12 signs you’ve got strong chemistry with someone but lack long-term compatibility

Chemistry and compatibility aren’t the same thing. 

It’s crucial to make this distinction in order to avoid a lot of heartache and gain more clarity about where a relationship is going before investing too much time and energy into it. 

Let’s be honest:

Intense chemistry is amazing. It can lead to feelings of physical and emotional passion. But it seldom carries on into a long-term relationship that will go the distance. 

That’s why it’s worth taking a look at the signs that you have strong chemistry with somebody but not long-term compatibility.

1) You have intense physical attraction

The first sign of very strong chemistry is intense physical attraction. This can be all-out lust.

The other person’s appearance, voice, way of speaking and dressing, even their smell all drive you wild. 

You can’t resist them, and the feeling appears to be mutual. 

But is there more beneath the surface? Let’s take a look at the next warning sign…

2) You don’t have many shared interests or values

When you have a lot of physical chemistry it’s certainly a good start:

But if your interests and values don’t overlap it’s a definite red flag when it comes to long-term compatibility. 

The chances of this relationship going somewhere are close to zero if there’s no real core value overlap between the two of you. 

As author Mark Manson writes:

“Compatibility is about the long-term potential of two people. High compatibility comes from similarities in lifestyles and values.”

3) Your life goals are ultimately going different directions

In addition to a lack of overlapping values and interests, your objectives themselves aren’t aligned. This is the type of thing that depends a lot on context:

Nobody is saying that a successful couple needs to be lined up on all their life goals and missions. But there should be at least a little bit of leeway at the very least. 

If you have sharply divergent life goals it’s not a good sign by any means. The chemistry you feel may be intense, but where will you live and how will your lives look after the honeymoon period is over? 

4) There is an intense emotional connection but it’s extremely volatile

In many situations with an intense chemistry there is a strong emotional connection present. However, it goes through intense ups and downs:

When one of you is in a bad mood it feels like the world is ending. When you’re feeling good it’s like being on top of the world.

That stable, underlying bond isn’t really there and fluctuates wildly depending on the context and situation.

Marie-Judith Jean-Louis puts it well:

“We often mistake chemistry for compatibility, assuming that a strong initial attraction equates to a suitable match. But there are plenty of examples of couples with extremely high physical chemistry that are in a toxic relationship.”

5) You find their downsides no big deal, but they still aren’t actually addressed or resolved

When there’s very strong chemistry, the other person’s downsides tend to seem unimportant. 

You don’t focus much on how rude they are sometimes, or the fact that they have no ambition (or much more ambition than you). 

You’re just living in the moment and feeling in love. But once this starts to fade a bit, these issues that seemed so small can rear up and become a much more serious problem. 

As Stela Kosic writes:

“Maybe they’re irresponsible, too messy, too loud… Whatever it is, you can ignore it for now, but you know it would drive you crazy in the long run. And you’re probably right.”

6) The two of you make a lot of impulsive, split-second decisions about the relationship 

Sweet girlfriend 12 signs you've got strong chemistry with someone but lack long-term compatibility

When it comes to the relationship itself, the two of you make many impulsive decisions

You go on spontaneous trips or make big purchases and decisions, but you do so without considering much or thinking it through. 

There’s no real planning format to how the two of you do things:

You just kind of wing it. But in the long-term chemistry and enjoying each other’s company won’t make up for a lack of a decision-making process, especially when you have very differing communication styles. 

7) The sexual connection is intense but afterwards you feel slightly less committed

When there’s a lot of chemistry, there’s a lot of sex:

Or at least there’s very intense, mind-blowing sex if and when it’s had by the two of you. 

“A lack of chemistry will mean boring, emotionless sex,” notes Manson. “A high degree of chemistry will mean intense, life-altering, heart-pounding sex that causes your mind to cosmically splatter itself on the walls of your consciousness.”

This sexual utopia, however enticing it may be, is not sufficient as the basis for a long-term relationship. 

Even if it were to last years, the other differences and insufficiencies that exist between the two of you would eventually come out and intrude on the orgasmic bliss. 

8) You find each other interesting and funny but you frequently argue and clash over small things

There’s no denying that the two of you have interesting discussions and have a real bond. 

You love their sense of humor and they like yours. You don’t have to pretend to find them funny, because you actually do. 

But at the same time, this intense chemistry doesn’t cover up for the issue that you often clash over small details:

You like this person a lot, maybe you even feel you love them. Yet you are often also finding them annoying at times, and while it’s easy to brush aside for now, long-term down the road this has a tendency to become a much bigger problem. 

9) You both live in the moment and have no shared plans for the future

This ties into the previous point because chemistry tends to lead to a lot of spontaneity and living in the moment. This can be magical and life-changing in a thousand ways:

You fit together effortlessly without even trying and it may feel like you’ve met your person.

But when it comes to really bringing this bond down-to-earth and planning what’s next or even defining for certain what the relationship means to the two of you?

The jury’s out. You may also have quite clashing ideas for what the future should hold. 

As Kosic writes:

“Having similar goals is pretty important for a long term relationship, and being compatible is a must if you’re going to succeed as a couple. Having different views about the future is something that’s definitely going to take a toll on you, no matter how much you like them at the moment.”

10) When hard times hit you both react in divergent, clashing ways

Chemistry carries the day when things are going fairly well and you’re having fun. 

But compatibility is what gets couples through very difficult periods, times of intense boredom, or major miscommunications. 

When hard times occur what happens?

If you lack compatibility, the most likely result is that instead of coming together you end up getting further apart as a result of the hardship. 

You each react in your own ways, and while this can feel like no big deal it doesn’t lend well to long-term durability. 

11) You feel strongly for each other but are unequally committed

This ties into the previous point also: you feel strongly for this person and they do for you as well. 

This is certainly a good start and, I believe, entirely necessary for a relationship to be worthwhile. 

But if only one of you is committed or you both are having trouble committing it indicates a lack of long-term compatibility. You’re just not on the same page about how the book ends.

Jean-Louis puts it well:

“If the health of an intimate relationship was represented by the heat that comes from a fire, chemistry would be akin to a sparkler that lights up when two people come together. 

“It’s exciting, it’s unpredictable and it’s automatic. It might give off heat when you’re close to each other, but it has a limited lifespan.”

12) You both meet and fall for each other in a specific context that is hard to transition to your overall lives

External factors like the time and place are often working against long-term success. 

When you have high compatibility these challenges will all be met and overcome. 

But when the chemistry is high but not the long-term potential, then these outer issues tend to have a habit of destroying the fledgling connection. 

When the emotional connection isn’t strong enough long-term then transitioning the connection from one situation into others becomes more and more challenging. The commitment just isn’t there. 

“It’s irrelevant if the person you choose has the physical appearance, job, sense of humor, ethics, or personality that you covet and are attracted to,” notes Carrie Burns.

“If they fail to meet your bids for emotional connection, you will end up miserable and it won’t work. Period.”

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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