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A lesson in chemistry

If there aren't fireworks, maybe it's just friendship

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

In the Lab Waiting for Something to Happen: How long should you wait for chemistry? I've been casually dating a guy for two months. I see him about once a week. He's sweet, polite, funny and we get along marvelously. But I can't bring myself to kiss him.

I've read articles lately saying women should just settle on a good guy rather than someone who gives us "butterflies" and "sparks." With the divorce rate as high as it is, I understand this theory.

This guy hits the nail on the head in almost every other area. Should I settle for a less-sparky relationship, or pass a good guy by in hopes of a total package in the future?

Carolyn: Please find some way to ask if you can pursue this strictly as a friendship. It's a good place to be: up one friend, down one nagging source of pressure.

Meanwhile, the physical attractions that are most likely to endure are the ones based not on someone's physique but on your mutual emotional bond.

You and he might never form one, but you're certainly not going to have one yet after a half-dozen or so dates. It takes time. Instant chemistry, love at first sight, whatever people call it — it's not the same thing as a mutual emotional bond.

All of which is what I hope those articles were trying to say. Talk of "settling" that involves a pretense of romance makes me foam at the mouth.

As does leading on the nice safe person while you look for a better offer; your friendship intentions need to be both pure and plainly expressed.

D.C.: A few years ago you advised me to stop trying to date — stop pushing myself into unnatural situations, just relax and spend time doing things I like to do. It didn't mean I had to close myself off to dating people, but that I gave myself permission to stop . . . trying . . . so . . . hard. And I did.

Ended up figuring out that one of my friends should be more than just a friend, and now am happily married with our first due in a few weeks.

Carolyn: Congratulations!

Va.: That post came a little too close to "you'll find someone when you least expect it."

Not everyone finds someone, and that's okay, too.

Carolyn: I share your objection to the "Just stop looking and you'll find him!!!" mind-set. However, it would also be pretty strange not to post a testimonial just because it had a happy ending.

Forcing yourself out of a rut can help you see things you may otherwise never have noticed. For some, that "other thing" happens to be a mate, but since the whole point is to break the fixation on mating, I think the more important goal is just to have a broader vision of life. And that brings rewards no matter what your romantic status.

A lesson in chemistry 09/01/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:37pm]
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