Images of romance fostered by novels, movies and TV have created a generation of men and women who have very unrealistic expectations about their relationships. The truth is that the “spark” is an overrated myth. It isn’t necessary for a courtship, nor for the majority of happy, loving, enduring marriages, it wasn’t ever present.
Yes, there are some people who feel an intense, almost instant attraction… “fireworks,” “electricity,” a “spark.” They feel drawn to each other even though they know nothing about each other’s values, personal qualities, expectations, or if their personalities are compatible. It could be that they have a strong “chemical” reaction, or a personal “magnetism” that makes them feel as if they’ve known each other all their lives.
Is this instant attraction a barometer by which we could measure the likelihood that two people have met their future life partners? Of course not! The vast majority of people who feel a strong connection from the outset end up breaking up a few months later. That’s because the “electricity” wears off, and when it does, many of these people realize that they don’t have very much in common, nor do they share values or life goals. Frequently they were so blinded by infatuation that they didn’t see that the other person had serious flaws, or that they never developed more than a superficial connection.
Sometimes, two people who feel an instant attraction stay together for the long haul. That’s because they were fortunate enough to have compatible values, goals and personalities, and because these qualities enabled them to build depth to their relationship. When the infatuation faded, they may not have even noticed because they had gradually built a close, trusting, emotionally intimate friendship that became the cornerstone of their marriage.
As we mentioned earlier, the majority of couples who achieve this level of emotional intimacy completely skip the “sparks.” These relationships develop gradually. Sometimes, they are interested in each other from the time they first meet, and other times, it takes a few dates before they realize there may be possibilities between them. Some people don’t even feel physical attraction until their second, third or fourth date, when they recognize that their dating partner’s looks are “growing” on them. Over a month or two or three, these fortunate men and women realize that they care very much for each other, accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and share the gifts of emotional connection, mutual respect and admiration, and physical attraction.