I answer viewer questions for Fox 26 each week on my segments, “Mind, Body, Soul with Mary Jo.” I didn’t have time to answer this letter from Jane, so I decided to write the answer in my blog this week.
Dear Mary Jo,
“When you are starting to date someone and you enjoy their company, but do not have any real desire for them…how do you know if you should give it time to grow? Is it foolish to date where there is no ‘spark,’ hoping that will come with time? (In my experience, it has never grown, if not there to begin with). How much time is fair to avoid hurting the other person if you know they are into you, but you don’t return the same level of attraction?
Thank you, Jane.
The answer to these types of questions is difficult, and there are no right or wrong answers. Some of the best marriages I have ever seen were arranged, and some of the worse relationships I have ever seen consisted of people who had an abundance of spark, but nothing else in common. We all talk about chemistry or spark, but what is it and by what is it defined? For some, chemistry means the other person is “cute” or “hot;” for others it may mean they are an intellect and share career interests. Dating usually implies that you are meeting people you want to see again. I cannot imagine getting dressed and ready to go to a play or an event with someone for whom I felt no interest or with whom I didn’t want to be. As you read my answer you may think of other things that would be helpful to share with Jane. Your comments are appreciated, so long as you consider “helping and encouraging her,” because she is stuck right now, and trying to do the right thing.
I want to thank you for trusting me with your question and I am hoping I can offer things to think about and question within yourself, to help you find your answers. Dating should be fun and it allows you to get to know people in an intimate setting. Like any relationship, it should be done as honestly as possible. When you are transparent, you allow the other person to know you, and free yourself from trying to be what you aren’t. If you pretend to like this guy and keep it going when you really aren’t interested, that is deception. Being honest doesn’t have to be mean, something as simple as, “I think you are a really neat person (if he is), but I have some things I need to work out in my own head right now, and I need to take a break from seeing you anymore.” Of course that is my script…you can change it however you wish as long as you stay honest with your own part (spark happens; it’s not something anyone is to blame for or feel badly about).
You also asked if spark ever comes when it isn’t there initially. There is no one answer to that question, Jane. In a healthy marriage, couples may experience their spark growing and dimming only to repeat this cycle. A relationship also grows, but with dating, there has to be something there to keep you wanting to continue the dates. That leads us to the last portion of your question. When the other person does feel a spark and you don’t, how long should you continue the relationship? This is where you have to become very honest with yourself by asking yourself these questions.
1. What am I afraid of if I let this one go?
2. What specifically (write them down) makes this person void of spark?
3. What specific combination makes me feel a spark? Many women who like bad boys were raised with dads who didn’t treat their moms very nice. These women may say they would never marry or date a guy like their dad, but the unfinished business in their heads attracts them to a bad boy like a moth to a flame. Many moms who were bored with their partners couldn’t hide their boredom from their daughters. When their daughters meet nice guys, they get cast aside due to the daughters’ fear they will end up bored like their mothers were.
Chemistry is the sum total of what we grew up with, what we saw mentored in our own homes and our personal wiring. When it attracts, it is strong, and there is a spark. Can a relationship grow to spark? Yes. Will it ever feel as intense as a natural first meeting spark? No, probably not. Can you build a healthy marriage or life with someone you don’t feel that spark for? YES. Is it easy? NO, but then again, creating a healthy marriage takes work, and I doubt anyone would say it was easy. I could not say that about life in general as life is about learning all aspects of one’s self and some of those are painful. Good luck, Jane.