending on her availability, hoping that she’d leave her boyfriend. I also found that it happened with women that were available and open to dating, so I wasn’t trapped all the time.


It may sound rather “unmanly like” to anyone following relationship advice in macho circles, for a guy like me to run around picking petals from flowers repeating in my mind “she loves me, she loves me not,” but that’s just the way I was as a young man.

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I still am in a sense. I’ve embraced this now. This is the way I am and I can do nothing to change that.

While I respect there are men that love a good old punch-up in a bar brawl, I’m usually the one who sat in the corner minding my own business talking to my girlfriends, or reading a book.

It’s always been a driver for me in relationships; I just had to feel that spark, or else I wouldn’t have entertained the notion in the slightest.

There have been times in my life when I have dated women without the spark. Call it testing my own boundaries, but because there were no butterflies in my tummy or an eagerness to jump two feet in, I would end up walking all over the poor woman.


Ultimately, I wouldn’t have any respect for her, which I know was a failing on my part.

It dawned on me in later years though that the spark, for me, was a dangerous thing. As I took control over my addictive personality, I grew to realize that when I was feeling that spark I would become addicted to it. It had become an obsession.

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I’m not too sure how this is for anyone else feeling the spark, but to me, it had become a sign that things were going to end badly. It had become a danger rather than a positive nudge.

That feeling, I realized, had become the tool for identifying which people I should be aware of and avoid striking up relationships with in the future. I finally realized that it was a feeling I had fostered since childhood.


It dawned on me that what I had witnessed through my parent’s togetherness was flawed. My Mum didn’t end up happy until I had left home to make my own way in my life, and my Dad had four failed marriages, a ton of mistresses, and died alone.

This is what my spark was built on. Toxicity and extreme flaws. That’s why I sought something different.

It’s why when I stopped craving the spark my life took an unexpected turn. I began to welcome people into my life that I necessarily wouldn’t have when I was younger.

I found through talking to them that they were fun and happy and exciting. I eventually realized that it doesn’t always have to be feet first all guns blazing when it comes to relationships. I began to relax and have fun and eventually I became content with what I had in life.


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That’s when my wife came along. She had swept me off my feet without realizing it. She was fun and exciting, and for the first few months, we experienced things I hadn’t before.

Yet there came a time when the excitement died down and we slipped into our normal selves; our new relationship masks slipped off as we relaxed into a form of ourselves that was natural. I had struggled slightly at the notion of this.

All my toxic relationships had ended when the spark was still alive and I would spend evenings hugging my pillows and listening to soul-destroying music.

I was in a happy relationship and not the spark, but the excitement was fading. I had never experienced this before and it was confusing, to say the least.


Luckily, though, after opening up to my partner, she explained it to me in a way that I could understand. She has always been my teacher. As I have hers.

There is mostly laughter and excitement in our relationship and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve been married for 8 years and I’ll admit that it’s been a wild ride, but the best thing for me was not looking for that toxic spark.

Broadening my horizons and trying to see what more was out there for me than my own sheltered and slightly warped view of the world at the time.

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Raymond Baxter is a writer and contributor to the Good Men Project. His work focuses on relationships, family, and his experiences with all of it.