I met a spectacular woman a few months ago. But then began her impulsivity, changeable moods and rage outbursts against me. She seems highly functioning but doesn’t have self-control. Why am I attracted to people who are like that?”
The excitement of impulsivity
Impulsive people respond to their feelings without giving them much thought. They often express and respond to their emotions fervently and without fear of consequences. They tend to lack a filter or inner critic, which can result in their being exuberant, spontaneous and sometimes hotheaded.
Spontaneity and exuberance can be exciting and appealing. When two people are first attracted to each other, there are a lot of positive emotions, and someone who expresses desire and excitement impetuously can be quite seductive and exhilarating to be with.
The fantasy in new relationships
When two people first become captivated with one another whether as friends or potential lovers, there is always a bit of projection going on. They don’t really know each other, so they fill in the blanks by projecting their hopes and fantasies onto the other person.
Yet no one can really fulfill the expectations of another person. Eventually, reality sets in and will conflict with some of the fantasies each has about the other. When they find out that their expectations are inaccurate, they may be disappointed and even blame the other person for failing to fulfill their fantasy. Disappointment and blame can trigger further negative emotions and behavior in both people.
People who lack impulse control tend to follow their emotions, while ignoring reason based on observations of experience. They allow themselves to get carried away by their projections when they are infatuated with someone. They also experience disappointment in an exaggerated way without tempering their negative emotions with rational thought and restraint. When they express their negative emotions without a filter, they may become volatile, hostile and explosive.
How to avoid getting hurt by volatile people
It helps to develop your own self-control and avoid falling for someone too quickly. The word “falling” is appropriate here. It implies letting go of reason and caution while giving up any grounding in reality. This “letting go” or “falling” into your fantasy feels thrilling and intoxicating, but when you finally hit the ground, it can hurt.
So it helps to take your time before getting deeply involved with someone you’re attracted to. Take your time to get to know their true nature, qualities and character. By avoiding becoming emotionally enmeshed too quickly, i.e., by calling or seeing them everyday, you can retain some objectivity.
While it’s fine to enjoy people who are impulsive and exciting, know that such qualities can lead to moodiness, controlling behavior, dependency, manipulation, volatility and rage. Thus, make sure you remain independent and grounded on your own terms when engaging with impulsive people. Also try to avoid being controlling, possessive, overly impulsive, dependent, or manipulative yourself. None of these qualities bode well in the pursuit of a long-term relationship.
You can still enjoy the excitement of being captivated by or infatuated with a new person. But keep your eyes open and reason intact to be able to stay connected to reality.
by Dr. Alison Poulsen