Why He Loves It When You Frustrate Him

Why He Loves It When You Frustrate HimPicture this.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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4 thoughts on “Why He Loves It When You Frustrate Him

  1. Nancy said:

    Stability, is not boring! It’s balance, we all need to be balanced in fun, work, love, service on and on. If you find a stable man greb him, if that’s boring, than your not a quality woman worth her oats ! Any woman can squeak out the balance of joy in a stable man! Just play while you work!

  2. caryn@snh.net said:

    don’t know if you take these kinds of questions on this line.
    Have a boyfriend. Told me he loves me but not in love with me. it’s a long distance relationship.Then for about 3 yrs he did loving things, but skipped b-days, christmas, new years, valentines, easter. emails quindled. His b-day was earlier this month. I gave him gifts of me giving him a massage, and on another night a lap dance and told him to pick which he wanted on what night. Answer: you decide. Finally I let’s split it. you decide the first & I’ll decide the second.
    Answered a week later: give me a message tonight. I thought it rude, and refused. Are we goners? Should I make contact again?

    • James Bauer said:

      Great question. We typically don’t get into highly personalized questions like this on the blog, but because I appreciate the brevity with which you posed your question, I’ll share a few general insights on the topics you’ve brought up.

      There are a couple of things you’re currently facing that work against romantic relationships. They’re not insurmountable, but they stack the odds against you:
      1. Long-distance. You can read about some of the trouble that causes and a few of my proposed solutions here.
      2. A guy who likes you and believes you’d be a catch for someone else, but he just doesn’t feel the chemistry himself.

      It’s the second issue that’s the real problem. It’s not that the relationship has no chance of success. Rather, it’s that none of us would want you to settle for a guy who thinks you are anything less than the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with.

      I know it’s just the opinion of someone who’s never seen the two of you together. But it seems to me that this guy is not going to make you happy in the long run. Because you always feel like you’re chasing him without feeling that it’s being reciprocated. I don’t want you to live your life with that kind of feeling. So I’m going to recommend you check out a special report I wrote on this topic. It’s about facing hard facts and shifting your own emotions so you can unattach your heart to a guy who just isn’t right for you.

      Is the relationship over? No. He’s just not investing in it much right now.

      If you want to pursue the relationship anyway, you might have more success if you trigger his hero instinct. How can you ask him for help in a way that will bring the two of you together?

  3. EVE said:

    Excellent information. My lad that I am trying to form a relationship is 800 plus miles away, so some will definitely apply.

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