A Dash of Bitter with the Sweet

I always thought of myself as a romantic person.  And by that I meant that I was a sucker for love, and love being in love, and would always put love first if given the chance.  And I guess that's still true.

But it also meant that I was waiting around for love to "strike."  I was raised on a diet of American pop culture, and so I've ingested more than a few romantic comedies, which all have the same basic formula: two attractive people meet, and they can't stand each other; their dislike grows the more they get to know each other until they are the chief antagonists in each other's lives; then, suddenly, they realize that they're, in fact, perfect for each other and have been madly in love from the very beginning; they didn't choose this love; love chose them.

And I just don't think it works that way. Outside of the movies, I mean. I still consider myself a pretty romantic guy.  I'm dating, and I guess I'm doing so in the hopes that I'll find love again. But I'm not expecting it to find me. I went on a few dates recently with a guy I was really starting to like. He was a bit on the shy side, and cute in a nerdy sort of way.  We went on three dates, and there was a lot of kissing and hand-holding going on, particularly on dates #2 and #3. And it was nice. But when I called him up for date #4, he needed to tell me something. Uh-oh.

He wanted me to know that while he thought I was a really nice guy and he found me attractive, he just wasn't feeling a "spark." He suspected that I wasn't really feeling a "spark" either, and - partly to avoid an even more awkward conversation, and partly because it was true - I confessed that no, I hadn't. There was no "spark" on my end, either.  The thing was, I wasn't really expecting a "spark" to occur.

I'm coming to the conclusion that you make your own "sparks" if you want them.  People feel "sparks" because they want to.  Those wanting to live in a romantic comedy often feel "sparks" around someone who's completely inappropriate for them, and they believe that they've been struck by Cupid's arrow because they want to believe that. But at some level, they made a choice.  This is why people who cheat describe themselves as victims, because clearly, love is something you can't control. And I'm about to call bullshit on that one, too.

I was sad when my shy, cute, nerdy guy basically told me that he wasn't interested in a fourth date, despite my being really good for him on paper (my words, not his). Not sad because the love of my life was casting me aside, just a little wistful because I thought he was a nice guy, not unattractive, and a good kisser to boot. The fact that I wasn't mentally picking out china patterns after only three dates was, to my mind, a sign of progress - not an indication that a "spark" would never occur just because it wasn't there after three evenings out. I was perfectly willing to feel a "spark" - when and if I was ready for it. And now, I won't get that chance.

I'm going out with someone tomorrow night.  It's something of a blind date; we found each other online.  But I liked the way he described himself, and his photos display a handsome man with a devilish smirk. And dimples.  Dimples are a plus.  I hope we find something to talk about. I hope he's as cute as his picture. I hope he likes me, too.  But I'm not hoping for a "spark." I simply trust that it will be there if I want it to be. I guess I'm not as romantic as I used to be. And that's okay, too.

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