Should you date someone you’re not sure you like?

What does it take to determine if you like someone? I mean, really like someone romantically, and not just tolerate a decent person.

Sometimes, we can get stuck dating people who are good for us on paper, easy to tolerate, and generally, not a bad time to hang out with. What might be missing is a clear, romantic spark. What does it mean when we’re compatible with someone? Putting aside the bigger stuff like life-goals and such, usually it means that we enjoy their company, like seeing them, and like communicating with them. I think that’s why it’s easy to date someone you don’t necessarily have a strong spark with. It’s hard to get rid of something that is good when great isn’t right there in front of us.

This brings us to the question of whether you should date someone if you’re not sure you like them. I think the simplest answer, without consideration of context or complexity, is No. I think that in most cases, you know within a few hours, a few days, and maybe even a few weeks if you like someone. Some people take a bit longer to warm up, but most people know fairly early on if they like someone.

Let’s say that you met someone, went on a couple dates with them, and still aren’t sure if you have a spark. Everything else between you two seems to point to chemistry, except an obvious romantic chemistry. I think in this case continuing to see someone at this point isn’t ideal, but it wouldn’t be wrong. In the early stages of dating, you’re still figuring out if you see potential with someone, so there’s nothing wrong with continuing to date at that point.

I think that the longer you date someone, it becomes less acceptable to still continue to see them if you have doubts or concerns about your romantic chemistry. Three months into dating someone and you’re still on the fence isn’t the best time to still not know if you have a spark, but it’s understandable. If you’re a year into dating someone and still on the fence, that’s a bad sign. I think that if someone tells you that they feel something genuine for you, whether it’s love or worded a different way, you have to consider their certainty and your own doubt to mean that it’s a bad sign.

I think that after 3 to 6 months of dating, if you don’t know or can’t tell if you have a romantic spark with someone, you probably never will. You’re likely holding on to someone who has everything you’re looking for except a spark. People tend to have a hard time leaving relationships that aren’t overtly bad, just unfulfilling. It’s easy to spot a bad relationship that needs to end, but it’s a lot harder to see a relationship that on the outside looks good, but should probably end. Unless you specifically come to an agreement with your partner that your relationship is one based on compatibility minus romantic chemistry, I think it’s unfair to stay with someone who you’re unsure if you like. They could be out there looking for someone who is both compatible with them and actually wholeheartedly likes them.

If you’re in a situation where you’re unsure about someone, you can either date them to see if something develops or, if you want to be considerate and kind, you can tell them how you feel. It might prematurely end things, which is a risk you take when you’re honest, but it could also lead to a pretty constructive dialogue. In my experience, it’s been 50/50 with the results. Once when I told someone I wasn’t sure if we had a spark, she ended things. Once when someone told me she wasn’t sure if we had a spark, I continued to see her and our communication actually got a lot better. Things eventually ended for different reasons, but that’s how dating goes.

So, if you’re dating someone and you’re unsure if you like them, whether you should end things really comes down to timing. It’s normal for people to still be unsure about someone in the early stages of dating, but at some point you should take your uncertainty as an answer.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.