Picture this: On dating sites, you start scanning through photos or looking through suggested ‘matches’. You rule out some or even a lot based on not feeling an instant attraction. With some profiles, even though the people appear to have similar values, you don’t feel that ‘spark’. And so you dismiss them.
With other profiles, they say stuff about themselves that rings your ‘hook’ bell. They might mention that they’re a churchgoer, or that they earn six figures. Or maybe their elite university education impresses you. Maybe they say they’re a dog owner, or that they’re a family person. Perhaps they have loads of degrees, are super-duper intelligent, a green campaigner, or quote from an obscure book that you love too. You fire off an email. Or, if they’ve already made contact, you eagerly reply, already excited at possibly meeting just the type of person you’re looking for.
Out in the real world, you go on first dates. If you don’t experience an immediate ‘spark’ and a ‘connection’, you mentally say “Sayonara” straight away or by the end of the date. You brace yourself to continue your quest or feel disheartened that you still haven’t met that ‘someone’ with that ‘spark’ with whom you could also enjoy a relationship.
It’s fascinating that so many people swear by instant attraction, instant chemistry, instant spark, and basically this illusion of instant knowledge about a person that they either haven’t even met in the flesh or don’t even know.
They feel a spark with…
- A one-dimensional photograph.
- Words and promises which, in the cold light of day and hindsight, are ridiculous given that they’re by a veritable stranger.
- What their sexual organs or their imagination tells them.
These very same people will protest that if they don’t experience immediate chemistry, they ‘can’t’ go on a date the person. They consider it unlikely that their attraction and interest will grow. For them, attraction, love, chemistry and the whole kit and caboodle have a foundation in something of nothing. There’s an absence of spark with action.
When you rely on ‘instant’ or very quick attraction, you’re saying that you can be attracted to and even fall in love with someone that you don’t know, but that you couldn’t become attracted to and fall in love with someone you grew to know.
Isn’t there something very odd about that? You can fall in love with the promise, but you couldn’t fall for the reality?
And here’s where it becomes very interesting:
When you experience that instant/very quick attraction, what follows is the discovery phase, where you hopefully get to know them in reality. What I see happen time and again is that people who rely on ‘instant’ chemistry, etc., don’t update their perceptions of the person. They don’t adjust their level of trust or their ideas about a possible relationship, as they get to know them. They stick with their initial perception, and they don’t reconcile it with reality.
When the person behaves in a way that contradicts your conclusions and hopes, you keep returning to your initial feelings and perceptions as if they’re ‘right’. It then means that aside from not feeling attracted to people who you don’t feel it ‘instantly’ with, you also won’t reduce your attraction to someone you felt it with immediately, even as you get to ‘know’ them. Even as, yes, they’re failing to meet your needs, expectations, desires and hopes.
Choosing to stick with instant perceptions and feelings despite subsequent information puts you in a ‘no judgement’ quagmire.
In choosing to rely on the immediate ‘information’ you think you’ve gleaned, you can’t and won’t trust yourself to go through discovery and get to know someone. You won’t and don’t evaluate actions and situations, make a judgement, and ultimately make a decision. This is a very tricky place for you to be in. Don’t you want to have to use your eyes and ears? Don’t you want to have the option to choose healthily? Do you want to actually know someone in reality?
If you rely on instant chemistry and perceptions, you give yourself far too much credit for your power of ‘instant’ judgement. What you glean in a moment or in a date though, isn’t ‘all’ that you know. Those instant feelings and perceptions aren’t the crucial data.
The instant chemistry and perceptions issue is the same as the over-correlating information about the person issue I’ve written about before. This is when you meet someone who possesses certain physical characteristics that float your boat along with other qualities, characteristics and apparent values and you over-correlate the information. You assume they’ll not only possess other qualities you like but that they’ll also give you the relationship you want. This is an enormous and dangerous cognitive leap. The assumptions, expectations and fantasy that results create a rather painful chasm between you that will come back to bite you in the arse. Eventually, you wonder “But we have so much in common, so why the hell isn’t this relationship working?”
The cognitive leaps we make about instant chemistry, perceptions and attraction to certain qualities is why there are so many perplexed people wondering how someone who looks just how they’d like, or has a high IQ, or is Very Important In The Community or Very Good At Their Job, lacks emotional intelligence, can’t meet their emotional needs, or isn’t interested in co-creating a mutually fulfilling relationship.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with experiencing instant attraction. There isn’t. What stops you being caught out by blind spots, though, and winding up in sucky relationships is the meaning you attribute to those feelings and perceptions. Take the meaning and weighting you apply to instant chemistry and perceptions down from a 20/10 to about a 5.
“[Your name], slow your roll. Your mentality is that of someone who thinks they’re a love psychic. Now tell me, does your relationship history look like the fruits of telepathy? Just like the person who thinks that love is about having the power to change someone, you are giving yourself far greater powers to assess a person than you possess.”
If you don’t think you can grow attracted to someone, you’ll find that you won’t be that interested in truly getting to know someone whether you feel the attraction instantly or after knowing them for a while. That is a problem.
This is why so many people struggle to get over a relationship where there were a lot of illusions.
And before anyone asks, no it’s not about forcing yourself to date someone that you have no interest in. It’s about making sure that you’re not setting yourself up to fail and/or repeating unhealthy patterns.
If it feels familiar and you’ve had your fair share of dodgy experiences, it’s a warning sign, not excitement or ‘spark’.
- Spend some time in group settings getting to know people (in reality, not your imagination) without the pressure of ‘dating’.
- Address your beliefs about what you think being instantly attracted tells you. Compare it with the reality of previous experiences and ask yourself if that is true.
- Particularly if you have a habit of dates, short flings, or being ‘hooked’ on your image of someone, I would also address how truly available you are. Relying on instant attraction is one of the easiest ways to keep you out of a relationship.
What I can tell you, is that love, care, trust and respect are not something that’s gained immediately. They need time and action.
Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl which is perfect for anyone who keeps sticking with that ‘instant attraction’ and winding up in trouble, in my bookshop.