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The Scientific Reason Why We Desire That One Person That We Can’t Have

If you’ve been single for some time, but have been open to dating and putting yourself out there, you’re pretty familiar with the case of wanting what we can’t have. While it’s true in childhood, social media (craving other people’s lives) and nutrition (we most often crave junk food when on a diet), it’s especially true when you desire a new partner.

But in this case it’s worse. It might lead to some harmful behavior such as overthinking, trying to get the attention of that person, living in denial (although it’s a lost cause, we insist on making it happen), leaving our other goals in life behind, appearing needy, and more. And that’s just because we want to be with someone who isn’t interested, and with whom it’s clearly not meant to be.

Not to worry, though. It’s not just you, and there’s a logical explanation for your behavior.

The Science Behind Wanting What You Can’t Have

It’s all about how the brain works. In particular, when somebody rejects us, we want them even more as it activates a certain neurological response in our brain. It then leads to signs of addictive behavior, craving the reward (which is a person, in this case) and being quite determined to have them any way we can.

This interesting study also suggests that the person we want but can’t have serves as a drug for the drug addict. What goes on in our brain, on a chemical level, is pretty much the same.

How to Use This to Our Advantage

Instead of trying to go against the law of the universe and how our brain works, let’s make the most of this. Now that you have the reason why you want someone you can’t have, and it’s backed by science, hopefully this will make it easier to let go.

The following conclusions can be made as a result of the study:

  • The person we crave isn’t always the right one for us.
  • The fact that the other person doesn’t show interest is a clear indication we should move on and look for something better. When the right fit is there, there will be mutual attraction and desire.
  • Any negative experience or emotion that is a result of being rejected is a waste of time and bad for your mental health. Remind yourself that it’s just chemicals in the brain, and that reality is quite different;
  • This is a liberating thought. Having an explanation about why it didn’t work out with the people you wanted in your past can help you ditch the regrets and clear your mind, so that when somebody special comes your way, you can welcome them into your life without being affected by previous attempts.
  • Desirability has little to do with real love, so don’t allow it to confuse you.

Most often, it’s not even about the person

If you want to dig deeper into the reason why you want the one person you can’t have, then keep this in mind: you were most probably addicted to the idea of that person, and not to the individual himself. Because if one of two people rejects the other one, there’s no real connection and no meaningful relationship is formed. Meaning, you never really knew that person and so you can’t truly desire them that much.

The longer you hold onto that vision of you two, the more power you give to such thoughts. That’s when it can lead to obsession and you can end up doing things that you’ll later regret, which could affect your life negatively.

Of course, there’s also the basic psychological reason behind anything. If you were once rejected by somebody for no clear reason (be it by one of the key figures in your childhood or a partner you had a relationship with for a long time, but who just changed completely), then you’re more likely to end up in the same situation. You attract what you fear, if you pay too much attention to it and fail to accept it and let go.

Whatever the reason, falling for the one person we can’t have never ends well. You deserve more. Try to look at things from a different perspective, raise your self-esteem, and go pursue your dreams. Eventually the right person will notice you and you won’t face rejection again.

About the Author:

Sarah Williams is a Berlin based author who specializes in dating advice for men. On Wingman Magazine she regularly publishes her thoughts about relationships and the underlying mechanisms that drive human interactions.


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