So your relationship sucks. Your partner doesn't give you enough attention. Maybe they don't put out enough. You want to stay in the relationship, though. What are you to do?
Most advice seems to center around a few different themes, including:
- Improve communication (always a worthwhile goal),
- Change either yourself, your partner, or both (rarely works), or
- Do something to spice up the relationship. Reignite that spark.
Let's focus on the last suggestion- spice things up. This advice is often given to the person in the relationship that's interested in improving things. Odds are good they're the one that's already investing more in the relationship, which isn't really making things better. Is it wise to up the ante and invest even more?
This advice ignores a fundamental element of human nature- the scarcity principle. The scarcity principle is based on the idea that we want what we can't have. That which is rare is good. It's the reason we pay so much for rare coins, Beanie Babies that look nothing like Princess Diana, and Bo Jackson rookie cards.
In a relationship, consider the variable of attention. Each partner pays a certain amount of attention to the other. The exact amount is dependent on each individual; all of us have different needs. As long as each person is paying enough attention to the other, things are good. When one partner doesn't pay enough attention to their mate, things go downhill. That "attention" can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from physical or emotional affection to interesting conversation to sex.
Let's say we have a heterosexual couple where the woman isn't paying enough attention to the man. The standard advice would be for the man to do something dramatic, like a grand romantic gesture or something. Flowers. Dinner. Do more chores. Whatever.
The problem is scarcity. The man is already likely paying attention to the woman in an attempt to get her to pay attention to him. The woman is getting all the attention she needs. Adding more will actually drive her away, not cause her to pay more attention to him.
The man wants to feel more valued. Instead of paying her more attention, he should pay less attention. That will invoke the scarcity principle, which will cause her to want to pay more attention to him.
Why Does It Work?
The reason the scarcity principle works in this situation likely has to do with our own insecurities. When someone pays attention to us, we revel in the feeling. When they withdraw, it causes some cognitive dissonance. We unconsciously (or consciously) think we may have done something wrong. We question why they're pulling away. The natural reaction is to defend against that pulling away by showering them with attention.
The man now gets the attention he needs. Problem solved.
An Actual Game Plan
So how exactly can you use this powerful method? It's harder than it seems because it requires you to ignore the person for a period of time, then shower them with affection, then pull away again. The pulling away will likely invoke feelings in insecurity in yourself as you may fear pulling away completely will cause them to pull away even more. Don't worry- if they're into you, they'll respond.
Start with day one. For two days, do your best to act cold and uninterested. Keep conversation to a minimum. Make sure it's boring. Avoid all physical contact. Act distracted, like you have something better to do. Continue this for two days.
On the third day, do the opposite. Act warm and inviting. Hug them. Kiss them. Rub their shoulders. Give them compliments. Do some of their chores. Maybe even buy them flowers or other such gift. Do that for two days.
On the fifth day, go back to being cold and distant, just like the first two days.
Repeat this cycle for a week or two if needed. After the first cycle or two, they should come around. The cycling will prove to be powerfully alluring and draw them in. Suddenly they'll find you more interesting. They will begin to crave being in your presence. They will begin to shower you with attention.
IMPORTANT: Don't tell them what you're doing. If they ask, make up excuses. We're really bad at recognizing emotional patterns, especially over the course of a week or two.
In the unlikely event the partner doesn't respond, you're in a bit of trouble. Odds are good the partner just isn't that in to you anymore. While it may be worthwhile to try to rescue the relationship via therapy or other means, don't be afraid to jump ship. Life's too short to expend time and energy on someone that won't give you what you need.
There you have it- a simple tool to get the attention you deserve. Give it a shot and repost the results here in the comments!