Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Chemistry

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What Is ‘Sexual Chemistry,’ Really? And Can It Be Controlled?

Everything You Need to Know About Sexual Chemistry

What Is ‘Sexual Chemistry,’ Really? And Can It Be Controlled?

Like many of the hard sciences, chemistry is not well understood by people who don’t study it.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that the word appears in the phrase ‘sexual chemistry,’ despite having nothing whatsoever to do with labs and beakers.

Or does it?

As it turns out, the question of what sexual chemistry is — how it works, and whether there are any scientific components to it — is not necessarily a settled one. Certainly, the feeling of having sexual chemistry with someone sexy can feel like it’s much more magic than science.

The rush of their presence, the feeling of excitement that interacting with them can bring, and even the powerfully explosive qualities of the sex itself.

In order to get a better understanding of the ins and outs of sexual chemistry, AskMen spoke to a wealth of different sex and relationship experts. Here’s what they had to say:

What Is Sexual Chemistry?

“Sexual chemistry refers to the strong attraction and desire we feel towards another person, often characterized by a magnetic pull and a primal urge for intimacy,” says intimacy expert and relationship coach Magda Kay.

But what is going on, actually, when you feel sexual chemistry? As it turns out, it’s not that simple.

“Interestingly, sexual chemistry is not easy to define, which is why there hasn’t been a lot of research on the subject,” says Kiana Reeves, a certified somatic sex educator and intimacy coach. “Sexual chemistry takes the idea of chemistry (that can be found in any relationship type from romantic to friendly to familial) and adds physical attraction to it.”

On a physical or biological level, “Attachment of any type is linked to oxytocin and vasopressin hormones, which make us want to be near someone and stay near them,” Reeves adds. “The two primary hormones driving sexual chemistry are testosterone (linked to libido) and estrogen, which causes the feeling of lust.”

These two hormones, she says, “in tandem with pheromones (the aura someone gives off) can ramp up physical/sexual/emotional attraction when your hormones are involved and your pheromones link well with those of a partner.”

Pheromones, explains Anna Richards, sex educator and founder of the erotic ethical porn site FrolicMe, are “chemicals that contain information about a person’s DNA and immune system, which can indicate how genetically compatible you are.”

There’s also research that suggests that the pheromone component of attraction may be related to certain genetic factors to help drive ‘gene health’ in a couple’s potential offspring.

“Human chemistry/scent-based attraction is based on a person having different MHC Genes compared to their match,” says Dr. Timothy Sexton, founder of DNA Romance. “It’s not as simple as pheromones; there is something far more complex going on relating to human scent and attraction.”

Simply put, MHC genes, or major histocompatibility genes, are ones where each parent would be contributing genes that might make up for deficiencies in the other’s; the idea is that mating with someone whose genetic background is significantly different from your own would present evolutionary advantages.

However, when people talk about sexual chemistry, there’s a decent chance they aren’t thinking about things like MHC genes or pheromones. They’re likely thinking about something a bit more intangible.

“Sexual chemistry is a feeling of immediate connection that doesn’t necessarily involve thought, or even knowledge of who a person is,” says Pamela Madsen, certified somatic sex educator and founder of Back to the Body.

The name, however, may come “from the result of a physical reaction happening within the body when you meet someone you are attracted to,” says Angelika Koch, relationship expert for the dating app Taimi. “This sensation of arousal happens not just when you are touching each other, but also when you’re just around the other person.”

Besides the arousal component, sex expert Alice Lovegood notes, the phrase may also be used to describe an element of sexual compatibility, “in that if/when you have sex, it is an exciting and positive experience — think ‘sparks flying’, ‘we had so much sexual chemistry it was electric!’ The link to magnets, electricity, and sparks giving way to the chemistry based name.”

“Sexual chemistry can also be mental, emotional, or even spiritual,” Richards adds.

Besides good sex or sexual compatibility, other forms of sexual chemistry she lists are “being mentally compatible enough to engage in a flirtation that is spicy and stimulating for you both,” and “feeling comfortable with a person is also another important form of sexual chemistry, as it allows you to let loose and communicate in the bedroom, as well as opening up about your desires.”

The Benefits & Drawbacks of Sexual Chemistry

Experiencing serious sexual chemistry with someone is, undeniably, a lot of fun.

“Sexual chemistry can allow you to have an exciting experience with someone you desire,” says Koch. “It allows tension to build, which can draw you in closer to them, allowing the connection to deepen.”

“Most people love the feeling of sexual chemistry — the rush of adrenaline and, if all works out, the excitement of having our desires fulfilled,” Richards agrees.

“However, sexual chemistry can also be deceptive, and shouldn’t be confused with emotional or romantic compatibility,” she notes. “Sexual chemistry is not enough to sustain a long-term relationship, and two people who are actually incompatible or even destructive for each other can have sexual chemistry.”

As Koch notes, strong sexual chemistry can make it hard to see the red flags someone might otherwise be giving off.

“Relying too heavily on sexual chemistry to sustain a relationship can be risky,” Davin Wedel, CEO and founder of condom manufacturer Global Protection Corp, notes. “Over time, the initial spark may fade, and if there isn’t a strong foundation of compatibility and emotional connection, the relationship may struggle to endure.”

“While sexual chemistry can create intense passion, it may also amplify conflicts or disagreements within the relationship,” he adds. “Emotions can run high, making it challenging to resolve conflicts calmly and effectively.”

Too much sexual chemistry can really overwhelm people, too, notes Madsen: “Some people stop eating, stop sleeping […] people can start neglecting their work or neglect other relationship dynamics.”

In short, an abundance of sexual chemistry, she says, “can lead to neglecting other areas of their life that they may find important — work, other relationships, fitness, and so on.”

Can Sexual Chemistry Increase or Decrease Over Time?

Whether sexual chemistry can change over time, and if so, how, depends in part whether you conceive of it as primarily a biological thing, or as the sum of two people’s ineffable attractions to one another.

If it’s the former, Sexton has good news. He says that studies show MHC genes are “crucial for immune defense and mate selection, with a preference for dissimilar MHC profiles linked to potential reproductive advantages” and that “this phenomenon emphasizes a deeper ‘chemistry’ beyond physical or emotional attraction.”

In short, it may present some kind of durable and lasting bond between a pair of sexual partners.

However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be impacted by other physiological factors, Sexton notes.

“Research has indicated that the contraceptive pill can alter women’s natural attraction towards MHC-dissimilar partners,” he adds.

Per Sexton, some research suggests that “hormonal contraception can reverse women’s preference for the scent of genetically dissimilar partners, making them more attracted to genetically similar men.”

“This shift could have implications for relationship satisfaction and even long-term reproductive success,” he notes.

However, according to experts, the less measurable aspects of sexual chemistry are likely to fade over time.

“In most cases, sexual chemistry naturally diminishes over time,” says Kay. “This tension between partners typically fades as they spend more time together, share responsibilities, and become more comfortable with each other, especially in living together and sharing a bed.”

“The glow of that sexual chemistry and deep attraction or infatuation can diminish when you get to know the person deeper,” says Madsen. “When you get to know each other, finding out that they leave their underwear around — the regular stressors and mundane annoyances of life interfere.”

Ultimately, “your brain gets used to that person, which causes the excitement to fade,” says Koch. However, she points out, there is a silver lining: “Sexual compatibility doesn’t fade with time and normally increases with time, as someone gets to know the other person’s body and how to pleasure it.”

As Lovegood notes, even if your sexual chemistry isn’t the red-hot affair it was when you first got together, the quality of your sex life can still be “maintained or increased with effort and knowledge.”

“A lot of this comes back to sexual currency; all the sexual contact with a partner you have that does not include sex itself (think saucy texts, baths together, long talks about fantasies and desires, skin-to-skin makeout sessions or perhaps new lingerie and toys),” she says. “If you keep embers smoldering, it doesn’t take much to start a roaring fire once again.”

How to Know If You Have Sexual Chemistry With Someone

“You can often sense sexual chemistry when you’re around someone,” says Kay. “There’s a natural flow of energy, comfort in flirting, and a feeling of ease when interacting.”

However, she says, “In some instances, sexual chemistry may not be immediately apparent until physical intimacy begins.”

“People who have sexual chemistry will also have a strong amount of sexual tension between each other,” says Koch. “There will be a sort of sexual draw that makes you desire the person on a primal level. With sexual chemistry, this feeling is mutual.”

Some of that may include feeling sensations of physical arousal when close to the person or simply by thinking about them.

“People experience arousal differently,” says Lovegood, “but when I feel sexual chemistry I get that excited feeling in my tummy when I’m going to see them, I feel higher levels of physical attraction to them, my genitals respond with pulsing or clenching, I might get clammy or sweaty, become aroused quicker and be more physically responsive to touch.”

Similarly, Wedel mentions sensations like an “increased heart rate” as well as “butterflies in your stomach.”

Still, “you might not know if you have sexual chemistry with someone until a few dates in,” says Richards, so just because you don’t feel an instant ‘love at first sight’ kind of spark, that doesn’t mean you can’t share really exciting sexual chemistry with a person.

Some people, Reeves points out, like demisexual people, for instance, “need to feel safe and securely attached emotionally before feeling any lust,” so it’s OK to take some time to establish that before seeing what the sexual connection feels like.

Can You Control Sexual Chemistry?

Given the obvious sexual benefits, you might be wondering whether we have any means of controlling sexual chemistry. If so, you wouldn’t be the first — many people have tried to develop methods to engineer sexual chemistry, from pheromone perfumes to a slew of PUA tactics.

Ultimately, however, “sexual chemistry itself is largely spontaneous and not something that can be directly controlled,” says Wedel. “It often arises from a complex interplay of physical attraction, emotional connection, and psychological compatibility between individuals.”

“I don’t think sexual chemistry can be controlled,” Reeves agrees. “It can definitely be fostered, cared for, and prioritized, but the hormones, pheromones, and needs of each individual that play into sexual chemistry are so dynamic and multifaceted that it’s a hard concept to control.”

However, if you feel the intensity of your sexual connection with a partner slipping, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.

One approach, which people may find surprising, is spending less time together, according to Kay.

“To sustain sexual chemistry, creating distance between partners is important,” she says. “This can involve spending time apart, traveling separately, or even occasionally sleeping in separate rooms. Absence and anticipation can reignite desire and preserve the polarity that fuels sexual chemistry.”

As the famous saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. So while presence and connection may have been just what you needed to ignite the spark in the early days, spending enough time apart to start to miss each other again might be just what the doctor ordered later on.

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Source: AskMen


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