Chemistry & Dating

by Mary Johnson-Gerard, Ph.D.

About Mary Johnson-Gerard, Ph.D.

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Mary Johnson-Gerard began writing professionally in 1975 and expanded to writing online in 2003. She has been published on the Frenzyness Divorce Blog and on Neumind International Pte Ltd. Her book "When Divorce Hurts Too Long—Ouch" was published in 2009. Johnson-Gerard holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Missouri.

Chemistry & Dating

Dating is an exciting and stressful time in a person's life. Finding the right person is sometimes a challenge due to brain chemistry. We are told to follow our hearts, but science has shown there are actual chemical emissions and reactions in the brain related to dating. Understanding what causes the chemical attraction that is called “chemistry” between people may make dating a bit easier.

Infatuation and Chemicals

That really excited “in love” feeling that happens when two people first realize they are in love is actually a chemical response that happens in the brain. It occurs when neuro-chemicals like adrenaline flood into the brain. According to relationship expert Dr. Harville Hendrix, chemicals like phenylethylamine, dopamine, and norepenephrine stimulate the production of adrenaline. Adrenalin is the reason why hearts pound and love feelings begin to grow.

Dating and Men

The chemical reactions in the brain are different for men and women. Men mainly have testosterone as their “dating” chemical. Testosterone tells a man whether or not he is attracted to a woman by the physical response he gets. Men are visual when it comes to women and dating. It takes a man seven seconds to decide if he is attracted to a woman. This is the time it takes for the first visual image to make it to the brain and to be processed. When it comes to dating, men tend to look first and ask questions later.

Dating and Women

When women fall in love, their brain releases a bonding hormone called oxytocin. This hormone occurs during arousal, climax and at childbirth. This hormone is one reason that some women fall for the “wrong” guy. They become bonded chemically even if it isn't a good fit otherwise. Being aware of this during dating can help women take stock of the situation and step back to see if the man is truly the best fit.

Chemistry and Communication

Men and women have very different chemical reactions going on in their brains during dating. Men are looking for physical stimulation, while women are seeking to bond with someone. This difference can create issues once the initial spark is gone. Good communication is essential to ensure a lasting dating relationship. Communicating with each other early on will help set a good pattern for the future of a relationship.

Keeping the Spark

Information from www.cyberparent.com indicates the brain creates that initial intense “chemistry” reaction for six months to three years, depending on the person. Some people are able to maintain the spark for years, whereas others need to move on and find new love to have the "chemistry." Some things to do to keep the spark burning are to send each other love notes, emails and silly pictures of over the phone. Understanding that the initial chemical reaction won't last forever will help dating couples be realistic in terms of the future of their relationship.

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