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.
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.
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’.
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?
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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?