Dr Thomas Lewis, co-author of A General Theory of Love (Random House) says many women will have feelings for a claimed man at some point, because we’re wired to covet things that are hard to get. And these kinds of feelings can seriously disrupt your emotional wellbeing. Crushes are generally harmless if you don’t act on them. (If you do, you can expect some major fallout.) Still, there’s just something irresistible about the unavailable guy…
Leggings, jumpsuits, ballet flats, shift dresses – these trends catch on because humans have natural impulses to seek out hot commodities. This is true with guys, too: if another woman (especially one you respect) digs him, in your mind he registers as quality goods. But you’ve got to put it in perspective – he only seems flawless because you are checking him out from a distance. ‘You don’t know what he’s like behind closed doors,’ says Lewis. Who knows what nasty habits he’s hiding?
Ever wanted a rare handbag so badly, you drove to a shopping centre two hours away to track it down? That same strain of desire is what afflicts you when a guy with a girlfriend catches your eye. ‘It’s called frustration attraction: the more difficult something is to attain, the more we long for it,’ says Helen Fisher, author of Why We Love (Holt McDougal). Here’s how it works: every time you have a craving, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine into your body, which invigorates you to go after your goal. When an obstacle (in this case, his girlfriend) prevents you from getting the target, your brain pumps out extra dopamine, making you super-focused on the hunt. To tame it, ‘Remind yourself that it may be just the challenge may is firing you up rather than the actual guy,’ says Arthur Aron, psychology professor and author of Love And The Expansion of Self (Hemisphere).
Finding The One can be pretty tough. It’s hard weeding through the C-listers to meet an A-grade partner, and that may be why you’re obsessing about The Taken Man – it means you can avoid the singles scene. Ask yourself, do you have a thing for this guy because it’s easier than looking for a partner of your own?
To shift your energy to an available man, pinpoint what you admire in the off-limits guy (i.e, he’s funny and kind). ‘This will guide you to what you want in a man,’ says Dr Lewis. And wouldn’t you sleep better knowing you’d got him fair and square?