• Georgie Parkin

Is a First Date a Write Off if There's no Spark?

Most of us long for that movie worthy connection on a first date. The prolonged eye contact, effortless conversation and butterflies doing somersaults in the pit of your stomach. But what if you walk away feeling slightly unenthused? Should we automatically deem it a bad date if there's a lack of, the perhaps mythical notion of, ‘the spark’?

According to psychologists the lack of that initial spark can actually be a good thing. Often the spark can be blinding. So much so that it causes you to overlook red flags or signs of incompatibility. You can become transfixed on this feeling of instant connection, it can make you idolise the person, failing to see them in their true light. Not only can it make you see them differently but it can also cause you to behave differently too. If you feel an intense and overwhelming chemistry and attraction to someone it’s very normal to be nervous, making it harder to show your authentic self and be fully relaxed on the date. So although the lack of spark may initially make things feel a little flat, it might actually create a more realistic platform for you to get to know each other, free from nerves and blinding lights.

Psychology also tells us that people can grow on you. The exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon proving that the more exposed you are to something you feel neutral about, the more likely you are to have positive feelings about it. Think of your date like broccoli. You don't love it but you also don't hate it. The more you eat it, the more tolerable it becomes, until one day you might actually declare your love for broccoli. Attraction and fondness for someone can develop overtime. So although the first date might have you feeling a little indifferent, by the fourth you could see them in a whole new light.

So we’ve established, with the help of science, that the lack of a spark isn’t always a bad thing and is definitely not worth pronouncing someone a write off. But that being said, I still believe you need to feel something on a first date. A spark, a niggle, a butterfly, a warm fuzzy glow - whatever we’re calling it, a date should make you feel something! It doesn’t have to be as blinding as a spark or as overwhelming as a stomach of butterflies, and perhaps that ‘I just knew’ feeling is only for movies, but if you’re walking away from a date with no excitement or desire to see them again, it’s okay to not want a second.

At the very least the following things should happen after a first date:

You feel full of energy afterwards

A positive experience will inevitably lift your mood. The same way hanging out with friends, exercising or shopping does. You don’t have to think much deeper into it. Just ask yourself how you feel? Happy, positive, energise? Or are you left feeling exhausted, slightly negative or just a little flat.

You had things in common

You definitely don’t have to share the exact same interests as your date to be compatible but it's important to find some common ground. You may have completely opposite hobbies but share the same values. Perhaps your priorities are similar and you laugh at the same things. However small, there needs to be something that allows you to relate to them.

You want to see them again

This is the ultimate question you need to ask. Forget about the spark or lack of, forget about how attractive you may or may not find them and the list of incompatibilities you may already be forming. Ask yourself this one question: ‘Do I want to see them again?’

The ultimate aim of a date for most of us is to find the person we want to be with long term. So naturally there's a whole host of tick boxes and deal breakers running through our minds on a first date. Could I introduce this person to my parents? Could I deal with the way he eats for the rest of my life? Do I want ginger children? It’s hard to switch it off but can also stop us from being present in the moment and allowing ourselves to fully process the person sitting in front of us.

So instead of thinking years ahead, think weeks ahead. Have they sparked enough curiosity and enjoyment for you to want to spend time with them again? If the answer is yes then forget about the rest of it and go on a second date. And on the second date ask yourself the exact same question. Even if there still isn’t much of a spark, do you want to spend time with them again? Keep asking yourself the question after every date until the answer is no. Or perhaps it never will be!

Naturally, we all want to experience that giddy feeling they talk about in movies but there is no textbook answer to finding a man. If there is no spark it doesn’t mean it’s a failed date and equally if there is a spark, it could all go up in flames weeks or perhaps years later. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t make your head spin on that initial meeting, it could turn out to be something really special if you give it a chance. But equally, don’t force it because you read somewhere that you should date everyone at least twice. Sometimes that just isn't true. If you feel absolutely nothing then let’s call a spade a spade, some dates are meant to be left as a first and only.