Chemistry can be defined as a combination of love, lust, infatuation and the desire to be intimately involved with someone.
We have all been there, feeling our legs shaking just because he smiled at us, realizing we cannot stop thinking of him, because he is like a virus, has taken possession of our mind. Some people describe this attraction with a sort of religious fervour: they feel they can abandon themselves completely, unite with the Other, in order to finally feel whole again. It looks magical, and indeed it is. Certain hormones secreted by your brain, like dopamine (the same involved in substance addiction) will make you idealize the Other. You are happy with just a smile, you feel your life is worth living just because he is a part of it. This chemistry is based on high sexual attraction. It is a trick of your brain to allow you to have children and pass your genes on to the one who looks more suitable for you.
No point denying this is an amazing feeling; it feels like flying, getting high without drugs.
We love that person not for what he really is, but for what he represents to us. He becomes an archetype. We all have archetypes of persons that attract us spontaneously, and we will always look for people who come closest to this mental pattern. They can belong to different races, religions or cultures, but mentally and emotionally these people are extremely similar. A pattern is a collective image of an ideal man or woman. It is formed by mixing elements of your father’s personality – your first image of a male, with those of a cousin or neighbour, an actor you like, some specific gestures he made, a sort of attitude that inspires security, risk or whatever you need that person to wake up in you. Someone who made a strong emotional impact on you when young. You will continue to look for a person who will make you feel the way you felt as a child or adolescent.
If there was some trauma in your early adolescence, you were molested or touched in an undesired way by a family member, that person will also be mixed in this expectation that you create unconsciously from the opposite sex. You will believe for example, that men are weak and you will have huge difficulties respecting them if you had a weak father. You will think that all men are pigs if you have been molested. Maybe you will become seductive in your behaviour, anticipating this expectation of being seen as a sexual object. You will look for people who reinforce your beliefs and your patterns.
Life has a strange way of providing you with similar people and circumstances as those who had the biggest impact on your life. You will keep following the same script till you get it right. This is an opportunity for you to look at your wound, and at a given time, when you are ready – to start healing it.
To a small child, the parent is always idealized. He naturally just assumes he is willing and able to provide for his needs. He depends on his parents for physical survival. If there is serious neglect, indifference or abuse, the child will start to believe that this is somehow his fault, he was not interesting enough, good enough or worthy enough to be loved. He will prefer ANYTHING, even serious abuse, to the prospect of being abandoned.
Later, he will look for the same kind of person as the one with the biggest impact in his life. If he was abused, he will look for dominating partners, who disrespect him, and abuse him mentally, verbally, even physically. If the parent was emotionally unavailable and cold, he will believe that he cannot count on anyone and probably will never trust anyone. He will always keep himself at a safe distance. If the parent was hypercritical, he will try to become invisible and will deem criticism a sign that he is seen and important. This was the only way in which he got attention. He will believe that Suffering in a relationship is inevitable, is the PRICE for the relationship itself.
There will be high chemistry to people who push our buttons, who make us feel the same way we felt as Children. But this chemistry is always based on “traumatic” events. Continuing to choose people who re-enact your childhood trauma is a way of making you feel you are in control. But your real needs will never be addressed, you will never receive what you need because you keep asking it from people who are unwilling or unable to give it to you.
Two people will be subconsciously attracted to each other based on the same or complementary “trauma”. You will keep looking for someone who is familiar, that you can manage. You will train your brain to read certain facial expressions, body postures, the melancholy in someone’s eyes, a certain “unavailability”, the warmth, the tone of voice, the language, the temper, the sophistication, a certain intellectual level, a type of education, economic or emotional stability, a posture, shyness, security, a way of dressing, what you perceive as femininity or masculinity, eccentricity, warmth or coldness. You will attract people who are on the same frequency as you. People of trauma will be attracted to people with identical or complementary trauma. Hurt people Hurt people.
This will become later the basis for the “Red Cross syndrome”. You will look for people who need to be saved, as you were not able to save yourself. You will look for validation through the role of savior. Why? Because it is easier to look at other people’s wounds. Simply because they are more visible or because they cry louder. And you will spend precious energy, money, time, emotional investment, to heal the wounds of a person who never asked for your help. If he wanted to be saved, he would have asked for it. You will fix them and they will abandon you when you are done!
Your emotional life will repeat itself in a loop, with the same kind of people, only slightly different traumas. The more you refuse to look at your pattern, the more numerous these people will be in your life. And you will keep telling yourself, “I have done only good, I never hurt a fly in my life, and this is how the universe repays me…” The universe keeps giving you opportunities to look at your wounds. And unfortunately some people learn the lesson only in dramatic ways.
The more traumatic events you had in early childhood – abandonment, neglect, inability to feel safe –, the more you will be involved in “fatal attractions”. This is an addiction, it is not love. There will always be a strong sexual connection and chemistry to such a person, even if it doesn’t last. If you meet a good man, you will not find him worthy, because the chemistry will be low. You will look for pleasure at all costs, maybe sexualize your need for affection, because you never received affection. The only interest people had in you was somehow sexual. Hypersexuality will become a way of refusing to look at your wounds. You will always look for this “perfect symbiotic union”, where there is no more shame or guilt or fear. If you cannot obtain such a satisfaction or connection in reality, you will become perverse, transferring it to an object, or objectifying people for your purposes. This destroys any form of real connection. “Perversion is the transformation of a childhood trauma into an adult triumph” (Stoller).
When we are young we will look for adrenaline and passion in a partner, someone who makes us feel alive. We want to burn and we want risk. As we get older, and feel our biological clock ticking, we look for stability. For a partner who seems able and willing to become a father to our children, even if (as expected), he will be less passionate. The pressure of society or family will make you choose stability over passion, if you cannot find both in the same person. The person who is more stable than you has the capacity to stop you from self-destruction, by taking refuge in alcohol or drugs, at least for a while!
The pressure of society to conform is huge. You start lying to yourself, telling yourself that it is OK, that you cannot find everything in one person. Maybe a family member is dying, or died already by the time you’re 40, and you are forced to face your own mortality. And then you make decisions based on fear, and choose the less dramatic possibility.
We all make choices in life based on either fear or courage. Most people will choose stability, because it is convenient, comfortable and easy. A certain compromise becomes necessary. But when your entire life is based on it, you will end up living someone else’s life, not yours! The truth and confrontation of your fears takes courage. Renouncing comfort for the sake of truth takes a huge amount of courage. Seeing your own flaws and admiring your mistakes takes courage.
It is always up to you, whether you want stability and comfort or you have the courage to talk about vulnerability, unhappiness, lack of common values, unfulfilled needs, and see your options from there. Being completely honest with yourself causes a huge amount of pain, and not everyone can deal with it.
There will always be a certain amount of suffering in any choice we make in life. Some people prefer to keep lying to themselves, and some people choose the truth. Your life is your making. There is no destiny, and if you don’t choose, you will have to accept what others choose for you.
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