I spend a lot of time thinking about dating & relationships. Maybe because it’s the one part of my life that consistently drives me up a f**kin’ wall, but I also just think it’s interesting. I mean, of course I find my own dating life interesting…it’d be pretty sad if I didn’t; But what’s interesting to me is that if you ask anyone how relationships should be or how they work or what you have to do to find love or even what love is…everyone has a different answer. That’s amazing & incredibly annoying. Sometimes I’d just like a solid answer, you know…other than, “You’ll know when you know.” Do you know how frustrating that is to someone who has never known?!

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Recently, I’ve been thinking about sparks, butterflies, & chemistry in relationships. I asked my Facebook friends if initial sparks are necessary or important or if they’ve found love to be this slow-growing appreciation for another person, no butterflies necessary. Their answers were all over the place. To paraphrase a few:

“Both…I need both.”

“You can’t learn chemistry.”

“Butterflies are liars.”

Slow growing love & appreciation 100%! I never in a million years thought I would get together with my now fiancé!”

“It’s a 1-2 punch. Butterflummoxes, followed by realizing butterflerbs don’t last.”

“Bonds of trust have to be maintained and renewed. Butterflies have to be perpetually chased.”

“There’s an intrigue and chemistry that initially draws you in that’s usually hard to describe. Love blossoms over time…Food & wine give me butterflies so I’m not a good source of information.”

 SAME. I’ve got the buttahfleas right now.

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In my relatively short life (hi, I’m 27), I’ve experienced a couple different kinds of relationships. There’s one in particular that stands out to me as, “THAT was it.” Not that he was “the one,” but there was that immediate, face-flushed, sweaty hands, heart-tried-to-jump-out-my-chest connection when we met. I had never experienced that before…in my long 19 years of living. As soon as we met, it was game on. We talked all that night, he asked my friend about me the next morning, got my number, & I found myself talking to him every few days for hours, never even realizing I was sitting in the floor of my closet and ignoring all my responsibilities until after we hung up.

Here’s a TMI story time! Earmuffs, Mom. Maybe the 5th time or so I ever saw this guy, we were making out & I had to stop. Something was on my tongue. No big deal, it was just the crazy urge to blurt out, “I LOVE YOU.”

Calm down, I didn’t. I refused to be the first to say it. So we just stared at each other…It was dark, so it wasn’t as awkward as it sounds…or maybe it was, I don’t know; But then he said, “Is it too soon to say what I’m thinking about saying?”

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GIIIIIRL, I WANTED TO DIE…like, what? We wanted to say the same thing at the same time? Get out of town! It was like a movie.

That relationship crashed & burned in a fiery blaze of young & dumb. Surprise, surprise. The chemistry in that relationship was undeniable though. I swore up & down in imaginary conversations I had in my head that his soul & my soul obviously had a past together & had just reconnected for a 21st century rendezvous. I tried really hard to rationalize being duped by a spark.

Cut to the Facebook feedback: “Butterflies are liars.” My immediate reaction to this was, “Liar is a harsh word,” but looking back at my experience and the relationship that gave me butterflies the most…maybe it’s true. I had butterflies that entire relationship, but at some point they shifted from the exciting, fun kind to the make-my-heart-drop-out-of-my-butt, make-me-sick-to-my-stomach, bracing-for-heartbreak kind. What I was mistaking for perpetual butterflies was anxiety, dependency, and lack of self-love. I was so blinded by the sparks in the beginning that I didn’t see the metamorphosis that had taken place. So, yeah, maybe butterflies lie a bit.

I’ve experienced that kind of initial connection maybe one or two other times…or should I say, there was one time where I saw a guy & thought, “Something’s going to happen here…” and something happened there. Now it’s gone. Then there was a guy I couldn’t look at without smiling or blushing, and I felt a connection that was like, butterflies mixed with familiarity and comfort…and a really strong urge to snuggle. And by snuggle I mean snuggle, get your mind out of the gutter…and save it for my next post. Teaser!

On the other hand, the best relationship I’ve had thus far was with a guy that did not give me butterflies. There was a connection, but not a spark. My mind thought, “Hey, this guy has all the things I would like in a long-term partner,” but at the same time my gut was wondering, “Where da buttahflies tho?” There was an understanding from the beginning that the relationship wasn’t serious or going to be long-term, so maybe that’s what made it so easy to just go with it & let a genuine love and appreciation grow. There was no pressure or expectation.

But that’s where I’m confused, guys. I’ve experienced both the spark and the grower-not-show-er love & obviously neither have worked out at this point. I’m still in this weird dating phase of my life and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for anymore. I’ve met & gone out with some really great guys, but other than the two perviously mentioned, none have set off any fireworks yet. Are sparks & chemistry really that few & far between? If it’s so rare, should I tell butterfly bae he’s butterfly bae? How do you know your sparks aren’t one sided? Do you just keep dating & doing your thing & just hope that something clicks at some point? How long is too long to see if it clicks?

I’m well aware that sparks don’t last forever, that butterflies can lie, and that love is a choice you make each & everyday; But there’s no feeling that compares to the rush of looking into the eyes of someone you feel an indescribable connection to and not being able to stop yourself from smiling and wondering if they feel the same. Because what if they don’t? Then maybe you’re just crazy, & that can be an exciting adventure too. But also, why wouldn’t you want that? Why wouldn’t you want a relationship with those crazy intense feelings in common? And why, when you know those feelings exist, would you settle for anything less?

This originally was going to be a super-long & heavy post thanks to some self-development audiobooks I’ve been listening to & some conclusions I’ve drawn about dating, but I was told to keep this light & serialize it. So, thanks for reading part one of my dating series, Sparks, Sex, and Self-Love.

Hmm…I wonder what the other posts will be about?

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Tell me about your experience & perspective on relationships and chemistry, butterflies, & love in the comments.

Also check out this girl totally getting butterflied by a fictional character.

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Totally smitten with his padded chest.