Where's the spark?
January 30, 2006 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I met a girl in December and have been seeing her for a couple of weeks. While I enjoy hanging out with her, it doesn't seem totally amazing like the beginning of some of my previous relationships. A few months ago I would have just ended this here but now I am not so sure.

You see, after my last relationship (which ended fairly recently) I swore that in the next one I wouldn't let myself get obsessive immediately, spending all my time and thoughts when the next new person comes along. So... I haven't. But while I'm less anxious than I have been in the past, and am not letting my thoughts be totally consumed by her, there also seems to be a missing spark for me. I don't look forward to making plans with her like I might otherwise, and seem more interested in the prospect of other women than I would have at this stage of a relationship in the past.

Am I just becoming more mature? More jaded? Or is this just not the right relationship for me? Would I be cheating myself out of a chance for happiness by not continuing this relationship? Or am I cheating myself by continuing with it? Is it possible to let yourself fall for someone without totally losing yourself? Or by holding myself back do I doom myself to further lukewarm attachments?

What should I do?

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posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Just last night (and many other nights) on Loveline, Dr. Drew was telling some girl that if she wanted a lasting relationship, she should go out with someone who she liked, but didn't feel crazy attracted to. His explanation was that usually the intense attraction/obsession feelings come from subconcious signals that the person will help you relive your early traumas (if you were abused, you're attracted to abusers; if you were abandoned, you're attracted to the emotionally distant). Makes sense to me.

The really intense relationships are usually really exciting because they're dramatic. Big highs and big lows. But a relationship that lives in that kind of chaos usually isn't very healthy and can't last. If things settle down, the excitement is gone, and the people will seek out that excitement with someone else. The lasting relationships are the kind where you don't find the need to shout/cry about how much you need/love the other person. You just find that you want to spend every day with the other person. Give taking it slow a try. You'll either find that you want to see her more and more, or less and less. That's what dating is supposed to be.
posted by team lowkey at 3:14 PM on January 30, 2006 [3 favorites]

If you're attracted to her and enjoy spending time with her, I'd let that be that. The fact that this bothers you somewhat may speak to other issues and perhaps you should reflect some on the broader picture.

I felt similarly troubled when I started up with the woman who will be my wife this coming June: good times, yes, but it didn't burn with that manic intensity that I'd had with the last girl I thought for sure was going to be "the one".

In retrospect, while Good Times, that crazy count-the-minutes stuff was somewhat blinding to larger issues. In a real way, that just doesn't last.

The fact that things are running at a more mellow rate may very well be a good thing. Long-term relationships are about more than sizzle, they're about buying toilet paper and stuff like that. That you have a more amicable, less intense relationship might actually bode well for something longer-term.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:16 PM on January 30, 2006

this question has come up before... and people always disagree about the answer. It's really a choice about what love means to you, what you really want out of a long term relationship, what is minimally necessary for your happiness and what is ideal, and what level of risk you're willing to engage in...
posted by mdn at 3:56 PM on January 30, 2006

If you've only been seeing her for a couple of weeks, give it more time. Maybe after a couple months you'll feel more strongly one way or the other.
posted by booknerd at 4:07 PM on January 30, 2006

"A few months ago I would have just ended this here"


"seem more interested in the prospect of other women than I would have at this stage of a relationship in the past"

you are just not that into her.

do yourself (and her) a favour and just move on.
posted by seawallrunner at 4:07 PM on January 30, 2006

yeah, relax. This situation sounds a lot easier to deal with.
posted by delmoi at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2006

I was in a similar situation a few weeks ago, and I let it fizzle out in a bad way. I regret that now I suppose, I think if I had the chance I'd put a bit more effort into it.

That said, it might be a case that you're not ready yet.
posted by rc55 at 4:54 PM on January 30, 2006

I don't look forward to making plans with her..., and seem more interested in the prospect of other women... Would I be cheating myself out of a chance for happiness by not continuing this relationship? Or am I cheating myself by continuing with it?

"Enjoying hanging out" with her could be a nice basis for friendship, but what you describe doesn't sound like love or even sexual attraction. To continue a relationship you have so enthusiasm for would be cheating you AND her out of the opportunity to find the real thing.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:50 PM on January 30, 2006

you are just not that into her

Funny you should mention. (written to women, but just as applicable -- and funny -- to any guy who needs help recognizing the signs)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:56 PM on January 30, 2006

seem more interested in the prospect of other women

Dude, you're a guy, you're always going to seem more interested in the prospect of other women. That cannot be a determining factor in anything relationship-based.

I agree with others that a couple of weeks is not nearly enough time to get really hooked on someone. You barely know her, after all. That spark you're "missing" is called infatuation. It is the teenager's version of romantic love. If you think infatuation is love, then when the infatuation burns out, you'll think your love has come to an end and give up rather than continuing on to the deeper, better part of the relationship.

Also, stop thinking in terms of "cheating yourself" out of things. Enjoy what you have, whatever it may be, and when you can't, review what you have learned and find something else. Dithering over what might be won't get you anywhere useful.
posted by kindall at 6:06 PM on January 30, 2006 [3 favorites]

Wow, this being anonymous, I almost wonder if I wrote it while I was sleeping...

I'm in a similar position, but I'm thinking that waiting things out and seeing what the real story is makes a lot of sense, especially since the girl in my case really likes me, and frankly, I really enjoy her. She's also coming out of being quite so shy, so I'm expecting more of that spark to form, which is exciting as well...

Thanks for asking, though. Saves me a question.
posted by disillusioned at 6:55 PM on January 30, 2006

Interestingly, I'm in the same situation. I can remember partners I was crazy nuts over. From day one, I wanted to spend every minute with them. I cannot possibly characterize any of those relationships as healthy, though.

So, I'm taking the not-going-nuts-over-her reaction on my part as a good sign. I suggest that, if nothing is actively wrong with the relationship, that you not leave it just because you can enjoy somebody without obsessing over them.

And the above advice about not "cheating yourself" is spot on. Seriously! Enjoy your relationship.
posted by Netzapper at 8:12 PM on January 30, 2006

what is life without passion! everyone needs some intensity!

seriously though, i think people should have the same expectations of relationships as they do of friendships. i have friends that no matter what they have to say (well, almost), when they call or when they drop by, i always have time to listen to them and go out with them, and i completely enjoy and look forward to it. i really want to hang out with them. and then i have friends that are pleasant to talk to and hang out with if i'm around/they're around, but i could very easily let them slip out of my life. you must know in your heart which kind of friend she is.

>>Would I be cheating myself out of a chance for happiness by not continuing this relationship? Or am I cheating myself by continuing with it?>>
why agonize about it anyway as if happiness was a one shot deal - choose now or lose it forever. unless there is some obstacle, usually the most natural things just happen inevitably, don't they?
posted by gt at 8:56 PM on January 30, 2006

I am probably not doing the nuances justice here, but take it from me: you're wasting your time. I've been down this road and lost at least 5 years of my life shoehorning sub-fantastic partners into my life rather than soldier on single. It's not worth it. You're confused. You're distracted. You're in doubt, not just of her, but I mean of yourself as well: you're INSIDE doubt. This is subtractive. It's hurtful to both of you in the end. It's a waste of time. And time, in these matters, is measured in years. If this engagement is keeping you from anything else, it needs to go.

If you know what it means to be more excited by a relationship, and it sounds like you do, then pursue that. Actively look for it. And know when to cut the string a few weeks in if it ain't all that.

Good luck. Much sympathy from me over your decision point.
posted by scarabic at 8:59 PM on January 30, 2006

If a couple of weeks means two weeks then, uh, you're still dating. This isn't really a relationship. There's no there there yet, amigo. Have you just swung from one extreme to another? Instead of becoming obsessive are you now being overly distant and unavailable? Give it more time. Take some time to really find out who she is. Who knows, she might be a great girl. Once you make the conscious effort and do the time, you might find your affection growing for her exponentially and you'll be glad you didn't give in to your initial doubts. If it helps, set a deadline for yourself. If your feelings for her haven grown by date X then break it off and do the single dance again.
posted by nixerman at 7:17 AM on January 31, 2006

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