Here’s the thing: I know I do not want to be with you. You drive me crazy, and not in the “ I can’t live without you, I am so in love with you I can’t breathe” way. You are the “I can’t believe you are such a liar, and I don’t know why I am still here” kind of crazy.
The reason I am still here is not because I am obsessed with you, but I am obsessed with your approval. This is not about you, this is not even about us, this is about me.
Now all of a sudden I do not feel good enough for someone who didn’t even deserve me in the first place. I am suffocating myself with insecurity just to feel wanted by someone I do not even like. I am making compromises and getting nothing back. Each time I get less and less, I want more and more.
Neuroscientists describe the power of pleasure in the brain as the rush of dopamine. The rush of dopamine is triggered back to people’s reward centers. The “unexpected reward” tends to give us the greatest rush, because we never know when this feeling is coming or leaving. The mystery of not knowing keeps us excited far longer than the safety of commitment. This is our brain, this is science, making us addicted to a toxic relationship. This “reward” we feel it is not about love, it is not about a relationship, it is about our egos. This love has become a competition, and we all are sinners to our vanity.
This is the reason why we have to play games, even when we don’t want to. We fear that being too easy, being honest about our feelings, being too generous or too nice, will make us less interesting. This will make us less mysterious, less sexy, less desirable. Once we are attainable, once you have caught us, there is nothing left to chase. We fear once the game is over, you will not have a reason to stay. It was all fun and games until we let our guard down, until we spoke our truth and realized we have nothing else to offer.
Wanting what you can’t have will always be a guilty pleasure. It is human nature—we cannot control it. But if that is all there is, if the challenge is the only high, then you have nothing worth staying for. Falling in love is not about games—it is the opposite of games, actually. It is loving someone enough to let go, embarrass yourself, and be vulnerable. It is about tearing down those walls that you so cautiously put up. It is about giving someone the chance to hurt you and hoping they will love you instead.
If your love is based on “wanting what you can’t have,” then it is just based on the game, and once it is over, the player leaves and moves on to the next challenge. There is nothing you can do. You can rack your brain and overthink every single step. You can go to the gym three times a day, you can buy every single new outfit, get a promotion at work, get a book deal, get into law school, land your dream job, and I promise you none of this will matter to him, because it was just the game.