Interpersonal Chemistry in Friendships and Romantic Relationships


  • Kelly Campbell
  • Jessie Nelson
  • Michele L. Parker
  • Silvana Johnston


Interpersonal chemistry refers to a perceived instant connection that exists when meeting a person for the first time. In this study, we inductively explored the characteristics of friendship and romantic chemistry for men and women. A social constructionist lens guided our data collection and interpretation. The sample consisted of 362 ethnically diverse individuals (men = 162, women = 200) who completed an online survey. Using textual coding methods, we identified the core themes for interpersonal chemistry as: Reciprocal candor, mutual enjoyment, attraction, similarities, personableness, love, instant connection, and indescribable factors. The similarities theme was more characteristic of friendship than romantic chemistry and the attraction and love themes were more salient to romantic chemistry. We analyzed the data separately for men and women and found that women’s responses centered more on love as characteristic of friendship chemistry and similarities as a component of romantic chemistry.