The Thrill of the Chase


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So you find this girl/boy who you really like, but they don't seem to like you in return; what to do? Do you shrug your shoulders, give up and go looking for someone else or do you bite the bullet and do your level best to get that boy/girl, to win their heart, to catch that fish?!

Do you remember that feeling? That ‘will-he-won't-she’ thrill? The frisson of wondering just exactly what ‘that’ look meant? The quickening of the heartbeat when he or she smiles at you? It's a bittersweet feeling, fraught with worry that maybe it's all an illusion, that you're kidding yourself and really nothing is ever going to happen between you and this person, but so good at the same time it's hard to resist, no matter how hardened and cynical about relationships you may be.

I think it's fair to say, in fact, that this for many people this thrill can be more fulfilling than the actual end product, assuming that is that the chase is ultimately successful. Falling for someone that you don't already know has always been risky business, there's always the danger that this person will fail to live up to your expectations, and sadly this is often the case, in many cases an exciting, high-octane thrill ride ends up crashing and burning in a hail of disappointment. The moral of the story in this case is perhaps that we should learn to value all of our positive experiences in life, that even if you find after all the chasing that your quarry does not taste as sweet as you imagined then hey, at least you had a good run.

There is, as ever, a flip side to learning to enjoy the chase. This leads me to what a friend of mine describes as the Pontoon Theory of relationships. In Pontoon, the players turn over, or ‘twist', one card at a time hoping to get as close as possible to twenty-one without going ‘bust’ (over twenty-one); the key to the game lies in knowing when to ‘stick’ – to stop turning cards over in the hope that the dealer will not be able to beat your hand without going bust. In the dating game, some players compulsively keep turning cards, hoping for that perfect twenty-one score, hooked on the thrill of the chase they flit from one partner to the next, turning card after card until they inevitably go bust. A canny pontoon player knows that if you have a decent hand of, say, seventeen or eighteen then you should hold on to it; the dealer has to twist until they beat your score, and there's a strong chance that they will go bust trying to beat you. Similarly there is strong chance that a boyfriend or girlfriend with a score of seventeen on your personal scale, will turn out to be the best you are likely to get. There's an even stronger chance that the player (in both senses of the word) who keeps on turning down potentially winning scores in the hope that they'll one day achieve that perfect, ego massaging score of twenty-one will go bust again and again until they learn to settle for good enough.

Croydon J Hounslow is a dating expert


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