When it comes to dating someone new, experiencing an initial surge of romantic attraction (also known as a spark) can feel like the best way to evaluate whether a new match has potential. Even though it can be tempting to make quick judgments about whether or not you'd like to keep dating someone, the truth is that it can actually take some time to know if someone could be a good fit for you. But, since you don't have forever to decide if you're interested in pursuing a relationship, knowing exactly how long you should wait to feel a spark is an important part of navigating the dating sphere.
I spoke to NYC-based relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter and prominent Los Angeles-based dating and relationship therapist Dr. Gary Brown about how long it takes to know if there's a connection that could blossom into something more. "There really is no magic number when it comes to the number of dates to go on if you're not feeling the chemistry," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. "Sometimes it truly can be love at first sight, and with others, it may take a while."
If the thought of dating someone who you aren't immediately into sounds like a huge waste of time, think again. I'm sure many of us have developed romantic interest in someone who didn't seem like our type in the beginning. Maybe you've even crushed on someone you never would've thought you'd be into, then bam! After getting to know them on a deeper level, you were suddenly vibing.
"'Feeling a 'spark' is a gut reaction to someone," Winter tells Elite Daily. "There's a palpable interest and excitement that occurs in their presence. It's a combination of physical and mental attraction that creates a 'click.'" However, Winter agrees that the 'click' that happens between two people with chemistry might take a few dates to occur. "It can take three to four dates to see if there's viable interest in your prospective partner," says Winter.
Although many people consider love at first sight to be the holy grail of romantic experiences, making meaningful connections in real life can oftentimes be a little less epic. "Your initial date may have felt awkward, or even rushed," explains Winter. "Perhaps they were nervous, or you were nervous. That's why the second and third date are a good idea in order to determine compatibility. The internal frenzy has died down and you should be able to get a better read on your date's personality and interests."
So, let's say you've been on several dates but still aren't feeling the sizzle for someone new. Is it ever a good idea to keep dating someone if the chemistry isn't as fiery as you'd like? Surprisingly, both Dr. Brown and Winter agree that in certain situations, giving chemistry time to develop more slowly could totally end up working out. "Dating someone who doesn't overwhelm your senses allows you to see and think clearly," says Winter. "You're processing information at a pace that allows you to remain grounded while assessing mutual compatibility."
Dr. Brown explains that because of the rush of oxytocin associated with intense chemistry, these initial feelings can blind us to other potentially problematic warning signs in regards to a new partner. "An initial spike in these chemical reactions (aka chemistry) could signal a good match ahead," notes Dr. Brown. "But, it can also cloud our judgment because flooding hormones can put too much emphasis on chemistry, but inhibit our ability to see potential red flags."
Ultimately, who you date and for how long depends on the aspects of a relationship that are the most important to you. Whether the chemistry is next-level smoking or much more toned down, leading a successful relationship in both situations is totally possible. If you're currently dating someone who you're on the fence about, there's absolutely nothing wrong with waiting to see if your feelings become stronger in the future. Similarly, if the first date with someone was just OK, it might not be a bad idea to go out a couple more times before breaking things off.