Shiny Toy Syndrome

Oh, shiny toy syndrome. 

We all know it well – we’ve been experiencing it since we were kids on the playground, putting down a toy out of disinterest only to find our interest renewed ten fold when another kid tried to play with it. Suddenly the toy that you were so bored with, so completely over, becomes the toy you’re dying to have back in your posession.

So, as you can imagine, “shiny toy syndrome” also applies to significant others. That tonka truck you were playing with at age ten is replaced by your girlfriend at age twenty. That doll you loved so much is replaced by the boyfriend you adore. And, just as was the case with those childhood toys, we often find ourselves wanting back what we once threw away into the toy box. 

I’ll presume to say that everyone has been a victim of shiny toy syndrome (STS) at one point or another. We all have at least one ex who we dumped, only to feel a pang of jealousy and possession when said ex moved on to someone else. Suddenly, you want that person back – the reasons you dumped them in the first place be damned. Of course, it isn’t always watching you ex move on that causes STS, sometimes it’s simple loneliness. The relationship ended, and suddenly you find yourself staring at the greener grass on the other side. You miss being with someone. Why did you dump so-and-so again? Surely you could work out your issues…

It’s not always necessarily the dumper who feels STS. It can be the dumpee as well. This gets a bit trickier, of course, because oftentimes the dumpee didn’t intend for the relationship to end in the first place, and finds themselves adrift in a sea of singleness without a boat or a paddle. STS usually happens for the dumpee after they’ve seen the light/convinced themselves of the reasons the relationship wouldn’t have worked out anyway. In other words, they’ve gotten “over” the dumper. But, forsooth and lackaday, one night gets a little too lonely, and suddenly the dumpee is seeing the dumper as the one who got away. The be all end all. It is extremely important during these nights of loneliness to resist STS, because chances are the aforementioned ex will look a lot less rosy in the morning. 

The funny thing about STS is that it proves one simple fact – in many ways, we’re still a bunch of kids. And no kid likes somebody playing with a toy that used to be their favorite, regardless of whether or not they put it back on the shelf. Because we like to think that what belonged to us once is always ours, and the problem with that is that a plastic toy is a hell of a lot different than a person. 


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