Spotting the Spark in a New Relationship: The Law of “Fuck Yes or No”

Spotting the Spark in a New Relationship: The Law of “Fuck Yes or No”
Deciphering modern romance.
The Law of Fuck Yes or No

So maybe you’ve had a few dates with a potential love interest. You’ve swapped stories, moaned about work, admired each other’s music taste. You’ve kissed each other, and maybe more. You’re basically getting on pretty well. But you’ve been here before with others in the past, and it hasn’t always worked out. So how do you know if there’s something there, if it’s worth sticking with them to see where it goes? How do you spot the spark?

Writer and self-help guru Mark Manson has proposed a pretty simple test for this: The Law of ‘Fuck Yes or No.’ In brief, you shouldn’t commit any time to someone unless they inspire you to say ‘Fuck Yes’ – and you’re inspiring them to say ‘Fuck Yes’ in return. You’ve both got to be outright enthusiastic about seeing each other – otherwise what’s the point?

Manson’s system is purposefully simplistic and straightforward, but I’ve never found a simple system I couldn’t needlessly over-complicate. So let’s break down exactly what feeling ‘Fuck Yes’ really means.

Physical Attraction

Wait, what? You don’t say! It sounds obvious – you should, in an ideal world, find your prospective partner physically attractive. But it isn’t always that simple, and guys in particular sometimes have a hard time, dragged down by unrealistic expectations and sky-high standards.

They don’t have to be the most beautiful creature you’ve ever laid eyes on, or be flawless, or even be better looking than your exes. In fact, especially as that pesky aging process goes on and your number of former partners gets bigger, it gets increasingly unlikely that each successive partner will be hotter than the last, and even less likely that the best looking will also be the one you have the strongest emotional connection with.

Being ‘Fuck Yes’ about the physical stuff doesn’t mean you can’t see any flaws – it means you don’t care about those flaws, that there’s enough other stuff about them that does turn you on that the imperfections just fall by the wayside.

Sure, long-term the physical attraction is less important than the mental and emotional stuff, and there’s no guarantee it’ll last, but you really want to have something here to get going with. Writing for an audience of male 20-somethings, I suspect you won’t take much convincing on this one anyway.

If you’re not excited and turned on by them in the beginning, something’s gone wrong.

How Guys Think Dating Should Work

No Awkward Silences

Right, that’s the easy stuff. Now it gets a bit trickier – we’ve got to start worrying about the mental connection, which is just a bit more complex.

One of the most important things to think about is just how easily conversation flows between the two of you. If you’re thinking about a potential long-term relationship here, that’s a lot of talking ahead of you – if you’re running out of stuff to say just a few dates in, you’ve gotta wonder how long you’re gonna be able to keep this up.

Now, I say this as someone who is positively awful at small talk and dreads talking to strangers. I am not good at this stuff. I get that sometimes you’re always going to struggle to find something witty to say or naturally segue to a new topic. I’ve had dates that have felt like there’s more silence than conversation, so I know it isn’t always easy. But with the right person, conversation should flow more freely. You should have enough in common, and enough to talk about, that things just naturally keep moving for the most part. If that’s not happening, if you’re having to force things through or the stuff that does come naturally for you isn’t connecting with them, that could be a pretty good sign that they just aren’t the right person for you.

There’s another level here if you’re definitely looking for a committed relationship – you need to know the two of you can handle uncomfortable conversations as well as fun ones. Does one of you shut down when things get heavy? Can you support each other? Listen to each other? Get through arguments without bearing a grudge?

You need that ‘Fuck Yes’ confidence for when the shit inevitably hits the fan – be that a pregnancy scare, health problems, job loss, or any number of other things – the two of you will be looking out for one another. If there’s any concern they won’t be able to handle it when things get heavy, or you for them, it’s a ‘Fuck No’.

Can’t Wait for Their Texts

In a way, this is an extension of the previous point – because you’re conversations shouldn’t just be limited to your dates themselves. If you’re getting along well, you should be texting/WhatsApping/IMing//emailing/iMessaging/some other dumb thing. The point is, you should be chatting – and about more than just scheduling your next meetup.

Now, just like before, that conversation should mostly come pretty easily – though instant messaging is admittedly always a bit more stilted as you lose eye contact, body language, and all that other useful stuff. But, more importantly, the conversation should also be exciting. You should look forward to their reply, you should check your phone every now and then to see if you missed a message, you should have that tiny frisson of worry every time you think it’s been a bit too long since they last said anything.

The same goes for your messages to them. You should be replying to them straight away – or at least thinking about it, mentally composing your response. If they go straight onto the mental back-burner, if you’re just thinking ‘Oh, it’s only her, I can reply later,’ then that is definitely not a ‘Fuck Yes’.

A bit ago I was chatting to two girls, after promising first dates with each of them. On a rational level, I couldn’t really figure out which one I preferred, which had more chance of going anywhere. But texting gave the subconscious game away: I was way more excited every time a text came through from one of them, rushing to read it, planning my reply, worrying about what best to say. With the other, I’d usually wait a while before reading a text if it came through while I was working, I’d rattle off a quick reply, and I wouldn’t think much of it if she took her time in responding.

Occasionally I even felt a pang of disappointment when my phone went off and I realized I had a message from her, and not the other girl. It was pretty clear who I was more excited about, even if I couldn’t have gotten to it just from analysing the two dates.

They Make You Excited

Remember how I said that I worried about what to say to the girl I was more excited about texting? It may not sound like it immediately, but that’s a good thing. If there’s a spark, a connection, you’ll naturally worry a bit about what you say, how you look, what they might think of you, whether they want to see you again – because you care about them, about them liking you, about them wanting to see you.

Most of those nerves kick in while you’re not even with them. It’s the umm-ing and ahh-ing about which shirt to wear, the momentary panic when you think you might have sprayed too much cologne, whether the restaurant you picked is up to snuff, that little nagging fear that you’re going to say some dumb thing at some point, because that’s what you do, and you’re going to ruin this whole thing.

It’s not just nerves either. If they’re a ‘Fuck Yes’, then you’ll always be looking forward to the next time you see each other. If something comes up last-minute and they have to cancel, you’ll be totally disappointed, scrambling to find a chance to re-schedule.

On the other hand, if you start planning what you can watch on Netflix instead of going out with them, it’s definitely not a ‘Fuck Yes’.

Fuck Yes or No

Walk Away Smiling

This is one of the simplest tests out there: do they make you smile?

Not when they crack a good joke (though hopefully then), or when they tell you they really like that shirt you were already regretting wearing (though then too would be good), but after all that, when you’ve gone your separate ways. When you have a parting kiss and walk in opposite directions, do you find a little grin sneaking onto your face whether you can help it or not?

What to Wear on a First Date

Landed that big date?

Look your best! Follow our easy guide for prepping and dressing for it.

That’s a good sign.

If you just shrug and move on, already thinking about work in the morning, or which episode of Better Call Saul you got up to last night, that’s a bit of a hint from your subconscious: there’s no real spark there. Bonus points if they also leave you grinning every time you read one of their texts, even if it’s pretty mundane stuff – you’re just happy they messaged, and you can’t help showing it.

Going further, are you excited to tell your friends about them? Do you find yourself showing off photos, telling them what you got up to, sharing that dumb joke they sent you last night? None of that is about looking for your friends’ approval – it’s about how excited they make you, and wanting to share that excitement with the people around you. That’s a ‘Fuck Yes’.

Fuck Yes or Who Knows?

So are they a ‘Fuck Yes’? You’re the only one who can answer that. Whether you’re looking for casual sex, a committed relationship, or something in between, you just need to figure out if the prospect of having that with them excites you, gets your heart racing, or even makes you nervous. If it doesn’t – especially after multiple meetings – what are you sticking around for?

A London-dwelling philosophy graduate with a penchant for films, gaming, and technology, with the occasional bit of tennis thrown in there.

  • Austin

    After the obviously attention grabbing title, I was pleasantly surprised as always to find some awesome content. Good work! Confirms a few things floating around in the back of my mind.

    • Andrew

      Thanks Austin! Happy you could relate to it. 🙂

  • Martin Calder

    I get what he is saying, and we are all adults here, but I don’t use that type of profanity, and it was surprising to see it in my emails…maybe not the best for me, either since I am married, so I will leave it to you other guys.

    • Adam

      Agreed about the profanity, it is a bit over the top.

    • Andrew

      Thanks for the comments guys. The decision to feature the Manson quote and without obscuring it like F#&k was discussed at length. Here, we felt the weight and emotional intensity behind “fuck” is the right word to convey the level of enthusiasm we’re trying to get across. I hope you can agree nowhere in the article was profanity used loosely or for entertainment, rather for eliciting a very specific feeling. In reality, the reaction you and Adam had with the profanity is the exact reason it was used: We’re suggesting when you start dating someone, your interest should be clear – “Fuck yes” I want to be in a relationship with this person. Using “Hell yes,” “Heck yes,” “Absolutely” or any other variation does not get across the level of intensity we’re discussing.

      Profanity is only profane when used maliciously, carelessly, or immaturely. Otherwise they’re useful tools for communicating just like all other words.

      Thanks again!

    • reggiereggie

      get over it ned flanders

      • Martin Calder

        Well, thanks for the comment. My point wasn’t that it was used, it was that it showed up on my emails, and when I opened Primer. Just because I made a comment about it, doesn’t mean, I haven’t used it, or that I am stopping you from seeing it or using it. We are gentleman right. So yea, it’s how I feel about my wife, but it’s not what I say to her.

    • ZBLIME

      Fuck is one of the best words we have IMO

  • TJ

    Great article. Especially as I enter my late 20s, I’m looking for a “fuck yes”. I think his logic can apply to a lot of things. We should see out a “fuck yes” from other parts of our life like our job.

    • Andrew

      Absolutely, I’ve started applying it to a lot of other areas as well!

  • Ryan

    I’ve read this site for over a year, and I have to say that the tone and title of this article was classless, and pretty far out of character for the site. Too bad, because the content was good. Come on Andrew, you’re better than this.

    • Andrew

      Ryan, please see my comment above. I appreciate the support!

    • Allen

      I absolutely agree. The high use of profanity in this article makes the piece sound immature and classless. It’s not a problem with it being offensive as much as it is showing that the writer wants to play fast and loose with more proper language that might only require a bit more creativity to convey the same points with the same effect. The writer fell back on strong but static wording rather than striving for strong and dynamic wording, which is much more effective.
      As Donald Miller wrote, “I’ve plenty of friends who use profanity or off-color jokes in their writing and they do so because they believe it will set them apart. I understand the temptation, but the reality is it has a downside. In the long run, people are looking for somebody they can trust. Getting a laugh or a gasp may make us feel powerful or influential, but that roller coaster high is most often followed by a dip.” High use of profanity runs a high risk of distracting readers from the point of the writing.

      • Allen

        *play fast and loose with his writing rather than use more proper language…

      • Andrew

        I’m quite surprised by the comments honestly, but apparently it has done just that for a couple of you.
        As I mentioned above, nothing was fast and loose and the words were being quoted from another person’s work. We thought his message was valuable for guys that find themselves in emotional limbo and I maintain our careful consideration for using the words maturely and as quotes.
        Not once did we say something like, “yeah! And if you’re just not feeling then fuck her and find someone better!” There was no cursing because of laziness: we felt the word “fuck” in terms of how confident a “yes” should be when asking ones self these questions is the best for both conveying that message and discussing something (spotting the spark) which is a banal topic written about at length online but ultimately leaves readers stuck in the same place they started. Is it a “fuck yes” when you ask yourself if you’re excited by this new person? If that doesn’t feel right when you ask then this person is not the right person.
        It’s a dead simple and fool proof method for deciphering the messy feelings we can have about a new partner.
        Because of this, “fuck” is the correct word to use. I do apologize if seeing it in an unfamiliar place was jarring or if its usage is offensive in some way. I believe in this article and I know it has been helpful to others from the emails I’ve gotten.

        • Kim B

          I think the wording was perfect from a writing standpoint. No other word would have worked! However, I agree that is was overused throughout the article, which made it loose its punch. So, I personally think you did a great article, used the correct word, but used it just a few times too many. Thanks.

  • Colin

    Great article and great title. I don’t see how some people can be offended by the word “fuck” in this context. It gets the point across perfectly. This site is for the 20-something man, and profanity is just an everyday thing for most of us. It’s nice to see a bold article like this every once in awhile. Thanks for the advice.

    • Andrew

      Thanks Colin! I appreciate it. 🙂

  • John D

    I, too, was turned off by the title and frequent use of the word “fuck”. After encountering the term six times before the end of the first paragraph, I lost interest and moved on. For me, it is less about the word itself and more about how out of place it feels on this site. I say fuck as much as the next guy, but there is a time and a place and this just doesn’t feel like the place. My two cents.

  • Diogo

    For the ones complaining over the use of fuck, the original idea (if I’m not mistaken) was written by Derek Sivers as “Hell yeah or no”. Honestly, the emotional intensity of a fuck yes is so much bigger. And hey, every gentleman needs a wake up slap in the face from time to time. That’s why Primer is amazing, they regularly remind you to be great! Awesome article guys!

    • Andrew

      Thanks so much for the support! 🙂

  • fluffstravels

    I actually disagree with a lot of this. I’ve had really meaningful relationships that have taken a while to develop. People I didn’t think were that important in the beginning (or even outright disliked) ended up being incredibly loyal and more meaningful in the future compared with the ‘fun’ ones. I think romance is a little double-edged. Those infatuations are a lot of fun and can lead to something more sustainable but doesn’t mean it will. My philosophy is have fun, throw expectations out the door, look for the shared important values (warmth, respect, kindness, level of ambition), and be open minded. Once you have a checklist, you’ll be dissatisfied and always look for the next person who doesn’t fit every single tick. Silences happen – especially among the introverted. Doesn’t mean they’re awkward. Physical attraction is important but keep in mind we all grow old, fat, and ugly. So again, have fun but keep an open mind.

    • Andrew

      I think these are really important ideas too, thanks for sharing!

  • Kyle

    I can’t believe guys are still offended by mere words. This site has always been helpful for me and I loved this article. I am just reaching 30 and am lucky enough to have found my soul mate so, for me, this article was just for entertainment. I read it because I know I’m “fuck yes” about this marriage and I was not disappointed. It contains very useful information for people who may not be as lucky to know if they’ve found “The one”.

    Keep up the good work, I did not find it offensive at all. Sometimes you need to curse to get your point across. I don’t even understand who could be offended by this. It wasn’t as though you were stating “fuck this fuck that etc…” It was just meant to reinforce a feeling. Great job on the site, I love it.

    • Andrew

      Thanks Kyle! I really appreciate that. 🙂

  • Greg B.

    If people are offended by the mere meaning or the misuse of the word ‘fuck’, no wonder these guys have trouble moving on in life.
    Loosen up guys, understand the context & where the writer is coming