Atypical Dating, Day 2: Kimi ni Todoke and the Myth of Chemistry

I am an awkward guy if you’ve ever met one.  I know how to speak well, but my brain doesn’t quite connect fast enough to my tongue when I’m speaking to people.  Case in point: my involvement in 2DT’s first podcast (tune in to laugh at my awkward speaking, stay all the way through to hear the romantic love story).

I was even awkward with my wife, especially when we first became friends, and even well into dating.  While she’s the type to feel comfortable speaking to complete strangers (and engages such people daily for fun), I’m the opposite.  I’ll avoid you if I can – “email me, don’t call” is my motto!

Sawako Kuronuma
Isn’t she awkward, isn’t she wonderful… (Art by あけのこ)

But such awkwardness can make it hard to date.  I’m reminded of Kimi no Todoke and the most awkward of characters, Sawako.  Easily embarrassed around Kazehaya, oblivious of many social conventions, and not prone to talking in front of people, she’s painful to watch.  The popular Kazehaya isn’t much better, at least around Sawako, because he lu-uves hers.

In anime and manga, the interactions between the would-be couple is cute.  In real life, many of us would say this: “there’s no chemistry.”

Chemistry?  WHAT?!

I hate when people talk about chemistry in a relationship.  Do you know what relationship chemistry is?  It’s basically a mixture of A) literal body chemicals (attraction) with B) personalities that click and possibly C) some similarities in likes and dislikes.  Basically, it’s all superficial.

Chemistry is a wonderful thing at the beginning of a relationship, because it makes you feel really good about it and about yourself.  It paints a dumb smile on your face, causes butterflies to invade your stomach, and forces you to breath happy sighs. 


In the long-run, however, it means almost nothing.  This is why: the googly feelings disappear (or at least diminish).  “Clicking” starts to matter less than your shared values and the willingness of each side to meet the other with love, grace, and sacrifice.

In fact, a little awkwardness is perhaps better than having good chemistry, because at least at that point, you can focus on what’s important instead of finding yourself lost in each others’ eyes (or some other cutey nonsense).

Like Sadako and Kazehaya, you can see the other person for who he or she is, and come to appreciate and love their qualities, instead of just their physique, their way, or “how they  make you feel.”

At the very least, I encourage you to do this: let “chemistry” just be one part (or not) of your relationship and avoid putting too much emphasis on it.  If you have it, enjoy it.  If you do not, don’t dump your would-be boyfriend of girlfriend with the excuse, “there’s no chemistry.”

Hey, maybe if you focus on what’s important, one day you’ll be able to answer a friend who asks you about what attracted you to your boyfriend in the first place with this response:

We just had great awkwardness.


For the first post in this three-part series, please click on the link below.  Also consider visiting these other related articles:


9 thoughts on “Atypical Dating, Day 2: Kimi ni Todoke and the Myth of Chemistry

  1. You have been on a roll lately. Not only is this a great post, you incorporated one of my favorite manga. I also am a romantic at heart, and can’t wait to meet the girl that I will want to pursue. Many of the younger leaders here, are falling in love. It is so cool.

  2. Great post. A lot of people judge love from how it’s portrayed in the media – that there should be fireworks and butterflies, when in reality love isn’t always that dramatic and can take many shapes and forms. When it comes to manga, however, the romantic pairings that stand out most to me have both great chemistry and something more that brings them closer together (and that ‘something more’ for me is usually that they make each other stronger people). Chemistry shouldn’t be everything, but it does count – probably more for the audience than for the couple. Chemistry is that extra something that is necessary to make me fall in love with a couple, which is why even though I find Sawako and Kazehaya adorable, they aren’t one of my favorite couples.

    1. I think if you’re lucky, you’ll find a series that tingles your need for the whole butterflies feeling AND demonstrates some depth in the relationship. I guess one can’t expect much of the latter, though, when the main characters from most of these shows are still in high school!

  3. For me chemistry isn’t just about the adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin rushing around in your system but, about having a good rapport with the other person, about being in sync, (something which is, of course, aided by all those lovely, fuzzy chemicals!) I take awkwardness as a sign I’m just not compatible with that other person…
    Glad to hear a little awkwardness didn’t stop you finding love though!

  4. I dropped KnT a long time ago. I find Sawako’s awkwardness and naivete totally unbelievable. And I find the couple’s awkwardness frustrating and tiring. Yes, the operative word is tiring. It’s no surprise then that a lot of formerly eager readers have dropped this manga. It’s tiring. Just my opinion though. Don’t hate me. ^__^

  5. Haha, great stuff, I like the final paragraphs in particular. Also, random story, my sis-in-law said pretty much the same thing when we were having a heart-to-heart earlier today, on the importance of /not/ expecting butterflies when you first meet a potential future waifu, how (well, from her experience) that that’s more of a giddy teenager-thing. However, to each their own, I guess. Also, I never thought of Sawako-Kazehaya in that way; clearly, as shoujo leads, they are made for each other, but I never considered how important that precise /awkwardness/ is, as opposed to just being another obstacle/ excuse for generating dramatic irony. Thanks for the read!

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