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What is the reasoning behind making sure every atom has 8 electrons attached? Is it because we are looking at the S and P orbitals and they can hold 8 electrons between the two of them? I understand that we are trying to maximize the stability but beyond that it is unclear to me.
The reasoning for the octet rule that I learned in high school is that atoms "want" to be like the noble gases (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe, Rn) and have 8 electrons in their outer shell, because electrons are most stable with a full outer shell.
Essentially, you are right, each atom wants to be fully stable, and while there are other factors, such as electrostatic attraction, that ultimately impact bonding, the idea is that each atom wants to fill its outer electron shells to achieve the highest energy level it can. Of course, Hydrogen just wants one other electron because the first shell only contains one electron and contain two, however, for chlorine, which has 7 valence electrons, it would want to gain an eighth electron in order to achieve more stability.
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