“I think I’m allergic to you.”

When your body responds physically to someone in a way you can’t exactly understand, it begs the question: how reliable is intuition as a metric of compatibility?

Case #1:

I’m “seeing” someone— the language around dating, relationships, attraction and roles is all vague and complicated. But there’s a person I spend a lot of time with and around, and I’ve found that not all of our interactions leave me with a content, satisfied feeling. Instead, sometimes we go our separate ways and I find myself crying. Or we’re hanging out in a group setting and I get inexplicably sad. It’s not “I miss you” sad. And it’s not “you directly and deliberately hurt my feelings” sad. Often I can’t place the source of the discontent at all. Instead, I just feel unhappy, confused and drained — all at once.

It’s not that I think these feelings are their fault. So I don’t exactly go out of my way to avoid the person, either.

Case #2:

Last week, I confessed to someone that I’m interested in them. There’s a few reasons it’s not going to work out, but they were surprised I had any interest in them at all. As we got to know each other better, they were surprised, too, by the shared interests we had and how well we got along. I was not.

“I knew this would happen,” I declared matter-of-factly.

This confession was met with raised eyebrows.

“I mean…wasn’t it obvious?” And then I described our first encounter, how I could tell they were sociable and outgoing and interesting — qualities that immediately caught my interest; how I found out we had things in common following a brief chat, how I had been persistently trying to get their attention every time we happened to catch each other at the same parties in person. It seemed pretty inevitable to me that as soon as we had a moment alone they would discover the potential there, too. I had just been waiting on it.

Case #3:

There’s a person I like. At first I just thought they were attractive and I was willing to leave it at that. We’d never really held a substantial conversation and I didn’t have any interactions to indicate mutual interest on their end. So to discover that it existed was a pleasant surprise.

But what surprised me even more was something I haven’t been able to account for or fully replicate with someone else yet. Even though I’m not sure we have very much in common, even though our zodiac compatibility points in opposite directions, even though we don’t talk as much as I’d like, I fall into this sudden cloud of ease around them. I become so happy I don’t even have words. I’m enthusiastic and calm and electric…and it’s great. They really don’t even do anything special. They don’t say anything super romantic or perform any over the top gestures. But I’m happy. I feel good.

I have a best friend that I consider my soulmate.

We seem to really just “get” each other. When she’s having a bad day, surprise! Turns out that I’m not feeling so hot, either. We don’t necessarily do anything as cheesy as finishing each other’s sentences, but when we’re together, there’s this openness that allows us to be as honest as possible and sometimes we just seem to understand each other without needing to pontificate for an hour about what has us overwhelmed.

Are we “soulmates” because our emotional cycles seem to sync up as naturally as our menstrual cycles do? Are we “soulmates” because we both recognized a warmth in each other that invited us to let our guard down without doubting it? Are we “soulmates” because we have things in common and we can rely on each other? It’s more of a feeling than a checklist, but that’s just it: the elusive, intangible nature of feeling that leaves others “suspcious” of their own inner judgment.

“That guy gives off a really weird vibe.”

“There was a lot of tense, negative energy at work today.”

“Every time I visit her apartment, I just feel so drained.”

“I have a bad feeling about this. Trust me.”

“There’s this feeling in my gut telling me things will work out. Trust me.”

“I don’t know…something about her just sets off a red flag.”

I don’t think intuition is really random. I think it’s an unconscious gathering of evidence that points you in a direction and it gets interpreted as a pervasive and persistent ‘feeling’, a hunch that influences your decisions.

When people talk about vibes and energy and atmosphere, I don’t think they’re really getting that spiritual or that deep, but they’re assessing the tone of a space, the type of people occupying it at a given time, the body language of those people, the decoration and quality and activity of the environment. I think people are absorbing and interpreting a lot of details against their “comfort zone” and making a decision seconds before they can really ‘pin’ it on something that makes for an easy explanation.

I make intuitive choices all the time, but I don’t feel like I have a sixth sense for it. I’ve just chosen to be self-aware and to trust my mind and body to know what will protect my spirit.

In matters of love, I think when people speak of soulmates and love at first sight, they’re talking about an urgent and inexplicable symptom that prompts action. Suddenly they don’t recognize themselves. Suddenly things ‘click’ where they didn’t — or couldn’t — before.

I’ve never looked at someone and immediately thought, “Yes.” But I’ve looked at people and thought, “Hm. Maybe.” Once or twice I’ve met someone and thought, “No. Absolutely not.” But for the most part, I can’t look at people and make a strong intuitive decision.

But when I let them touch me, I have felt an immediate and unamimous “Yes!” And sometimes I let them touch me and I feel a horrified, panicked “NO!”

I use those feelings to make choices about what kind of company to keep and how to select individuals as lovers. There are people whose presence or touch makes me cry / gives me pause even though I don’t think they’re bad people and they haven’t done anything to hurt me. But what does that mean? I can’t even explain it to myself! And on the other hand, there are people whose company and affection gives me bliss even though I may hardly know them. What’s up with that? Yo no se. And yet…I take it as a sign.

When it’s bad, I trust it. When it’s good, I trust it double because it’s rare.

There are all kinds of methods for making a judgment call about someone’s character and the trajectory of the relationship you’ll presumably have with them. People often use more than one, and simultaneously. I think paying attention to those underlying clues, to the weird things that are easy to dismiss but persistent nonetheless…I think it’s important to read your body, and to do that you first have to pay attention to what ‘comfort’ looks like. So that you can have a standard to measure everything else against. I believe that knowing myself well has helped me to make those flash assessments without doubts.

“I think I’m allergic to you,” is probably not a good reason to break up with or keep a distance from someone at first glance, but when you factor in those gut feelings sometimes it turns out to be surprisingly honest.

My name is Lana C. Marilyn. I’m a self-published author from Brooklyn, NY! Check out my book, Wet Sand in An Hourglass, and you can visit my website, lanalbxe.com, for more about me, my work and my upcoming writing gallery.