The Forbidden Fruit Effect

The Forbidden Fruit Effect

Last update: 22 January, 2017

Have you ever noticed that when something is forbidden, dangerous, inaccessible or difficult, it appears to be that much more attractive?

However, when things are too easy, or we’re sure that we have it in the bag, we end up getting bored or losing interest. This is known as the Forbidden Fruit Effect.

The Forbidden Fruit Effect occurs in every person. It’s a result of man’s desire to learn about the unknown and the consequences of things that are supposed to be dangerous.

We humans greatly dislike prohibitions and impositions, since it makes us feel as though our freedom is threatened. This is one asset that we all see as being extremely valuable.

“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.”  
-Mark Twain

Therefore, when something is forbidden, it immediately catches our eye and curiosity. All of a sudden, we’re highly motivated to learn about it, achieve it and explore it. This serves as an affirmation to ourselves that we’re truly free, and alleviates our unbearable curiosity.

Who tells us what is or isn’t forbidden?

Ever since our childhood, family, the school system and society in general have all told us what’s good and bad. They’ve imposed certain limits that we mustn’t cross, because if we do, there will be negative consequences for us.

adam eve forbidden fruit

But everyone likes to test these consequences they’ve been warned about, in the flesh. This is because the second we realize there’s a dark side, it draws our attention and causes a desire to attempt it and test it’s limits.

Overcoming the barriers that the world imposes upon us and everyone else, provokes a certain sense of pleasure, due to something known as “conscious fear.” This means that, although a person is aware of the consequences they could potentially face, they’re also aware that they control the situation. So, if need be, they can theoretically stop the adventure and back away.

This is what people tend to believe even though it’s not as simple as one might think. However, this sense of control is responsible for a person enjoying the transgression of certain rules or standards.

In what context do we enjoy that which is forbidden?

Our taste for things that are censored, complicated, or bring dangerous consequences, is present in a multitude of situations that we face on a daily basis. Take social relationships, for example. If a girl or a guy complicates things, it makes them irresistible. But if you realize that they’re in the palm of your hand and are crazy about you, you quickly lose interest.

This tends to happen because that controllable “danger” that makes our adrenaline kick in is no longer present, and causes it to no longer be exciting.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it… I can resist everything but temptation.”
-Oscar Wilde

The same is true for infidelities. That tingling sensation that runs through your body when you do something morally incorrect, for some, is very tempting and attractive. Violating the contract you have established with your partner can be dangerous, but knowing you’re putting yourself in that danger is the exciting part.

The same thing occurs when you go on certain diets. When you’re told that it’s absolutely forbidden to eat chocolate, drink soda, or consume any other specific food, you will constantly be thinking about that temptation throughout the day, and almost always succumb to it.

How to manage the Forbidden Fruit Effect so it’s beneficial

Managing the Forbidden Fruit Effect can be beneficial if we become aware of it’s existence, and learn to manage it adequately.

Here are a few pieces of advice to achieve this:

  • Social relationships: never force anyone to do anything, and remember not to forbid or censure anything. For starters, who are we to criticize someone, censor them, or forbid them from doing anything? Remember that people hate having their freedom cut off. However, you can always give advice or suggestions with love and kindness. This greatly improves the chances that the people around you will modify that which you dislike.
  • Dating: make yourself appear interesting. If you want to conquer someone, you have to play and flirt a little, without giving it all away. Even if you just want to send them a sweet text message or call them so they know they’re on your mind, resist the urge and don’t go so fast. Make sure they have a chance to miss you, even if only sparingly. It’s important for the other person not to feel like they’ve got it in the bag, because this diminishes their interest. For that reason, make sure the other person feels like you’re a bit “hard to get.”
couple beach love holding hands

“Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch.”
-Robert Orben

  • Dieting: don’t impose diets on yourself that are too strict. You’ll only end up feeling so hungry you wind up bingingDon’t forbid yourself from consuming any one food, but instead give yourself permission to indulge every once in awhile. A sweet, a glass of soda, or one serving of french fries per week isn’t harmful and will cause your temptations to diminish.
  • Education: children and teenagers must be imposed certain limits, but you must always give them an explanation for why something should or shouldn’t be done. People need an explanation in order to understand something. If not, all children would end up violating those rules out of mere curiosity. It’s also important to provide alternatives instead of simply banning something.

Understanding the Forbidden Fruit Effect is important for positively managing our relationships with the people around us, and better dealing with certain situations.

We must be well aware that what’s most important, both to us and to others, is to conquer freedom, while maintaining the ability to choose and exude self-control.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.