As we approach the D-day of dating, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day, it only feels right to take a deep dive into the madness. The intangible spark that exists between two people will be referred to as chemistry.

Although there are many approaches to maintaining chemistry, the most important thing to accept is that it must be mutually present for any real potential. Throw away your lab coat and stop playing chemist, it will either be there or it won’t. Focus your energy on where it’s already present.
We must address attraction because without any attraction you are just another face in the crowd. Start with basic hygiene and a smile. This will ensure that if there is chemistry it has a reasonable foundation to thrive. One of the most attractive qualities a person can possess is confidence and authenticity.
When you assert your boundaries, you show others that you respect yourself and know your worth, which is a highly attractive trait. If you don’t feel you have any worth, please know this is a prerequisite for dating.
Assuming you know your worth, be very careful not to act overly confident because this is a massive turn-off. Having little expectation is the key to experiencing a very good time in life and telling people you are ‘the best’ at everything is going to set yourself up for failure right from the get-go. It’s also incredibly presumptuous to think you already know all they have experienced and to deem yourself the best in all the land. Have confidence, but don’t be a rooster about it.
Allowing yourself to be seen for who you truly are creates a deep sense of trust and connection. Authenticity demonstrates that you are comfortable with your imperfections and know you are worthy of dating. Take it easy on yourself and bear in mind that they too are their own worst critic.
If your genuine self is not what they are looking for, please know it’s okay and nothing to be ashamed about. Think of them as trying on a pair of shoes. If the shoe isn’t the right fit you are not going to cut your toes off to make yourself fit in them. No, you will look for the correct size that fits all of you.
Humans are complex creatures and communication is not always as straightforward as we’d like it to be.  One thing I’ve noticed is that people very rarely stray from thinking about anything other than themselves.
People’s intentions are as puzzling as a Rubik’s cube, but it helps to put yourself into their position to better understand what they want and to ensure that you are not solely thinking of yourself. Remember the WWJD bracelets from the 90’s? It’s a bit like that, except ask yourself what would ‘they’ do and you should be able to subtly ease out of your selfishness long enough to maintain their interest.
Actively listening to what they say, asking thoughtful questions and having a real interest in their thoughts, feelings and experiences are paramount. By being fully engaged, you show them that you value their company and appreciate their perspective. This goes back to being genuine and remembering that it’s not just about you. After all, if sincerely caring about them is a strain for you, then it’s only fair to leave them alone.
The most difficult thing I’ve found in dating is knowing the difference between genuine interest, manipulation (used as a means to an end) and playing hard to get. The lines are all so blurry at times. The problem is that when something is difficult to obtain, it is often perceived as being more valuable or desirable. When you seem less interested in someone, they may subconsciously perceive you as a higher-value partner. Simply put, the brain is tricky.
By not revealing too much about your feelings or intentions, you maintain a level of intrigue that keeps them engaged and eager to know more. The excitement and adrenaline of a chase will release dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward. This creates an excitingly positive feedback loop, where the more someone chases, the more dopamine is released and the more they want to continue pursuing.
I would suggest taking this approach very sparingly though, because people tend to ultimately gravitate toward the path of least resistance. If there’s too much of a ‘guessing game’ going on for too long they will look past you toward one of the other 7 billion people that exist. No one wants to feel like they are running on a treadmill without any end in sight.
Knowing how much to care and when to ‘play it cool’ is often as clear as mud on a rainy day. When you show you care and abruptly stop caring, you create a sense of uncertainty, which can heighten someone’s attraction toward you. Think of yourself like a special on the menu, that’s reserved for specific days. The way to make this work is to set clear boundaries concerning your time, so the person does not feel like you are avoiding them as a punishment.
If you continuously reveal the best sides of yourself only to pull back without any justification you risk giving the person whiplash. Any self-respecting individual will move on to find a more naturally occurring and consistent sense of belonging. Our self-esteem is fragile and the type of person who constantly pushes their love interests away will quickly find themselves scorned and playing alone in the sandbox.
Face-to-face communication is difficult enough, but we also have to navigate phone dialog. When less is said we tend to put more value on the information we do get. Sit on your hands if you find yourself sending dry texts or pointless memes just to get their attention.
Sure, you may have found the image of that cute puppy smiling to be hilarious while you sat on the toilet scrolling. But, if sending it could leave them with a sense of confusion then you must refrain. Open-ended dialog with no context will ultimately set you back.
Personalize the messages to ensure they don’t feel like you are sending the same bland, hi, to your entire contact list in a pathetic attempt to get instantaneous attention from anyone who responds. The quality of conversation is always more important than the quantity and in text dialog consistency and response time are key.
There is a massive difference between over-saturation and flat-out ghosting. If the messages feel like you are following their every move you will come off as disturbing and creepy. But, going days on end without responding or reaching out leaves the person to accept that they have no value in your life and you guessed it, they will move on.
Playing ‘hard to get’ can damage the trust and communication necessary for a strong, lasting connection. Ultimately, we want to be thought of and missed, so you can’t go wrong with letting them know what made you think of them or what you are missing. If they are not receptive to these types of messages it’s probably best to accept that they may not be interested in you the same way and to move on. Everyone’s time is equally valuable so don’t waste it.
With all of this being said, there is playing hard to get to pique their interest and then there’s flat-out criminally insane. If you are fortunate enough to feel chemistry with someone, don’t be afraid to display your best smile and confidently ask for their number. Think of them by putting yourself into their shoes and by all means, do not treat the opportunity to have dialog with them as a tracking device.
Have open communication, to avoid confusion or assumptions on either side. Never lose yourself in the process of gaining a person’s desire and remember that it’s the journey that counts in life, not the destination.