Picture this: You get home from a first date and your friends excitedly ask, “How did it go?!” You respond with an unenthusiastic, “It was OK … I didn’t feel much of a spark.” You head off to bed and wonder if you’ll ever find the right person, or if you’re doomed to keep going on dates that make getting a root canal look exciting.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Feeling an initial spark with someone is thrilling and a sought-after experience for many people. If you don’t have that initial spark with someone, you may feel as if you’re settling if you continue to go on dates with them. Hollywood movies and fairy tales often exacerbate this feeling by emphasizing the butterflies and “I just knew” feelings that are typically associated with having an initial spark.
For some people, this initial spark may turn into a relationship, but the mistake that many people make is thinking that if there isn’t an initial spark, then this person must not be a good match—when in fact the opposite could be true.
Most people can relate with experiencing those dates that feel as if you’re pulling teeth and the minutes drag on until it’s over. If your date exhibited red flags, had different core values than you, or was disrespectful, then moving on is a wise choice.
However, if you had a pleasant enough time on the first date but you aren’t feeling that initial spark, going on a few more dates can end up surprising you in ways you never could have imagined. Before you end it with someone you’re not feeling an initial spark with, consider the following seven reasons why they could still be the right match for you.
1. You’re attracted to the same type of partner repeatedly without success.
Recent research has confirmed that many of us have a dating type. If you’re repeatedly dating the same type of partner without success, you may be feeling an initial spark with partners that aren’t a good match and subconsciously reenacting a pattern you experienced with your parents in childhood.
For example, if one or both of your parents were emotionally unavailable, you may find yourself repeatedly feeling an initial spark only with those partners who are emotionally unavailable. This pattern is often repeated until the wound from the past is brought into conscious awareness and healed.
If you feel neutral about someone in the beginning, this could potentially be a sign that they may be a good match for you, so consider getting to know them better.
2. Yes, it’s true—people can grow on you.
Research has demonstrated that your attraction to others can grow over time. The mere exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon that states the more exposed you are to something you feel neutral about, the more likely you are to have positive feelings about it.
Attraction can and does grow over time, so just because you don’t feel an initial spark with someone now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Have you ever gone out with someone you thought was quite attractive but found that their personality turned you off and they became less attractive? The reverse can be true of someone you’re not initially attracted to.
3. There is space for a strong foundation to develop without being blinded by the spark.
When you’re very attracted to someone, you are more likely to overlook red flags and signs that you’re incompatible with them. You may also have difficulty being your authentic self in the beginning due to nerves.
On the other hand, when you’re not feeling an initial spark with someone, this can release some of that pressure and free you up to be your authentic self. As a result, a strong foundation can form between you and your date, which can ultimately lead to a strong relationship in the future.
4. You may be more of a “slow-burn” person.
In an ideal world, we would be on the same page as the person we’re dating, but real life isn’t that simple. Some people lead with their emotions when dating and are more prone to “just knowing” that someone is the right match for them from the beginning. Others may be more analytical and approach love from a more cerebral perspective.
If you fall in the latter category, you may be more prone to experiencing attraction in a “slow-burn” type of manner and may not easily feel an initial spark during the first few dates.
5. There may have been factors that prematurely influenced the impression of your date.
First dates can lead to a lot of nerves and trigger people’s vulnerabilities. While first date jitters are typical, they can sometimes prevent you from truly getting to know the other person.
Were you stressed or in a bad mood prior to the date? Were you or your date nervous? All of these factors can contribute to falsely assuming this person isn’t worth getting to know better, when the circumstances may have prematurely influenced your point of view.
6. You have shared core values.
Shared core values may not sound alluring or exciting, but they are a key component of long-lasting relationships. If the initial spark isn’t there but you and your date have shared core values, you may be romantically compatible. Consider going on a few more dates to see if there is potential for the spark to grow between the two of you.
7. You may be trying to protect yourself from true intimacy.
Sometimes people hold onto a fantasy of what love should look like in order to protect themselves from experiencing love in real life and getting hurt. If you’re subconsciously afraid of true intimacy, you may find yourself feeling a spark only with those people who turn out to be unavailable or pushing away potentially compatible partners due to lack of an initial spark.
If you spend time getting to know someone and you ultimately decide they’re not a match for you, then you can rest easy knowing you gave it a fair shot. Next time you’re tempted to decline a second date because there wasn’t an initial spark, consider giving them another chance—you might just be surprised by what happens next.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.
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