Why You Love the Chase More Than the Relationship
And what you can do to be happy once you are part of a twosome
Preferring the chase over the relationship isn’t as uncommon as you may think.
“For many people, the pursuit of the chase is more enticing and rewarding than the actual relationship itself,” says relationship expert Damon L. Jacobs, licensed marriage and family therapist, and author of Rational Relating: The Smart Way to Stay Sane in the Crazy World of Love.
Jacobs says there are 5 main reasons why people hop from relationship to relationship seeking that something-new buzz. Read on to find out what’s behind it.
1. Your brain wants something new
“In the early stages of falling for someone, your brain is releasing certain chemicals, including dopamine, adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine,” says Jacobs. “These are natural hormones that lead to a feeling of happiness and euphoria.”
We sometimes confuse these chemical feelings for authentic connections.
As a result, Jacobs says, “Once the high is over, so is the relationship for some folks.”
2. Our culture sugarcoats love
Most movies tell a story about a man and a woman overcoming some kind of obstacle to be together.
“Then, at the end of the movie, they find their way together, they embrace, and the credits roll,” he says. “Rarely in arts or entertainment do we ever see what happens after the credits roll or how they sustain a meaningful connection year after year.”
That’s because the actual day-to-day work that goes into a long-term relationship usually isn’t very interesting.
“A healthy, sustainable relationship would not make a good reality TV show,” says Jacobs. “Society does little to reinforce and validate working together on a connection when thing are difficult.”
3. We refuse to admit it’s normal to crave someone new
“This is simply a fact of life,” Jacobs says.
Unfortunately, it’s not talked about often, and the silence leads couples to internalise a sense of failure when they’re beyond the honeymoon phase.
In reality, not wanting to jump your partner’s bones all the time after a few months (or years) of being together is totally normal.
“Instead of inquiring and learning something new about our partner and ourselves, most people romanticise the ‘early days’ as the ideal,” Jacobs says.
“When people believe diminished physical contact is an automatic sign that the relationship is in trouble, and they feel too guilty or ashamed to talk about that, it makes sense that they may idealize a connection or affair with someone else as better or more pleasurable,” Jacobs says.
4. New relationships make us feel validated
Rather than focusing on building a mutually satisfying connection with another human being, many people use relationships to fulfil unmet emotional needs.
“They don’t actually want the person,” says Jacobs. “They want to get what they think they need: attention, affection, validation, fulfilment.”
But ultimately, those things can’t be sustained by other people.
“These are qualities that must come from within ourselves in order to truly share them and enjoy them with another,” Jacobs says. “When people are taught that love and security and meaning are derived from another person, it’s a recipe for failure.”
5. Monogamy just isn’t for everyone
There’s a difference between constantly chasing new relationships for the wrong reasons and just wanting to share sexual intimacy with more than one person over the course of a long-term relationship, Jacobs says.
While monogamy may work for some couples, it isn’t for everyone, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be in a non-monogamous relationship—as long as you’re honest with your partner about building the kind of relationship you really want.
What if you love the chase, but also want a lasting relationship?
If you feel like you’re “addicted” to the chase, but want to build a lasting relationship, it’s important to nail down your priorities and values, Jacobs says.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you truly want a lasting relationship, or do you think you should want a lasting relationship?
Do you sincerely want to do the work required to make a long-term relationship durable, or would you rather enjoy dating around?
There’s nothing wrong with preferring not to commit, Jacobs says. Just be honest with yourself and your potential partners.
For people looking to move away from constant pursuit of the chase, Jacobs recommends exploring other sources of adrenaline-filled excitement.
“Running, competing, playing an instrument, protesting, volunteering, working, artistic expression—these are all examples of other ways that people can maintain a sense of challenge and excitement without ruining a relationship,” Jacobs says.
What if your partner is more interested in the chase?
“If someone wants to settle down, but fears their partner has this issue, then it’s vitally important to communicate honestly without shame or judgement,” Jacobs says. “Assess their values and see how they are similar to or different from your own.”
If you find that your partner’s wants, needs, values, and priorities don’t line up with yours, it might mean that the relationship just isn’t right for you at this time.
If you really, truly want a sustainable, long-term relationship, you have to be willing to put in the hard work it will take to get there—and willing to seek out a partner who desires the same thing.