Sunday, June 6, 2010


"Spark" is a term that I hear often in relation to dating. In my experience, it's been used many times in relation to why I'm not getting a second date. As in: "You're a nice guy, but I just didn't feel a spark. We can be friends, but I don't think we should go out again."

I've certainly felt many sparks on dates--in relationships that have worked (well, as much as they can for a guy who's in his 30s and single) and just as often in relationships that I can look back and see were doomed from the outset. The younger romantic in me saw them as sparks of love. The older, more experienced (and perhaps more cynical) dater in me tends to attribute the spark to lust, something that can fade very quickly.

A single female friend explained to me that a woman knows within the first fifteen minutes whether their date has the potential to go beyond friendship. If that spark isn't there immediately, it's not going to be there, she said. If it's there, then it's all systems go and you give it a shot.

Sparks, fireworks, stomach fluttering when she walks into the room--all of them are wonderful sensations. But they don't hold up a relationship. In my limited experience with long-term dating, you just don't maintain those sensations constantly. In a good relationship, I think they still happen, but it's certainly not something that you can depend upon to keep a relationship functional. There are cases where I fully understand knowing immediately if it's not going to work out with someone. But I've had dates that started poorly spark somewhere along the way. I've had cases where I liked someone and asked them for a second date despite the lack of spark, and the spark came later. If it's borderline--someone you like and get along with but aren't sure if there's anything more there, eliminating them as a possibility for the rest of your life based on 15 minutes seems like an odd choice.

Getting a single guy's opinion on dating may not be worth the bandwidth that the opinion is using. But that's the wonderful thing about blogs--the bandwidth is free (for me). :-) Don't get me wrong. I like sparks--I want sparks! But I don't think I can base a relationship's future solely on their existence or lack thereof. I don't think that sparks always develop immediately. Not to mention that it takes far more than a spark.


  1. Eh, I think your friend is full of it. I've looked in a firepit, and seen only grey ash, but it's still hot to the touch.

    It's not in the spark. It's in the heat.

  2. When you figure out what else a relationship is supposed to be built on, let us know, will ya? ;-)

  3. When you figure out what else a relationship is supposed to be built on, let us know, will ya? ;-)

  4. I think she's full of it. I've looked at many campfire pits, and seen only grey ash, but it's still too hot to touch. You can't know without checking it out.

    It's not the spark (which is flashy and burns), it's the heat (which is sustainable and useful).

  5. Salt- I tend to be with you. I haven't found anyone with whom I can build that heat, but I think it's more important than the spark. The spark can catch someone's attention, which is a good place to start, though.

    Dan- I'll definitely let you know if I can figure it out. I'm working on eliminating a lot of things that don't work, though!

  6. Speaking from the supposed female friend that said this and was told she was "full of it", I would like to clarify what I actually said.
    I was asked if I ever had a relationship that DIDN'T start out with a spark like that immediately. And in my experience that hadn't been the case.
    I realize that I am not the one to be pointing out other people's misquotes, since I may or may not have a tendency to do so :-), however I just wanted to set the record straight, that I didn't say it wasn't possible to have a relationship without a spark right away, just that it hadn't been my own observation in the past.

    And I love how my comment is COMPLETELY anonymous and you will be wondering all night who in the world posted this?

  7. Well, based on my keen sense of observation, I know who this is, and actually you are not the female friend to whom I am referring in the post. I wrote this about a week prior to our conversation (I just needed to let it sit in order tweak it a bit to make it feel right to me), and there are distinct differences between your philosophy and hers. So I apologize for the timing being off enough to make you think it was your comment that brought this on.

  8. Ugh. I'll just take the knife out now.
    My fault.

  9. The timing was such that I can see where you thought it was you and I was misinterpreting. Hopefully we can all join hands and sing kumbaya again...