Single and Dating a Married Man…

Do We Really Try to Get What We Can’t Have?


I was at the bookstore some time back, standing in the self -help/relationship section (yes, we psychologists read these books too) when an interesting thing happened. A young, very attractive woman walked up with her friend. She was loudly talking about the type of book she was looking for, one to help with her problem of course. Her problem, she was telling her friend, was her boyfriend, he just wouldn’t leave his wife.

Few people who really want a relationship would intentionally seek out one that is so difficult and painful as the young book hunter’s relationship. (I don’t call this a relationship but a self-imposed incarceration-) This woman could have had most any man she wanted but she chose instead to pursue a fool’s mission.

There are actually several reasons what this person might be desperately seeking what she can’t have.

She undoubtedly got involved too quickly and without conscious consideration for her own best interests. I call this the instant couple syndrome. Its is easy to allow fantasy to carry one off, only later to have it all come crashing down. What could have been easily ended before, or better yet, never started, now becomes a serious relationship and a heavy breakup, involving emotional turmoil and pain when it goes south. Or worse yet, she could have an interminable period of time as a mistress in an unfulfilling and dead end relationship.

Also, it can be exciting to go after a person that is somewhat more foot loose and fancy free. It can feel very safe to go after a person that is unavailable, at least at first. Space is freeing- there is a feeling that there is so much area to fill up, so much excitement to look forward to.

Most powerful of all, is our tendency to want repair. This is an unconscious process of seeking to heal old wounds and hurts through healing in the present. I would be willing to bet the hair on my head (no great loss given the small quantity) that this lovely young woman has some important person in her life that was unavailable to her, someone for whom she desperately longed.

So, it is possible that, as a means of repair, she sought out another unavailable person in the present, hoping to work out what she was not able to work out  in the past. Desparate to make this plan work, she hoped that the right book would provide the answer.

So, what is the answer? How can we prevent this kind of tragedy before it starts? The answer is really very simple: Get clarity! Just because there are unconscious forces acting on us doesn’t mean we have to act unconsciously. Know yourself, know what you want, need, and require in a relationship. Know your vision, your goals in love and take action to achieve these things in your life and your relationships.

Become conscious of what limits you and make efforts to change it or at least not act on it. If you are repeating patterns that are unproductive and self- defeating, learn to identify and avoid repeating them over and over. This means putting significant effort into both choosing your relationships and making your relationship work (if you are in a committed relationship). Spend some time and energy learning about yourself, studying relationships and relationship science.

Take chance out of the equation (at least reduce the odds of failure to near zero as possible). This requires that you use both your heart and your head. If you are seeking the fruit of a good, fulfilling, and lasting relationship, make choices that will lead you to the fruit.

And… Definately avoid married men (or women) if you want to have a real relationship. Or… maybe the right self help book. . .?