The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

Opinion: Chemistry vs. Character

We often overvalue our initial attraction to potential partners, at the expense of the more important characteristics that define healthy relationships.
drawing by Toby Shin
hearts for minds

As of lately (and what I have realized has been my whole life), I have underestimated the power of my own emotions.

Often in life, we find ourselves in certain situations where we meet someone we almost feel soul-tied to–someone who changes us and the way our hearts and minds work. I find that it is only after our time has ended with another that we must reflect. We have to return to greet it. I believe that this is a very painful thing and it really opens one’s eyes to how blinding love can be.

Even so, this is never something I’ve been able to fully wrap my mind around. I’ve found that in many toxic relationships, they may last longer than others because there is a true connection with this person, that certain chemistry that tells us, this is right and feels right. This is love. However, when these things are left behind, why is this the thing that just ends up being stuck under our skin?

I, for one, have a very hard time finding a person I truly click with now, a connection. 

Connection vs. chemistry. What does this mean? How do we know the difference between connection and chemistry when we meet someone?

With this, when one is experiencing dopamine and cortisol at the same time, one is essentially experiencing the reward chemical and the stress chemical at the same time, which can give one that chemistry feeling. This is the feeling of those butterflies in our stomach, or in many cases, even being submissive and almost vulnerable in a way. When we have this special chemistry, it’s very easy to build a story and in most cases it becomes almost impossible to let go of that.

Years later, we find ourselves stuck still wanting something because we believe it felt like so much more than anyone since. Especially in the beginning of relationships, that certain rush of “what should I wear?” “Do they like me or not?” A lot of us get swept up in the feeling of being so mutually interested in someone, that beautiful chemistry and lust we all know very well, this natural connection with someone and its intrinsic flow where we feel so much more comfortable around them. In addition to that, when we catch ourselves in that moment, we have to ask ourselves, what are we really attaching ourselves to? What do you like about this individual so much? 

Especially based on chemistry, you are only at the surface. I believe connection is when two paths align, your purposes align, and for two individuals to align we have to have a deeper understanding of where we are headed, and can we head there together.

We can save ourselves a lot of pain by doing this. As humans we are scared of losing someone who avoids the  questions and truths that actually determine whether a relationship will last–the questions surrounding the character of both partners, which is ultimately losing yourself by not being yourself. Our tendency is to overvalue chemistry over character and the absence of character will produce hell in a relationship, even if it’s the greatest chemistry of your life. Character and behavior of someone is going to be the foundation and determining factor for a long-term relationship.

Saudade, is the portuguese word for a deep emotional state of melancholic and nostalgic longing for a person or thing that is absent. We realize that it can never be this way again because that certain moment in time with another is irreplaceable.

To begin with, we really should qualify this by saying connection or no connection, chemistry or not, if someone didn’t commit to us, then they couldn’t follow through with the promise of being everything we wanted and needed. However, the logic of this does not eliminate the saudade that we may feel. We tend to see this as an indication of how important something is, however, we should look at this as one of the many experiences in our lives that also introduces this feeling of saudade. The non-sequitur is the false indication that believing this relationship must be important because you still have these feelings of longing.

We overvalue chemistry because when we look back at these times with that person, we believe so much in that saudade state that we feel it can’t let us go on with another. I know first hand how angry it makes one to have to feel the terrible inequities of someone’s behavior after a relationship ends while there is the intrinsic expectation that someone hurt from heartbreak should wish someone the best, but instead our responsibility now is to give ourselves the best.

We can be angry all we want, but to keep the memory of the relationship alive will ultimately break our hearts more, if not again. Many are attached to this pain of hurting themselves because the last we have of this person, is not even ours anymore. To almost enjoying the relief of crying and embracing the twisted thought that all the hate we have for them, is because we love them. This keeps a person from healing when instead we could actually acknowledged our feelings, not what they did, but what do we feel as a result.

I had my therapist tell me once, “You knew them. You don’t know them now.” This person is a stranger. I would always say “I know them”, but now I know I only once did. This taught me an important lesson: Our future is about us, and if we continue to think about certain people all the time, we’re letting them steal that from us. Our value can never come from another person. It can only come from ourselves.

When we leave a relationship, our value remains intact. We never lose any of our value when a person walks away. This is very common and as we grow up, we start to look for value outside of ourselves. Whether that be a status, a partner, money, whatever can give us a sense of value.We have to understand that the things we create of value aren’t our intrinsic value. In a way, those things outside of us are only ever rented. We are the only thing that we are guaranteed to own and I always seem to find so many people looking for a shortcut to the outside, while in reality we are the only asset that we will 100 percent have and is always going to be there with us every single day.

Especially after a relationship ends or fails, we torture ourselves over fiction of what is past. We start to lose our own character which will lead to failure for a successful future with another partner. The wish that we had done something different is essentially a desire to be living in some parallel universe…But we did what we did and we were always going to then — based on our brain chemistry, our experiences, our upbringing, our insecurities, our societal and environmental influences, and most importantly, based on our strengths. I’ve come to peace finally with what has happened and only what has happened to me…we did what we did. 

It is also based on our strengths that we were even in that relationship to begin with. That change is what’s given us the insight now, that we would say, “I would do something different next time”, but we literally don’t have that insight. We have to accept that we only have this feeling of guilt or self loathing because it happened. You don’t get the insight without the heartbreak and we needed this to get to that. Believing what we say and thinking that we have agency, is the same thing as hating ourselves for not being proactive with that agency and not doing what we could have. The only heightened level of agency we could have come from are the situations we were in.

These relationships are not important to our future. They may remain important, but it was truly only important for the experience it gave us at the time and was only important in what it gave us in the moment, but never to our future. Once we understand that loss, so much of the sting of the saudade is removed as we only have one choice to feel it for as it is, instead of a tremendous sense of loss for a future.

Character is the cornerstone of a relationship that makes one last. To look at the bigger picture, we have to remind ourselves of what we need and that always remains at least these wonderful qualities that we can find in so many people, and someone whom we feel chemistry with as well. 

“They dance with another. They embrace another. A single word punches the soul of your gut. “Gone” Grief is love in its purest form and the morning mourns the loss of a possible future, the not-yet that now will never be. All things come to an end. Love is not eternal, it’s not even hardy. But at least it’s free.”

– Glee Farina

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Glee Farina
Glee Farina, Staff Writer

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