Thinking through relationships and making decisions based on wise advice is key, but even if the relationship ticks all/most of the boxes on paper, how do we know it’s right? Being able to understand what mean when we talk about ‘a spark’ and what role feelings can and should play in our dating decisions, will help us build better relationships.   

So there I was, I had just delivered a talk on dating, and Q and A was about to begin. The interviewer and I were on stools to give it a ‘relaxed’ vibe, questions had been texted in, so what could go wrong? 

Well this time, I got a question I don’t usually get asked, at least not in this precise way. The question read as ‘If on paper everything looks good and our dating is going well, how can we be sure we’re meant to commit more to each other? How do I know if there’s a spark?’

This may surprise you, but so often people are just getting lead by their feelings and are unsure about how to date, so when I deliver a talk which gives more of a tangible framework with practical advice, many people are very happy to just get something that’s more concrete.   

However, this person was essentially saying that even after applying some concrete wisdom and building the relationship on more solid ground, how do we really know how we feel and what we really want? It’s a very important question.  

No Silver Bullet

After a pause to gather my thoughts (always advised in Q and A sessions) I said that to begin with, there is no silver bullet answer. There is not one thing or one feeling that will allow us to look into the future and know the relationship will be great and life long. 

If there was, we wouldn’t need to read blogs about how to date well. 

Rather, it ultimately come down to asking the right questions, fostering the right attitude and maintaining a healthy approach (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)

But Feelings Matter

Although, I also wanted to confirm that having feelings of excitement, love and enjoyment are part of a good dating and romantic relationship. I want people to have great relationships, and this includes experiencing great feelings and sharing an emotional bond, or getting the ‘Spark’.

Without feelings of attraction, it’s just a friendship

So thinking about where feelings come in, and understanding what we mean by the ‘spark’, is vital. This is because on paper two people could be really compatible, but without feelings of attraction, it’s just a friendship.

I think the following 4 points are vital as we explore this issue.

#1 Feelings Are Not Enough

Feelings on their own are not enough. If we think ‘a spark’ is just about feeling attracted to someone, this can lead to hurt. Relationships need to be based on more than feelings, because feeling can change, or lead us to make bad choices. (Read Why You Should Remember That ‘Romance’ On Its Own is Rubbish) 

We need to realise we need more in our dating. Trust, respect, faithfulness, to name a few. If the spark is just about a feeling, then we may make choices we regret.   

#2 Enjoy Each Other’s Company 

Don’t over think this question, just answer: Do you enjoy spending time together? Even when you aren’t doing something ‘exciting’? 

You could be compatible on paper, but when you spend time together, the way you talk to each other, the way you relax together, is this experience life-giving or draining? Is it something that’s easy or hard work? Is it something you want to do or has it become a chore? 

Romantic relationships involve you spending time together! So is this time together a good experience? 

People can think the ‘spark’ means the relationship needs to be constantly exciting, picture-perfect and amazing all the time. But while those highs are part of it, it’s also about feeling safe, feeling comfortable, and looking forward to seeing one another, even in the mundane day to day times too.  

#3 Deeper Values Come First

Deeper values are what really counts when it comes to compatibility. 

Often we can think compatibility is about liking the same films, or having the same hobbies, but this is surface level stuff. What really matters is the deeper goals and values (Read Are You Thinking About Compatibility In The Right Way?

I think a spark is about looking forward to experiencing the next important moments with each other, and experiencing the current ones together. When our deeper values align, it can mean that this will keep happening, and keep making the relationship mutually enjoyable. 

A spark should be about more than just having the same interests, but getting excited about sharing our important milestones and values together.  

#4 Growing Together 

A friend of mine was telling me that she once said to her then boyfriend ‘I couldn’t love you any more at this point, but I know that love will only grow’.

This story stuck with me for two reasons. Firstly, it shows that while she didn’t know everything about him, she was loving what she did know. Secondly, there was an excitement about growing together and learning more. 

Relationships aren’t things we can fully predict and control.

I guess that’s a big part of it. A dating relationship isn’t about having all the answers now. Relationships aren’t things we can fully predict and control. But do we feel safe, secure, and happy with what we do know? Do these things out weigh our concerns and small doubts?  

Imagine If…

Imagine if we redefined what we mean by the ‘spark’; If it wasn’t purely about feelings or shallow fleeting feelings, but deep joy and deep connection that comes when we remember; Feelings Are Not Enough, Enjoy Each Other’s Company, Deeper Values Come First, Growing Together.

I hope the words I said in that Q and A struck a chord. Not so I can pat myself on the back, but so that the person who asked the questions can know if there is indeed a spark. And realise it’s about more than what we sometimes reduce it to. (Read Amazing, Enjoyable, But Not Easy. The Secret Behind Great Relationship)

Do you think we can make ‘a spark’ too important/unimportant? Comments welcomed below.   

Originally posted 0/0/0000