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Love Lab


Wanting what we can’t have

Many of us have done it, a lot of us have fallen victim to it, and some of us have achieved it and then decided we don’t want it, but why is it that we always want what we can’t have?

Our imagination is constantly surpassing material reality. When we can’t have someone, we have nothing but our imagination to work with. What would a relationship be like with this person? More often than not, we will imagine the ideal response to this question; our imagined suitor will act as we want them to act, say what we want them to say, and do what we want them to do. As a result of this, we set exceptions of that person that are virtually impossible to fulfil. The reality of this situation is that these expectations are platonic and, more often than not, they cannot be realised in physical reality. This is perhaps a reason why we are let down when what we want turns out not be all that.

A lot of us have experienced or been a victim of a situation in which, for some reason or other, a relationship or fling has ended. Everything is going fine and you have finally got over your ex until, whether it be weeks or months later, you see them out with someone else. Despite months of not talking, you suddenly decide that you want them back after all. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have that little completive streak; it is a part of our human nature (‘survival of the fittest’ and all that). The truth is, sometimes we only want what is unavailable to us. Do we really want them back, or do we just want to know that we could have them back?

Whilst competitive instinct may have a part to play in wanting what you can’t have, there is certainly also some truth in the saying ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’. Sometimes, it takes seeing your ex with someone else to realise how valuable they actually are to you. When I say valuable here, I don’t mean in a monetary sense; I believe that everyone brings some sort of emotional value to each others’ lives, and that this value can be negative (sadness, anger) or positive (happiness). Unfortunately, it sometimes takes losing your partner in order to realise that they are actually worth keeping.

Of course, we can’t always categorise these things. The human mind is incredibly complex, and there are not always concrete answers when it comes to human psychology.  Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that some of the best relationships evolve from a spontaneous situation in which we don’t posses  expectations or a pre-existing past with our partners. Often, this sort of instantaneous attraction is a way of avoiding the ‘wanting what you can’t have’ complex altogether.


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