This question comes up all the time in conversation with my girlfriends, particularly those of us who are out there on the dating scene.
Do physical fireworks mean you’re made for each other or are they a recipe for disaster further down the line? Does an absence of chemistry on the first date mean you should say “thanks but no thanks”, or should you give it at least three dates before you decide there’s no spark?
We’ve all heard the stories of the women who “just knew”. Those fortunate ladies who came away from their first date or chance encounter confident that this was the man they were going to marry.
And we’ve heard the other side of the story too – friends or acquaintances who felt no attraction on the first meeting but who gave it another shot, only to find their feelings grew the more they got to know him.
In fact, I recently received a wedding invitation from a friend who was pretty sure the relationship was a non-starter right up until their third outing. Just as well she kept an open mind and stayed with it.
The idea of the lightning flash, the thunderbolt, the instant pull is so attractive, partly because Hollywood has made it so. We’re bombarded with scenes of men and women who can’t keep their hands off each other from the get go. Intense passion and naked clinches follow.
Surely that’s what it’s supposed to be like? Surely that’s what we all deserve? But do these relationships last?
I’ve had my fair share of fireworks over the course of my dating history – encounters with men I found instantly irresistible, fiery relationships with dramatic ups and downs.
And I’ve also gone out with guys who I wouldn’t describe as my type – men with whom I haven’t felt an immediate attraction but whom I’ve fallen for over time as I’ve got to know them.
I’m still single so clearly I haven’t quite got the balance right yet. However, I’m becoming increasingly wary of the fireworks. I’m learning that an intense attraction can sometimes be leading me into an unhealthy relationship – one built on drama, unrealistic expectations and one in which we’re each trying to resolve deep issues from our past that need to be resolved elsewhere.
Maybe the guy I find irresistible reminds me of someone in my childhood – my Dad perhaps – and I want to replay history and try and engineer a different outcome. The opportunity to fix my past in my present can be intoxicating, irresistible in fact, but it can also be a road to nowhere.
So these days, when I start to hear the fireworks going off, I remind myself that I might get my fingers burnt and maybe I need to step back. And when I don’t feel that instant spark on the first date, I stay with it, give it a bit more time and see what develops.