Ask Wendy

What’s the Story About Chemistry, Again?

Friday, December 7, 2018
Hey Wendy,

After reading your book, I've been inspired to 'up' my dating game. I've been going on dates with a lot of guys (go me!) and have felt all kinds of feelings for the various men I've dated: from repulsion to strong chemistry, to nothing. I understand that chemistry can be dangerous and lead you up the garden path (since you are blinded by those hormones going crazy) but you at least know there is an underlying attraction of some kind there. I wouldn't bother exploring something where I felt repulsed by a guy so that one is easy—no second date for him. What I'm worried about is whether I'm writing off all these guys in the middle (the middle being the guys I date that I don't really feel anything for: you know, we have a nice enough night but that's it).

I dated one of these guys recently. When I met him in real life, I didn't feel remotely physically attracted to him, however, I also wasn't repulsed by him. He was a lovely guy and I felt we shared the same values (I guess you could say he was in my 'tribe') so I wanted to explore things with him a little bit. But by the time it got to the third date and I felt myself hastily saying goodbye at the end of the date so that he wouldn't launch in for a kiss, I figured that wasn't a good sign and ended it afterward. They say that attraction can grow but is the dates enough to see whether that changes, or am I writing someone off too quickly?

I'm not expecting that the guy be exceptionally handsome, but I want to feel some level of physical attraction right from the beginning. Am I asking too much? I've been on a lot of dates and I'm starting to feel a bit deflated that I'll never meet someone that I'm physically attracted to that also ticks the other important boxes for me.

I would really love to know your thoughts on when to give a guy another date. I know you say listen to your gut, but unless there are some really big red flags, my gut is usually pretty quiet in the very early stages...I need some Wendy guidance! I would also really love to know how you felt about Dave, your #121 first date, on the first few dates.

Thank you,

Annie D., Australia

Hey Annie,

Thank you for reading my book! As you know, I hate rules, but in this case, I’ll make an exception. I recommend you give a guy at least three dates to see if he has that slim chance of growing on you. But this doesn’t apply to every guy who says, “Let’s do this again.” This offering is only for the ones you really like and deeply respect—as in the ones you wish you were attracted to. I mean you gotta really, really, really like him.

Date #60 is a stellar example of when I flipped (hard) from “eh” to “yes please!” but it took all the way until the very end of the third date before that happened.

#60’s profile was beyond promising, so when I hit the front door of the restaurant and saw him in the flesh, and he spoke the words “you’re late” even though I’d texted I was ten minutes behind, attraction was the last thing on my mind. I was bummed out. He didn’t really grow on me throughout dinner. In fact, I was annoyed by our conversation and wished I’d met him for a drink, not a meal. But when I said “yes” to an after-dinner urban hike (since my Friday night was already shot), the entire tone of the evening changed, and I saw him in a new light. So maybe I liked him, but I still wasn’t attracted to him. Leaving that first date, I hugged him goodbye and thought to myself, “Well, I do like him. We should definitely be friends.”

Anytime you have that “I do like him, so we should definitely be friends” feeling, give him another couple of dates. You can always try a few more after that, and then call it by about the fifth or sixth one if you feel like nothing is happening.

And hey, you said your gut is quiet at the beginning, but you felt yourself hastily saying goodbye at the end of the first date because you didn’t want to kiss him—pssst, that’s your gut—and every other part of you saying, “nope!” You can trust that. You can trust yourself.

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You want to trust that sometimes you’re a “no” and you’re not even sure why. He seems great and looks good on paper, but your spirit says “hard no.” This is okay. You want to trust that there’s a good reason behind this and know there’s no shortage of humans out there (There’s seven billion of us, after all.)

That said, you aren’t going to be perfect. There will be times you’ll pass up a great guy online because you’re tired, or being really picky, or because you misread his intentions because of something he’s written in his profile. And you’ll balance that out by giving a guy the benefit of the doubt when you otherwise would have ditched after the first date. Life is a balancing act, right? But eventually, as you move as graciously as you can down the dating path, you’ll meet up with a kindred spirit who is perfect for you.

What I’m saying here is there’s no one true right way. There are just suggestions, ideas, and things to watch out for. Watch your date so you don’t miss red flags. You don’t want to get sucked into a connection with someone who isn’t a good fit for you. And you’ve got to vigilantly watch yourself. What stories are you telling yourself this week as you’re looking? The stories you’re telling yourself can inform what you see. Example: I told myself that younger guys (anyone my age or younger) weren’t really at my level of maturity. Was that true? Kinda. I only met three guys who were younger than me that I actually liked and respected. So, was that the truth? Or was it my story that in turn formed my reality? (The answer is not a shocker.)

Because you asked about Mr. #121, I’ll share how I felt about Dave on the first few dates. In the first instant of meeting him. Oh…my…God! It was so over for me, I didn’t stand a chance. He was tall, handsome—totally my type.

Some people think if he’s a 10 on a scale of 1 –10 that you should run. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought, so I kept my butt planted in my chair at the bougie Zuni Café in San Francisco. As the evening progressed, I got to know a masculine man who was easygoing, who made me feel safe, seen and at ease, and who was emotionally intelligent. I had chemistry with him that was off the charts. Luckily for me, he also had the magical ability to grant me space to be authentically me right out of the gate. His straightforward demeanor encouraged real conversation. So, I had an uncommon experience with #121: immediate heavy chemistry mixed with being able to not lose myself in the moment (and the hormones). I was lucky. And I worked really hard at not wearing those rose-colored glasses that chemistry was handing out for free at the front door of Zuni.

At the end of our first date, I decided that I really liked him and hoped for a second one. He said he wanted to get together after I returned from a trip, but you know how this goes—would he call? (He did.)

Our second date lasted for five whole hours. I’d slipped into the “love bubble” by the end of the second date, which freaked me out because um, too soon!

Third date: I felt romanced and taken care of. Looking for red flags, I saw none. #swoonworthy

Fourth date: Drumroll time. We laid out the “this is who I really am” cards right there on the table, which brought us even closer.

If a girlfriend or client told me about this four-date timeline, I’d think, “Woah cowgirl, slow down! Waaay too fast! Keep your eyes open!”

Which is exactly what I did. I trusted my gut but also listened to my head. I allowed myself to be swept off one foot while keeping the other firmly planted on the ground. It was a balancing act, but when is dating not?

Sometimes dating is hard, and sometimes dating is nothing short of magic. Whether it’s on from the start or a slow warm-up to deep, committed love, a new person can change everything in your life in an instant just by showing up.

I know it’s difficult to keep the faith that it will happen for you—especially when you keep meeting Mr. Not Quite My Man, but the real secret to success in dating is threefold:

1) Don’t wait.

2) Don’t settle.

3) Don’t give up.

One day you’ll meet someone you really like—really, really like—who you don’t want to stop hanging out with, and he’ll feel the same way about you.

Good luck out there!

Do you have a dating, sex or relationship question for Wendy? Send it to Wendy@WendySpeaks.com.