Why 'The Spark' Is Not A Solid Way To Gauge A Lasting Relationship

by Shireen McCleary

I give serious credit to “the spark” when I'm considering a potential relationship.

What is the spark?

It’s that certain something you feel when you meet someone and there is a recognizable mutual attraction.

You want to rip off his or her clothes, and undress his or her mind.

It’s a magnetic pull between two people where you both feel mentally, emotionally, physically and energetically connected. You are drawn to the entirety of the other person.

It’s feeling that buzz in your cellular makeup and feeling your body internally sigh “yassssss” in recognition.

When your mouths are fused together, fireworks go off behind your closed eyelids for a good, long time.

That’s a spark.

The spark can ruin all of your best intentions, though.

I’ve been dating for a decade, and even though my personal evolution of how I date has changed drastically in 10 years, I can still get caught up with a Mr. Wrong, based on the spark we have.

I justify a lot of things I normally wouldn’t deal with if I spark with a guy.

Through circuitous conversations with my girlfriends, I will say how his opinions don’t actually rub me the wrong way, because did I tell you about how he makes me laugh?

I will shrug away the fact he'll text and call me when he's available, but will suddenly ghost me when it’s not convenient for him.

I will minimize his flaws and our obvious incompatibilities, because there’s a certain pizazz I feel in his presence that makes me feel like a freshly-baked cinnamon bun smothered in cheese cream frosting.

The spark is not to be confused with meeting someone and genuinely liking him or her, even though you can’t see yourself dating this person.

This person is funny, nice to you, polite and inquisitive.

But for some reason or another, you’re just not attracted to him or her.

Regardless, that poor soul will forever be trapped in the inescapable prison known as the "friend zone."

Then, you've got the "sexy spark," which should never be mistaken for the real thing.

It’s that hottie you meet one night at the bar, a baseball game, on a yacht or whatever, and right off the bat, there’s an attraction.

The two of you flirt shamelessly, getting closer and closer until only molecules can fit between you two.

You end up horizontal in bed before you know it.

This is the most dangerous type of spark, because it ignites like a wildfire. It sears its way through every rational thought in your brain.

But, just as quickly as this type of spark goes up, it gets doused by reality and fizzles out.

It can end horribly, leaving you wrecked.

That's confusing to you because you weren't even that emotionally invested in the relationship to begin with.

I’ve fallen victim to thinking this type of spark was the beginning of the real deal so many times, I’ve had to mentally create a burn suit for myself so I won't fall into this trap again.

But even though I’ve gotten smarter at dating, this doesn’t mean I don’t still get fooled or fall for a guy based on the spark (sexy or not) we have.

The question is, how much weight do I give the spark when deciding whether or not this person is worth getting into a relationship with?

I’ve been single for a year now, living in the heart of Seattle and exploring the world of dating after being in a relationship for half my 20s.

Dating has changed since I was last in the game. Back then, people used to still meet at a bar.

After being monogamous, coming back into the world of singledom in Seattle was like waking up from a drunk nap to a party that’s been raging on while you've been drooling on your pillow.

There were cute and devilishly flirtatious straight men everywhere.

Once I started looking, I noticed guys everywhere: at the grocery store, on the bus ride to work, at networking events, in my Facebook “suggested friends” list.

They were literally everywhere.

I brushed up on my small talk, perfected my “this is what I do during the week when I’m not out with the girls” elevator speech, and started to bat my eyelashes at the plethora of hot dudes all around me.

They were all ready and willing to buy me a beer, and make my knees weak with one of their dimpled grins.

Alcohol-fueled flirtations flourished on Friday nights.

After a year of harmless smooching, I’m coming around to the idea of dating someone more seriously.

Therefore, I'm paying attention to something I had in abundance with my ex: the spark.

When you really spark with someone, it catches you off guard and makes you question whether it’s really happening.

When that perfect serendipity of sparkiness collides into one gorgeous human, it’s so unique, incredible and astounding, it feels confusing and terrifying.

You’re like, is this even real?

The last spark I had with someone evolved into an amazing relationship.

Yet, after a few years, our spark was ultimately not strong enough to withstand our differences and problems.

Despite our desire to stay together, we made the hard decision to split.

For us, the spark didn’t carry enough weight.

So, here I am again.

After a heartbreak like mine, where I truly felt like I'd lost a partner, I’m scared of giving much weight to the spark again.

What if it fades?

I want to believe the connection we feel in the beginning will burn long and bright, obliterating the dark moments we’re sure to face together.

It’s one thing to spark, let the flame of your relationship burn until it runs its course and then, move on.

But if and when that spark eventually burns out, will you be a solid enough team to create a new, stronger and brighter connection?

Or can a small spark build into an eventual fire that burns long and warm for a lifetime?

If only I knew.