Here’s yesterday’s Sunday Times Column, want is only shitty if you’re a dung beetle:
WANT IS A FUNNY THING – By Paige Nick
I once met this guy on a dating website. We dated for about two and a half months, but I wasn’t completely sold. My jury was out. I felt ambivalent. I considered breaking it off a few times, but my friends often accuse me of not giving relationships enough of a chance before pulling the plug, so I thought if I just stuck it out a little longer and got to know him, he might grow on me. Time might unlock some secret room in his personality that would hold my interest further.
Then something happened. For whatever reason, he woke up one morning and decided to give me the silent treatment.
Perhaps he’d met someone else, or decided to get back together with an ex girlfriend, like the last two guys I had dated. Or I told myself, maybe he had been abducted by aliens, or been in a car accident and was lying in a ditch somewhere. Or he was in hospital with amnesia after a bump to the head, and he could only remember the people who had been in his life for six months or longer. Which meant he was endlessly scrolling past my name in his cell phone, with no idea who I was.
More likely, he just woke up and decided he was ambivalent about me too. And the gigantic cowardly manoevre of ignoring a relationship till it’s over is so much easier than the obligatory it’s-not-you-it’s-me dump phone call, or the it’s-all-over-but-let’s-still-be-friends text. Either way, that was that, I never heard from him again.
About forty-eight hours into lapsed contact I began to feel heart sore. I missed him. My mind started playing tricks on me. In my memory he wasn’t quite as plain as I’d previously thought. I remembered things he’d said and suddenly thought he was actually rather funny, why had I thought him dry and humourless? And was it possible that when I revisited his facebook profile he looked a few inches taller than I remembered, and slightly fitter, had he been working out?
What if he was the one, and I’d gone and chased him away with my ambivalence? And now he was gone forever! Cue hot tears. My stupid little confused heart liked him a lot more in his absence than I ever had in his presence.
I can only speak for women here, as I don’t have a penis, but nothing makes a man more attractive than when he no longer wants you, or when another woman finds him attractive.
This is because we all want what we can’t have. It’s a compulsion that starts early. Every child really really wants Star Wars Lego, until they have it, then they really really really want a trampoline. Let’s acknowledge this common element of the human condition by giving it a scientific name. How about The Wantsies (TM, copyright and Wikipedia page pending).
According to The Wantsies, a man desired by another woman is exponentially more attractive. Women with dead straight hair wish they had curly hair. Single women wish they were in a relationship, and people with dirty-fingered toddlers stare longingly and obsessively at white couches. Poor people are desperate to be rich, and rich people, no I’m pretty sure rich people don’t get The Wantsies, and if they do, it’s not for very long.
Why are we like this? Is it left over from when we were cavemen, and we got a thrill out of the chase? Or is it just a side effect of being an aspirational species. Lions, zebra and even dung beetles are pretty happy with their lot, even when it’s a pile of shit. But not us, put something just slightly out of our reach and we’ll pop a spleen trying to get to it. But the sad truth is that often the joy of a thing is purely in the wanting of it.
Now, three years since the silent treatment and consequent pining for my ex began (well I assume he’s my ex, he never actually officially broke up with me, so for all I know we’re still an item), I can’t for the life of me remember his name; Michael? John? Andrew? But no, he was definitely The One.