The Whole Issue of “Chemistry” and “Trusting Your Gut”

In the dating world, most everyone nods their heads and agrees when people say that what they’re looking for is “chemistry.” Other similar phrases you’ll hear are “using their intuition” and “trusting their gut.” These are often the same people who believe they can tell within 5 seconds whether or not someone is worthy of their love.

I’d like to address that as a therapist.  An article in my book, Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth entitled “Your Worst Nightmare” cites Terry Gorski, a renowned chemical dependency counselor.  Gorski states that when you have the feeling of love at first sight, you should turn around and run in the opposite direction. Sometimes what we think of as “chemistry” means programming from our childhood, and it may not be a good sign.

As an extreme example, we’ve all heard of a woman who got beat up by her father in childhood, and now she isn’t leaving relationships where the man beats her. We’re wondering, why doesn’t she leave? Well, she was programmed in childhood that love equals abuse, so she’s going to feel “chemistry” when she meets a guy who carries that energy.  At first he’s going to seem like a gentleman, and she’s going to think, “Oh, finally I met somebody who isn’t an abuser,” but that “chemistry” that comes from wiring in childhood is going to prevail most of the time unless she’s done work to disempower it.

So when people say they’re looking for “chemistry,” often they are looking at issues that are going to trigger unfinished business from the past. Hopefully that will entice the person to get into therapy and stop being attracted to somebody who hurts them or is in some other way unkind or not good for us.

Also often what we call “chemistry” is that the other person is close to the cultural ideal. The more someone looks like Brad Pitt or Sophia Vergara, the more people are going to believe they feel “chemistry.” Check it out: oh my God I finally met Brad Pitt – he’s rich and handsome and famous. That’s “chemistry.”

Or people who are verbally acute, very good at speaking and have excellent social skills, often times it seems as though we have chemistry with them. Well, guess what, they have chemistry with everyone; it’s not special with you.

So “gut instinct” or intuition: I’m not saying there’s never a benefit to intuition but it’s often unreliable. It’s based on either some kind of childhood stuff that’s still being worked through or what society tells you should be wanting. It could be a past life connection, and the two of you have been past life lovers for a millennium, but you’re not supposed to be together in this lifetime. Intuition can be helpful, but alone is not the best compass.

There are many things it could be when you have a strong reaction to meeting a new person. It’s possible it’s a good sign, but I’m just suggesting that people not blindly go “oh, it’s chemistry.” When you have that feeling, realize there could be many possibilities and not just blindly believe it means this is “The One.”

© 2017 Catherine Auman

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Catherine Auman is a Los Angeles psychotherapist specializing in transpersonal psychology, also known as spiritual psychology.

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