Wanting What You Can’t Have

Psychology and marketing refer to it as “social proof.” Other people want what people think is popular. Those people like it or it worked for them, so logically I want it, it will work for me.

In dating, it’s called dating someone else’s boyfriend. Or pulling a Leann Rimes. (Ok, that’s my only snarky comment, I couldn’t help it)

How often do be see the married guy or the guy with a girlfriend next to him and we think he’s really hot. The fact that he’s taken does not cross your mind consciously, but on a sub conscious level, you want him a little bit more because he’s already taken.

This is the plague of the single girl! ” Apparently all I needed to get a date was another date!” declared Carrie Bradshaw after she got asked out randomly when she was already looking forward to a first date with someone else. She stole the words out of my mouth.

When you’re single, it can be hard to get that first date and get the ball rolling, but once you’re in a relationship it seems like the guys pop up from out of the woodwork!

Two years ago I was dating this guy that I was crazy about (at the time. In retrospect, I was a blind idiot). Things weren’t great that day, it just felt off. Nothing really in particular, I just had this sinking feeling. We were at his favorite bar, celebrating that he completed some big test for engineers. I excused myself from the party and walked to the back of the bar where the bathroom was. As I walked last I saw a gorgeous guy and I smiled politely. When I came out of the bathroom, he was waiting for me. He said “If that’s your boyfriend, he better be treating you right, because you’re gorgeous.”

I was flattered and thanked him! I was tempted to ask for his number, but I was in an exclusive relationship so I honored my commitment and walked away. Little did I know I would be single in a week.

Bah! And have I ever run into Mr. Sweet and Handsome since? NOPE.

I suppose the Pollyanna would say “At least you know guys like that exist!” But I say “It’s a bitch!”

Why does it take being in a relationship for a guy like that to approach me? I can tell you that men almost never approach me when I am out. The only thing different that I can think of is that I was out with my boyfriend and I appeared take and safe- he knew I would be rejecting him so he could speak freely.

Perhaps that is the key, no risk of rejection because you already know the result. I have an on again/off again fella. We get together when we’re both free, and a year ago he was texting me often. I was dating someone and when dating turned serious, my reliable fella was extremely upset. Not at me, at himself. He poured his heart out, and said the things I wish he would have said to me years before.

All because he knew he could say his true feelings and I wouldn’t expect any action to back it up.

There is nothing you can do to fake social proof in relationships. In marketing you can collect testimonials from customers and show pictures of clients. Tis tactic doesn’t really work in relationships. I think this is why many people will try to act like they are unavailable. Seem like you are hard to get and guys will want you more? People want what they can’t have.

For me, I like knowing the psychology behind why we do what we do. It gives insight into behavior, and I like being able to predict things. I like to understand.

But the concept and the behavior around wanting what you can’t have in relationships is still incredibly frustrating even after understanding all the science! Anybody have good stories or tips about wanting what you can’t have?

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2 thoughts on “Wanting What You Can’t Have

  1. I know some people who wanted what they can’t have but when what they wanted became “havable,” they decided that they didn’t want it any more. =(

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