It’s a tale as old as time: you fall for a someone, that person doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, but you continue to pine for them all the same. Maybe he’s way out of your league, already taken, or just doesn’t feel the same way you do. Whatever the reason, rejection doesn’t make you want him any less.
But what is it exactly that makes us desperately want the person who is just out of reach?
#1. We enjoy the thrill of the chase.
Nothing worth having ever comes easy. People like challenges, and love winning even more. To the human mind, something that is too easy to obtain is perceived as less valuable than something one has to work hard for.
The same is true with people: just the smallest reaction from someone whose attention we’ve been trying to get feels like being awarded a trophy. Even a declaration of love from someone else will never measure up.
#2. We have a fear of commitment.
Sometimes, we put so much importance in the value of a certain thing, that we live in constant fear of the day that we finally get it. Some people refuse marriage for this exact reason. The fear stems from our sense of inadequacy, and the prospect of ruining the “dream”. Many relationships fail because someone’s idea of the person far outweighs the reality of that person.
#3. We need to feed our vanity.
We’re not talking about the kind of vanity that pushes people to take 500 selfies or check their reflection every 2 minutes. This is the type that is connected to our sense of self-worth, and influences the way we see ourselves.
By nature, we are vain creatures: we like to feel special, attractive, and important. The fact is, when we fall for someone who is “unattainable” and our affections are not reciprocated, we begin to question our desirability.
Questions like, “Am I not worthy of that person?” or “What’s wrong with me?” constantly hound our waking life. One way that our mind can repair this blow to our vanity is to continue the pursuit of the unattainable thing in the hopes that consistency and sheer will might change the narrative of the story.
#4. We have insecurities.
It’s like the “vanity principle” except it’s way worse. Sometimes, we become so engulfed by our self-doubt and self-loathing that we forget one important thing: we deserve to be loved.
Some people are so used to doubting their own self-worth that the only way they can counter that is to get something others have previously tried and failed to achieve.
#5. It’s simple: consider the law of supply and demand.
You’re probably wondering what economics has to do with emotions. Lots, actually. In social psychology, it’s referred to as the “scarcity principle”. We tend to want things when they are scarce — that explains why “limited edition” items are always so popular and priced higher than regular items.
Basically, it’s human nature to perceive something that we can’t have as more valuable. Even when there’s a more “convenient” alternative, most of us would still go for the “unavailable” choice.
From this perspective, it’s not hard to understand why we feel that someone who is harder to get is automatically deemed the more attractive one.