Enter the love triangle. Whether you are the other woman, or the woman who is dating two men, there is something intoxicating about the unhealthy drama. And it may be all mental.
As Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. explains, “It only takes one or two times for [the brain’s reward centers] to form associations between random events in the outside world and something that feels so good we can’t stop craving more.” So, even when the guy that you can’t have hurts you, once you are hooked you are hooked.
I can attest to this. I was in a love triangle twice — once without my knowledge, and the second time I was fully aware that the man was not single. No matter how many times these men disappointed me, I still desired to be with them. An empty promise gave me hope. And so the roller coaster ride continued. It was exciting and terrible all at the same time.
What’s so sexy about that ride? Whitbourne states that it’s about “‘partial reinforcement.'”
“When you know that you’ll be rewarded consistently, you’ll learn a behavior quickly, but you’ll become a lazy responder,” she says.
Essentially, if you continue receiving phone calls, texts, sweet messages and promises from your lover, you will keep going back in hopes that this time the person you desire will follow through and make YOU his number one.
Does he ever? Rarely. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. Brad left Jennifer for Angelina. A friend of mine is happily married to a man who was once another’s. The unhealthy excitement can become a healthy and stable relationship with two parties, not three. Just remember that it isn’t an easy ride. Take it from me — it’s emotionally draining. Because once you’re hooked it feels so good that it’s almost impossible to stop.
Photo Credit: Flickr.com/alberto_as_v2.