Dating Games: Why do we want those we can’t have?

Maybe it’s the chase that attracts us, maybe we aspire to be with someone we consider above us – or maybe we’re just gluttons for punishment.

By TAMAR CASPI
October 8, 2010 16:32
4 minute read.
Why do we want those we can't have?

Threesome 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Sometimes it seems we are intrinsically wired to be attracted to those who aren’t really or readily available – emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually. We want what we can’t have, a cliché that is unfortunately and routinely true. Maybe it’s the chase that attracts us; maybe we aspire to be with someone we consider above us; maybe we’re just gluttons for punishment.

Whatever the reason, it happens to everyone without fail at some point in their lives, whether it’s a romance, a job, a house or an outfit.

When Julie met Jason at a networking event, she thought he was cute and sweet – but her interest was piqued when she found out he had a long-distance, longterm girlfriend. It should have turned her off and sent her looking in another direction, but instead she hoped the distance would end their relationship.

And lo and behold, Jason broke up with said girlfriend and pursued Julie. She was incredibly flattered and believed he was what she wanted. She thought she had found her beshert.

Three months and dozens of excruciating circumstances later, Julie understood why Jason’s previous relationship had lasted so long: because the girl didn’t live near him! Jason wanted to be with Julie all the time, and couldn’t understand why she would ever want to be alone or hang out with her girlfriends, without him. Julie had thought she wanted Jason – but she had been more attracted to his previous unavailability than to Jason himself. Once he became accessible (not to mention clingy), he wasn’t so attractive anymore.

She felt guilty about breaking off with him since he had ended a long-term relationship to be with her, but decided she had given it all she could and was starting to resent him.

I was in a situation a few years ago where once I realized what I wanted, it was too late.



After meeting Greg on JDate, I would receive regular calls from him, accept dates with him weekly, or sometimes more often, and even got him to accompany me to a wedding.

He was present but not overly involved, and his slight aloofness kept me interested, although I admittedly let him do all the work.

I liked him enough, but wasn’t ready to commit. I was new on JDate and enjoying all the attention I was receiving.

But as soon as Greg’s phone calls waned and plans stopped being made, I of course became more interested, and started calling him. And that of course pushed him even further away. He knew I had taken advantage of him, and had moved on.

Suddenly I wanted Greg more than ever, and he was nowhere to be found. (In fact, he married the next girl he dated.) Had I realized what I had when it was mine to take, the outcome might have been much different.

HERE’S THE phenomenon explained in simple terms: If you give your phone number out to two people in one night and Cutie No. 1 calls the next day, chances are you’re going to be left wondering more about Cutie No. 2. He is suddenly more appealing and more attractive; you start building him up to mythical proportions.

If Cutie No. 2 does finally call, you’re going to have a major letdown. And if he never does call, he (or she) will always and forever be levitated to an impenetrable perfection.

This cycle is hard to break until you’re really ready to meet someone and stop going after those who aren’t available.

Labeling someone “unattainable” doesn’t have to be a dent in your self-confidence.

It doesn’t mean he or she is out of your league, or that you aren’t good-looking enough or smart enough, or whatever it is you may have insecurities about. Rather you’re simply saying that it’s not a realistic endeavor and should be chalked up as such sooner rather than later.

It’s not that we shouldn’t go after the unattainable; but sometimes a challenge is just that, and nothing more. A guy with a girlfriend is a guy with a girlfriend. His allure is simply that he is everything you think you’re looking for – except he’s not single. Thus he’s not everything you’re looking for anymore. Make sense? When “it” works, it will be because both parties are ready and willing to meet someone.

Once you realize you are purposely going after what you know you can’t have – and stop doing it – you’ll start to look at your possibilities differently. People you would never have previously looked at because they were “too available” will suddenly start to be attractive because they’re searching for the same thing as you are: a relationship. These are the people you need to go after.

Remember – you’re available and you want someone who is also available, so you can become unavailable together.

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