Why Chasing People is a Losing Game

Chasing the affection of people—possible lovers, friends, possibly even family members—is a popular topic in movies and books.  The chase is thrilling, and often the protagonist is successful.  But this is not grounded in psychology—in real life, chasing people who don’t truly care about you is a losing game.  It will grind down your self-esteem and end up nowhere.  Here’s a detailed look at how this works.


Say you have a crush on someone or some variety of romantic feelings.  If these aren’t reciprocated, and you keep chasing him or her, you’re confronting things that you perceive as shortcomings in yourself.  Chasing puts you in the position of asking yourself what you’re doing wrong, what traits of yours aren’t so perfect, etc.  The problem with this is that you get into the kind of negative self-talk that does nothing but cut your self-confidence.

Lack of Genuineness

When you’re chasing someone, that means that he or she is running.  There is some reason that he or she isn’t readily accepting your best efforts.  The person can have very legitimate reasons for this, rather than being a villain.  In any case, you’re asking the person to do something she doesn’t really want to do. 

Or to put it another way, you’re trying to force something that isn’t happening more naturally.  This means that you have something other than a genuine relationship.  That can’t be healthy and it can’t lead to anything good.


When you chase someone—for any reason—you are implying that some key to your satisfaction or happiness rests with them.  Naturally, this neediness is a problem because it makes the other person uncomfortable and reinforces the kind of negativity mentioned above.  Chasing and becoming needy causes you to see yourself as weak and inadequate.  This reinforces a sense in yourself that you’re not good enough.

But there’s something else.  While you are attaching your self-esteem to the other person, you’re not working to make yourself independent.  You’re not learning how to look to yourself for self-reliance, building a life in which it’s OK to be alone.

What is it Leading up to?

This may be the biggest problem with chasing someone who isn’t interested in you.  On the one hand, you may waste years of your life on nothing.  You may be continually prolonging your misery.  But think about it one other way.  What might happen if you do get what you want with the person?  Now, it certainly can be the case that you work out the kind of relationship you are looking for and that, like in movies, things have an improbable happy ending.  We won’t claim that never happens. 

But what’s more likely is that all the things above will come to a head in the unlikely event that you “catch” the person you’re chasing.  Your neediness can still be a factor even if you’ve gotten the things you want from that person.  The lack of genuineness is very likely to trip you up.  The reasons that you weren’t a very good fit or that the other person couldn’t give you what you need are very likely to come back at one time or another.  So this means you’ve had the success you want and yet it came to nothing.  Talk about a losing game, indeed!

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