Adventure Girl bounces back
We all know about the rebound effect. Heart torn, ego shattered, we desperately want to feel the upward rush of replacement love, or at least a new almost-crush. Anything to fill that gaping hole of hurt (or according to Dr Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, to get our next dopamine fix).
Chances are, the first person to fill that void is not the most likely long-term partner, but rather, someone easy, someone gentle, someone safe (or in the case of the Attachment-Avoider or Commitment-Phobe, someone completely unobtainable). Either way, Mr (or Ms) New is ultimately, not for you.
I tend to oscillate between a Mr Bad and a Mr Safe (though one of these days Mr Bad will surely rip me into so many shreds I’ll turn to Mr Unobtainable. I was almost there, once, having an obsessive crush on someone young enough to break the Half-Plus-Seven Rule. At the first sign that something might actually happen between us, I ran away, screaming).
Because I bounce from one extreme to the other, being acted upon, rather than acting on, it ends up feeling like a constant state of inertia. I don’t act, I react. Heart torn, I retreat to a Mr Safe. Mr Safe waits for me to recover. He is kind, he is besotted, and though I might grow to love him, I am not in love with him.
From safety I grow restless and long for the excitement and risk of a Mr Bad. I crave the in-love feeling of dopamine. I may even create drama within the stillness, like an artificial stimulant. If I can’t feel in-love, let me feel the imitation cocaine-effect of a make-up… and eventually (always) a break-up.
If I’m lucky, I will find a Mr New who also resembles a Mr Bad, so I can fall in love all over again.
One day I hope the lessons learned from this constant back and forth will even out my cravings, that I will find someone who excites me who is also relatively safe. Like when you decide to stop bouncing on a trampoline. The push-offs get smaller and smaller, until you come to a complete stop, only you are right where you want to be, whether that’s on your own, or with Mr Just-Right.
But it isn’t only the dopamine-cravings that keep me jumping. According to descriptors of my personality type (Myers Briggs-style, if you believe that stuff), I have a tendency to ‘striv[e] for the Ultimate Relationship’, and will ‘fall into the habit of moving from relationship to relationship, always in search of a more perfect partner’. To make matters worse, I also have ‘difficulty leaving a bad relationship’.
It’s this combination of perfectionist and idealist (mixed with some attachment-anxiety, according to a psychologist friend) that will keep me reading that ‘Use-by’ date as a ‘Best Before’.
One lesson I have learned that I can share, is that like wine, no matter how good a relationship is when you first get it, once it’s past its peak, it will start to taste a whole lot like vinegar. Let’s hope I find a Mr Just-Right before I have to taste that again.