What Sexual Chemistry Is and Why It Matters in a Relationship
Are the sparks flying?
A good relationship isn’t defined by just one quality. Strong partnerships are typically between people who have shared values and goals, mutual respect and deep love for each other. However, many would argue that having strong sexual chemistry is also an important component of a fulfilling relationship.
Sometimes sexual chemistry happens right away—like when you fall in love at first sight. Other times sexual chemistry grows over time as a relationship develops and your initial chemistry deepens. While not everyone believes it’s essential for a relationship to make it long term, sexual chemistry plays an important role in how we idealize and evaluate romantic partnerships.
To better understand how and why people experience sexual chemistry, let’s break down what sexual chemistry actually is and what it means in the context of long term relationships.
What is sexual chemistry?
How to define sexual chemistry? Most mainstream depictions of sexual chemistry involves feeling an instant attraction, a strong sexual impluse toward another person. Some believe that the feeling needs to be reciprocated to consider it sexual chemistry, while others believe that impluse can be one-sided.
Some of the hallmark qualities of intense sexual chemistry are feeling a magnetic pull toward another person, or even feeling instantly in love with them, and needing their physical touch. There’s a sense of falling in love but it’s usually more physical than emotional, though it could be both.
How does this work? The brain produces some seriously strong hormones—dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin—when we experience pleasure and reward. (Oxytocin is particular is known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone.”) Feeling sexual chemistry, strong attraction or mutual lust can send these chemicals into overdrive, lighting up our brains.
Sexual chemistiry can be a full body sensation, a palpable heat that makes you more aware of your senses in general. However it shouldn’t be confused with love. Sexual chemistry is a highly physical attraction toward another person. Sometimes it comes with an emotional connection, but not always. Instant sexual arousal doesn’t autmatically lead to a loving relationship. In fact, just because you have good sexual chemistry with someone that doesn’t mean you would be good long term partners.
In short, lust doesn’t always lead to love, but some form of platonic love. But it can be fun while it lasts.
Signs of sexual chemistry
You don’t need to be an expert that reads sex quotes all day long to know that sexual chemistry can be pretty obvious. That said, it’s still useful to know the common signs that you’re potentially falling in lust with someone. While sexual chemistry is usually thought of as a mutual experience, it can also be onesided if you find yourself lusting after someone else.
Here are the most telltale signs of sexual chemistry:
You can’t stop touching each other.
When you have sexual chemistry with someone, you typically find all sorts of excuses to touch them or be close to them. This means putting a hand on their arm or leg when you’re talking, sitting closely to them, brushing a stray hair out of their eyes—you get the idea. You may not even be conscious of your physical closeness, in fact, your touches may be almost instinctive.
You feel those butterflies in your stomach when they’re around you.
When you’re with someone you have sexual chemistry with, you may feel nervous or even anxious around them, especially if you don’t yet know how they feel toward you.
Your body changes when you’re around them.
Many physical changes can happen in your body when you have sexual chemistry with someone. Your skin may get flushed, your heart rate and blood pressure increases and you will likely feel sexually aroused.
You fantasize about sleeping with them.
When you have sexual chemistry with (or just for) someone, you likely think about having sex with that person. A lot. Even if you two are physically intimate, thoughts of that person in sexual stiuations likely run through your mind constantly.
You rarely go on actual dates.
People who experience a lot of sexual chemistry usually spend a lot of time between the sheets. You may take breaks from the bedroom to go to work, get groceries, shower and so on but most of your time together is usually spent leading up to sex and having sex.
Benefits of sexual chemistry: Why physical chemistry is important in a relationship
Physical attraction is essentially what separates friendships from romantic relationships. Having strong sexual chemistry with your partner is not the most important factor in your partnership, but it can be very important to many people, especially for those in monogamous relationships.
Having physical chemistry helps you and your partner maintain an active sex life. When you and your partner maintain sexual desire and physical attraction toward each other you’re less likely to lust after other people. Plus, having regular sex has a number of health benefits including stress reduction, better sleep, increased immune function and more happiness overall.
However, having sexual chemistry with someone doesn’t automatically mean that you and this (very sexy) person are headed toward lifestime love. Lust and attraction aren’t usually enough to make a relationship work, though having sexual chemistry can bring two people together and make them feel like they are instantly in love. (Blame those feel-good hormones.)
Intense sexual chemistry can lay an initial foudation for love but it takes more than sexual attraction to keep a relationship going. If you and your partner’s values and goals are aligned, however, having a strong physical attraction toward each other can just make your relationship that much more fulfilling, in and out of the bedroom. On that note, if you’re not quite sure where your relationship is heading with someone you like, here are some questions to ask your crush.
What to do when sexual chemistry diminishes
Over time, it’s normal for sexual attraction to wane in a long term relationship, especially after you’ve had children. Other stressful life factors like job loss, health issues or the death of a close family member or friend can also take a toll on sexual chemistry. Time itself can cause couples to lose focus on their physical attraction for each other.
There are many things you can do, however, to regain sexual chemistry if you feel like you need to heat things up again in your relationship. These are just a few ideas to get you started:
Talk about it
First and foremost, it’s important to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room. If you feel like your physical attraction for each other has decreased, don’t be afraid to speak up. Express to your partner that you miss the physical side of your relationship and explain if you’d like more frequent affection, sex or just more fun in general. Approach the conversation without accusing your partner of falling short of your expectations and share how much you still find your partner attractive.
Voice your appreciation for each other
In your day to day life, don’t forget to express gratitude for your partner. It’s easy to get bogged down in your respective to-dos, your jobs and your obligations but when you don’t take the time to truly appreciate each other, your chemistry suffers. Make sure your partner knows how good they look in their work attire, how much you miss them during the day and how grateful you are that they filled the car up with gas on their way home. These compliments and expressions of appreciation go a long way toward increasing desire.
Be aware when your partner reaches out
When your partner scoots closer to you on the couch to cuddle, be receptive. Put down your phone and accept the physical gesture. Sometimes we don’t even register when our partner is trying to make a move because we’re tired or distracted. Pay attention and reciprocate when you can.
Set aside quality alone time
Maintaining sexual desire can get more challenging as you get older, especially if you have demanding jobs or young children. Make a point to schedule in date night, and even sex, so that the physical part of your relationship don’t die a slow death. Get creative: Maybe you can take a lunch break together for a midday quickie or get a sitter once a month so you can get dressed up and feel like your old selves again. Make alone time a priority to help rekindle the spark.
Do you really need sexual chemistry in a relationship?
Intense sexual chemistry certainly makes a relationship exciting. But is it a requisite for a happy, healthy relationship? It depends on who you ask. Some people crave a relationship with a strong physical connection. Other people seek out a more emotional connection with a potential partner. What matters most of all is that you feel confident and happy in whatever relationship you’re in.
If the sparks are flying, great. If your bond is more like a low simmer, that’s fine too. Only you know what kind of connection will be most fulfilling for you.