# Why does the distance between atoms in a hydrogen bond impact the strength of the bond?

Wouldn't the distance be irrelevant as after they are attracted they will just close the gap? E.g. once 2 magnets are close enough to be attracted, isn't the distance irrelevant to the strength of the bond between the magnets as they will just become flush against each other, making the distance between any 2 magnets that are attracted to each other equal.

Or is it perhaps talking about the other groups stopping the hydrogen and other atom becoming close?

Context:

Of the following, the factor that has the least effect on the strenght of a hydrogen bond in a molecule is the

1. type of atom to which the hydrogen atom is covalently bonded.
2. distance that the hydrogen atom is from the atom on the other part of the molecule
3. number of other hydrogen atoms atttracted to the atom on the other part of the molecule
4. type of atom in the other part of the molecule to which the hydrogen atom is attracted

(answer is 3, hence 2 must have some effect).

• To extend you magnet analogy: Try holding two magnets a few centimeters apart, where you can just start to feel the magnetic attraction. Then try holding them 1 millimeter apart. Is the attraction stronger when the magnets are separated by a shorter distance at any given time? Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:06
• You didn't account for the fact that the protons and electrons in different atoms repel each other. Your analogy is way over simplified.
– Zhe
Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 20:48
• The problem, as others have suggested, is that atoms aren't magnets that are free to snap to each other. Other forces and other interactions can and will hold them apart, and atoms also repel each other if they get too close (or else life would be in huge trouble because everything would collapse into a singularity). Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 13:50