Love as chemistry

I’m lying around today, thinking about the chemistry of love. Well, maybe not love, exactly, since it seems to hit before you even know it’s love. The metaphor that pops into my head is a covalent bond (yeah, yeah, I’m a chemist after all). You know – you barely get close to someone and boom! you’re bonded. You didn’t get any say in the matter, and now you’re sharing your electrons, er, your soul or your life energy or whatever, with this other person – to the point where they’re no longer your electrons or their electrons, but completely indistinguishable, in an electron cloud sort of way.

Maybe you’re now a hydrogen atom, and all your electrons are shared, with just a little nucleus of your own. Or maybe you’re a larger atom, with plenty of spheres of your own and just part of you is shared. And then there’s that case where one of you is sharing your all and the other … isn’t. You can’t necessarily help what kind of atom you are, much less what kind of bond you’re sharing.

The thing about this is, no matter how far you are from this person, you’ve still got some of their energy and they still have some of yours. I’ve felt this way about two people since I’ve been single – one is now separated and still trying to work out his stuff, and the other is married. On both occasions the bond formed on the very first day. I don’t think we had any choice in the matter. The latter one has been more or less successfully sublimated into a close friendship. The other remains a source of confusion, love, sadness, and desire – since he’s now away trying to make some kind of decision.

Here’s what I’m talking about. I went out on a date the other night with a perfectly nice man – one who shares many interests, from birdwatching to politics to practical environmental solutions. Who also shares my mix of geekiness and social left-of-mainstream, practicality and sensuality. Who was reasonably attractive, and by any measure, should have been someone I would want to see again. But all I could feel about it afterwards was frustration and some measure of anger at my former lover, above.

I’m STILL not sure what that was all about, but one thing is clear – I’m obviously not ready to date yet, even though I feel the need for company. My electrons are still too mixed up in someone else’s spheres. Someone who, even if he untangles himself from his other bonds, may not be capable of really being there for me for some time, if ever. I guess maybe I’m blaming him for not being here, for me having to go out and do this stupid dating thing. Somehow I just don’t expect it to bring me the kind of bond I’m looking for, the kind of instant bond that could somehow redirect my energy away from the past.

People say you should be friends with someone before falling in love, really get to know them, marry your best friend. I did that, and it didn’t work out. That feels to me (OK, I’m getting all geeky again) like an ionic bond. Sometimes those are strong enough to last – but they can be pried loose. They’re not really mingled in the same way – with ionic bonds, circumstances and surroundings matter. The last third of my marriage felt like one in which we were bonded, but each entirely in our own lives – each holding our own energy but somehow expecting the bond to last. Needless to say, it didn’t. It got looser and looser until it felt more like van der Waal’s forces… a little ion in search of a bond floating in a sea of emotions, sometimes connecting, sometimes not.

It feels like I’m waiting for that covalent bond to hit. Either for my guy to decide that he feels this one the way I do, or for someone else to come along and bond in that inescapable, undeniable way. I don’t want to sit there and think – this is a nice guy but why aren’t I feeling anything? I’ll know that shift in my energy if I meet it again.

Or maybe I can become a transition metal :D (Only a few of you will get that joke )