Since first electron affinity is almost always negative, neutral atoms of most elements (including metals) must have an affinity towards electron. But shouldn't metals want to lose electron(s) rather than having an affinity towards it?

Take lithium for example. It can attain noble gas configuration as it loses an electron. But first electron affinity of lithium is -60 KJ/mol. So, it has an affinity towards electron although it wants to lose one. But wasn't it supposed to have a positive electron affinity?

  • $\begingroup$ The negative ions of the noble gases are not stable. He- is kind of metastable with a lifetime of around 10 microseconds, the rest get rid of the extra electron much quicker. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ Now, body of your question is asking quite different thing then title - so either if they are atoms with positive affinity (yes there are) or why ionisation energies of neutral atoms and molecules are always positive, no atom "wants to" lose electrons - pick one. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ BTW why am I getting ideas like going back in time and pre-emptively killing the dude (ahem, great scientist) who came with this dumb idea of atoms losing electrons? $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Mithoron is it ok now? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ Somewhat better, it's still mixing ionisation and affinity, which are quite different, but if your misunderstanding stems from this... $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 21:08


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