Ask most of us what we look for in a romantic partner and we'll answer something like, "Chemistry!" or "Attraction!" or "Magic!" or "Sparks!" Of course, the majority of us also want a mate who is kind, has a sense of humor, has things in common with us, and blah blah blah ... but what we want is "chemistry" on top of all of that. We've all met that guy (or gal) who "looks great on paper" and has all of the qualities we're looking for in a partner, and yet with whom there is just no "spark" generated. Ho hum. We usually don't stick with that person very long. But one psychologist says the last thing we should look for in a mate is a sexual "spark." That, in fact, for those of us who have a history of unfulfilling relationships, an excited fluttery feeling we get in the gut when we meet someone means, "Run, run, and don't look back. And then run!!"
Says Seth Meyers, a clinical psychologist (and not the Saturday Night Live comedian):
You need to walk away when you meet someone with whom you feel a serious spark. In such cases, the spark signifies that there is a part of you that is afraid that you couldn’t 'get' him or her to be with you, which triggers excitement and the attempts to try to prove to yourself that you’re good enough to get him or her to be with you.
Er, seriously? So you're supposed to go for people with whom you feel no spark? While many people testify to the power of falling in love long after they were married, I've also known people who tried that and had it fail miserably.
One woman I know married her "best friend" after a long, tumultuous relationship ended. "Look what passion got me," she told me she thought. "Nowhere." So she decided to try a marriage based on friendship. But after their first child was born, she said she could barely stomach the idea of touching this man sexually again. They eventually divorced.
Also, Meyers doesn't say what his proof is that a "spark" is generated by the idea that you're "afraid" you can't "get" this person to be with you. No one knows what generates sexual chemistry between two people. I've even read (in Helen Fisher's illuminating book Why We Love) that chemistry could be an instantaneous instinct that kicks in when we've met a mate whose DNA would match up with our DNA to produce the healthiest offspring. After all, back in the caveman days, there wasn't a lot of long-term dating. People only lived until like 12, you know?
I do agree that a "spark" can't be your only reason for being with someone. But I do think it has to be there. How much drudgery would it be to be with someone who doesn't make your heart flutter occasionally? Besides, my great-grandmother and great-grandfather said they fell in love at first sight. Neither had good relationship role models. And they were happily married for 70 years. It happens!
Do you need to feel a "spark" with your partner?
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