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The ‘forbidden fruit’ concept in relationships

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Have you ever wondered why the interest in someone skyrockets just after they enter a committed relationship? Persons may have been single for a while and unnoticed, but the moment there is a commitment, it is almost as if the universe sends out a radar signal that he or she is now radiantly accessible and appealing. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘The Forbidden Fruit Phenomenon.’{{more}}

Researchers who have examined the ‘forbidden fruit’ hypothesis suggest that people find things more desirable when they are off-limits or forbidden. There’s something in human nature that wants what it can’t have. (Or perhaps we can have it, but with serious consequences.) Time and time again, I would hear persons lament that their partners, or even they themselves, have increased in romantic value since hooking up. The issue this presents is an overwhelming euphoria of a possible romantic rendezvous; a heightened temptation which most find hard to resist, thus resulting in infidelity in most relationships.

It appears that persons strive to have the thing ‘they can’t have’. This statement describes the underlying human characteristic of an increased desire for things that are forbidden or cannot be attained. A common instance of this saying occurs in romantic relationships. In most relationships, each one of us has come across temptation in one form or another. When you are in a committed relationship, there are inevitably going to be other people you come across that you may find physically attractive or who find you to be irresistible.

Past research has revealed that people who wish to be faithful in their relationships will deliberately use a method of processing which limits their attention to attractive alternatives to their partners, as a way of maintaining their relationship (Miller, 1997). This research further showed that those in relationships who chose to look at or flirt with an attractive alternative for shorter amounts of time had higher levels of relationship satisfaction, commitment, adjustment, and investment in their relationship than those who looked longer; basically, Miller’s research showed that when people in the relationship themselves made a conscious effort of not looking, their relationships were better off than those who looked longer at attractive alternatives to their relationships.

Why are persons more attracted to others already in a relationship?

1. ZERO DESPERATION

People can sense desperation a mile away, whether it’s for an intimate partner, a job, or a ride. When you’re cool with where you’re at in life and fully self-sufficient, it shows.

2. SELF-CONFIDENCE

Sometimes when you’ve been single for a long time, you begin to lack confidence in your ability to find love. That self-doubt definitely shows, but obviously not when you’re in a relationship since, well, you actually found love. Human beings love others who are self-assured.

3. YOU’RE FRIENDLY

It’s not that you flirt with opposite sex necessarily, but there’s no reason for you to have your defenses up when they talk to you.

You have a built-in excuse to use whenever they start pushing to get closer, but you can still be open and approachable in the meantime; this draws others to you.

4. YOU’VE GOT SOMETHING THAT SOMEONE ELSE WANTS

Human beings can be competitive creatures, and if someone knows that you’re in a relationship, they might see it as validation that there’s something special about you and start wanting you also.

5. YOU’RE HAPPY

If your relationship is a good one, it’s probably making you happy, and people are generally drawn to light and happy people who aren’t projecting their pain on the rest of the world. There’s nothing a smile can’t fix (or at least drastically improve).

6. PEOPLE WANT WHAT THEY CAN’T HAVE

It’s strange, but true. Some persons see it as a challenge when they realize that a man or woman is in a relationship. You could probably blame many of the cheating scandals out there on this exact issue.

7. YOU’RE NOT GOING AFTER EVERY GUY IN SIGHT

Some guys like to be pursued, but there’s an energy that makes it obvious when you’re open to many others and not just the one guy who’s interested in you. When you’re not scoping out any that might be showing interest, you’re bound to be automatically more mysterious and attractive.

8. YOU’RE HAVING SEX

Have you looked at someone and just knew they weren’t having sex? While persons might not care who you’re having sex with, the fact that you are – not to mention the glow it’s giving you – is intriguing in itself.

9. YOU’RE NOT COMPETING WITH ANY OF YOUR FELLOW WOMEN

When you’re coupled up, you feel less competitive with your friends, co-workers, etc over your respective dating lives. Focusing more on yourself rather than what other women have makes room for more of the real you to enter into conversations, and that’s hot.

10. YOU’RE NOT LEADING WITH YOUR WALLS

When you’re in a relationship, you would have likely dropped some of those defensive walls which are usually present when you are single. Having found that special person, you have become more open to the world, as it is deemed safe. That openness shows, and it’s appealing.

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

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