I believe that many chemistry undergrads have misconceptions about basic concepts such as the octet rule. I wanted to make sure this wasn't the case for me. When we are taught the octet rule, we are taught it in simplistic terms of "this atom wants this electron or it wants to get rid of this electron." So for example, if you have lithium (1 valence electron) and fluorine (7 valence electrons) lithium can ionically bond with fluorine by donating an electron to fluorine. In this way an electron in a higher energy level is placed in a low energy level and the result is more stable. But really, you have to look at the thermodynamics of the process right? For example, what if an atom with a single electron in the valence shell is combined with an atom which has an almost full valence shell that is at a higher energy? Wouldn't the transfer not happen then? Even though a full shell could be achieved, if it must be placed in a higher energy level then it wouldn't happen right? So does the octet rule not hold when the principle quantum number n is very different between the two atoms? It should't be about the magic number of a full shell, it should be about what energy levels the electron ends up in compared to where it started. And it just happens to hold for low quantum number atoms (also taking into account lattice energy, etc)? Like I said, I'm trying to move away from the simplistic understanding of bonding offered in general chemistry courses.