Combination lock theory

combination lock theory
A depiction of Canadian writer and philosopher Chanel Wood's 2007 so-called "combination lock theory" of dating: a mixture of the "we just clicked" catch phrase of successful relationships and the "reactant + reactant = product" model of chemical reactions. [1]
In human chemistry, combination lock theory is a chemistry-metaphor type model of dating, conceived in 2007 by Canadian writer Chanel Wood, where single unattached individuals are considered as "reactants", the resultant couple the "product", such that a synthesis of energy level satiety bonding patterns and matrix compatibility factors determine the desired "we just clicked" scenario of successful pairings. [1]

In Wood's June 2007 article “A Questions of Social Chemistry”, she stated that when thinking about the question of human chemistry, was “completely mystified and very curious”. In her analysis of the question, Wood asks: “what exactly is chemistry between two people?” She states that, “few people actually seem to be able to define it” and that, for the most part, “the majority of us have never given it a deeper thought, or if we have, we came to the highly logical definition of “that intangible something”… But does that really explain anything?”

Wood states, in excellent form, that:

“When I was first brought with this question of human chemistry, I was both completely mystified and very curious. Like most people, I’d never really stopped to think about it. But if chemistry in the social world is anything like chemistry is in the physical world, there has to be a logical, tangible definition.”

In conclusion of her musings on the issue, Wood conceived an outline of what she called a "combination lock theory" of dating arguing that a relationship can be thought of, using the reaction model of single people as "reactants", as a:

Reactant + Reactant Product

chemistry point of view; such that "chemistry" is a result of all the elements between any two people—character, personality traits, timing, goals, dreams, priorities, lifestyle, etc., and how they ‘react’ with the other person’s elements.

In the physical world, according to Wood, “chemistry” explains how elements combine, behave, and relate to one another. Likewise, in Wood’s view, in the social world, “chemistry” also explains how individuals combine, behave, and relate to one another. With that technical definition of social chemistry is, however, as Wood states, “brings up another question: What creates chemistry?” To answer this question, Wood focuses on the elusive phrase “we just clicked” used prominently in descriptions of successful dating interactions. In more detail, when Woods first starting thinking of this question, she thought of a combination lock. As she states “you turn the dial a number of times to certain numbers in a special sequence, and then the lock pops open.” When we date, according to Woods, we look for people we ‘click’ with. She reasons, “whether we know it or not, we’re measuring them up against ourselves. This is why most people never date outside their true playing field—you look for compatibility. If you want to have kids, you look for someone who does too. If you’re very career-orientated, you’ll look for someone who is, even if you’re not aware of it conscious level.”

Law of attraction
In a colloquial sense, pair matching is often described using the “laws of affinity” or laws of attraction, as they are sometimes called. In Wood's view, the logic of compatibility clicking can be described as the law of attraction (or Plato’s first law of affinity), or simply put, “like attracts like”. When we ‘click’ with someone, according to Woods, “the elements match (the numbers on the lock) and timing is right (the sequence of the dial). It’s almost like drawing by the numbers. In terms of thinking of people as “human elements”, Woods reasons that “some elements might be like the noble gases from physical chemistry - they have no combining capacity. Some elements have one combining capacity. Some elements have more than one combining capacity, and therefore can combine with a more wider selection of elements.”

For example, as she states, “for me physical appearance is one of those elements that has several combining capacities. I don’t have a ‘type’, and therefore my ‘significant other’ could have black hair/brown eyes, brown hair/green eyes, blond hair/blue eyes, or any mix of those six. On the flip side, my leadership element has only one combining capacity: with another leader of equal or stronger leadership.”

NaCl (c)
When sodium loses its one valence electron it gets smaller in size, while chlorine gains an additional valence electron and grows larger in size. The charged Na+ and Cl- ions are held together by electrostatic forces, thus forming an ionic bond. [3]
Energy levels
Woods also theorizes on a energy level basis of combination, such that only two people with the matching energy levels, meaning that the creation of the “product” (the bonded couple), fills the correlative energy levels to desired satiety. This would explain, according to Wood, the whole “is there one person out there specifically perfect for me?” question. Elements can react with a number of different elements, she points out, but of those only a few will result in filled energy levels.

An example of this, as Wood’s interestingly elaborates, is the combination NaCl, which has a filled energy level because the Sodium (Na) has a charge (combining capacity) of +1 and an electron arrangement of 2, 8, 1 and Chloride (Cl) has a charge (combining capacity) of -1 and an electron arrangement of 2, 8, 7. Together they make the element Sodium Chloride (NaCl) with an electron arrangement of 2, 8, 8 - a stable compound with filled energy levels. This logic, she reasons, explains the “he (or she) completes me” motto.

On the flip side, as Wood points out, Na and Cl can combine with other elements and create compounds that do not have filled energy levels. If this could apply to social chemistry in any way, she states, it would prove that “there are a number of people in the world you could combine with, but a smaller select few who would ‘complete’ you (and vice versa).” This example describes, according to Wood, the differences in compatibility in her combination lock theory. She concludes that this energy level logic also “proves that some people are like noble gases - they have no combining capacity and do not easily combine with other people” and that “in ideal circumstances social chemistry could perhaps be 3/4s of the way ‘created’ on paper or in vitro much like physical chemistry (the last 1/4 being the physical attraction.)” [1]

Wood’s energy level combination lock compatibility theory of dating is similar to American chemical engineer Libb Thims’ description of the human chemical bond in which couples combine such to complete each other’s bonding valencies. [2]

1. Wood, Chanel. (2007). "A Question of Social Chemistry" (WayBack), June 06. Sociology,
2. Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two) (preview) (ch. 13: "Human Chemical Bonding", pgs. 515-60). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
3. Properties of salt –

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