This week on Keeping it Real: Conversations with Jillian Michaels I talk about the ever discussed SPARK. What is it? Is it important? And if it is- why? And finally how could you make sure that a momentary spark becomes lasting love?
If you have missed it, make sure you read the blog and listen to the last weeks episode: 20 thing to love about being alone
What is the spark?
The spark is you skipping away from the date. It's like a Walt Disney moment where birds mystically sing in the trees. It's you texting your best friend about them and you've added their surname to yours. And you're working out if it sounds good together.
It feels like you have entered this pseudo mystical reality where all kind of logic is suspended. And maybe that's what romance should feel like, right? And we all want that story. So much of the spark is just like the Hollywood storyline or a book storyline, which gives us a blueprint for relationships. But this is unrealistic and just so wrong.
For many the spark equals "we are supposed to get married to this person".
But those two ideas could not be further apart. And I think it's high time we reconciled them and started to look at things a bit differently.
The alternative to the spark
When I was 16, I felt the spark a lot. I had a sparky life. Every lame person that I now look back on and just want to block out of my memory that I dated back then, in my mind I though: Oh my God, he is the one! And yet guess what? As I became more mature and reasonable adult, I found it harder and harder to experience the spark.
It wasn't that the the people had a less sparky quality, it was something in me that shifted and changed. And it was almost like I was trying to chase this younger, different version of romance that I had, when I was perhaps more idealistic, more immature. When I didn't know so much about what I wanted. Our desire to have the spark and our ability to feel it, says so much more about where we're at as people than about the person that we've just met.
Read more about the dynamic between the spark we felt as young adults and the way we date as mature individuals here: Rule of Three Dates vs Instant Spark – Which to Trust
No spark does not equal failure
The needing and expectation of the earth shattering moment every time you go on a date and you don't have that- then it's a failure. That's a really easy way to get very demotivated for the dating process. And like you have this very high bar that people have to reach.
Think about how people are meeting nowadays- a lot of people are meeting online. If you meet someone who you've never met before in real life- you've sent a few messages back and forward to, and you go on a date and grab a coffee. That whole scenario doesn't really set you up to have a lightning bolt moment. But then other times in your life do.
There isn't a real correlation here. If the earth did not move when you had a coffee date, it does not mean that it can't go anywhere or that the date is a failure. And likewise, it's not always the case, when you have this amazing spark, that you're destined to have a long term relationship.
I hear from people I'm coaching that they want to feel pursued, they want to feel really wanted. So, sometimes when we want that spark it's actually because we really want a validation. We really want to feel wanted, special and chosen and that this person has seen something so mystical and amazing and magical within us that they are willing to slaying dragons in order to go on a date with us.
Not everyone will be larger than life
Lets for a second think about a person that is considerate. When, in the pre COVID world they saw you, they've might not have been the person that necessarily bowls right up to you. They might be taking more of a considerate step by step approach to this. They're also not going to be necessarily making massive declarations of love in the early stages of dating, because when they say that, they want it to be sincere and actually mean something.
So sometimes there's people that present themselves in a way that's more cautious and less over-romantic. And they might be coming from a good space of being considerate and recognising that you have your own life going on. A person who you meet, and they suddenly want to see you every single night of the week- have they forgot you have a job, a family, friends, you've got other stuff going on.
What we need to do is rewire ourselves and looking at people's intention beyond the big gesture. Can we think about is this person considering us as independent, autonomous human being who's got our own pre existing life?
Why do we need the spark?
Time is a driving factor as well behind the spark. The problem with dating, especially for women, is that we are under the pressure of time. And because of that, time pressure makes us feel like we want to make decisions really quickly. What's really appetising about the spark concept is that you don't have to go through any of the due diligence, the actual process of really getting to know someone.
That means that you feel sort of protected, that you're not wasting your time. As if your energy isn't going to be misspent. You don't have to open yourself up to the possibility that this might not work out. Or you might have to be vulnerable at some stage. Because you just want to pick the relationship off the shelf like this is good to go right now.
How to find lasting love
First step is getting comfortable with uncertainty. And being in the unknown. It's not needing to know everything straight away. Even if they went to the right university, they're the right height, they do the right thing. Even if they take all of those boxes on paper, but you just don't know what your compatibility is when it comes too fundamental to healthy long term relationships, like communication, mutual respect, consideration, compromise, those qualities.
If you align with a person around those straight away, it inevitably takes a passage of time to work that out. And I know that doesn't sound very appetising, because we all want the quick fix. And we want the answer now. But that doesn't work when it comes to long term relationships. So instead move away from this really preconceived idea around who this person could be. How we're going to meet them. What the first day is going to look like.
When we have those blinkers on, and we can only see one way that something good can happen for us, we inadvertently shut out all these possible opportunities. Just be open to all the different connections that you could make. Be ready to see where they could go. Be open to having your mind totally change about who is your type and how you think love can happen for you.