DEAR HARRIETTE: Over the past three years, I've dated four guys. Each time, it was fairly casual -- or that's how it seemed to me. However, a few of them were ready to commit to being in a relationship.
When I looked back at each situation, I tried to analyze what was missing for me from each of these relationships and came to the conclusion that what was missing was chemistry. I am a practical person, but when it comes to relationships, the chemistry has always had to be there. I am getting older and don't want to end up alone, and I am starting to reconsider my stance.
What are your thoughts on the importance of chemistry in a relationship? Should I keep it on my list as a requirement, or am I just being irresponsible at this point? -- Made to Love, Dalllas
DEAR MADE TO LOVE: I recently met a woman who has been married for more than 30 years, thanks to an arranged marriage, a common experience in her culture. She described a happy, healthy life that she has had with her husband and family, one that was built on trust that her parents selected the right partner for her, coupled with the commitment that people marry for life.
In American culture, especially now, the mores are different. People fall in and out of love and do not necessarily think a relationship will last unless the fires are forever burning. I believe reality lives somewhere in between for most of us. Instead of searching for chemistry, write a list of attributes and interests that you find important in a life partner. The list can include anything from sense of humor to responsibility to devotion to family. Avoid physical features, which change over time. But you can add attributes about how you feel when you are with him. Be open to a partner who shares your values about life, love and commitment. Then welcome the chemistry in!