There’s something called Gambler’s Fallacy. It’s where we think that if we’ve experienced, for example, a lot of something, that the odds of that happening in future is much lower. And vice versa. It’s connected to the misconception that what will happen next is based on its frequency in the past. Typically applied to, for example, coin tosses, throwing sixes and the like, I see it in romantic situations. 

When we feel as if we’ve done a level of self-work or that we’ve run the gamut of shady and unavailable relationships, it’s not uncommon to feel as though we’re ‘due’ some good luck. We think that the next person we date might be ‘it’ or that we ‘shouldn’t’ attract the type of people we did before.

So we decide that because we’ve dated several Mr/Miss Unavailables in a row that the next one won’t be. We think we’re going to throw a six, even though the next person we date is independent of the previous. That, and we can’t keep dating our ‘type’ and expect the relationship to work out just because it’s ‘our turn’. Sometimes, also, we want a loving relationship without changing our habits, including who we choose and our boundaries. 

Similarly, when we’ve had what we feel was a ‘good run’, so we’ve experienced a loving relationship or previously had more success with dating and relationships, it’s not uncommon to feel that this is less likely to happen going forwards. This is especially so if we tend to write ourselves or others off based on age. 

Gambler’s Fallacy triggers what I call ‘dating anxiety’.

When we associate effort with outcomes, we try excessively hard—’efforting‘—to drive (and control) our desired result. When, despite everything we’ve done to put ourselves out there or secure a partner, we still keep getting hurt or aren’t meeting anyone, we become increasingly anxious, entitled and disillusioned. Boom, dating anxiety.

Why isn’t it happening? Is it ever going to happen? Why hasn’t it happened yet? It should have happened by now. It’s not fair.

It’s this idea that if we do X, then people will do Y, and then we’ll get Z (what we want). And when the effort doesn’t generate the outcome, we assume that we have to try harder or that we’re not enough. It’s also where we might start saying that we’re running out of options. You know, the last chance saloon has left. 

Gambler’s Fallacy and dating anxiety convince us that we’re not ‘good enough’ or that nothing is ever enough despite our ‘efforts’.

We don’t ask ourselves what is X, is all of it necessary, and in fact, is some of it harmful instead of helpful? 

It’s only then that we stop gambling with our self-esteem, including our needs, values and boundaries. We realise that what we’ve typically done, for example, people pleasing, settling, accepting the unacceptable, avoiding intimacy, hiding our needs, etc., isn’t going to work. That they’re unnecessary. We realise that the best predictor of what will happen in the future is how willing we are to break away from the habits of thinking and behaviour that aren’t serving us. 

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.

The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon/HarperCollins) is out now and available in bookshops on and offline. Listen to the first chapter.
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