A few weeks ago, I met up with one of my close homegirls I hadn’t seen in a while. As a single, professional Black woman living in a large city with a dreadful dating scene, she often has more than her fair share of horror stories to dish with me. We’ve been having these discussions for years, and every time I ask her what the top quality she’s seeking in a man is, she’s routinely provides the same answer: sparks.
As far as she’s concerned, she doesn’t just want chemistry, she wants an almost- cellular addiction to the man she settles down with. She wants their fierce chemical attraction to continually persist throughout the course of the entire relationship, or she fears she will find herself losing interest. This made first dates difficult for her, because if she didn’t feel that spark right off the bat, dude was getting friend-zoned and she was gonna keep it moving.
When my friend used to tell me that when we were younger, I couldn’t co-sign her desires fast enough. But over the weekend I had a moment of clarity that made me question my unwavering support of her relationship worldview. My epiphany came after spending damn near the entire time binge-watching Season Two of Aziz Ansari’s brilliant Netflix series, Master of None. As a man who’s pretty much anti-rom-com or anything that feels like it, I must admit that one of the most compelling story lines of the season was the sexual-tension-laced-friendship between Dev (Ansari) and his Italian crush, Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi).
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD. Proceed at your own risk.
Although we never see the moment they first meet, you can tell that their connection was organic and far more piercing than either expected it to be. Although she was engaged throughout the course of their friendship, their bond was clearly undeniable. Both tried their damnedest to avoid developing feelings for one another. After Dev finally reveals that he wants to be more than friends and she pretty much shuts him down, he had a conversation with his best friend, Arnold (Eric Wareheim), that was harsh but offered an incredibly profound insight: “Your relationship probably wasn’t gonna be this magical fantasy that’s in your head. It’s probably gonna be a sh*t show.”
In that moment, so many thoughts of relationships past began to run through my head. As a former “spark addict,” not only did I vividly remember my own skewed expectations of what a healthy emotional median was for myself, but I also remembered the unfair burden I placed on women to live up to some unrealistic emotional median. To use “sparks” as the thing that undergirded my past relationships was flat-out stupid. Why? Because it came at the cost of ignoring practicality and the other benefits of a long-term relationship that are—in some ways—more substantive than an off-the-hook spark. In fact, maintaining the belief that women owed it to me to continually nurture such a connection was a downright selfish demand of inhuman perfection.
I am in no way saying that chemistry isn’t important. Nor am I advising anyone on how they should conduct their relationship. But for those people who may be like I once was and like my homegirl currently is—out here chasing sparks—maybe my own cognition can help you out in some way.
Sparks are awesome but, for me, they aren’t the main priority. I realize that by creating the expectation that my wife will always be in a mental, emotional and spiritual place to provide passion is far too laborious of a request. Life happens, things change, passion subsides and reignites, and if your bond isn’t reinforced by something firmer than sparks, your relationship may be in some serious danger.
Lincoln Anthony Blades is the lead anchor for the All Things Being Equal Network. He can be reached HERE on Twitter.
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