On this most American of all American holidays, as I prepare to enjoy the festivities of this beautiful Summer day, culminating in a grand display of fireworks lighting up the night sky over the bay late this evening, I can't help but think of the meaning of fireworks as it pertains to our love lives. Why is it that we refer to that initial feeling of love, those butterflies, that excitement, as fireworks? It’s probably because the explosive, beautiful, surprising, loud, scary exhilaration we feel when watching fireworks is the closest we can come to describing that feeling of early love that we all so long for.
You see, I used to think that if there weren't some instant fireworks, that instant chemistry between me and a guy, well then there just wasn't any reason to continue seeing him. What I didn't get back then, was that those incredible fireworks that made my heart all aflutter and gave me butterflies in my stomach was actually more about the initial surface attraction and infatuation than about any real intimate connection. It's more about our own insecurities and the elation of being chosen than it is about anything to do with real love.
When I think of some of the guys who I never gave a second chance to, much less a second date, because they didn't elicit those feelings in me, I realize that they might have very well been the ones who would have made the wonderful, caring husband that I truly wanted, as well as the wonderful, caring father to my future children. The irony is that the ones that were off the Richter scale for me in terms of fireworks, were the ones who were the least healthy, were the most into playing games, and were the fastest to fizzle out after that initial display quickly turned into the grand finale, after which we found ourselves with little in common.
Are early fireworks necessary?
The end result was always the same, with me holding onto nothing more than that initial feeling, hoping to somehow build a relationship around something with no real substance. Of course that never happened, and each experience only made me waste more time and energy on someone that wasn't right for me while I was missing out on a possible real relationship with someone who had so much more beneath the surface to offer me, only for the lack of initial fireworks.
What I realized in the end, looking back now on those days, was that what I really should have been looking for was a balance between the two. Enough attraction to make me interested (because we all know that there needs to be at least some level of he's kind of cute), but more of the real thing underneath all the hoopla that we often are programmed by the media and our fairy tales to believe love is all about.
All too often we think that if we don't have all that in the beginning, there's nothing there worth pursuing. But the exact opposite is true. There's nothing more exciting than discovering how attractive and how amazing a connection you can have based on the type of intimacy and attraction that comes from getting to know a real person who is into you as much as you're into them. A real person who is kind, caring, and connects with you on a deep level.
The problem is that we often don't get to the point where we can actually experience that kind of attraction and real love because we get so hung up on having that connection right off the bat. Think about what your girlfriends ask when you go out with a guy for the first time: Were there sparks? Did you feel it? We're so programmed to look at the surface parts of what we call love that we don't even realize that no relationship can ever be sustained over time with just those initial fireworks. Without the substance of a true solid foundation, those fireworks will be over as quickly as tonight's grand finale.
It's about so much more than that.
It's about so much more than initial fireworks. It's about the real thing underneath. The stuff that really matters at the end of the day. Because at the end of the day, what matters is how much he loves you, how much he cares about you, how much he's willing to participate in a marriage partnership with you where both of you share the responsibilities of running a home and possibly raising a family together. The stuff of real life with its messy moments as much as the fun times. That's real love.
And trust me, once you find that deep connection, the fireworks are better than you can imagine.