I am not a fan of stealing other writers’ ideas—especially because I think I should be the only one generating all the good ideas.
However, The Sartorialist recently wrote about that thing that sometimes happens, where you fantasize about owning a certain piece of clothing; then, once you buy it, it sits in your closet unworn.
Reading the 600-plus comments on The Sartorialist post, many of them quite touching, I was surprised at how common this experience is.
Blame it on Your Brain
I began mentally perusing not only my current closet, but the ghosts of closets past. I thought back on the grey and pink Lululemon gym bag with the polka-dotted lining and all the little pockets that I just had to have, then ran out and bought as soon as I received a small raise. I use it every once in awhile but not as much as I thought I would, and it still looks new.
I thought back to my strapless, black lace Betsey Johnson dress. I wore it once but always felt a little too exposed in it. I would try it on every once in awhile just for fun. Then one time I found I could no longer zip it up all the way. I know I should consign it but I keep thinking I’ll suddenly lose my perpetual ice cream craving or develop a tapeworm and suddenly be able to fit into it again, and feel great in it.
A quick, albeit clumsy Google search with the phrase “psychology behind not wanting something once you have it” yielded this article in Psychology Today, which says (and I’m summarizing it very simplistically) that one part of the brain controls the experience of “liking” something, and a totally different part of the brain controls the feeling of “wanting” something, so you can want something you don’t ultimately end up liking.
At least I don’t feel so bad about that Betsey Johnson dress anymore; I mean, it’s not taking up too much room in my closet, and I still want it. Maybe soon I’ll even like it.