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dna-chemistryI was never good at chemistry.

I blame my high school chemistry teacher. Here’s an example of the kind of lab “instructions” I remember our class receiving from her:

“OK, students.
The important thing is to make sure to add the illudium pu-36 before the heavy water…
I mean you have to add the heavy water before the illudium…
I mean the heavy water goes in before the nanites, not the illudium; and then the illudium…
Well you guys know what I mean.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I heard her confuse herself (and me) during a lab experiment only to fall back to the illusive words, “You know what I mean.”

No. I had no idea what she meant. And working with all those crazy chemicals, it’s a wonder I didn’t blow up the earth.

But that wasn’t the only chemistry I had a hard time with.

I also had a difficult time understanding the birds-and-the-bees sort of chemistry. You know: romance.

The result: I had many a relationship blow up in my face.

I understand I’m not alone in this; that many others seem genuinely confused about how to get the secret formula for love.

Some are more like I was, “How can I get this person to chemically bond with me?”

Others wonder, “Is this ‘the one’? Is this the reaction I’ve been waiting for my whole life; the one that could win the science fair?”

Still others wonder, “Why do I keep bonding to the wrong isoDOPES?” (That was my attempt at a chemistry pun. You see I combined the word isotope with looser… I mean looser with dope…. no … well, you know what I mean.)

If possible, I’d like to set you free from such concerns, because dating just for chemistry is as dangerous as a senile science teacher.

Instead of chemistry, you want to gauge your date’s level of commitment.

No, not initially their level of commitment to you, but just their general level of commitment in general. (1) How committed of a person do they show themselves to be and (2) to what are they committed?

  • Are they committed to their family and how do they display this commitment? Does their commitment seem born out of loyalty or neediness? Are they perhaps too committed to (ie. codependent with) any family member in particular (hint: mom)?
  • Are they committed to their faith and how does this come out in their life? Does it make them more loving or more legalistic? Does it make them more steady or more “out there”?
  • Are they committed to work? Show up on time? Stick to a job or move around? Might they be a workaholic?
  • Are they committed to their friends? Do they drop them for you or do they seek their advice and involvement in your dating relationship? And do they, in turn, support your commitment to your friends?
  • Are they committed to taking care of themselves? What kind of discipline do they show when it comes to diet and exercise? Any signs of an eating disorder?
  • Are they committed to bettering themselves? Do they seem to be motivated more intrinsically (by personal goals and desires) or extrinsically (by pressure and expectations from others)?
  • Are they committed to virtues like honesty (or do they color the truth), forgiveness (or do they hold grudges), humility (or do they put others down), peace-making (or do they gossip) and repentance (or do they excuse, explain, deny, blame, hide, or stew in shame)?

What does this have to do with chemistry?

Well, my question to you would be, “What does chemistry have to do with healthy relationships?”

Of course, a healthy dating relationship will eventually foster great chemistry, but chemistry comes and goes.

Read that last line again. Memorize it. Determine to believe it. Because, mark my words, wise individual, many people are getting married this very week certain the feelings they now experience will carry them right to the end of their days. And they will not.

Our culture has sold us the myth that chemistry is what holds a relationship together, but this is a lie. It is commitment that holds a relationship together.

Chemistry often brings two people together, but like the experiments in my high school science lab, the chemical reactions don’t last forever. Further, like the compounds from chemistry class, not all reactions are good reactions.

So free yourself from treating every date like a science experiment where you see if you might create a brand new compound of love. Instead, look for a person who knows how to commit.

Because if you’re just looking for the chemistry and you find it, it can blind you to weaknesses both in your date and your relationship. However, if you find someone who knows how to make and commit to wise decisions, disciplines and relationships, you just might find a reaction taking place in your liver that… I mean a reaction taking place in your spleen… No. I mean in your… well you know what I mean!

For further encouragement to keep romance in its proper place, check out one of these DNA posts:

But first, perhaps you should ask yourself the questions above. Are you a person who knows how to commit?

Next week we talk about the importance of paying attention to your date’s reputation. EVEN if they’ve changed.

This post is one in a series on Purpose-Driven Dating which we define as follows: Intentional time invested in one other person for the purpose of growing in intimacy that might lead to a life-giving, life-long marriage. Our current focus: …for the purpose of growing in intimacy… The series begins with this post.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!