You know that chemistry you have with someone special, right? Or even with some random barista at the local coffee shop. A flicker of a glimmer of “oh, he-llo”. It’s exciting. It’s fun. And it’s one of the main problems with online dating.

That thing that separates your very cute male friends who would so be perfect for one of your girlfriends but who you don’t look at like that, and that guy who isn’t nearly as hot but…mmmm. It’s a huge pitfall in online dating because you can’t judge chemistry over the internet. You can have everything in common but just not click on a sexual level. And how do you know that till you meet in person?

Take me. I met a guy (let’s call him Harry). Harry messaged me on a dating site out of the blue. I investigated his profile. We shared a ton of interests, his pictures looked nice, and he had the most adorable smile I’d ever seen, so I messaged him back. We chatted back and forth for a few days- he made me laugh and was such an outrageous flirt that I couldn’t resist saying yes when he suggested meeting up in a very public place for a date.

So I put on my nice jeans and we had our rendezvous. He was just as charming in person- a delight, even-and his photos had, for once on the internet, done him perfect justice. I liked him a lot. But when he went in for the tentative handhold, it just wasn’t happening. There was no spark. I felt awful, as he was an absolutely lovely person, and gorgeous to boot. But, for whatever reason, we simply did not have a jot of chemistry.

I have a theory about this. When you go on a first date with someone you meet outside of a dating site, there’s always a little bit of hesitancy- is this a date? Like, a date date? Should I kiss him? Oh, God, how on earth do I get that coffee foam off my top lip and keep looking sexy? It’s the slight apprehension that gets your adrenalin pumping a little, heightens the senses, makes it more exciting.

It’s very easy to mistake that adrenalin for chemistry-hell, maybe that’s what chemistry is the first few times you meet. It’s nerves mixed with really, really wondering what he looks like naked. Maybe it’s the knowledge that you’re both looking for romance that strips away some of that mystery and leaves you a bit…blah. And it’s often harder to stay friends afterwards because you can’t pretend the whole thing was platonic in the first place, since you both met in a place that was specifically created for people to meet a potential partner.

That’s not to say you can’t have a bit of romance with someone you meet online-sometimes, it’s just the right mixture of pheromones and atmosphere and boom-you’re there. But there’s certainly something to be said for a little touch of mystery once in a while.