Chemistry: Sizzle and the senses

A self-proclaimed “bad boy” offers his most important tip for women to attract men: “Dress sexy,” he grins. “Choose sexy over style.” Cut to an air-brushed photo of an anorexic starlet. “But not too sexy…” Do bad boys ever grow up?

A fantasy begins to form in which men make an effort to be attractive to women. But this isn’t about man-bashing. It’s about dating in mid-life. And it’s about an issue that’s on many people’s minds: chemistry. Do you believe in it? And if you do, do you believe it has to be immediate?

The bad boy scenario suggests that physical attraction is one-sided. We know that isn’t the case. Just because a man finds a woman appealing doesn’t mean that the feeling will be reciprocal. And isn’t reciprocity part of chemistry?

Perhaps there is such a thing as love at first sight. Remember the movie, “The King and I”, where we were encouraged to believe that we, too, might see a stranger across a crowded room and just know… Does this still happen in mid-life? Is it reasonable to expect that our romance and sexual sensors can react that quickly? In an era when women and men date [again] in their 50s, 60s and beyond, should the notion of chemistry even be considered?

The answer is: of course. Sometimes, the physical attraction when two people meet is so strong, so immediate, that they must acknowledge what one woman refers to as “becoming weak in the thighs.” For men, this reaction is sometimes visible, with no further words necessary. Whether you call these reactions lust or love isn’t the point. Nor is it really important what you do with these feelings. For some couples, it may be as tentative as holding hands; for others, it may be greater intimacy. For some, it may be an immediate need for physical contact; for others, a mutual understanding that physical connection is somewhere in the future.

The visceral response to another human being can be very powerful, especially when it’s the first time you meet. There’s no doubt that your mental attitude can help bring about sparks. Or deter them. Let’s give the bad boy credit: how you present yourself can affect the outcome of your meeting.

But what if there is no initial spark? Can you be certain that there is no chemistry at first glance? Can chemistry develop later on? How can you know that there is no electricity by using only your eyesight and your hearing?

What about your other senses? How can you disregard physical attraction if you have never felt the other person’s skin, have never breathed in their personal scent, or have never experienced their embrace? How can you deny potential sparks if the two of you have never tasted each other’s kiss?

One of the elementary principles of chemistry is the catalyst. It’s defined as something that facilitates change without changing itself. If you’re looking for chemistry, it’s worthwhile remembering how valuable a catalyst can be. The catalyst can come in the form of tentative physical contact to see if sparks are ignited. Try this catalytic approach, rather than waiting for spontaneous combustion every time. It won’t guarantee chemistry, but you may just be surprised at the reaction that was simmering below the surface, unknown to you, just waiting to be set off.

Intimacy involves all of the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Chemistry can’t be based on only two of the five. Try them all for your own chemical reaction.

About the author: Evelyn Lazare, M.B.A. is Founder of Like Fine Wine, Introductions with Integrity,, a personal introduction service exclusively for people in their 40s, 50s and 60s, in and around Greater Vancouver. She can be reached at [email protected].