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Why do we want what we can’t have? How does this affect Happiness?

We all seek happiness. But sometimes it’s hard to find and one of the reasons for this can be to do with the anxiety from not getting what we desire.

What is it you desire the most? Is it getting that dream job? Is it being successful in business? Is it that person you can’t stop thinking about?

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t seem to go your way. That dream job goes to someone else, the business doesn’t work or you can’t attract that person you want.

You feel your happiness slipping away. It seems to work for everyone else, why not you?

You need to realise a couple of things.

First of all, not everything is in our control. 


Dream Jobs & Business

It is fine to set goals. Definitely, set goals. Dream big BUT don’t have any expectations.

Work hard, put in the time and effort, do your best. Then let it work out as it’s meant to.

If it doesn’t work out how you wanted it to, then it wasn’t meant to work out that way.

Change your plan and try again.

With a job and business, these are slightly in our control and we can direct these in a way we want to – to an extent.

If you don’t get a job in one place, you can look elsewhere and sooner or later you’ll find your dream job.

If your current business does not work, you can try another business. And sooner or later, it will work out.

With a job or a business, your happiness is in your hands to a great extent. You just need to believe that it will work out and you’ll be in the right state of mind.

However, it is more difficult with people.


Chasing after Love

Wanting someone and getting them is totally out of our control.

The more you can’t have someone, the more you want them. If they do not reciprocate your feelings, the more anxious you become and the less happy you feel.

It’s so counter-intuitive. One does wonder, why would you want someone who doesn’t want you back? Just write them off and move on, right?

But there’s more to it than meets the eye.


Why do we want that person that we can’t have?


  1. The thrill of the chase. We love achieving and conquering. It’s a sort of power game. If we can win over that person who doesn’t want us YET, it feels like we have conquered and our ego feels on top of the world.
  2. If we can’t have a person, we place more value on their worth. We suddenly begin to visualise and create imaginary thoughts about how good they are that we can’t have them – thoughts that may not necessarily be true.
  3. Self-esteem. If a person does not want us back, does that mean there is something wrong with us? Would having that person mean that we are worth more?
  4. If everyone wants something, we naturally want that thing too. It’s something to do with social proof.
  5. When we can’t have someone, it creates a sense of mystery and unpredictability. There is a certain thrill in unravelling that mystery.
  6. Our happiness is dependent on external factors such as being with a certain person. If we can’t have that person, then we feel unhappy. If only we could just be with that person, we could feel so much happier.
  7. We are built to be competitive. Naturally, as animals, we compete for the best thing. If we know someone is outstanding, we will want him or her – even if they don’t want us back.

Chasing after someone that does not want you can make you unhappy, very unhappy. It can make you anxious, stressed and depressed. It could even push you to the edge of psychosis.

You need to be very careful about not falling into this trap. It’s easier said than done, but believe me, it will save you alot of heartache and pain.

When you catch yourself chasing after someone who does not want you back, you need to sit down and deal with this before it gets worse.


What to do when you can’t have someone that you want?

The first step is to figure out why you want this person.


  1. Is it because of the thrill of the chase?

Do you really like that person so much that you are willing to be unhappy by chasing after them – even if they don’t want you?

Or do you just want them for the thrill of the chase? If you want them just because you can’t have them and feel like you need to conquer, please, just stop. Once you get them, the chase will be over, you may not even like them anymore and you’ll have been unhappy for nothing.

It’s not worth the effort, time or anxiety. If you enjoy challenges, find something else to do like a hobby.


2. Think about if they really are as amazing as you are making them out to be.

Is this person you are chasing after really as wonderful as you are imagining? Most of the time, our brains go into overdrive to visualise things that are not true.

Just because someone doesn’t want us back, we may conjure up things about them – they are so busy, they must be doing so much with their life. They must be so good at this or that, that’s why he or she doesn’t want me. Maybe they are so amazing, he or she is getting a lot of interest from other men/women so they don’t have time for me.

What are the hard facts on the ground? What do you really know about them that is true – maybe you have seen it or they have told you. If they have told you something, is it even true?

Most of the time, the grass is greener on the other side. Half of what you assume about this person isn’t even true. So just chill and move on, I’m sure there are so many better people out there who will reciprocate your feelings.


3. Is this to do with you?

Do you really love this person or do you want to be with them because they’ll validate your worth?

Do you feel worthless if you cannot be with this person? Do you feel being with this person will make you feel more valuable?

If so, you have a self-esteem problem. You need to understand that you do not need someone in your life to be worth something, you are amazing in your own right.

People come and go. If you place your worth on the basis of who is in your life, you’ll never be happy.


4. Do you really want this person or is it just to do with everyone wanting them?

The amazing thing about us humans is that we all have very different personalities and interests. As the saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Just because everyone wants a certain person, it doesn’t mean that that person is necessarily right for you?

Do you want someone because your friends say he/she is amazing? Don’t fall into that trap. Look for someone who you think is amazing without outside influence and if they reciprocate your feelings, you’ll be the winner.

No point in chasing after something everyone wants. Go after someone YOU want. You have a brain, use it.


5. Not being with them is making you unhappy.

If you really love someone, it is natural to feel unhappy if they don’t want you back.

But do you feel unhappy everytime you approach someone and they reject you? It’s fine to feel down for a moment, but if this unhappiness lasts for a few days, there might be a problem.

You are basing your happiness on external events which you need to stop doing.

Your happiness should come from within. Once again, it’s easier said than done.

But if you can get to a point where you can be happy regardless of whether they want you back or not, then you will have a good life.

So try to make it a habit to not let external events affect your internal state of mind and happiness. It takes practice but will be worth it.

If you struggle with deriving happiness internally, make it a habit to do things you love, meet people you care for, meditate, exercise and take care of yourself everytime you begin to feel down. It will get your mind off negative external events.


6. Accept what is and move on

If you really love that person, have tried your best and they still don’t want you back, you need to accept this and move on.

I will re-iterate – there are some things that just aren’t in our control. The best thing to do in these cases is to accept it and believe that something better will come along.

You may need to grieve, talk to a friend, go for retail therapy – do whatever helps you but if you want to be happy, acceptance is key.


7. Get closure

Unhappiness can stem from not getting closure. It may be that you don’t really like the person but it ended abruptly without any explanation.

You will naturally feel unsettled not knowing why they don’t want you back or what you did or said.

Sometimes, if you really must, just talk to the person. Express your feelings and listen to what they have to say.

Maybe just hearing them express their disinterest or reasons for not wanting you back is what will help you move on.


Why do we want what we can’t have and how does this affect happiness?

Chasing after something that we can’t have without a doubt will make us unhappy, leaving us feeling unworthy. We may also waste a lot of time and effort which we could be putting towards someone that actually wants us.

When you find yourself chasing after someone that doesn’t want you back and you feel you’ve put in a reasonable amount of time and effort, be aware of this. Stop, take a step back, figure out the reason for wanting this person and if they are really worth your time.

The question to ask is: Are they worth your unhappiness?


In my opinion, no one is worth anyone’s unhappiness. If they are making you unhappy, cut them out.

Sometimes, I feel the best way to think when it comes to people is to think like a robot. I would assume a robot has no emotions, it would only think logically.

Does this person like me? Yes. Are they worth it? Yes. Good, I’ll put time into this.

Does this person like me? No. Are they worth it? Yes. Let me give it one more try. If it doesn’t work, I move on.

Does this person like me? No. Are they worth it? No. Time to move on.

🙂 Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts on this. Have a lovely weekend ahead.

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