Relationship Connection: Why do people want what they don’t have in love?

Question

Why do people (men and women both) in relationships typically want what they don’t have, and when they have it they do not want it anymore? Is it the hunt? Is it the thrill of the kill? Is it the chase? Or, is that just a person who does not know what they really want? I know that some people have commitment issues and are runners when they get into relationships, but people fight so hard for something and then at the turn of a switch are willing to throw it all away. This makes no sense to me.

Answer

You’re right that it doesn’t make much sense when this happens. While there are probably as many reasons as there are situations, I’ve seen a few patterns over the years that might explain why people sabotage what they say they want. Even though there might be explanations, it still doesn’t make it any easier to suddenly lose a relationship.

First, I’ve observed that most of the relationship stories told in movies, songs, and books, overly focus on starting the relationship, but fail to model how to keep a relationship going. In other words, they show the easy part.

New relationships are full of excitement, novelty, and uncertainty. These qualities produce infatuation and passion, which are essential for the formation of a bond, but terrible substitutes for the long-term qualities of commitment, sacrifice, compassion, and understanding. Once the newness of the relationship wears off, many people seek out the next relationship thinking that intensity is the same as intimacy.

I realize that stories about long-term commitment and sacrifice don’t make very good Hollywood blockbusters. However, I think that only showing panicked lovers chasing departing taxis in the rain doesn’t give us a good sense of what real love and commitment looks like.

Some people have commitment issues because of previous relationship losses, such as betrayal, abuse, and other traumas. These are serious and real issues that prevent injured people from forming and maintaining new bonds. I once heard someone say that we can’t start a new relationship until we finish the old one. If you or someone you love has been deeply injured in a previous relationship, seek the help you need to heal those wounds so you don’t drag those fears into the next relationship.

Other reasons for inability to commit include addiction, selfishness, laziness, emotional dishonesty, and other relationship killers. As painful as it seems, if you’re dating someone and they suddenly disappear on you without explanation, see if you can re-engage them to talk about what happened. If they avoid the discussion, let them go. Commitment and fidelity is a two-way street and isn’t about one person doing all of the work. Healthy relationships are comprised of two people who are actively working to care for the comfort and well-being of the other person.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • Hatalii October 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    One word: Immaturity. A person who is never satisfied with what they have is just plain immature. Let that person go. In fact, run the opposite direction. They will suck the life out of you, emotionally and financially.

  • observation October 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Observation in St George is that kids get married right out of high school. They gots the physical hots for each other. They’s in lust for each other. After they pump out a few kids, he’s lustin’ for guns, trucks and/or some young thing with no kids. Whiles he’s off with his guns, trucks or that young thing, she’s gets lonely and likes the attention of other guys, specially those who tolerates her kids and willing to hear her drama. But after the divorce, he’s off chasin more young girls while she’s seekin someone to pay for her kids. Yup. That’s pretty much my observation of brokin relaitionships in St George.

    • Get Real October 31, 2013 at 6:44 am

      So are you saying this is something that is unique to this area? If that is what you are saying, then you must have never lived anywhere else! It is everywhere, not just here.

  • tom October 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    From personal experience, I would say it has a lot to do with not fully knowing who you truly are. When you can get other peoples (I.e..your parents) opinions and beliefs out of your heart and mind and figure out which ones are truly yours, you will figure out what it is you want and will finally be content with it.

  • Zeigler November 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    This is very true. Human nature is about being the best, we want the best cars, trucks, house, clothes, lives, everything, this is what makes us so selfish and cocky, even though we know where really nothing in an infinite Universe and also that every once in a while you’ll see someone way better than you standing out from the average joe, this makes people even more jealous of these attractive people, but why when you can’t change anything about that. No matter how jealous people are they really are nothing, they envy what they’ll never have and all they really do by being jealous is show to themselves that they’re inferior to those who they envy.

  • Zeigler November 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    People want to be the best, but we all know that they’re something way better us, there is always gonna be someone that will beat you in somehthing, you might be good in playing sports, but your not the best looking, you might be rich but you might be a terrible immoral person, you can win the Olympics for ruinning the fastest but I’m sure they’re still is people that nobody knows that can win fist place in the Olympics and beat the champions, very few are these people but still they exist. People that are jealous just want to show themselves even more how inferior they are to people that are better than them, really? what’s the point too just harm yourselves and feel sorry even more. People like this make up most of the world. The general public are a bunch of average joe’s in everything, looks, skills, intelligence, etc, but when they see someone of supermodel quality, someone standing out from them, they get angered and try to intimidate them with stares, I see it daily, why? because I’m one of those people that if I smile in public I see stares of envy just trying to intimdate me, hahaha, just because people have a crappy life, doesn’t make it my promblem or anyone else’s problem, ps people are dumb as sh**t and rather pathetic as dog piss.

  • Zeigler November 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I hate the general public, it’s not that man himself is evil nature, and just destroys things, it’s just the general typical man that does, this is why I love it when news comes out about natural disasters killing people, I mean, you got to start sometime about getting rid of the evilness in the world, and where is this evilness from, the general public. The only wothy humans in my opinion are the Elite and they’re descendants. I don’t really trust people, they always have a personality that they don’t like to show, an example would be my aunt, she is a very jealous person but tries not to show it, when my dad bought me an xbox 360, nitendo wii, i pod, new bed, etc she was talking to her husband, aka my uncle, too get her son all that stuff, aka my cousin, even though they rarely have enough money to spend on wants. She has this personality where she pretends to be a queen in her house but the difference is that she tries to tell me about her life and what she does as if the world revolves around her, sometimes I twitch, but I try not to and it might look like a facial expression of jealousy when she tells me about her life and what she does, but it’s actually a twitch of being angered because I know what she’s trying to do, which is to make me jealous.

  • Zeigler November 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    One time I was at the theaters with my brother and mom, and this girl who was with her boyfriend was checking me out, this gave me a panic attack, it’s crap like this that pisses me off, I caught her checking me out and she gave me signs to come and chase her, she was smiling and moving her hair towards me. She was staring at me for over a minute when I caught her staring, but it could have been much longer. When I caught her staring I simply glanced with no facial expression, a blanck face to show that I wasn’t interested. I guess this can relate to this post on why people want what they can’t have. Personally I think she stared and wanted me because of my strinking angular and sharp features, and my tallness, which is what boys and girls look for in partners, as sharp, narrow basically angular features are the most attractive features in the world, I’m probably sounding like a Nazi with this feature talk but it’s true, this is why Hitler always portrayed his aryans as the most perfect people on Earth.

  • Zeigler November 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Even though people know it’s wrong to be jealous and to want what they can’t have it basically comes down to how stubborn you are, most people are stubborn and will not change their beliefs is an example, a lot of people just want to live like that so they can have this taboo feeling of not being wanted and always feeling sorry for themselves, they exhibit qualities as if the world revolves around them, when every single person has his own destiny, does that really make sense? no it doesn’t. This physcology stuff is real simple for me, I just taught myself the obvious.

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