As much as fairy tales and rom-coms make us want to believe in love at first sight, we're pretty sure that's a myth. Most people don't fall in love upon looking at someone (lust, however, is a different story). Yet, many of us still give the idea of a "spark" (aka instant attraction) a powerful place in our dating lives. Spark is the whole reason that we can make snap-judgements on dating apps like Tinder. But what if someone has asked you out and you don't feel that instant attraction? Is it worth going on the date?
As long as you're going for the right reasons and not just to get a free meal, Seattle dating coach Kate Stewart says that it's 100% still worth it. "If there's enough doubt in your mind to potentially say yes, then it's worth doing the due diligence of going on the date and seeing if you have fun with this person, if they make you laugh, and if something could be brewing," she says.
While a spark is really important for some people, others find that attraction builds over time. For example, Stewart's mother wasn't attracted to her father at first. When he asked her out the first time, she didn't think anything of it. "She just kind of ignored him," Stewart says. "And then later she thought, 'Oh, wait a minute. Actually, I'm interested in this person.'" For Stewart's mom, and plenty of other people, it took a little longer to feel the chemistry. Spark isn't always a tell-tale sign of true love.
“Chemistry is a really fundamental aspect of romantic compatibility. It’s definitely not something to downplay or ignore," says relationship coach Adam Maynard. "But if you don’t feel a spark right away, that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t any potential with that person.” Some people need to develop a connection over time, he says, and as intimacy deepens so will attraction and chemistry. "If it’s somewhere between a definite no and a definite yes, what do you have to lose by going on a few dates and seeing if an attraction develops? You might be surprised,” he says.
But, if an attraction doesn't develop after the date, how long should you give yourself before you call it quits? Some people might need only one date to know for certain that they're not interested in a relationship with someone while others might take a month. But as a general rule, Stewart recommends three dates. By then, you should be over the awkward interview-like experience of the first few dates and have a decent grasp of the other person's personality. Because if you're not attracted to them either physically or mentally, then it's probably a no-go.