The Importance Of Intellectual Chemistry In A Relationship

When we talk about relationships and chemistry, we often jump to sexual chemistry. But while physical chemistry is definitely important, it's not the only chemistry that makes for a great relationship. There's also emotional and mental chemistry, spiritual chemistry, creative chemistry, and intellectual chemistry (via Bonobology). If your relationship has all those components, then you indeed have the whole enchilada and then some.


Although all the chemistries are essential to a relationship, intellectual chemistry is something that should be high up on your list of must-haves with a partner. If you can't have conversations that challenge or intrigue you, then what do you have? Great sex? Sure, but great sex ebbs and flows in a relationship. Intellectual chemistry doesn't.

"Intellectual compatibility is when both people are mentally stimulated by the same conversations," relationship coach and expert Jenna Ponaman, CPC, tells Bustle. "For example, one person may be sexually compatible with their partner, but if they don't find them interesting on a more intellectual level, the ability to make this a thriving lasting serious relationship is slim."


Even if you don't realize the importance of intellectual chemistry early on in a relationship when things are hot and heavy, once the lust stage of falling in love wears off and you're in the attachment stage, you'll understand just how far a great conversation goes.

Your conversations just flow

You've probably noticed that some people feel like a challenge to talk to, whereas with others, the conversation is so easy that it just flows. It's that flowing that you want in a relationship — romantic or platonic — because no one wants to struggle to talk to someone, especially where there's intimacy involved. But, sometimes, people who are really close still can't manage to swing an easy conversation because the intellectual chemistry is not there.


"There's an innate sense of ease and intellectual dimension," relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily. "You find you no longer have to keep your conversation harnessed to specific subjects. Intellectual chemistry can be improved if both partners have a keen interest in the same topic or area of discipline."

Also, as much as we hear about sapiosexuals and their attraction to people's brains more than anything else, you don't have to be a sapiosexual to value intellectual chemistry in your relationship.

You learn from each other

Although you and your partner don't have to be equal in intelligence and intellect, you should be close enough that you understand each other but can continue to learn from each other. Learning allows us to grow and evolve as people and as a partnership.


"Intellectual compatibility may be on the same playing field as having the same interests," relationship coach Andi LaBrune tells Bustle. "When you're intellectually compatible, you'll have similar levels of vocabulary, knowledge on certain subjects you can converse about without getting 'bored' per se. This can be very important in the long-term as one may feel belittled by their partner."

Granted, this doesn't mean that every conversation should be chockfull of teaching and learning experiences, but if your partner not only inspires but instills a desire for you to think about things in a different way or see things with a new perspective, that's the good stuff right there.

You feel challenged

Although your relationship shouldn't feel like a challenge, to have intellectual chemistry, you and your partner should feel challenged by each other. We may not understand how important being intellectually challenged is in our relationship until we wake up one morning realizing that what our partner says just doesn't do it for us. This isn't to suggest that they're boring or that you're boring; it's that the intellectual chemistry part isn't what it could or should be. 


"Your conversations [with your partner] are enlightening and stimulating," relationship expert Susan Winter tells Elite Daily. "It's exciting to be intellectually challenged while having fun."

In a relationship, it shouldn't just be your sexual organs that are stimulated but your brain too. Intellection chemistry leads to intellectual intimacy, making you and your partner even closer on all levels (via MasterClass). It's important to keep the spark alive in a partnership by having meaningful, insightful talks on a regular basis.

You laugh together (a lot)

Trying to find someone who shares your brand of humor is no easy task. And if you've ever made what you think is a fantastic joke in a room of people and heard crickets, then you know that you probably have a particular, er, acquired sense of humor. So when you find that person who actually gets your funniness, never let them go!


According to research by Jeffrey Hall, Ph.D. associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, being able to make each other laugh and laugh about the same things can make your relationships even stronger with a higher chance at success.

"A shared sense of humor is indicative of intellectual compatibility," sex and intimacy coach Zoe Kors tells Healthline. "When you can laugh at the same things as someone, it means there is an intellectual common ground from which things like irony or absurdity can push against." After all, not everyone can understand just how absurdly funny it is to call Kafka Kafkaesque.

You realize disagreements are normal

Real communication means having arguments with your partner and knowing that arguing is normal and essential to a healthy relationship (via Oprah). Keeping things inside leads to resentment and negativity that can be toxic to a relationship. When there's intellectual chemistry involved, you not only know that disagreements are a natural part of a relationship, but you're not afraid to disagree with your partner either.


As psychologist and author Adam Granted tweeted, "The clearest sign of intellectual chemistry isn't agreeing with someone. It's enjoying your disagreements with them. Harmony is the pleasing arrangement of different tones, voices, or instruments, not the combination of identical sounds. Creative tension makes beautiful music."

Although there's no such thing as a perfect match, there is such a thing as finding someone who has the qualities that not only make us want to be a better person but inspire us to actually be a better person. Intellectual chemistry is the component in a relationship that fosters that. It's something worth aspiring to find because your brain loves to be stimulated too.