You’ve got two dates lined up this week. Both are with equally handsome, accomplished, interesting men.
Bachelor #1 is the perfect gentleman. Your two hours together fly by. He asks for your number and promises to call.
Bachelor #2 is inconsistent. He acts interested in you one minute, then looks at his phone the next. After an hour, he tells you he has enjoyed getting to know you, but he has to leave. He looks deeply into your eyes and seems to be soaking you in for a few seconds. Then he hands you his phone and asks you to enter your contact details.
By the end of the week, you find yourself thinking about one of the men constantly. You keep wondering if he’s going to call.
Which man is it?
Bachelor #1 or #2?
Hold that thought. See what you think of my next question before I tell you the answer.
In the end, both men called you and arranged subsequent dates. Bachelor #1 showed up on time, and you had another wonderful evening together. Bachelor #2 ended up canceling on you but made up for it by taking you on a surprise date to a mysterious destination. You were amazed to find yourself flying on a hot air balloon over the countryside.
Now, which man is in your thoughts the most?
Steady, stable Bachelor #1…
Or unpredictable, exciting Bachelor #2?
You don’t have to be the kind of woman who likes bad boys to get swept up by one.
Unpredictability is exciting. It exerts a powerful pull. Not knowing the answer to the question, “Does he love me? Does he love me not?” keeps him on your mind.
You already know what Bachelor #1 is going to do. He’s going to call you when he says he will. He’s going to show up on time. But you don’t know what Bachelor #2 is going to do. He’s sending you mixed signals. Counterintuitively, that makes him more attractive.
Dr. Helen Fisher calls this “frustration attraction.” Inconsistent rewards ramp up interest, whereas predictability kills it.
You might compare it to gambling. Given that so many people lose the money they gamble, you’d expect to see a lot of frustrated people walking out of casinos, vowing never to return. Instead, the rare experience of winning erases all those bad memories of losing.
It’s the same in dating.
Winning his full, undivided attention feels so good that it erases all those bad memories of feeling frustrated.
So frustration isn’t the deterrent you’d think it would be. Rather, it transforms an otherwise average guy into a prize to be captured.
No wonder bad boys and girls who play hard to get are so successful. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “The essence of romance is uncertainty.”
So what can you do to protect yourself … and get a little of that frustration magic for yourself?
Here are 3 tips.
- Call a spade a spade
Dating someone unpredictable can be a lot of fun. He’s exciting. He keeps you on your toes. You look forward to seeing him, because you never know what might happen.
But do you need excitement in your life more than you need to find your future husband?
Because the unpredictable guy probably isn’t the One. Frustration is making you misjudge the attraction. Once you become fed up with him, you’ll realize you’ve been wasting time that could have been better spent with a more compatible candidate.
- Help Mr. Good Guy
Stability doesn’t have to be boring. It means you can count on him. It’s what keeps you together years down the road.
Where the stable guy may need a little help is in keeping things exciting and fresh.
So help him out. Don’t put all the responsibility for the relationship on him. Take the initiative and suggest your own date ideas.
Consider options that involve novelty or the feeling of danger, such as going on scary amusement park rides, watching a horror movie, going on a road trip, trying a new restaurant, or taking dance or cooking lessons together.
- Play the intrigue card yourself
You can stimulate a healthy degree of frustration attraction in him without playing hard to get.
Just set clear boundaries on when you’re available (no texting after 11pm, not available for last-minute dates), and don’t break plans to be with him. Expect respect from him, and call him on disrespectful behavior.
A bit of healthy frustration isn’t going to drive him away. It’s going to excite him. It makes you more of a challenge in all the right ways.
So the next time you find yourself caught between Stable Guy and Unpredictable Guy, ask yourself whether his instability is the sort that reflects an exciting life and healthy boundaries…or selfishness. Then consider who matches the profile of your future husband better.