On Spark Theory — Ex Edition

I want a girl who will laugh for no one else
When I’m away she puts her makeup on the shelf
When I’m away she never leaves the house
I want a girl who laughs for no one else

– “No One Else” by Weezer

“The Spark” and “connection” are two of the most common terms used when discussing dating and relationships. [They also remind me of this terrible early episode of Angel — Joss had no script credit and the music is especially offensive].  I’ve even had someone cite a lack of The Spark to break up with me when we weren’t actually dating.  More recently, after several schwarzbiers at a very Williamsburg beer hall, I got into a discussion about the great and powerful Spark with my ex and a mutual friend couple.  My ex and the wife contended a relationship without The Spark or enough Spark is doomed [DOOMED!].  I’m not much of a romantic, so I don’t think fireworks/flames/flowers are enough to sustain a relationship long-term, and that an initial flush of some combination of lust, hormones, loneliness, boredom and desperation can often only take a relationship so far.

After a couple days’ reflection, I asked my ex to elaborate more soberly on his stance, and he used examples from his past and current relationships.

My ex’s cited reason for our break-up was not enough of The Spark or a Deep Personal Connection [“DPC”], which he defined as “a deep and lasting excitement and joy in another person.”  He also found that having a DPC with someone “creates its own motivation to meet the other person’s needs”.  So his incentive to be supportive, considerate or to go out of his way to make someone else happy stems from The Spark, which makes these actions second nature [while most people don’t require an incentive to show their love, respect or support, and might just consider that being a good friend and/or decent human being].  One of his requirements for a DPC is silliness, but a specific Pythonian type of silliness or “absurdity” [that I don’t meet and find to be rather immature attention-seeking behavior, though I have an abiding love, respect and admiration for Monty Python itself].  Another is engaging in philosophical musings [or masturbation, depending on how you look at it] aloud and at length.  He also says his current relationship, which began a month or so after our break-up, is the most mature of any of his previous relationships, which maturity he defines as fully being who they are and appreciating and supporting each other due to the joy, and nothing to do with the age or relative maturity of the parties involved.

Our own rebound-turned-relationship began 3 months after the end of his previous relationship of 5 years, and fizzled out 6 years later.  By his own admission, his ex was prone to being needy, emotional and unstable, while I was stable, rational and independent.  These are qualities of mine he appreciated on some level, presumably compared to his ex, but they accompanied other traits like being more risk-averse and less spontaneous, of which he was less fond.  The relationship with his ex contrasted greatly with his and mine, which he has described as a “low simmer” as opposed to “flames and crazy shit.”

The emergence of The Spark is unexpected and exhilarating and has led me to exercise some extremely poor judgment of the cheaty variety.  It’s either there or not, and is not to be denied no matter the propriety, ethics, age or general ick factor.  If work or effort is required, though, that detracts from the heretofore effortless Spark, so it just wasn’t meant to be.  Between the roughly 3 pieces of information available to me about my ex’s current girlfriend and his relationship history, I can infer a number of other character traits she likely has that he would use to emphasize The Spark, and that are at least partly in reaction to his and my relationship, which in turn was in reaction to his previous relationship [so he’s not quite gone full circle, but very likely closer to the dramatic, exciting and unpredictable than our “low simmer”].  Given the premium placed on these character traits, it would be very easy to conflate or imbue them with meaning and then project a lasting relationship of flames and joy.  People have a remarkable capacity for convincing themselves of almost anything [see also: politics, religion].  Once born, is The Spark/DPC sustained through sheer force of happenstance or perhaps astrological compatibility?

In retrospect, my ex and I can agree our relationship was not stimulating for either of us.  But we experienced joy and excitement in each other’s company during at least the first couple years, enough to continue dating for another few years.  So how does he know what he has now is The Spark, and that he will not, in retrospect, view it as not enough and then believe that his next relationship really has THE SPARK?

His reason for wanting to break up was that I was missing certain traits and creative inclinations in his eyes, hence his emphasis on DPC.  Meanwhile, my reason was a lack of mutual respect and the ability to relate to each other as adults, which I view as crucial to forming a strong partnership, much more than personality quirks or even common interests and pastimes.

Can Sparkists only be in relationships with doormats who do all the work, martyred for the belief that they should be thankful their Sparkist partners have deigned to be with them and not the other way around?  Or can two Sparkists make it work?  Who would do the heavy lifting?

Next up: On Spark Theory — Arranged Marriage Edition!

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