Ask Dave-New Guy, No Chemistry… Again!

One man has met a great new guy, but there’s no chemistry. Should he keep dating him or not?

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
Can a romance take off if that hot spark of attraction isn’t strong initially? That’s my dilemma right now. I have been dating for 10 years, and my longest relationship was a
The rules of attraction are not a case of one-size-fits-all.
year-and-a-half. I can’t say it’s been a rewarding track record. I’ve dated several guys where there were plenty of sparks, but the relationships fizzled fast. Now I’m looking for something lasting, so I’m trying to keep an open mind. Recently, I met a man I like a lot. He’s great; funny, smart, and handsome, but I don’t feel that intense attraction I’ve experienced with previous guys. We’ve only been on a few dates, but I’m wondering: Should I continue exploring this to see where it leads? He’s the first guy I’ve met in a long time who seems to want a relationship, too, but I am concerned that the spark won’t ever develop.
– Missing the Fireworks

Dear Fireworks,
Can a few dates without sparks ignite into a full-fledged relationship, with the essential combination of solid friendship and hot chemistry that we all want?

Yes, it can. It’s rare, but it does happen. The rules of attraction are, however, not a case of one-size-fits-all. Sparks can be instant and lasting, instant and temporary, gradual and lasting, and so on. All combinations are possible, including the sad fact that, despite your deepest wish, often the sparks won’t ever fly.

You can’t know what will happen in your case, but I’m glad you’re keeping an open mind. Great connections are rare, and you definitely don’t want to pass up potential just because it started out slow. Consider these five pointers as you debate the pros and cons of investing more time and energy into Mr. Question Mark.

Make sure your to decision to pursue comes from a healthy place.
Take a quick emotional pulse. Are you feeling overly needy or desperate? Are you experiencing unhealthy pressure to settle down, possibly from friends, family, or ads that show boundlessly happy couples living in 24/7 bliss? Are you in need of a self-esteem and confidence boost? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, take time to get yourself back on track before you start chasing someone new and evaluating possible mates.

Consider the downsides of letting an ambiguous relationship like yours drag on for too long.
The truth is that sometimes when you want a relationship so badly, the first reasonable candidate gets drafted. That’s not good for a couple of reasons: You both might miss out on others you’re better suited for, or end up feeling like you’ve compromised or settled. I am sure he’s great, but then again, we’re all great in theory. In practice, only a very few are great prospects for a relationship with you. That’s why dating is
Relationships must be more than two “great” people getting together.
called a numbers game. Relationships must be more than two “great” people getting together. There needs to be chemistry, shared values/lifestyle/goals, trust, and a growing and abiding friendship.

Also, you might be tired of the dating scene and looking for the easy way out. This could be a short-term solution, but a long-term problem if you end up in an unfulfilling relationship. At times like these, take a break from dating until, like the infamous Stella of fiction lore, you get your groove back, and get centered again. The dynamic you set at the start of a relationship is very hard to change. You don’t want yours to be “tired of searching, lonely, and lacks confidence seeks similar for lackluster LTR.”

If you are feeling good about yourself, then take a second look at your date.
If he’s as great as you say, and you find things attractive about him, by all means continue exploring. Sometimes, we rush in response to someone else’s timeline, not our own. This is a big mistake. Our fast-paced dating culture sends a message that you should know within a date or two if he’s Mr. Right. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the slow burn heats up.

If you’re worried that the odds are against you, think again.
Consider the millions of people whose fabulously “sparky” romances quickly fizzled into thin air. The odds are no worse for your situation. You know all too well that “starts fast, burns bright but dies out fast” romances are incredibly disappointing. They demonstrate what can happen when we either project too much onto someone new or invest too early and set ourselves up for a big fall.

Keep your sense of humor and maintain a light romantic touch when you are with him.
Early in dating, the worst thing you can do is get overly serious about the process. Pressure never ignited anything but your blood pressure. After a few more dates, if there’s no chemistry, consider moving on or transitioning into a friendship.

Bottom line: Maybe a slow and steady pace is better for you right now and will help you determine if this relationship stands a chance. Of course, your date has to be willing to proceed slowly, too. You don’t make decisions like this in a vacuum. Be prepared to have a discussion about pacing and interest levels. There’s nothing wrong with going slow—or being honest about the fact that time invested in getting to know a date doesn’t always lead to a relationship.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at
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