You are currently viewing The Lure of the Distant and Difficult

The Lure of the Distant and Difficult

  • Post author:

A father and his daughter were walking on the beach while on vacation in Hawaii. Suddenly  he turned to her and said, “Megan, have you ever felt like you were being pulled into a vacuum?”

Megan laughed, assuming Dad was joking. “What do you mean?” she asked. 

He continued. “In outer space there are black holes, like massive vacuums that suck in everything around them. In life there are people and situations with the same type of destructive pull. Have you ever noticed that if a person resists being your friend you may want to be friends even more?”

Megan thought for a second and then nodded in agreement. It had happened to her more than once.

Dad went on, “Be aware of this phenomenon so you don’t get pulled into situations or relationships with people for the wrong reason. It’s a common mistake. We want what’s hard to get primarily because it’s hard to get it. I call it, the ‘lure of the distant and difficult.’”

Megan was intrigued. “Why does it happen?” she asked.

Dad explained, “The behavior typically develops in childhood, like when a child wants a toy but the parent will not buy it for them. As kids, it’s expected, and somewhat benign. However, as we mature into adults, it’s something to be cautious about.”

In high school I asked the most popular and pretty girl out on a date. She turned me down. Wasn’t even polite about it. My friends and I knew she was aloof. Condescending and snobby. Looking back, I didn’t really want to be with her (nobody would). I just wanted her because she was hard to get. 

After graduating law school I joined a prestigious country club in Cincinnati (where I grew up). The club wasn’t close to my house. Its golf course wasn’t the best. Its facilities were drab. But it was hard to get into, so I wanted to belong. I could have joined a nicer club (for less money), but my ego sucked me in. 

Now I heed this advice from Greek philosopher, Epictetus:

“When you feel a burning desire for something that appears pleasureful, realize you are a person under a spell. Instead of acting on impulse, wait for the enchantment to fade. Only then can you see things as they truly are.”

Now when I feel that insatiable desire for something, I take a step back and ask myself, “Is this something I want for the right reason, or is it just the lure of the distant and difficult?”