Sex and the City Syndrome: How Complaining about the Opposite Sex Will Only Bring You More Crappy Dates

Many of us girls (and guys) can't help but fondly remember the Sex and the City (SATC) series. As a matter of fact, I was smack-dab in the middle of my 20-something single girl drama when the series aired, making the show a necessary and indispensable weekly ritual. To me, the SATC phenomenon felt like a support group for relationship problems. I eagerly watched as Carrie and the girls tried to navigate through, what seemed like, a very complex and difficult dating world. I bonded with them over bad dates, insensitive men, societal pressure and annoying relationship clichés. While I felt a lot of relief and validation from these four beautiful and memorable characters, my psychological practice has since informed me that I was, in some ways, doing myself a disservice in my complete SATC emergence - complaining too often about dating was actually perpetuating my interpersonal problems as oppose to solving them. Once again, science tells us why. 

A consistent and perpetual pattern of complaining about relationships involves having certain negative thoughts. “Will I ever get it right?”  “Is there no one out there for me?” “All of the good ones are taken.” Every time we fire a thought, we release chemical messengers (neurotransmitters aka brain cells and hormones). These chemical messengers send signals to the rest of our body that dictate how we will subsequently feel and act. Let me translate. A thought like, “there is no one out there for me” recited over and over again, will produce chemicals conducive to sad feelings and depressive behaviors.  If this type of thought persists for long periods of time, the body gets accustomed to the chemicals produced and will actually crave them, just like an addict craves his/her drug of choice.  Your thought-derived chemical becomes an addictive substance and any interruption in this chemical firing will result in discomfort similar to…you guessed it: withdrawal symptoms.  

So what am I saying here? I’m saying that complaining about your relationships in a constant and persistent pattern will create chemicals to which you will become addicted. What is most fascinating and hard to believe is that once addicted, you’ll subconsciously crave those bad dates, insensitive men, societal pressure, and annoying relationship clichés just to get a hit. How frikin’ interesting is this?! Your body will subconsciously seek out these negative scenarios so that it can get a dose of the chemicals it knows so intimately and your body will do anything to maintain them. Therefore, when you try to change your bad habits and patterns, your body makes it difficult for you because it is relentlessly craving those maladaptive thoughts and emotions.  Have you ever asked yourself things like, “Why do I keep going back to her when she’s no good for me?” or “Why can’t stop checking his Facebook page?” Well, you now have your answer: Your body is addicted to the chemicals produced when you engage in these behaviors. Isn’t this genius?!  

So now what? For now, you know that you are up against your own biological evolution so breaking bad habits will not be easy. For the time being, start practicing something new and push through those feelings of withdrawal. You must start practicing new behavior that will produce new chemicals to slowly but surely overpower the old chemicals that are no longer serving you. 

…so no more complaining about your relationships a la Sex and the City.  …no more Facebook stalking …no more 4 hour phone calls about your disappointing dates. Change your behaviour. Change your thoughts. Change your brain. Change your life.  

Anna-Maria Tosco, or our Sassy Psychologist, has two masters degrees in the field of psychology and has studied and worked coast to coast. She has worked in both psychiatric and community settings in some of Montreal's most respected healthcare organizations and institutions, and has also given a variety of talks and workshops on neuroplasticity, meditation, and uncovering barriers to love.