I’ve sparked with lots of guys.
First there was my high school boyfriend. He was an actor. He was brimming with spark.
Not that it mattered — it didn’t work out.
Then there was the friend of an ex (messy; don’t do that) and wow — sparks were flying all over the place with that fella.
That also didn’t work out.
Then there was a guy I met while travelling, and there were sparks there too — lots.
But there’s such a thing as too much heat.
That’s the trouble with sparks — they’re beautiful and exciting and so full of promise, and they can really light that fire. Most of the time, though, they fizzle out pretty quickly.
And if they don’t, they might just burn your house down. It’s a mixed bag.
The best (and safest) relationships are those that continue on after the spark. Those that continue on in the cold; those that thrive despite the dark.
Those you have to nurture.
Fairy Tales and porn
I blame Cinderella.
I blame the whole gang, actually. Fairy Tales — at least, modern Fairy Tales, since the lessons taught in Grimm’s Fairy Tales are admittedly darker and, frankly, much more severe than their Disney counterparts — paint a pretty picture of love at first sight, and of overcoming seemingly impossible odds in the name of romance.
In much the same way that porn teaches men all kinds of wrong things about how to please a woman in the bedroom, Fairy Tales teach women to hold out for a spark, for that white knight that always seems to trundle along at the perfect moment. So many women wait endlessly for the perfect gentleman to appear like magic in their lives, perhaps via a “meet-cute,” and immediately answer their every waking (and sleeping) needs and desires.
The trouble is, reality is a pretty far cry from the colourful stories we grew up with, and no man (or woman) could ever live up to the perfection we seek, even when we do so inadvertently. While it’s true that some people seem to have been destined for each other, finding your perfect other half isn’t always a guarantee.
In fact, there’s a very good chance that you won’t immediately spark with the person you might be destined to be with. Waiting around for one might hold you back from a real connection — and that would suck.
Sparks can sting
While the excitement of a spark can be thrilling, it would help to remember that some people just spark all over the place; it might have nothing to do with your presence in their lives.
It could be completely one-sided. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there it is.
Have you ever noticed that you often feel a spark with someone who is highly sought after? Run from those people, especially if you have a hard time being yourself around them, or if they’re playing games with you, such as the infamous and irresistible “hard to get” tactic.
Anyone who genuinely likes you, and not just the feeling of being chased, won’t play games.
It’s too risky.
Unfortunately, there are some people who are just really good at getting people to like them. Maybe they’re gorgeous. Maybe they’re incredibly charming — maybe they’re amazing conversationalists and they make you feel special.
Maybe they’re really good at flirting.
If you feel a spark with someone and they make your knees weak, before pursuing them further, consider how much you really know about them — and how much they’ve bothered to learn about you.
It’s also worth noting that sometimes, that weak-kneed, light-headed feeling you get around some people isn’t you sparking with them at all — it could just be straight up anxiety.
And that might be a big red flag that you shouldn’t ignore.
The best relationship advice I ever got
I’m coming up on 10 years of marriage with my husband, and while our relationship is far from perfect, we’re pretty damned good — especially considering that pretty much all of the weddings we’ve attended over the years have, by now, unceremoniously ended in divorce.
I think part of our success, beyond genuinely wanting to make it work, is that we’ve made each other a priority every day.
I think that was the best advice I ever got, and it came on my wedding day: make each other a priority every day.
There it was, anonymously penned in our guest book. To this day, I don’t know who wrote that little nugget of truth, but it’s something that has stuck.
That matters so much more than a spark, especially when the limerence of any relationship will inevitably diminish and change into something less exciting as the years go on.
What you’re (hopefully) left with is real, genuine love and companionship.
None of this means that you won’t necessarily spark with the right person — just don’t chase sparks exclusively. Not all sparks lead to love, and not all great relationships started with them.
You have to look deeper.
Instead of waiting for a spark, try this:
Duh, right? You’re likely doing that already. But what I mean is, don’t ditch after one bad date. Try a few — or even several — dates before you decide.
I know, I’ve been on some really horrid dates, too, and there were a few that really needed to die on the table the way they did.
One particularly bad first date, for instance, was with a guy I had just met, who I wasn’t really into (first big red flag) but accepted anyway. I don’t know why.
Maybe I was bored.
We went to the movies, and he immediately pulled some pretty fast n’ dirty “moves,” until I’d had enough of playing defence, and left. After a bunch of calls and hangups (like, dude…we all have caller ID, it’s not 1992) and a few extremely creepy “I’m in love with you” voicemails, I blocked his number and tried to forget the entire ordeal.
To be honest, that date was over when he pulled up in his black Honda with tinted windows smelling like he’d bathed in my Grandad’s cologne. He made me roll down my window (despite it being October) because he wasn’t legally allowed to have the front windows tinted. I don’t know what I was thinking.
There were other guys, though, who were perfectly nice and if I had spent some more time trying to get to know them and not worrying about some kind of instant romantic connection, who knows? Maybe those relationships would have soared.
Honda guy and I definitely didn’t spark, but it became pretty clear early on that he was totally unhinged anyway so if we had sparked, it would still have fizzled pretty fast. If the date had been just mildly bad, though, I would have considered a second date. The “I love you’s” after one date that I essentially walked out of hammered the final nail into that coffin, however.
This may come as no surprise, by my husband and I didn’t spark, either.
We met each other when we were both heavily invested in other (failing) relationships. We didn’t even like each other much at first. He was argumentative and I was flaky (it’s true; I was.)
A friendship budded over time and blossomed into something more once we were both single. There was not a single spark, but a pleasant warmth grew over the years and now we have one of the strongest relationships of anyone I know. It’s been through addiction, trust issues, mental health struggles, financial burdens, and two children.
Through it all, our connection — the deep, meaningful one that grew steadily over time — kept us together. We take our marriage vows seriously, and we choose each other every day — sometimes, that’s a conscious effort. But we do it.
Don’t hold out for a spark. It’s not worth what you might lose by not giving someone a solid chance just because you didn’t see one. Some people are awkward and idiotic on first dates — even the third date can leave them parched and sweating bullets.
What happens when they show you their true selves might surprise you. Denying yourself that opportunity might make you regret it later on when all you have left are the memories of sparks gone by.
Don’t get me wrong: sparks are great. They’re exciting and romantic and make for great stories — when they work out. But don’t hang your hat on a spark. Look deeper; let your relationship burn slowly over time.
But from me to you: if he pulls up in a black Honda and gets handsy in the back of the theatre, feel free to snuff that spark right the heck out.
This post was previously published on MEDIUM.COM.
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