The Chase! Can't he see how much I love him?
“If only the strength of the love that people feel when it is reciprocated could be as intense and obsessive as the love we feel when it is not, then marriages would be truly made in heaven.” Ben Elton
What do we mean when we say “I love you”? Who do we love? And why do we love someone who clearly has no love for us? Why is the chase so thrilling even when it is immensely painful?
We dress it up as love, but really we are infatuated with making them like us. We can control this by “doing something” to make them love us back. We don’t even take their feelings into consideration — we don’t know if they truly would want to be with us or if we would be good for them. We just assume…
It becomes a personal challenge in which we change who we are and try a variety of tactics just to win their attention and affection. It is a way of pretending to love someone without actually loving.
There is a certain type of person that is particularly vulnerable to this push/pull chase. People who never fully got the approval of their parents and developed and anxious attachment style are the most prone to fall in love with someone who is beyond their reach. It may seem perversely non intuitive, but think about it. If there is no chance of reciprocal love then there is no chance of real rejection. And the unrequited love by itself provides a good amount of dopamine to keep our brains excited and engaged throughout this “fictional romance”.
These same people have terrible trouble getting over a breakup and can pine after a lost love for several years. They attract and remain stuck in relationships that aren’t healthy or ones, victims to the high and extreme emotions that they feel when the object of their infatuation is around. By staying stuck in the relationship, they are reliving their past but hope that this time things will turn out different and they will be valued, accepted, wanted, and, most of all, loved.
I often speak to women who have been treated stupendously badly by their partners. Partners who have left them, are living with someone else, are being cold, mean and do not in any way resemble the person they originally fell in love with. Yet, they keep going back for more, calling them, driving by their new home, crying at their doorstep and truly not seeing a life without the person that rejected them. They become irrational and make decisions that they would normally steer away from, playing a game where they must win the person over to heal the pain from the past and gain validation. Interestingly, the person they are after, often does not have any of the qualities they ascribe to them and if they had a clear mind, they would never choose them for a partner. Even worse, they put their entire self-worth in the hands of this unworthy person.
“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.”
― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
This game has no winners. Wake up and realise that you are in love with a donkey’s head.