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How is chammistry formed?
March 19, 2014 8:34 PM   Subscribe

Do you have any tips on how to behave on early dates to increase romantic chemistry?

The briefest bit of backstory: if I'm being honest with myself, I'm kind of a catch right now. I've been working hard to improve myself, and it's showing: I've got myself in great shape, and it turns out that I'm pretty good-looking. I have a successful career, am easy to talk to, am getting more confident, and I've been doing some pretty interesting things with my life.

Recently I've been on a string of dates with fantastic women whose company I've enjoyed. All say that they've really liked me, but .

I've convinced myself that behaviorally, I'm doing something wrong on these dates. One possible example: I'm a pretty open and honest person, and don't do the coy/mysterious thing very well. Any other suggestions on things I might be doing wrong, or things I should be doing but am not?
posted by Mr C to Human Relations (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
if I'm being honest with myself, I'm kind of a catch right now

Recently I've been on a string of dates with fantastic women whose company I've enjoyed. All say that they've really liked me, but .

Recently several women have been on one date with someone who, if they're being honest with themselves, has a little bit too much inward-focus going on. Based on what you've said here, and admittedly without knowing diddly about who you are really and how you act on a date, I'd say you need to re-direct your attentions from your own greatness to the potential greatness of your date.

If your trouble/success has anything to do with you yourself, I'd say it's that you're not interested enough in finding out just how hot a catch your date might be. Make that your goal on future dates—ask questions, show interest, and do your best to relate to how awesome the woman across from you is.

Also, remember, dating is a numbers game. (And there's a billion fish in the sea!)
posted by carsonb at 8:50 PM on March 19 [18 favorites]


Increase romantic chemistry? Not a thing you can manipulate.

Impossible to speculate on possible areas needing improvement, given you haven't written much about what you think those could be.

I'm a pretty open and honest person, and don't do the coy/mysterious thing very well.

Can you give a specific example of this? It could mean anything from telling them your complete medical history to insulting their hair.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:51 PM on March 19


Keep going out on dates till you find someone you think is really fun, and also they should think you are really fun. Maybe kiss? Definitely go out on a second date. Chammistry formd!

I kid.

But I asked this recent "OMG obviously I'm doing something wrong on dates" AskMe, and a bunch of people told me it was fine and I probably just wasn't feeling the spark those other times. And then I went out on the date I referred to in that question and thought it went terribly*. But we went on a second date**. And some stuff happened. And now he's my boyfriend. So who the fuck knows? Probably all those people who said there just wasn't a spark were right. Maybe I should go back and change the answers I marked as Best Answers.

I maintain that it is a numbers game. Also be yourself. Also don't forget that it's supposed to be fun.

In all seriousness, I never know when I first meet someone whether they're "in great shape" or more confident as compared to other times in their life, and career stuff mostly doesn't matter as long as it seems like they have a home with electricity and everything. I'm just forming a reaction based on who you are right now, in the chair next to mine at this bar.

Most of what you're thinking about just doesn't matter. Again, just be yourself and have fun. The rest will sort itself out.

*Seriously I brought up cannibalism on this date. What was I thinking?

** Pro Tip: If you talk about Hunting The Most Dangerous Game on your first date and end up on a second date, either this person is a keeper or they are going to kill you.
posted by Sara C. at 8:52 PM on March 19 [23 favorites]


Whatever you do, do NOT ask any of the women you've gone out with what's wrong with you.

Don't get twisted about it - it's a numbers game. Keep at it. You're confident and happy, and that's a very attractive combination.
posted by gingerest at 9:03 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


You can't force chemistry. I have dated several guys who I really wanted to have a spark with - they were attractive, we had similar interest, stc. - but I just didn't feel it.
posted by radioamy at 9:20 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


I thought that this answer in the above referenced askme was excellent
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:39 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Are you flirting?
posted by J. Wilson at 9:40 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


Pick more exciting dates. Do something more than coffee. Get a little buzzed. I find it hard to have great chemistry on a date that feels like a job interview.
posted by mercredi at 9:46 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


Please don't try to do "the coy mysterious thing". That is fake and stupid and annoying and will come off as such.

Do the, "You're interesting, and here are the authentic ways I'm interested in you" thing, or try the, "I'm being honest about who I am as a person" thing, and also the "I'm being a little adventurous, and game to get to know what you're into and to try the new things you might bring into my life" thing, without doing the "I'm being creepy by staring at you too much" thing, or the "I don't know about the norm of communication reciprocity, and I'm only asking you about yourself without sharing at all about me" thing. Especially avoid the, "I'm a dude so I think I should talk all the time and fill all the space" thing.

Anyway, give it a little time. You'll be fine - chemistry can't be forced, it just happens.
posted by latkes at 9:47 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


I've convinced myself that behaviorally, I'm doing something wrong on these dates. One possible example: I'm a pretty open and honest person, and don't do the coy/mysterious thing very well. Any other suggestions on things I might be doing wrong, or things I should be doing but am not?

I kind of feel like an idiot telling you how to do it given that I married my high school sweetheart and have never been on a first date as an adult, but I have some thoughts about your situation for some reason.

One thing I know to be true is that you shouldn't try to be someone you're not. Even if you're successful at being coy and mysterious for a few dates and that attracts someone, that won't really be you and you won't be able to keep it up.

There are some women where you will be yourself and it will just be easy and go great and not take any effort. Pay attention for that, I think it's important that it not take much effort and that it just happens for you, at the beginning especially (Long term relationship take a LOT of effort as it turns out, but not in this kind of way).

My good friend's girlfriend regularly says to me, "Kwine, you always know the right thing to say!" and I say, "No, I know the right thing to say to you, I have no fucking clue what to say to most women" And it's not forced with her, it just falls out of me doing my thing. And it's super super SUPER like that with my wife, to the nth degree.

Sometimes it's just like seeing the Matrix, I can just see through all the "layers" and know what I would do to get some woman to be attracted to me-not in a premeditated way but quick and instinctive, like making a move to get past your defender in a team sport and you're doing it without even thinking about it and it's not calculated and still you. Pay attention for when it feels like that, that's when you know you've caught one. But you can't force it. At least, I can't, and I don't think most people can.
posted by Kwine at 9:58 PM on March 19 [3 favorites]


It looks like you might have accidentally edited out whatever came after "but " in your question. Are you worried about lack of chemistry because you aren't getting second or third dates, because you aren't getting the sense that the women you're dating are into you physically, because you've had women physically recoil when you try to give them a hug or kiss goodnight, because they aren't falling into your bed after a couple of dates, or...? It isn't clear what your expectations are here.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that now that you've acquired some traits women are supposed to like, that you've unlocked the secret to getting all women to be into you. I pretty much guarantee that you could gather a group of a dozen guys that have all the positive traits you listed, and I or just about any other woman could maybe have a nice conversation with most of them, but would only even consider dating a couple at most. It's just numbers and finding the right fit, seriously. There are no guaranteed moves you can make that will work on every woman you date.
posted by MadamM at 10:08 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


Novelty - people form emotional bonds more easily when they share the experience of something new. Spontaneity is sort of an aspect of this.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:41 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


If you really think you're a catch because you've got a good body, are good looking, and have a good job, then I have to say you're not a catch at all. If these things are really what you think are your best qualities, or what makes a person attractive to seriously be with then you're wrong (unless you're seeking a pretty superficial partner). Also none of the things that you list as "self-improvement" seem like the really important ways one can improve oneself. Perhaps read a few books?

As for chemistry, it all has to do with how you play/flirt together. If the way you play clicks with how she plays then that's chemistry. But you have to be playful first to see if it works.
posted by Blitz at 11:25 PM on March 19 [4 favorites]


Of all the positives you just listed about yourself, none was about your character. Are you a decent person? Do you *care* if you're a decent person? What does that mean to you?

I would personally choose "really good-hearted person with a brain" over "super fascinating adventurer with lots of money and muscles" in about .02 seconds, bar none.

And this doesn't remotely mean that you AREN'T a good person! I don't know you, I have no clue. But from this tiny snippet of self-presentation, it doesn't look like that's one of your major personal selling points, and you might want to think about that.
posted by celtalitha at 11:46 PM on March 19 [2 favorites]


I've been working hard to improve myself, and it's showing: I've got myself in great shape, and it turns out that I'm pretty good-looking. I have a successful career, am easy to talk to, am getting more confident, and I've been doing some pretty interesting things with my life.

The guys who ignite chemistry aren't the ones who have to work at it and aren't objectively considering themselves "catches." The guys who are genuinely kind, humble, generous, like and appreciate people, and caring people are the ones who easily attract women and spark chemistry.

Dating actually isn't that much of a numbers game if you have the aforementioned qualities. If you have to work your looks, job, hobbies in that much, then, yeah, numbers game. But romantic chemistry can't be forced. If you got it, you got it. If not, dates lots of women until one thinks you're a fit for her.
posted by discopolo at 11:50 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


I would personally choose "really good-hearted person with a brain" over "super fascinating adventurer with lots of money and muscles" in about .02 seconds, bar none.

This x1000. Same for all the smart, sexy single women I know. They're all looking for emotionally mature, kind and funny. A hot body or fat pay-check is just icing.

I can't believe the discrepancy between what men thinks makes them a catch, and what women think makes them a catch.

My only tip is that chemistry comes when people sense that you're really, genuinely interested in them. Not in a creepy, overenthusiastic way, or an obsequious way, but in an 'I like who I am and I think I'd like who you are, too, if I knew you better!' kind of way.
posted by Salamander at 12:20 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


Why is everyone assuming that the OP is a shallow jerk? A little more of a charitable attitude towards Askers, folks. Besides, questioning whether or not the OP is actually a catch doesn't actually answer the question. Which I think is a pretty reasonable question. Dating is weird, and even if you think you have all the puzzle pieces, sometimes none of them fit together and it's very frustrating.

Are you doing online dating? Sounds like it to me. It's really hard to feel any sort of spark on the first few dates if you meet someone online, or at least that's my experience. Just soldier through the awkward first few dates and see if things get sparky.

Don't be coy or mysterious. But don't over share. I don't want to hear about some things right away (or ever).

Listen. Be interested.

Be picky, but not too picky. Wait for someone you're genuinely into, but don't only be genuinely into supermodels with PhD's.

Understand that love is a weird, rare beast and it's hard to find and dating sucks a lot of the time.

Make a move at some point. Women are not socialized to make the first move, generally speaking, and if she isn't making a move on you, and you don't make a move on her, nothing is going to happen.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:38 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


This is difficult to answer because the backstory doesn't match the question. The backstory is about the OP's qualities: he is a catch, he is open and honest, this is who he *is.*

But the question is about behaviors. We know nothing about what OP is saying and *doing* on a date, other than that it's not landing well with several women, hence the question.

It's like the backstory is constructed so that the only possible answer is supposed to be "just be yourself, you sound awesome," but MeFites resist being subtly corralled into that response and are looking everywhere for what could be wrong. But OP hasn't shared a clear description of how he acts on a date, even though that is what he thinks is the root of the problem.

My guess is that something similar might be happening on dates. OP might come across as a little too polished, perfect, eager to win over the lady with his unarguably awesome qualities, selling himself like in a job interview. A smart lady will be wondering: he seems like a catch, so what's the catch? His greatest weakness is being open and honest? Really? Why isn't he already taken? Why is he into me? Is he actually into me?

Maybe just a touch more sharing of self-doubt as mentioned above, self-awareness about things you're still working on, not blurting out all the greatest qualities that make you a catch on the first date, more curiosity about whether a particular woman is someone you really want to know more about... These suggestions are not intended as criticisms of the OP, but as answers to the question of what behaviors might be getting in the way of creating chemistry.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 5:55 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


I find it really hard to connect with people in a dating situation, like sitting down to coffee or dinner. I stay way too polite, I focus too much on how I am coming across and not enough on how I feel about the other person.

I find I get to know people (and get attracted to them) much better when we do an activity together. Are you doing dinner/coffee dates (nothing wrong with a first coffee date to make sure neither of you are obviously smelly murderers), or are you doing something more involving? Anyway, I recommend active dates, ideally dates where you're both learning something (so hot!), even if it's something stupid.
posted by mskyle at 7:03 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Recently I've been on a string of dates with fantastic women whose company I've enjoyed. All say that they've really liked me, but .

Keep in mind that we're all trained to be nice, even to the awkward dudes. For you, this dating stuff will be a numbers game. Just let it flow and relax. Stop trying to improve yourself and just be.
posted by discopolo at 7:43 AM on March 20


The briefest bit of backstory: if I'm being honest with myself, I'm kind of a catch right now. I've been working hard to improve myself, and it's showing: I've got myself in great shape, and it turns out that I'm pretty good-looking. I have a successful career, am easy to talk to, am getting more confident, and I've been doing some pretty interesting things with my life.

Here's something seemingly paradoxical that applies to dating (unlike schooling, work, and "establishing a personal brand" *shudder*): the more time you focus on packaging and presenting and pitching yourself as an amazing, interesting, attractive "catch" on your one on one, face to face dates, the less you seem....like a catch. It's just the way it is.

I've been at the receiving end of a string of men lately (attractive! fit! smart! quirky/cool hobbies! international travel! elite education and financially bright future!) who spent about 99% of our time together trying to impress me and present themselves in a certain way without actually any engaging in any dynamic response to the things I'm saying (the opposite of the whole, "I'm glad you said that because that made me think of something else I can say about myself"--or, "now that you're done talking we can get back on track with what I wanted you to know about me"), or curiosity about me. They're not bad guys; this is what they think they should be doing and then they're confused when I lose interest and it's not working for me.

It's a very common mistake, but stop doing it, because it's absolute death to chemistry. I'm not looking to "hire the most worthy candidate" in some sort of gladiator competition for my female attention and sexual interest; I'm looking for someone where the unique, off-script, organic reactions between us (that's why it's called chemistry!) are something I want to explore in my life for an extended period of time. You'll never get to this part if you're trying to sell yourself like you're auditioning for a job position or a grad school slot. If I feel like the date would have gone the same if I had walked away and tagged in any other reasonably attractive woman (or even a realistic-looking mannequin), you're doing it wrong, and it wouldn't matter if you were a model/Rhodes Scholar/millionaire who played the hurdy gurdy at a competitive level in underground clubs and rescued kittens in your spare time when you weren't enjoying time with your wonderful supportive family.
posted by blue suede stockings at 7:56 AM on March 20 [23 favorites]


More of a numbers game, actually. Get more dates, and some will have chemistry with you.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 AM on March 20


The briefest bit of backstory: if I'm being honest with myself, I'm kind of a catch right now. I've been working hard to improve myself, and it's showing: I've got myself in great shape, and it turns out that I'm pretty good-looking. I have a successful career, am easy to talk to, am getting more confident, and I've been doing some pretty interesting things with my life.

Good for you, and don't mind the haters, this is what they do.

So you're in a good place, and you're wondering what else you can do to improve your chances of a good match.

Just make it clear that you're looking for a companion and not a friend.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:00 AM on March 20


Charm is more important than cool. Cool is an exclusive thing. Charm is an inclusive thing. Charm is about 10,000x more important in this life.
posted by quincunx at 10:25 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Your greatness is the least important thing.

Making your date feel--in an honest way--that she's the greatest is the important thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:35 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Another vote for not doing the mysterious crap.

Are you texting or talking on the phone with those ladies beyond a date? Having a nice conversation on the phone can send the message that you are interested in *her* specifically.
posted by Neekee at 11:55 AM on March 20


Yes! Building on blue suede stockings' comments...

What I find sexy is a guy who observes, and then responds.

Watch/read her body language and then take an action based on that observation.

If you notice I'm fumbling with my purse, take my coat off my hands. If I'm about to sneeze, give me a kleenex. If I look frustrated and disappointed about something, say something uplifting & nice.

That's what chemistry is - responding to each other in a way that builds towards, uh, a reaction :) Chemistry is a dance. Find a way to (metaphorically) dance with your potential partner. Some people just plain can't dance with you. In which case - next!

That's the difference between a mediocre date and a "hmm, I'd like to learn more about that person." It still might not work out, but it will be for other reasons, and chemistry won't be one of them.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:42 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Go for a walk! Walking is free and you'll both enjoy those endorphins. The premise of one awesome first date--the whole date!--was "let's walk around downtown." It was totally great, we both got some exercise, and there were nice moments where our hands would accidentally brush or we'd find ourselves just-so-slightly out of breath ("breathless," if you will).

Three (3) other enjoyable first dates ended with a walk--as in, "wow, this has been a nice time and I want to continue talking. Would you like to walk down the street for a bit?" It works.
posted by magdalemon at 1:08 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Really, really listen. Everybody wants to be heard and understood.
posted by theora55 at 8:17 AM on March 23


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