Seniors Dating: Why so hard to find chemistry?

“Chemistry,” he said. “I searched through Naked at Our Age and I didn’t find that you discussed it at all. What are your thoughts?”

We were on a second date. Interesting question. What is chemistry, and how does it affect our choices of dating, pursuing a relationship, having sex?

I found myself discussing the importance and wonder of attraction /chemistry in generalities at first. We agreed that although attraction can grow through friendship, usually it’s either there or it’s not right from the beginning. We can think, this is an interesting, accomplished, fabulous person, and I really should feel attracted to him/her, but I’m not!

Then I went for complete candor: “For example,” I told him, “You’re an amazing person. But I just don’t feel any chemistry here.”

To my relief, he responded, “I feel the same way.”

Whew! We continued our conversation with gusto and interest, and agreed to see each other once in a while — as friends.

What determines whether there’s chemistry for us as seniors, specifically? I would guess that during childbearing years it serves a biological purpose — our biology is matching us with some people and not with others. But if we’re not looking for a mate to propagate the species but for other reasons entirely, why isn’t it easier to find that elusive chemistry? What purpose does the “no chemistry” warning serve at our age?

We discussed how you tell someone that the chemistry isn’t there. I think my friend’s approach (intentional or not) was excellent — ask the question first: “What is chemistry to you? Tell me your thoughts.” From there, it’s an easy transition to the admission that there isn’t chemistry between you.

What are your thoughts about chemistry, what purpose it serves at our age, and how you tell someone in a kind way that it isn’t there for you?

(I started this topic on my Naked at Our Age Facebook page, where we discuss all sorts of news and views about senior sex — I hope you’ll read and “like” that page and comment there on topics of interest to you.)


  1. Joan Price on July 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Excellent points, Ella. You're right that this worked because we both felt the same way, but also because we were in the first stages of getting to know each other and had no investment in the relationship. In your case, it would have been kinder to just tell you, right? Thanks for weighing in on this topic.

  2. Ella on July 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I think it worked for the two of you because it was mutual — neither of you felt the chemistry of attraction.

    But I didn't like that approach when it happened in my life, when it was not mutual: I felt a great attraction to him and he didn't want to continue dating.

    He tried the same thing, asking me to answer a generic question about chemistry. It came off as odd and with a hidden agenda. I answered the question and then he lowered the boom that he wasn't feeling the way I was.

    Well, for Pete's sake, just tell me! Don't make me do the work of answering a question that you're just using as a lead in to a hard message.

    It felt disingenuous to me. I'd rather get the message, be sad that it wasn't mutual, and then move on.


  3. Susana on July 10, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I think it's all about electricity and whether that person completes your circuit or interferes with your pulses and all you get is static. That's how it feels to me when I'm near or touching someone. Either it feels natural and is a positive charge, or it's the opposite.

  4. Joan Price on July 10, 2012 at 12:51 am

    I want to add to Brian's comment that he is a marvelous writer, and I'm looking forward to reading his and Larry Young's new book.

  5. Anonymous on July 10, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Hi Joan, and Joan's readers: I couldn't resist pointing out that I have a book coming out about this very thing, called The Chemistry Between Us. All about the brain science of love, sex, desire, and human bonding, written with renowned neuroscientist Larry Young. See it here: Thus ends my commercial interruption. Brian Alexander

  6. Ed on July 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Joan,
    I guess in my search for a way to say there is no chemistry, I found a good way to say it. Thanks for making it so easy and thanks for being open to explore the subject. Starting with a general discussion about chemistry, in fact, does make it much easier to tell someone. Thank you for the great learning experience!
    You new friend,

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