The Great Gatsby Complex


I’ve always said you can learn more from certain novels about human nature than you can from some of the most celebrated self help books. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel The Great Gatsby serves to constantly remind me about the art of letting go.

In the novel the main character Jay Gatsby has one of the strongest cases of “oneitis” I’ve ever seen. He is full throttle into “the sickness” over an ex lover Daisy Buchanan. The two fall in love and date for awhile before circumstance prevents the two from continuing their love affair. Daisy goes on to marry someone else, and Gatsby spends the next five years building an empire to impress her with his new wealth. He also throws party after party in his mansion in hopes of her showing up without the realization that it was her old lover throwing the party.

The reason that I decided to write about this is because the other night I realized that I still suffer from what I call The Great Gatsby Complex.

the great gatsbyThe Great Gatsby Complex is an inward hope of meeting someone from your past that drives you to make decisions in your present life. It is the guy who is struggling through law school so that he can show up at his high school reunion and impress a girl he had a crush on ten years ago… it is the guy that is at the gym seven days a week building the perfect body in hope that he runs into an old flame and she’s blown away by his chiseled abs.

We all have those girls from our past that still haunt us. They are usually not ex girlfriends, but instead they are usually girls that we have unfinished business with… girls that “slipped away” or circumstance prevented things from going further.

For me their are three that pop into my head:

Jackie- the whore. Jackie was a girl I worked with a few years back. We clicked on many different levels… and we boththe great gatsby insanely attracted to each other… but Jackie was “on the promiscuous side.” She fucked just about every guy I knew. And discussed the details with me. That was part of our friendship… helping each other get laid. We avoided the temptation of hooking up with each other for over a year… until one night we couldn’t take it anymore and dragged each other into a bathroom during a party and made out like our life depended on it. The chemistry was so unbelievably hot.. but there was one big problem. Jackie was a known slut.. and there was no way I could be caught dating her. So after that night we went back to being friends.. until we gradually disappeared from each other’s lives.

Jaime, the 17 year old. I met Jaime at her older sister’s birthday party. I had hooked up with her sister in the past and felt a little weird at the party because her sister was there with her boyfriend (who she was with when we had our fun) so to keep myself occupied I flirted with her Jaime. Later that night Jaime came back to a friends place and we kept talking. Soon I found myself standing on his porch telling her how cute she was… then we kissed. I tried to avoid her after (she wasn’t exactly street legal) but a week later she called me up and asked me to go down the shore with her and her friend. We got down the shore and rented a hotel… her friend quickly disappeared and left us alone in the room. Jaime was the most adorable girl I had ever seen and soon we were laying on the bed making out… she’s telling me how we’re going to get married… how much she likes me… and I’m enjoying it like I haven’t with any girl in a long time… I resist having sex with her for most of the night despite her constant begging.. finally I give in. Later I’m so confused over what I did that I never talk to her again.

Kryptonite, the soul mate. I’ve written about her before. She’s the friend that after five years of unbearable sexual tension we explode during a ski trip and spend a week in a hotel barely ever leaving the bed. We were both in relationships at the time with other people, and when the trip ends -so does our brief romance…and our friendship.

I mention these girls because they still haunt me. I don’t consider myself as having oneitis over any one of them… but I do find myself hoping that they’ll show up at the bar I’m at more often that I’d like to. I do have fantasies of running into one of them and instantly rekindling the old unfinished feelings.

What is so dangerous about The Great Gatsby Complex is that it can begin to control your present moment. I’ve found myself suggesting certain bars to my friends because of the slight chance one of these three might show up there. I’ve found myself constantly looking around hoping to spot one of them…

Holding onto the past like this ruins the opportunities that are presented to you in the present. Each of these three girls had a quality about them that separated them from the hundreds of other girls I was with during that time frame. I don’t deny that they hold a special place in my mind… but holding on the past in this way can prevent you from meeting new girls who may have similiar qualities.

I think that the reason its the girls that we have unfinished business with that haunt us the most is because we only have the memories of the intense attraction, chemistry, and connection. These feeling never got a chance to mature so they are still burning strong… unlike ex girlfriends who we went full circle with and our feeling had a chance to run their course leaving us with both good and bad memories.

How to Rid Your Self of The Great Gatsby Compex

the great gatsbyI think the first step in ridding yourself of the complex is the acceptance of all things past for what they were. Any of the three girls I mentioned could easily have been the love of my life… but they weren’t. They were brief romances that ended prematurely. AND THATS ALL THEY WERE.

The second step of ridding yourself of the complex is the expression of gratitude. Each of these experiences made you the person you are today. Each of the three girls I mentioned added excitement and adventure to my life during the time I knew them. And I am thankful for that opportunity.

The third step of ridding yourself of the complex is the act of forgiveness. You have to forgive yourself for anything you did to contribute to ruining the romance. I know some of my actions back then weren’t stemming from my best self. I know I made mistakes that might have cost me a chance at a great love affair… but what is done is done. It is time to forgive yourself and move on.

The final step of ridding yourself of the complex is the expression of faith. Part of the reason we hold onto these ghosts from our past is because we don’t believe that we’ll meet anyone better. You have to know that you have all the qualities and characteristics to meet and attract an even more special girl. You have to have faith that she is out there… Once you develop a sense of faith that you’ve yet to meet your ideal girl… the chains from your past are released and you begin to grow excited for what you may find in your future.

If you are being held back by ghosts from your pasts I suggest following the four step plan to rid yourself of the complex.

About Bobby Rio

I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences.  For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.

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  1. Zeo

    March 23, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Wow, this post it hard for me because I suffer everyday because of this. When I first started gaming I met a girl named Laura and we became really good friends. She was in a relationship at the time( and also in lock down at home) and I was starting my new adventure as a PUA. So we’d talk online, over the phone, text, etc and I was “practicing” my canned stuff on her. One day she tells me that she and her boyfriend are broken up and I helped her get through it. We really connected over the next few days and then she was finally out of lock down. To celebrate me and her and a few of her friends decided to go to the movies ( to see Across the Universe which is now banned in my house by me because of this ordeal. When I got there an AMOG was already chatting up the group and I got real jealous ( instant sign I was delving into oneitis territory). So I let him spit his game and then he left us. WE go up to the movie and we’re holding hands and I felt like she was the one. So in the movie we made out and afterwards we hooked up.

    I thought everything was good and we talked everyday except for one. Turns out that was the day that Laura’s oneitis re-entered her life ( can you say irony?) and she decided to opt for him instead of me. Unfortunately, she didnt tell me this for a few days. I was walking to the train station home from school after taking the PSAT’s and I text her. She texts me back saying “I’ve found someone else”. I ask who and she tells me that this senior at my school who she liked for a while asked her out and that she couldnt say no. I was dumbfounded and didnt reply for several hours.

    I subsequently fucked up our frienship part of the relationship by using a stupid opener from the show and she caught me. I tried to pass it off as a fake sympathy story and it didn’t work. We havent talked in 5 months and everyday at school I see her fag piano playing bf and I want to bash his face in.

  2. MikeStoute

    March 23, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I think anyone who has been dating for a while has had this happen to them. It’s like one of those great mysteries.

    We always look back on it and try to see where or when we went wrong, but in actuality I feel most of these situations were just out of our control or influenced by 3rd party factors we probably didn’t know about. Maybe thats why it’s so hard to get it out of your head!

    Thing is, if it still drives us in present day life, is it that bad of a complex? I know I use events like this in my life to drive me…

  3. Thumbs

    March 24, 2008 at 1:06 am

    This is exactly the complex im working myself out of and was going to write about now that my spring fling is over.

    The story I wrote up about myself and the “swinger” in the field reports area ended badly due to 3rd parties and it put me in a hole where i wanted to just hate hate hate but after one day of living in that hole everything turned around and i realized you can move on and not fall into the complex.

    Everything stated above really works well

    Realizing she is not your one and only is the first step even if that means finding a negative about her and focusing on how much you dis like that.

    Realizing that you learned from that experience helps so much too, I learned from my experience that im a good kisser and if i just play my cards right i can attract women

    Have I forgiven her yet… not entirely but im working on that because I want to keep her as a friend and maybe in doing so I can meet her friends and seduce them.

    Ive gone through this twice and one time i fell into a loop for 5 years of it, this time it wont happen. I like the great gatsby complex because we have all experienced it and there is always a 3rd party that ruins it.

    Zeo, it always happens on that one day you dont get to see her or talk to her or something, thats when she gets that timeto stop and think without confusion and decides she is better off in her comfort zone of the guy she knows.

  4. Javi_DC

    March 24, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    This is so true. Whether it’s a failed relationship or "the one that got away" I always think that one day, when my game is tight, she’ll see me again and recognize the error of her ways. The charismatic person I can be now, will go back home and show people what they missed out on. These fantasies are maddening, and a manifestation of my approval seeking tendencies, which in the past, lead to self worth issues. When in reality, Mike Stoute, is right by saying that these situations are out of my control and were influenced by extraneous factors.

    I think Brent, from David D’s interview series, said it best "don’t let your past dictate your future, let your future dictate your future, which is a future of immense possibility".

    Javi_DC’s last blog post..One step backward, two steps foward

  5. Pingback: The Great Gatsby Complex - Dating, Pickup, Seduction

  6. Brad

    March 25, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    …. and now I have another book to read… lol

    Brad’s last blog post..How to COMMAND someone to lose muscle mass in your presense

  7. roman123

    March 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    i read this book in my english class.


    thats pretty much what i got from it haha

  8. athena

    March 26, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    weird i NEVER think or act like that.

    but then again, i usually get all sour grapes about things, which could be just as bad…..

    • luigi

      November 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      weird, uh ? Helloooo, wake up girl, this article has been written for MEN…men have to work off their asses to get some ass. If you are a very attractive girl you can usually have any guys you want, unless that’s all you have to offer or unless you are a she-male

  9. eddy

    March 28, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Hey was just at lunch and got into an interesting conversation with a couple of the bar maids who all agreed that if their boyfriends had one nite stands they wouldn’t want to know about it. This surprised me a bit and was wondering what everyone else thinks?

  10. Odin

    March 28, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Damn. I suffer this, especially when I got into game. It was to make a girl jealous.

    Jesus. Oh well.

    Despite the motivations are bad, I think improving yourself is generally good. Even if it for bad reasons.

    • luigi

      November 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      you are very confused, bro. How can you ‘improve yourself even for bad reasons’?

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