For anyone who’s ever seen a Disney movie, you know the basic formula: boy meets girl, girl swoons, boy blushes, boy and girl kiss, boy whisks girl off on his white horse into the sunset to live happily ever after. Or how about a rom com?  It’s basically the same story, but instead of a horse, there’s a Mustang convertible or a limo. How about The Bachelor or Married at First Sight? Is love at first sight a real thing? Pop culture would certainly have us think so.

According to an annual “Singles in America” survey of more than 5,000 singles ages 21 to 70-plus, 59 percent of men and 49 percent of women in 2014 said they believe in love at first sight, and 41 percent of men and 29 percent of women say they have experienced it. Then, of course, there are the stories. “We met on an airplane and just knew.” “I saw him from across the room, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to marry that guy.’”

How To Tell The Difference Between Fantasy And Reality

Now, I’m certainly no cynic. If anything, I’m the opposite. I run a business helping people use online dating sites to their best advantage. I don’t think I could do my job if I didn’t have a rosy outlook on love and dating.  It’s one thing to have a positive outlook and another to have unrealistic expectations, though.

For every “love at first sight” story, there are 10 “He looked cute but didn’t give me the time of day” or “I was so attracted to her but we had nothing in common” stories. We just don’t hear about those because they are a dime a dozen … and don’t make for good TV. Instead, we hear about the anomalies, the amazing meet-cutes and the happily ever afters. (I do, however, believe in “lust at first sight.”)

All too often, I hear from clients that they just didn’t feel that “spark” on a first date, so they decide that it’s not worth pursuing a second date, even if they had a nice time meeting the other person. Movies and TV would have us believe that “love at first sight” is the only way true love can start … and we believe it.

Spark-Less First Dates Can Lead To Something Real

Back in 2005, I went on a first date with someone I met at an adult kickball game. The first date was, well, boring. When the date came to a close, I thought to myself, “Nice enough guy, but I don’t think I’m into him.  Definitely no spark.”

The next day, I sent him a “thank you” email since he did pay, after all, and from that email, we actually started some pretty darn witty banter. Interesting, considering he wasn’t that funny IRL. And then he asked me out again. While I didn’t have a great time on the date, this guy seemed interested, I knew he could at least communicate in written form, and well, I was free the night he asked. I figured it couldn’t hurt “just to see.” Long story short: We dated for a year and a half. While it definitely wasn’t love, or even like, at first sight, there was more there than met the eye, and I’m glad I stayed long enough to see it.

So, enjoy your “Bridget Jones” and “Titanic,” your “Sleeping Beauty” and “Little Mermaid” (my personal favorite), but when it comes to dating, remember that you can’t take all your cues from pop culture. Whether you fall in love at first sight, at first kiss or at first fight, it doesn’t really matter. All that really matters is that you’re happy.

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