Attracted to Emotionally Unavailable Men?

“Hi Orna and Matthew,

It appears I’m still attracting emotionally unavailable men. My current situation involves a guy who started off pursuing me, and I thought it would be a different — sadly it’s not!

Now that we’ve been dating a few months I can see he’s just like all the rest. Our physical connection is off-the-charts, but there’s no there there when it comes to him sharing his feelings. Everything’s a joke, and his love language is either sarcastic or facetious. LOL!

At first I was seduced by his quick wit and sense of humor, but now that I’ve invested my heart I keep looking for an excuse to stick it out. I fall asleep every night praying this will end with us together and not me crushed again.

This whole situation is heart-wrenching. I’m consumed by longing and getting more and more frustrated the longer I continue to see him and yet I can’t seem to break it off.

What do you suggest? I can’t keep dating emotionally unavailable men. I know I am missing a different way of looking at this situation because I know there’s more than these kinds of guys in the world, how come I don’t see them?!

Thanks so much,


Dear Laura,

You can absolutely break your pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable men and create the fulfilling love life you desire. You’re not sentenced to being stuck in this pattern forever.

To break this pattern, it’s helpful to understand why you find yourself drawn to these emotionally unavailable men to begin with. You have great insights about yourself, however, having that information doesn’t change your situation, or give you any direction about what to do differently.

Let’s see if we can spell it out for you so you can end this pattern for good, okay?

Your Attraction To Emotionally Unavailable Men Is A False Positive

The feeling you’re equating with attraction is a false positive. Your subconscious is sending you a signal when you meet emotionally unavailable men and you’re interpreting that signal as attraction when it means something completely different.

It’s a signal from your subconscious saying, “This is familiar! This is familiar!”

Your subconscious doesn’t label this feeling as good or bad, only familiar. Your subconscious recognizes a familiar emotional dynamic that you identify as “love” and “attraction.”

The familiar emotional dynamic comes from your family of origin.

Whether one of your parents was an addict, suffered from depression, had an unrealistic expectation of you, or was just emotionally distant doesn’t really matter in the bigger picture. What matters is understanding that you’re the one highlighting emotionally unavailable men out in the world because they match the emotional dynamic from childhood.

Every single person on earth is attracted to the familiar. Your subconscious is filtering through millions of bits of information to find familiar circumstances and situations because this part of your mind is tasked with keeping you alive.

Bringing you similar circumstances leverages the likelihood that you’ll continue to stay alive. The flaw in the system is that your subconscious mind cannot judge, so it doesn’t know if you’re alive and happy or alive and miserable. Or whether you were happy as a child or not. Or whether or not you were loved the way you wanted to be loved.

It’s up to you to change your response to this signal.

Don’t Confuse A Familiar Response With Attraction

Right now, when your subconscious tells you, “This familiar! This is familiar,” you’re interpreting it’s meaning as chemistry and attraction. What if it meant, “This is the same situation again!”?

What if it was your subconscious signaling this feeling is familiar so that you steer clear as if it was saying, “Move along! Nothing to see here you’ve been down this path before.”

What if your attraction to emotionally unavailable men was just a familiar signal and not an excitement signal?

The reason why it’s so hard to get victims to leave their abusive partners is because they process the familiar feeling as excitement. Fear and excitement are experienced the same in the human body (shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, etc.), the difference between these two experiences is found in the person’s inner dialog.

Imagine standing in line for a roller coaster. One person could be thinking, “Oh my God! What am I doing?! I’ve got to get out of here!” And another could be thinking, “This is going to be awesome!” Either way, their physiological experiences are the same.

Ask yourself what it feels like when you’re attracted to someone. We’d guess that you’d say that it feels intense, maybe a little obsessive, you feel off balance, and you can’t stop thinking about him.

You’ve described your current situation as heart-wrenching, consumed by longing, and getting more and more frustrating. Your mind is bargaining with yourself to find a new way to work things out with him even though you already know he isn’t capable of giving you what you need.

Does this sound like Love? (With a capital L.)

It sounds more like every part of you is telling you to get away from him, and you keep finding reasons to stick around, desperately looking for a new strategy to make this situation work, or at least to get your next fix in. Like an addict doing the drugs they know are bad for them.

From now on when you feel that sensation of attraction you can say to yourself “Runaway heartbreak ahead!”

You’re not going to get the love you want from this guy. He’s not able to give you what you need and won’t suddenly become emotionally demonstrative. If this guy was emotionally available you’d feel completely different about him. He’s a match to your childhood wounds and that makes him a familiar guy, not the “right man” for you.

A Healthy Attraction Is An Unknown Feeling To You

When you’re in a healthy relationship you’ll feel differently. You’ll feel attracted to the person, but it won’t be that familiar heart-wrenching, uncontrollable feeling. You’ll feel the attraction in a completely new way; it’ll feel like something you’ve never felt before.

Love is a grounding feeling, not one that knocks you off balance. Many of our clients describe it as feeling curious and comfortable at the same time. However, you experience it, please know it won’t feel out of control or obsessive like with emotionally unavailable men. It certainly won’t have the same compulsive unpredictable energy that you’re feeling with this guy.

Your response to emotionally unavailable men is not grounded and leaves you feeling insecure and uneasy. Don’t confuse this familiar signal that he’s a good match for you.

To Break This Pattern Take New Actions

To change this pattern, start by taking a new approach to this current situation. One that leaves you feeling empowered about your choices, not heart-wrenching and angst-ridden.

Long-lasting relationships are easy at the beginning, not full of strife and uncertainty. The Romance Stage of relationship is the promise of what can be if both people continue to choose each other. It should last a long time; 9-18 months is an average.

One of the best ways to break an old way of being is to do something completely different. Take a new action – one you’ve never taken before.

You’ve probably heard the old saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity. Praying it will be different with this guy is a losing battle and it’s up to the adult in you to know better and walk away.

End it and don’t over-explain why. Just walk away instead of explaining yourself. You can tell him that you two are not a good match long-term.

If he respects you then he won’t argue or try to change your mind. Do not offer friendship and reject an offer of friendship if he asks for it.

A friend is someone you hang out with when you’re with your beloved. Do you think you and your man would have him over for dinner sometime or meet up to go to a movie? No way, right? You’re not friends, although it’s okay to be friendly and if you bump into each other at Starbucks you can be cordial and say, “Hello.”

Connect With The Little Girl Inside Of You

The pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable men comes from your early childhood and has nothing to do with this guy. It’s like a 5-year-old version of you is selecting who should be your mate for life.

Your job is to let her know that she is loveable and that she can get everything she needs from you. You don’t get love from another person you share love with them. It’s the love you have for yourself that’s reflected back to you in the eyes of your beloved.

Reconnecting with that little girl inside of you is the most loving and healthy thing you can do for yourself and your peace of mind. She probably feels abandoned by you and doesn’t trust you to take care of her.

If you commit to repairing the relationship with your inner child the rewards are limitless. You’ll be more productive, have less stress, happier, and most of all end self-sabotaging behaviors.

To begin the process of transforming the most important relationship you’ll ever have – the one with yourself – begin a practice of going on weekly Inner Child Dates.

The Inner Child Dates begin a lifelong practice of self-love that brings you into harmony with yourself. This addiction to unavailable men will end when you’re in rapport with yourself and are no longer looking to fill up the empty space inside of you with a man or any other person. Only you can satisfy your inner child.

By taking care of your inner child (and therefore yourself) you’ll begin to learn what healthy love feels like. As you learn to love and value yourself, you’ll find a new kind of man attractive – one who’s capable of being emotionally available to create a real lasting loving partnership with you.

Take a new action that says that you’re worth loving and that you won’t accept anything less ever again. When you commit to this you’ll feel your self-esteem grow inside of you. You’ll discover that you’ll never be able to settle for an emotionally unavailable man ever again.

Stop Dating Backwards™

Love doesn’t magically show up when you least expect it. If you truly want to break your pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable men then you’ll need new dating strategies. If you continue dating the way you’ve been you’ll end up back in the same situations.

Instead of expecting a feeling to tell you you’ve found your match craft a vision of your ideal relationship. Not a list of qualities you’re looking for in a partner, instead create a vision of your dynamic together. How will he treat you when you’re upset? When the two of you disagree? How will express his love for you? And you for him?

There are many ways to heal your heart, break your pattern of emotionally unavailable men and find the right match who will meet your needs and treat you like the prize you are!

If you’d like more specific help to heal your heart so you can bring in a beloved life partner schedule a complimentary Soulmate Strategy Session with us by clicking here. We’ll be able to create a custom plan for you to create the long-lasting, soul-satisfying love you desire.

About the authors

Love Coaches Orna and Matthew Walters

Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.

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