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Rule # 5: The WOW factor.

June 1, 2013

Rule # 5: The “Wow Factor”

Every once in a while you meet a special someone who just makes you say: “WOW”.  It happens when that perfect mix of physical attraction meets shared interests and personality.  It happens when you meet a person and can’t help but think about them all day long.  It happens when just thinking about them, brings a big smile to your face.  It happens when every conversation leaves you anticipating the next one.  You look forward to spending time with this person.  You get excited when you receive an e-mail from them.  Every time you hear your text alert, you hope it’s from them.  I call this:  “The Wow factor”.

I have thought about this Wow Factor a lot when it comes to dating and have often wondered if a date is worth pursuing if it is not there.  I know some people who seem to experience the wow factor with every single person they meet, but in my case, I could easily count the number of times it has happened, because it is a rare thing.  As someone who is tired of relationships that don’t last, I say if the wow factor is not present, the relationship should not be pursued.  I would not want to be in a relationship with a girl who is not wowed by me, and I think every girl dreams of having a guy who is wowed by them.  It is absolutely necessary.  When you both have the wow factor, the relationship is easy.  You don’t care about things like timing and distance.  You don’t care that the other person has weird quirks.  You don’t care about past mistakes and baggage.  Those types of things are merely obstacles, not showstoppers.  All you know is that there is a great person right in front of you and that is the person you want to be with.  You could be 2,000 miles apart, or right next door.  You might be way too busy with your career, but you make time.  You may be tired, but rest becomes overrated.  Mistakes may be made, but you easily forgive and forget.  You may see yourself as not deserving, so you make a choice to be more deserving.  That is what the Wow Factor does.  And when two people are Wowed by each other, they make the sacrifices necessary so it will last.

The Wow Factor is basically an enormous attraction to another individual, but that is not to be confused with solely physical appearance attraction.  We live in a society that daily tells us we need to look beautiful if we ever want love.  We compare ourselves to movie stars and models with perfect features and it reminds us of our own imperfections.  We spend a great deal of time and money to make ourselves look better, because we want other people to look at us and say “WOW”.  But physical appearance is only part of the equation and things like a good personality, kindness, laughter, shared interests, and character also play into the equation that will someday lead a person to look at you and be amazed with all they see.

When we are wowed by another person, we so much want them to feel the same way about us.  So, we look to various rules about how to approach a relationship so we don’t scare them off too soon, while making ourselves more attractive.  We try to disguise just how much we really like the other person by intentionally waiting to respond to phone calls and texts, acting disinterested, or acting like we need to fit them into our schedule.  We make rules about conversation topics, rules about what to wear, rules about where to go, rules about physical contact, etc.  It’s a big game we play as we try and show some interest, without showing just how interested we really are.  We don’t want to be too vulnerable because it might scare them off.  Plus we all have a need to protect our own hearts.  But what if it never happens?  What if the wow factor never comes for them?

There are two complications I see when it comes to the Wow Factor:  1) Everyone is attracted to something different and what makes one person go “wow” will probably be different than what makes the next person go “wow”. Thus your attempt to be more attractive in one area may or may not be what the next person you meet will find attractive.   2) The Wow Factor is far too often one sided; one person has it and the other person does not.  We all know how this story goes.  The person who has it is really into the relationship, while the other person gets freaked out.  Soon enough, the person who is wowed ends up with a broken heart.  Once again, this is why we make and follow rules.  We don’t want to be wowed, or at least let it be known, if the other person is not mutually wowed by us.

Here is the thing, some people will make it really easy to tell that they are wowed by you; others will try and hide it.  If the other person does nothing to show they are wowed by you, it could mean that they truly are not into you.  It could also mean they are afraid to be into you, they don’t know how to show it, or, for one reason or another, it could mean they are in a place in life where they simply cannot be into you.  There usually is no easy way to tell.  Just to complicate it further, people also feel a need to protect their hearts and thus how much they show will often be dependent on the feedback they are receiving in return.  I do believe that when a person is wowed, they will make attempts (usually subtle) to make it known.  I also believe that when a person is not wowed, they will make attempts to create separation.  The realization that a person may not be interested is disappointing and discouraging, but should not be interpreted as “try harder”.  In those moments, I do not believe the right answer is to hold on tighter as this is what our instincts may tell us to do.  If you do that, you will come across as desperate and push them away altogether.  Instead, I believe a better approach is to take a step back.  At that point, if they are wowed, they will come after you. Otherwise, they will let you go.  It stinks when they let you go and it makes you feel like you are unattractive or defective, but it’s time you let them go too and move on.  They are not wowed by you and do you really want to be with someone who isn’t?  I don’t.   The reality is that the wow factor is not predictable and sometimes it is there and sometimes it is not.  It cannot be forced and it needs to come naturally.

In an ice cream conversation I had with some friends recently, we talked about this very thing and someone asked the question: “does that mean we should not get excited about our dates and let them know we are excited?” I loved the answer someone else in the group gave.  I don’t recall the exact words, but it went something like “No, get excited and freak them out, because eventually you will meet someone who is just as excited about you.”  There is definitely some truth to this statement.  If you always hide your excitement, don’t expect the other person to show much excitement towards you.  At some point you will need to be vulnerable and make it known you are wowed, and I don’t buy any rules that say it is the man’s or woman’s responsibility to initiate this.  I do not think this means you have to go out and shout to the world that you are in love, but it might involve at least subtle attempts to show how much you care (compliments, going out of your way to see them, doing something special for them, etc).  I will add, however, that being vulnerable still requires wisdom and common sense.  For example, there is such a thing as too soon (like saying “I love you” within the first couple dates); there is also such a thing as poor timing (like showing up unexpectedly at their place when you know they are busy); and there is such a thing as a person being off limits (such as when the person is not single).  In those moments, you may be wowed, but perhaps keep it to yourself and/or wait for a better time.

I want to close this blog by saying a few last things about “the wow factor” (I actually have a lot more to say on this topic, and perhaps there will be a part two, but this is already getting too long so that will have to wait for another day).  While I honestly believe that a relationship should not be pursued if the wow factor is not present, I do not believe that a relationship should be pursued just because the wow factor is there.  The wow factor is just one piece of what makes a relationship work.  A friend of mine already wrote an awesome blog on some other key relationship elements (check it out: Does Your Heart Feel Safe?), so I won’t go into that in this blog, but it is worth pointing out that there is more to a relationship than just being wowed by each other.

Finally, my experience with relationships is that the wow factor tends to be really strong when a couple first starts dating, but then starts to fade with time.   Thus, if there is no “wow” when you enter the relationship, what is it going to fade to?   I see couples all the time who learn how to continually rekindle their wow for each other, and that is what makes great relationships last, but I question whether the wow factor can come in time if it is not there to begin with.  I know of pre-arranged marriages that have lasted a lifetime and perhaps that is proof enough that the wow can indeed come in time.  I also believe that love is a choice, and not a feeling, and thus people can make the choice to love another even if they are not wowed.  But, after being married and being in several dating relationships, I find that I would rather be single than be in another relationship where we are not wowed by each other.  Relationships are hard enough as it is, and I feel like it is too easy to just walk away unless you have something more holding you together, such as a wow factor.

Until next time, Peace Out.

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