It’s Time To Stop Chasing An ‘Instant Spark’ With The People You’re Dating

If you’re a hopeless romantic, chances are you’re holding out for that elusive instant spark with a date. You feel like once you meet your person, you’ll just know deep down that they’re right for you. You’ll have an immediate connection that’s undeniable and then you’ll live happily ever after. However, not only is that unlikely to happen, it probably isn’t the best indicator of potential relationship longevity. Here’s why.

What people think indicates an “instant spark” on a first date

  1. You share eye contact that lasts longer than usual or feels intense. Eye contact is important, especially when going out with someone new. It indicates interest and that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying. However, you don’t need to be unable to look away. In fact, that’s kinda creepy, if you’re honest…
  2. There’s immediate physical attraction and chemistry, i.e. feeling butterflies in the stomach or feeling drawn to their energy. While it’s nice to feel that initial excitement on a date, it doesn’t mean anything. You could just be freaking out because you have dating anxiety. Or, maybe you know they’re not right for you but you’re going anyway. Even if your butterflies are legitimate, that doesn’t mean you have an instant spark. You’re probably just a bit nervous.
  3. You feel completely comfortable with the person, even if it’s the first time meeting. It takes time to get comfortable with people most of the time. You need to get to know them and let them learn about you before you can really let your guard down. That’s just normal. It doesn’t mean they’re not for you if that’s not there right away.
  4. There’s a sense of ease in conversation, feeling like there’s never a lull or awkward silence. Sometimes first or seven second dates are awkward, man. You don’t really know this person so you’re not always going to know what to say. It happens. That doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.
  5. There are shared interests or passions, such as discovering that you both love a certain hobby or type of music. Obviously, you want to date someone with whom you have things in common. However, you don’t need to be near carbon copies of each other and it’s probably better if you’re not.
  6. They have a sense of humor that clicks or feels similar. This is a great thing to share, of course, but it doesn’t indicate an instant spark. You can think someone’s funny and vice versa and be a terrible romantic match. This literally means nothing but that you’re capable of making each other laugh.
  7. You feel like they “get” you without having to say much. Admittedly, it feels great to be understood implicitly. However, because that’s not happening immediately doesn’t mean the other person is incapable of getting you. That’s often something that takes time to develop and comes after you get to know each other more.
  8. You have a strong emotional connection and feel like you could be vulnerable with them from day one. Wanting to spill your guts to someone is an odd feeling, of course. It doesn’t mean you’re meant to be. They could just be one of those people who puts people at ease.
  9. There’s a feeling of being on the same wavelength or in sync with each other. Again, you’re kidding yourself here. It’s great to be on the same page with someone you’re dating, obviously. But if that doesn’t happen immediately, that doesn’t mean there’s no potential there. That’s a bit short-sighted.
  10. You feel a sense of excitement or anticipation to see each other again. You should definitely be excited to see someone you like again. And while it’s a fun stage of dating, it doesn’t have much bearing on your prospects as a couple. It just means you like them. Go with that!

Why not having those things doesn’t mean there’s no connection

It’s really important to remember that not having all of the above things on a first date doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no connection or potential for a relationship. Everyone experiences connections differently, and some people may not feel an “instant spark” but may still be interested in getting to know someone better. You shouldn’t rule anyone out just because there are no fireworks the minute you lay eyes on each other.

Additionally, some people may feel reserved or nervous on a first date and may not exhibit certain behaviors or qualities that would indicate a connection. They might be freaking out internally and totally on edge at first. It’s also possible for a connection to grow and deepen over time as two people get to know each other better. That means even if there’s no initial spark, it could come once you’re both feeling a bit less high-strung.

It’s important to approach dating with an open mind and not to put too much pressure on having an “instant spark.” If you do, you could end up ruling out some pretty amazing people.

What you should be looking for instead

  1. They’re both engaged and engaging. When both people are fully engaged in the conversation and have an easy flow of communication, it can be a sign of a solid connection. You don’t want to go on a date with someone who spends the whole evening on their phone or distractedly looking off into the distance. Why even bother?
  2. You do share a few mutual interests. You don’t need to love all of the same things, but you should have a few mutual interests to connect you. Whether you both love The 1975 or you’re passionate about gardening or whatever, you’ll need something to discuss and enjoy together. That gives you something to grow on.
  3. There’s a base level of chemistry/you like the vibe. When there’s physical attraction and a spark between two people, it can be an indication of a connection. We’ve all been on dates that are painful because one or both of you is just not feeling it. If you don’t want the night to end and the conversation is flowing, that’s a good sign.
  4. The same things make you laugh. Laughter is a powerful tool for connecting with someone, and a shared sense of humor will go a long way. While it’s not enough to base an entire relationship on, a shared sense of humor will help you weather a lot of storms together.
  5. The body language is on point. Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, leaning in towards one another, and mirroring each other’s movements can be a sign of a connection. If you don’t feel weirded out when they move closer to you and the idea of them touching you doesn’t make you want to gag, you’re good.
  6. They’re not displaying any immediate red flags. If you’re not noticing any signs that they’re a pathological liar, are already in a relationship, or are going to murder you, proceed (with caution, obviously). If you pick up on anything that makes you severely uncomfortable, that’s a sign to get out immediately. Look not only for the absence of red flags but the presence of green flags.
  7. You seem to have similar values. You can’t be in a relationship with someone who wants and believes in totally different things in life. You need to be generally on the same page about the big issues like what matters in life and what you want out of it. If that lines up, that’s a good start.
  8. They’re not sexist, misogynistic, or homophobic. Not much needs to be said about this. Do not put up with someone who’s discriminatory or hateful towards any marginalized group. That’s not someone you want to be in a relationship with.
  9. They don’t make you feel like an option. It may only be a first date, but if they make you feel like they could be (and would rather be) anywhere else, exit stage left. You want someone who’s just as excited about getting to know someone new as you are.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia