Here's The Thing: On Feeling Sparks

Dating is... bad, unfortunately.

A BIG CUTIE:

I'm wondering if I'm shooting myself in the foot for not following up on a great date because I didn't feel those kind of sparks? 

I am a 28 year old woman who dates off-and-on. Off-and-on for several reasons, one being I'm an introvert, another being I'm more career focused than anything right now, and another is that I fucking hate first dates, but making new friends and then dating from there hasn't happened for me in about eight years. So, I use Bumble and etc. 

I have a lot of fun with several FWB situations with really smart, friendly, honest, and downright sexy and ~knowledgeable~ guys, but I think I want a real relationship sooner down the road than they do, and that's fine! I do enjoy hot crazy physical intimacy very much, it's quite important to me in my life, but I can see myself in the future wanting something that doesn't require switching emotions and attachment off after an expiration date that hits (X) hours into each sleepover. So like, a real relationship with lots of good sexy times, right? These FWB guys did come from Bumble, but that was after a lot of sifting through nonsense and using my pretty strong gut instincts on who was trustworthy and a right match in terms of chemistry. 

So, okay, when I'm in the right place in my life, I occasionally gather up my energy and overcome my extreme distrust of "internet strangers" (yep I mean men, sorry guys!) and meet up for a drink or two.

Specifically, last week I met a guy and he was pretty great? We had plenty to talk about, lots of shared interests, he was funny, and especially great: he didn't talk about sex, and I didn't ever feel pressured at all to give him a kiss or anything at the end of the date. (I get extremely anxious towards ends of dates thinking they'll expect some sort of physical reward for good behavior whether it be a kiss or whatever and I don't know how to turn it down smoothly without feeling like I did something wrong or selfish. So, when my Lyft arrived I became visibly nervous and even apologized for being weird, and he said it was totally fine and I don't need to be sorry, and let me offer the goodbye-hug instead of expecting one, and saw me off into my Lyft.) (Yes, my therapist does like to explore why I feel so obligated to do anything physical on dates, we are working on it.)

He's messaged a few times, making chit chat about the movies we talked about, asked about my cat, how my 4th of July went, etc. And I chatted back. And even though I liked everything about him on paper, I found myself dreading that he'd ask about another date because... I'm just not attracted to him? 

But is that crazy of me to give up after one go just because of that? Like I've said, I feel my gut instinct is very strong, and that's how I found a great few FWBs that I can totally trust not to stalk and kill me and even have a fantastic time with. But then again, that instinct led to me to great FWBs, not relationships. Maybe I can't pick out good boyfriends and need to give him another shot? I just can't get excited about it though.

I asked a friend and she said I should give it another try, but she also has way different standards than me. Not bad standards, just different. I'm not sure physical attraction matters to her as much as me. I hope I'm not sounding superficial. If it was only about physicality to me, I'd go out there and boink every hot dude who is interested and not care about having common interests! If it were that easy, I'd still be hooking up with the super smokin hot but eternally self-tortured artist who thinks he discovered Radiohead and that being a political moderate is edgy and posts inspirational memes to his Instagram stories. (Trust me, he's really hot. But yeah intolerable.) 

He did end up asking for another date and I found a gentle way to say sorry but I think I should save our time because I'm just in a weird place right now. Cliche but true, I am in a lost place for other reasons that makes me not want to try again for awhile. But regardless of those other reasons, this is how I would've felt towards him during any other time of my life. Like he'd be a great friend, but that's it.

So, in the future when this happens, when I go on a date with a guy who checks enough of the boxes, who doesn't make me feel pressured or objectified, but just doesn't give me tingles in my heart or nether regions, should I still give this type of situation another go just in case?

SOPHIA:

One thing that we should get out of the way right off the bat is that it is wonderful— really really good!!!!— that you trust your instincts. It’s incredibly easy for women to ignore gut feelings because they feel they should preform a certain behavior. That said, most men are not going to attack/assault you, so the fact that so many haven’t is likely a combo statistics being on your side and your being vigilant. Again, I’m not discounting your instinct, but it’s not like your gut is some separate thing from you who only knows how to pick out Friends With Benefits and you have no control. You picked friends with benefits (which worked out really well for you, it seems). You made sure you were safe. You create boundaries with guys on dates. Ok? So: keep listening to yourself and what you actually want.

Now, the guy above does sound pretty great, and bully for him*!!! That doesn’t mean that you have to date him or find him attractive! Personally, I don’t find Brad Pitt attractive— if he offered to date me I would…say yes in the hopes of getting half his money in our divorce and then redistributing his wealth BUT! I wouldn’t be like “Mmm yes you’re spicy I can’t wait.” Some people are great and we don’t want to date them.

On top of this, I STRONGLY believe that meeting a stranger for a couple drinks in a cocktail bar to talk about where you grew up and what your brother does for work will never (or virtually never) induce horniness. I think the setting is too artificial for sparks to ever fly, or for you to feel the buzz you feel when you talk to a crush. Going out and getting old fashioneds with someone you met on Bumble simply cannot emotionally compare to sitting next to the guy you’ve liked for 8 months in a meeting at work where neither of you say anything but he picks up your pen for you when you drop it. IT JUST CAN’T. Dates are set up to fail like that, which is fine for people who are simply looking to Get In A Relationship At All Costs. The lack of immediate spark also doesn’t bother some people like it bothers me (and, it seems, you). Some people like steady, calm things. I find that shit excruciatingly boring and a waste of my one wild and precious life (Kind of dramatic, Sophia). My point is: I don’t think you’re going to find amazing sparks on a first date 99% of the time, which means that if that’s your standard dating is kind of a waste for you.

That said, is there a possibility that you keep seeing him and feel more things in your heart + naughty bits for him? YES. There is a large possibility that if you simply hang out with this boy enough, you’ll become fond of him which will grow into horniess after precisely 5 months, 2 weeks and 4 days. (I almost included a little monologue from JLo’s dad in the movie The Wedding Planner about how he feel for his wife, but I feel most people would not recognize the reference). ANYWAY, there is certainly a chance that the way I personally go about dating—only hanging out with people I’m super excited about in my pussy, but also on paper—is not the way to do it and is a bunch of malarky. Most things I do are a bunch of malarky. But at least I’m not wasting my time and money and patience for trying to do eyeliner on people I’m “meh” about. You have to decide what you want more: fun times with guys that you like-like OR a boyfriend right now hurry up!! I’ll do anything!!! And that’s where your instinct comes back in.

*I’m pretty sure no one in America under the age of 68 says this phrase what am I doing???