In recent years, the basic problem of understanding chemical bonding, nonbonded, and/or van der Waals interactions has been intensively debated in terms of various theoretical methods. We propose and construct the potential acting on one electron in a molecule-molecular orbital (PAEM-MO) diagram, which draws the PAEM inserted the MO energy levels with their major atomic orbital components. PAEM-MO diagram is able to show clear distinction of chemical bonding from nonbonded and/or vdW interactions. The rule for this is as follows. Along the line connecting two atoms in a molecule or a complex, the existence of chemical bonding between these two atoms needs to satisfy two conditions: (a) a critical point of PAEM exists and (b) PAEM barrier between the two atoms is lower in energy than the occupied major valence-shell bonding MO which contains in-phase atomic components (positive overlap) of the two considered atoms. In contrast to the chemical bonding, for a nonbonded interaction or van der Waals interaction between two atoms, both conditions (a) and (b) do not be satisfied at the same time. This is demonstrated and discussed by various typical cases, particularly those related to helium atom and HH bonding in phenanthrene. There are helium bonds in HHeF and HeBeO molecules, whereas no HH bonding in phenanthrene. The validity and limitation for this rule is demonstrated through the investigations of the curves of the PAEM barrier top and MO energies versus the internuclear distances for He2, H2, and He2+ systems. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.