A Reader Stops Chasing the Blistering Inferno of Lust…And Finds Love!

couple hugging each other

Hi Evan,

  I don’t know if you actually have time to read all the emails you get, but I really hope you read this one. I found your site about 8 months ago or so when I was dating my ex.  I signed up for your blog and read the advice you dish with every email. There have been 2 lately that have really just cleared something up for me that nobody else seemed to understand.

I just needed someone to tell me that 1) that blistering inferno will burn you and fizzle out (I may be ad-libbing here) and 2) long term attraction and commitment is different than short term attractions and commitment and there is scientific data to support that.

  My ex and I broke up, it was a long, drug out, very emotional break up for the both of us.   I fell in love with this guy very quickly, and it crashed and burned.  So by the time we broke up, I was pretty much at peace with the idea of needing to move on, and felt pretty over him. I went back on Match, and dated several guys, and one stuck.   We are still dating today. We don’t have any of the issues my ex and I had, and the relationship is amazing, the guy is amazing.   Well, about 2 months into my new relationship (2 months after my ex and  I broke up) my ex came back. He wanted to get back together, and I was torn.

  My new boyfriend is amazing, he really is, but I don’t have that rush for him like I did with my ex. That was causing me sincere pause. I thought that if things were meant to be with my new guy my feelings would have been as strong for him as they were for my ex. Even though I know that things would never be long term with my ex  as I believe  they could be with my new boyfriend. This caused me quite a bit of pain.  I felt horrible, like I was going to hurt them both. I talked to so many people, and NOBODY could give me advice.   I had  condensed my agony into this little question that no-one could answer… do you go with the guy who is a 10 on the spark scale (more inferno-ish, more than a 10) and a 7 (on a good day) on the compatibility scale or the guy who is a 7 on the spark scale (attracted but not overwhelmingly so) but a 9.5 on the compatibility scale?   No-one could answer that!!

  I was so happy to get your email about the gal who met her boyfriend on line and really cares a good deal for him, but is not attracted to him, and then this email about brain chemistry. You answered my question!! Thank you!   I just needed someone to tell me that 1) that blistering inferno will burn you and fizzle out (I may be ad-libbing here) and 2) long term attraction and commitment is different than short term attractions and commitment and there is scientific data to support that.

  That they are not the same, and (this was the part that cleared it all up for me) “… if you spend your whole life chasing that “feeling”, you’re likely to end up in a series of short-term relationships that end in heartbreak.”

I was chasing that feeling.

Thank you. Now I just have to find a way  to tell my ex good-bye, for good (which is hard to do, especially when you want that feeling back!)   Any advice on that? 🙂

Thanks again,

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  1. 1

    I completely agree with opinions in this letter. However, like anything else YMMV and it can be taken too far.

    I came to think this after having become friends with someone whose marriage of 4 years is rapidly disintegrating.

    She married without passion, for the sake of being married, hoped they would grow into each other and they have pretty much gone in the opposite direction.

  2. 2

    Steve, you make a good point. It’s all about keeping things in balance. Balance allows you to still enjoy the feelings but not to the extent that one is ruled by them and good judgement flies out the window. I have experienced that rush and when it struck me what was really happening, it was kind of frightening in a way. I saw how easily it could’ve been to let it slip into obession and that scared me.

  3. 3

    Chasing the feeling. . . I should’ve had those 3 words tattooed onto my forehead a long time ago, so whenever I went to the mirror to primp or check myself out because I wanted to look hot for Mr. Towering Inferno, I’d have been faced with the truth about what I was actually doing. I recently found something I wrote way back when I was just out of high school and writing all kinds of deep, rebellious poetry: “Always choose passion and never accept less. Without it, I would die.” Oh, god bless my young, dumb pumpkin head. Sure, passion is important…nobody likes Mr. Milktoast or the overly-eager pleaser. But I finally figured out that it can be cultivated with someone as you gradually get to know each other… more like a slow burn instead of instantaneous combustion. Who knew? Live ‘n learn.

  4. 4
    Curly Girl

    It’s so odd to read sites, mags, books devoted to dating. Everyone talks as if they’re living in the future. Will it last, what makes it last, does the passion last, how do you get the passion back, what is the formula to make a relationship “work.” It’s like a relationship leading toward a forever marriage is the only legitimate relationship, and passionate flings mean nothing because they don’t last, the implication being that there is neurosis or immaturity or manipulation involved. Maybe we can have passionate, highly charged relationships, and we can also have stable, less-dramatic relationships, and neither is better or worse than the other. Anyone who’s been around for more than two decades has probably observed boring relationships that fell apart, passionate relationships that lasted. People come and go all throughout our lives, and it’s false to pretend that we can predict who will stay and who will go or when or why.

  5. 5

    and yet, “curlygirl”, you felt the need to post this on a DATING COACH’s blog …. because you have it all figured out, and you are in eternal bliss and have found everlasting happiness with that special someone and everything is going so well for you???

    think about it.

  6. 6


    Why the hostility toward curly girl? She didn’t imply that she had it all figured out. She was simply providing a perspective — one that I, and perhaps others, might find interesting. I think it makes sense to question whether the only worthwhile relationship is a forever marriage. Even short, hot passionate affairs can serve a purpose.

    Another way to think about it is that once upon a time, people were pretty much expected to stay at one job for basically 25-30 years — their entire career. Now, the average number of companies a person will work for is between 7 and 10. There is no longer a stigma in hopping from job to job and people certainly aren’t considered failures if they do. So, why not apply that thinking to relationships — relationships that don’t last forever don’t have to be considered failures. Every time you are in a relationship, you have the opportunity to learn about yourself and about men. No matter what you do — no matter how many dating/relationship books and blogs you read, you can’t guarantee that a relationship will last forever. You can moan and grown and call yourself a failure. Or, you can say the relationship met a need you had at the time, but now it’s time to move on. It all comes down to how you look at it. Why always focus only on the negative when there is benefit to reframing your thoughts and seeing the positives too? That’s the point that I took away from curly girl’s comment.

    For the record, Melissa. I am in a happy relationship and I still read this blog because I find the questions and answers interesting and I always learn something new that helps make me a better partner.

    1. 6.1

      Well said.

  7. 7

    For people who are perfectly happy to have a series of short, passionate, explosive relationships that’s good for them. They can have those rollercoaster rides and remember that they only last a short amount of time. Nobody’s saying that’s bad. But I’d venture to say that the majority of people are looking for one LONG relationship that will bring with it stability and happiness. That’s what most dating websites will be geared to (notwithstanding any “game” websites geared to a certain set of men).

    But I will ask this question. How likely do you think it is that you will continue to be able to attract a hot and passionate partner when you’re 50, 60, 70, or 80? Are you willing to spend all of those decades alone because you’d rather have a passion fest now? Because by the time you’re in that age range I suspect that most of the good ones are going to be gone. By the time someone’s in their 40s (at the latest, generally) they realize what’s important to them and they’ll snap up the remaining single/divorced folk that have got their act together and are willing to work at a relationship. So by the time you’re above that age range you will have very slim pickings if you want a good relationship with anyone, short- or long-term. Just a thought.

  8. 8

    M’s relationship may lack the sparks but I’m sure the sparks will fly over this issue, a classic.

    If I were the new guy and only scored 7 in sparks, I would leave unless I was really needy.
    By M’s own admission exguy pegs the meter at beyond 10 in sparks, in my experience, an extremely rare
    and beautiful event.
    I would go to great lengths to find a way to get such a relationship to function in a rational way.
    Unfortunately the compatibility is around 7 but we are not told what these issues are.
    I’m am going to venture a guess that these are not things like religion, politics,life outlook,drugs, physical abuse,
    dishonesty or alcoholism because we would be in the 1-4 region and we probably would not have this discussion.
    7 suggest relatively minor issues which could probably be improved to say a 9, if you took the time to communicate.

    So M could possibly with a little work have 10+ in attraction and 9 in compatibility, versus 7 and 9.5 for newguy.
    Kids are not mentioned so she is probably beyond childbearing age.I know Evan has been advocating for women
    (35-40) who want kids, to settle.
    That’s what it sounds like to me, settling.
    I would be surprised if this relationship lasts for very long.

    In contrast, ranking 10+ in sparks is a powerful encouragement for exguy to
    want to maintain the relationship.
    The adoration of a good woman can certainly put a spring in any mans step.

    Newguy will eventually sense he is a 7 and will sooner or later run into someone
    who makes him feel like a 10 and he will take the bait. If he has any self esteem he will of course
    already have left.
    Before he does he will see it in her eyes, he will feel it in the kiss.
    When M looks in newguy’s eyes she will remember the feeling from exguy.
    Every time she will be reminded that she resigned rather than trying through
    communication to get closer.
    Compatibility can be worked on. Sparks is another story.
    M also doesn’t mention if and what she tried to do, rather it seems she rather quickly sought solace
    in that candystore called Match.
    She will surely do that again when newguy’s accomodating demeanor gets stale.

    I think M missed an opportunity for real bliss. If we are going to take that compatibility
    issue strictly, why don’t we all get on eHarmony and get it over with?

    I’m holding out for the REAL thing

  9. 9


    The reality is that lots of “long term” relationships don’t bring stability and happiness — if they did, the divorce rate in this country wouldn’t be so high.

    The reality is that lots of people don’t actually want to work at relationship — if they did, the divorce rate in this country wouldn’t be so high.

    I am knocking you for wanting a long term, forever relationship? Absolutely not. At the same time, it would be great if people could actually consider that there doesn’t just have to be one model for what defines success when it comes to relationships. In today’s world, that old model is going to make lots of people feel like utter failures when they may not be failures at all.

    Finally I’m not so certain dating websites — other than eharmony — are totally geared to long term relationships. Dating sites are geared to just that — dating. For some people that means long term relationship and for others it means something else.

  10. 10
    Curly Girl

    Thanks, Kenley. That is what I meant. Also, I am pointing out the fact that most romantic relationships do NOT last forever. So what does “long-term” mean anymore? And why the panic that A-L expresses in his/her post to snap someone up before you get too old to “attract” someone–as if that mentality leads to a hot, passionate relationship into your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, which I very strongly doubt. And why is there the assumption that if you don’t choose to go the “snap someone up before you get too old” route that you don’t “have [your] act together? Maybe your “act” is to be really happy being single for some years, partnered for other years, etc. Because being single for a significant portion of our lives IS the reality for the majority of people. Think about THAT, Melissa. Are you going to discount the major portion of your life and certain relationships because you weren’t married during that time? This is what a lot of people do, including the OP here, and I was merely suggesting that opting for short-term passion isn’t pathological, as is so often suggested in current dating wisdom.

    And short-term passion IS a part of dating. Some people date for that reason alone, and not to get married.

    And yes, Melissa, I have found eternal bliss with that special someone, and that someone is me.

  11. 11

    Curly girls makes an important point; she’s found eternal bliss with herself. And until we realize that no person or thing can keep us happy all of the time then we will neither be happy with short term or long term affairs. Real happiness does not come from external things because once you get what you want then you want something else. I guess the serial, short term dating is fine for some if they need that constant high but I don’t find that to be a very satisfying way to live.

  12. 12

    I found myself nodding my head “yes” during A-L’s entire post (makes me wonder if she/he has taken Dating Coaching from Evan as well).

    curlygirl and kenley… sorry if I came across as curt; but as someone who has been literally transformed from dating coaching with Evan, I can’t help but be a little passionate about it.

    Have you ever seen when people quit smoking, and they are much less tolerant of smokers… even though they once were one? Because this change in me is so fresh, I guess it makes me a little dogmatic and passionate about what is being expressed here in this woman’s email and in other blogs about this subject.

    The whole chasing passion for passions sake… passing over so many guys that were well suited for me over the years to have flings with sexy bad boys. It’s as if the past two decades of mistakes I’ve been making have just become so clear, that I can’t help but be a little overly passionate about it.

    This sounds so silly… I’m just a happier, more peaceful person since I embraced this new way of thinking about dating and since Dating Coaching. I don’t go through my day with anxiety… I sometimes leave my cell phone off for an entire day as opposed to constantly checking for texts, messages, emails, etc. I have a devil-may-care attitude and light-heartedness toward dating, men and LIFE that I haven’t had since my teens or early 20’s; and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that men and options are suddenly abundant…. probably because I was always fixated on ONE sexy, passionate man who I was never REALLY happy with for any length of time.

    I’m a better mother to my daughter, I’m a better trainer to my clients, EVERYONE NOTICES I’M HAPPIER AND LESS STRESSED THAN I’VE EVER BEEN. I still just shake my head and giggle everyday that what I discovered and learned in Coaching has infiltrated into so many areas of my life.

    So forgive me if I’m a little overly passionate in my viewpoints, but sometimes you just want people to “feel” and “get” what you got. Sorry for rambling. 😉

  13. 13

    That happier, more peaceful, light-hearted, devil-may-care attitude can come from not only not chasing a particular sexy bad boy, but also from a sense of not having to have a man to feel complete. A point I got from Curlygirl’s post. Given your snippy response, I wouldn’t say you’re quite there yet.

    Neither are you apparently A-L, feeling as you do that you better snap up a “good one” before you’re 50 or …what? You will be alone in your later decades? Chemistry in your 20’s-30’s is no predictor of how content you will be with someone in your 50’s and beyond, but neither by the way is compatibility. Compatibility in your 30’s can translate to bored out of your gourd in your 50’s. Living like brother/sister in your later decades; or ending up alone anyway due to death. Or choice. Or because your partner decided they didn’t want to stay with you until “death do you part” after all.

    Understanding that it’s okay to be single, that such a state can be ENJOYED is freeing. And practical for women because even if you do happen to “snap up one of the good ones” by your 40’s, statistically, you are still more likely to be widowed sooner than men after 60.

    Odd comments for a dating website? Well, not all avid readers of this site are “desperately seeking someone”. Some of us are drawn by the writing and the sharing of different perspectives.

  14. 14

    I want to add another thought about “Relationships take work”: Good relationships do not take hard work. Bad relationships ARE hard work. Good relationships do take an amount of nurturing. If you doubt this, review your history of friendships. Haven’t some been better, more fulfilling, longer lasting than others? Why was that so?

    To me, it’s apparent the best relationships are those where you truly enjoy the other person’s company. And for a romantic relationship, passion AND compatibility are both components of that. If you only have the former? Recipe for a short term struggle. Only the latter? Might as well call it what it is: a friendship.

  15. 15

    Oh, so many things to respond to!

    RE: Pete’s sparkage vs compatibility

    Sparkage can grow, at least for women. When I first started dating my boyfriend, we were probably a 6-6.5 on the sparks scale (above average but not Fourth of July fireworks) and now I’d say it’s around 8 and still growing. For me, the longer I get to know someone (and who has lasted through the various weeding out stages), the more connected and excited I feel about them. And as far as compatibility goes, I’d say it’s a 9.5.

    But one of the key things for increasing a sparkage or compatibility rating is both communication and willingness to change. Because you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but if the person isn’t interested in making a change, nothing will ever happen.

    And some of those big factors that you mentioned like alcoholism, religion, politics, etc for many people don’t necessarily drop them down to a 4, they can still be higher. They may have an extremely charming personality and be lots of fun to go out with, which makes their rating skyrocket off the charts. But their alcoholism, different politics, and slight self-centeredness lowers them to a 6 or 7. They’re better than average, but still have some serious flaws. These are the types of issues I suspect that Evan (and the OP) are referring to.

    RE: LTRs, divorce, and happiness (Kenley & others)

    If you’re not happy by yourself then no long term relationship will make you truly happy either. If you only get into a LTR because you’re scared of what your future may look like, that doesn’t bode well either. And I’d much rather remain my happy, single self for the rest of my life than marry someone who doesn’t add to my happiness. I’m in total agreement with y all on this.

    Though there are some major flaws with how the most-touted 50% divorce rate is calculated, let’s just say you have a 50% chance of making it. If you had a 50% chance of winning the lottery, wouldn’t you play? Secondly, I think there are various factors that can be considered when looking for a match that will also significantly improve your odds.

    RE: Hot, passionate relationships

    I think most studies find that after a couple of years that the passionate high wears off for most couples. So no matter how high your initial sparkage is, it’s not going to last.

    And in terms of what I’ve found most divorced people miss from marriage (at least those in their 50s and above? The companionship with a person who gets you. Not the hot, passionate sex. But just someone to hold and be with.

    RE: Time to find a LTR
    But if you do want a life companion (and as I said in my previous post not everybody wants to) then you need to take a look at what your odds are for finding that excellent match, and see when your odds are best for finding them. As Evan pointed out in his settling thread, your chances of finding a darn good guy are better when you’re 30 than when you’re 40. And I’d say he’d continue with, they’re better at 40 than 50, better at 50 than 60, and so on.

    As Evan wrote, Are all the good ones taken? Not quite. But here’s a lot of what you’re going to get as a 40-year-old woman on Match.com: Commitmentphobes. Players. Financially unstable guys. Unattractive guys. Socially awkward guys. Much younger guys. Much older guys. Look in your in-box. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know

    So if you’re not interested in an LTR but just a short, passionate fling then hope to find one of the commitmentphobes/players that’s interested in someone your age (whatever that happens to be) as you continue to get older. Because like it or not, women’s dating value tends to decrease as they age. Sucky and unfair, yes, but still true nonetheless.

    So though it’s possible, it’s unlikely that a 65 year old woman is going to find herself a handsome, fit, financially stable, kind guy with similar interests to have a passion fest. Besides the fact that her hormones have probably drastically decreased her sex drive. So if you’re willing to take that chance you’ll continue to find these guys at 65, 75, 85, etc, then go on ahead. But if you think that you d want a partner who is kind, gets you, has similar interests, etc then you are probably going to want to find someone earlier on in life.

    And I’ve never had coaching from Evan, though I have read some of his books and read the column regularly.

  16. 16

    “So though it’s possible, it’s unlikely that a 65 year old woman is going to find herself a handsome, fit, financially stable, kind guy with similar interests to have a passion fest. Besides the fact that her hormones have probably drastically decreased her sex drive. So if you’re willing to take that chance you’ll continue to find these guys at 65, 75, 85, etc, then go on ahead.”

    What do you think YOU’RE going to end up with if you find your perfect “catch” in your 20’s/30’s dear? Assuming the two of you make it to old age anyway. You might decide he’s not such a great catch 10, 20 yrs. later. Or he might decide the same of you. Or he may leave you a widow. Or develop alzheimers and forget he’s married to you.

    You are still promoting the “Gotta Get a Man When You’re Young” (so you’ll have one later) idea .
    And you’re still missing the point: There are NO guarantees that who you choose as a partner, based on chemistry, compatibility or whatever else, is going to last a lifetime. Happily being a bonus.

    1. 16.1

      I got a man when I was 21.
      Now we are divorced and I don’t have aman any more.
      There are no guarantees.

  17. 17

    I’m promoting the idea that if you want a guy when you’re in your 70s, your chances of finding a good one are better when you’re in your 40s than if you wait until your 70s. I’m NOT saying that you need a man in your 60s, 70s, or later. I’m NOT saying that you’re not a good human being if you don’t have a mate. I’m NOT saying that it’s impossible to find a good guy when you’re both in your 70s. And I’m NOT saying that you have to marry him when you’re in your 20s. I’m just saying that the odds of you finding a good guy are better the younger you are (but once both of you are mature…I’m not talking about 21 year olds marrying here). But if you only want to have passionate relationships with men, or not have any at all, then that is TOTALLY fine.

    As far as what happens if I marry and he divorces me? Sucks for me. What happens if he becomes physically abusive ten years down the road? Sucks for me. I’ll then be a divorcee who may or may not be looking to remarry, but that has no impact on what I’m looking for now.

    When I bought a car I researched them and test drove them, looking for one that would last and be reliable. It’s always possible that I’ll get a lemon despite all of that. But with diligent work I hope to find a good, reliable car that will last a long time. If it turns out that’s not the case then I just shrug it off. I’m not going to buy the cool sports car with known bad reliability just on the off-chance that my well-researched vehicle won’t work out. Will that sports car look cool and feel cool for a while? Sure. Will it suck a big one when it’s costing me a fortune in repairs and I have to drive around some boring rental or do without while it’s in the shop? Yeah. Same thing with a guy.

  18. 19
    Curly Girl

    Men as cars. Men as handsome, fit, financially stable things to snag right now before the statistics catch up with us and all that’s left are the ugly, flabby, destitute weirdos in the discount bin at the back! You know, those same statistics that tell me that I am nothing without a man, gotta get a man, can’t do it without a man, can’t lead a passionate, full, happy, healthy life without a Y chromosome that belongs to me and me alone. And we women accuse me of objectifying us. Oi.

  19. 20
    Curly Girl

    Oh–forgot about men as lottery winnings. And if you are in the 50% that doesn’t get divorced, woo hoo! You’ve won the lottery! As if all marriages are good, and people only stay married because they love each other, and that being in that 50% is the social prize for being–what? Healthy or normal or whatever single people aren’t (supposedly). Except there is that pesky other 50%–that divorced part of the equation. Divorce isn’t as benign an experience as throwing away a worthless lottery ticket. Talk to people who have been through it–divorce is devestating emotionally, financially, and psychologically, not just to the parties involved, but to those around them.

    Summation: Marriage is a very risky undertaking. There are many incredible experiences and relationships that are available outside of marriage and that marriage would in fact inhibit. And thank god that we don’t HAVE to get married anymore.

    Dating, in fact, happens outside of marriage. I just wish that there were more information out there geared toward having positive dating relationships period, whether the “reason” one is dating is to find a life partner or to find something else. And I wish that we women weren’t always having the marriage-as-a-life-goal shoved down our throats and that it weren’t always assumed that this is what we are looking for.

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