Attracted to Emotionally Unavailable Men?

“Hi Orna and Matthew,

I am so glad I found you. It’s no doubt the universe pointed me in your direction just as I really need you!

I have been addicted to emotionally unavailable men for 20 years and in the past few years, have pulled myself away – like an alcoholic coming off liquor. But the feelings are still there – like the alcoholic smelling alcohol and being consumed by the longing for it! My current situation involves a male friend, with whom I’ve got close to (as friends) quickly over the last few months. He’s in a difficult emotional situation himself and in a relationship that he does not have much time for (but is too scared to leave, I imagine). I feel stuck.

A large part of me wants to tear myself away quickly as I have developed the habit of doing when I find the addiction coming back. But this is heart-wrenching (he is a friend after all, and we have a connection) and I wonder is there not another way? I am blocking myself from revealing my true feelings to him, as I don’t trust they’re coming from an empowered place – also I am terrified of rejection and feel rejected even before I share my feelings (I know, part of my pattern). If I carry on in the ‘friendship’, in which there is obviously physical attraction, I know I will get more and more frustrated.

What do you suggest? I can’t keep chasing emotionally unavailable men. I know I am missing a different way of looking at this situation and need someone to point it out to me!

Thanks so much.”

Dear Laura,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us and sharing your dilemma. We have had many clients who were stuck in a pattern of being attracted to emotionally unavailable men, and we want you to know that there is a way to break this pattern so you can have the soul-satisfying and long-lasting love you desire. You’re not sentenced to being stuck in this pattern forever.

Before we address your particular situation with this man and how you can approach things differently, we want to dive into 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.

Your Attraction To Emotionally Unavailable Men Is A False Positive

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

It is 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. What your subconscious is recognizing is that there is a familiar emotional dynamic that you experience when you are with emotionally unavailable men.

This emotional dynamic comes from your family of origin.

It is difficult to know the specifics about your childhood that started this pattern since we don’t have your family history. 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 your current pattern is about your childhood and not about this particular guy or any other man you have been attracted to as an adult.

Even if you were able to get this guy to behave differently towards you the issue would still exist because the problem has nothing to do with him. It has to do with how you are interpreting the signal from your subconscious which you’ve equated with attraction and the feeling you believe you are looking for in an intimate relationship.

Don’t Confuse A Fear Response With Attraction

Right now, when your subconscious sends you that signal, you’re interpreting it as meaning that you’ve met someone you have chemistry with. What if it meant the opposite? What if it was your subconscious signaling this feeling is familiar but also meant “Run away! Danger ahead!”

What if your attraction to emotionally unavailable men was a fear response and not an excitement response?

Fear and excitement are experienced the same in your body (shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, etc.), the difference between these two experiences is in your inner dialog (what you are saying to yourself about the experience).

Imagine you are standing in line for a roller coaster. You could be thinking, “Oh my God! What am I doing?! I’ve got to get out of here!” Or you could be thinking, “This is going to be awesome!” Either way, your physiological experience will be the same.

If you asked yourself, what does it feel like when you are attracted to someone, you’d probably say that it feels obsessive, off-balancing, and that you can’t stop thinking about the person. You’ve described the 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 connect with him even though you know that this is not good for you.

Does that sound like love?

It sounds more like every part of you is telling you to run away and you keep finding reasons to stick around, desperately looking for a new strategy to make this situation work, or least to get your next fix in (as you’ve already equated this feeling to addiction).

From now on, when you feel that old feeling of attraction you can think to yourself “Run away! Heartbreak ahead!”

Your strategy of tearing yourself away quickly from emotionally unavailable men is spot on. You are not going to get the love you want from this man. He is not able to give you what you need and isn’t suddenly going to become available. If he did suddenly want to have a relationship with you, it wouldn’t work out. He’d be available and you would feel completely different about him. (Trust us, we’ve been down this road many times with our clients and through our own personal experiences that helped us develop the system we use to transform subconscious blocks to lasting love.)

A Healthy Attraction Is An Unknown Feeling For You

When you are in a healthy relationship, you will feel differently. You will feel attracted to the person, but it will not be that well-known uncontrollable feeling. You will feel the attraction in a completely new way; it will feel like something you’ve never felt before.

Love is a grounding feeling, not one that knocks you off balance. Many people have described it as feeling curious and comfortable at the same time (that’s how it was for us). However, you experience it, please know it will not feel addictive or out of control like with emotionally unavailable men. It certainly won’t have the same obsessive unpredictable energy like you’re feeling with this guy.

Your response to emotionally unavailable men is not grounded and leaves you feeling insecure and uneasy. Your analogy to addiction is accurate. This is not what love feels like, in the sense that it is not healthy or going to be long-lasting.

Like the Bible verse states, “Love is thoughtful. Love is kind… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

We would guess that you’ve never experienced love like this in your intimate relationships.

To Break This Pattern, Take A New, Different Action

Now, let’s talk about how to approach this situation in a new way. One that leaves you feeling empowered about your choices, not wrenching and angst-ridden. No matter how close you are as friends, and how much that voice inside tells you it may be different this time, this man is unavailable not just emotionally, he is literally in relationship with another woman. We can assure you that your soulmate will not come attached to someone else just to keep things interesting. Relationships that are long-lasting are easy at the beginning, not full of strife and uncertainty.

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. This voice inside of you that is rationalizing why it will be different with this guy is fighting a losing battle and it’s up to the adult you to know better and walk away.

Condemn this voice inside you from continuing to give you this bad advice. In short, tell it to shut up, and then commit to never listening to it again. Ignore it. Tell it to go away!

The desire to share your feelings with him is part of an old strategy. It’s an attempt to get what you need from a man who is not capable of giving it to you. Nothing good will come of taking this action. If he wanted more from you, he would take clear and obvious actions towards making that happen.

This guy isn’t taking any action to win you over to claim you, and sharing your feelings and desires with him isn’t going to suddenly change the situation.

Say No To Everything That Is Not What You Want

Cut off all contact with him. Here’s your script: “Because of the attraction we have for one another (or) the attraction I feel for you, I feel it is in my best interest to not continue with our friendship. I truly wish the best for you, and more importantly, I wish the best for myself. You are with someone and I am not. It is really difficult for me to take care of myself in this way, so please honor my request and do not contact me.”

If he does reach out to you, do not answer his calls or respond to his texts or emails. Block him on all social media and detox from him. He is now off-limits to you. If he becomes persistent, that tells you he is the kind of person who cannot honor your requests and does not respect you. This is also how he would behave in a relationship with you.

Do you want to be with someone who honors and respects your requests? Or would you prefer to get involved in the same situation where you end up heartbroken by some guy who pursued you until he caught you… and then moved on?

We know that this is not an easy action to take. That part of you that thinks getting him to love you will solve your problems will resist taking this action and justify why it is important for you to remain friends.

This part of you is doing you no favors. Create a vision of your ideal relationship and how you would feel in it and use it to push through your resistance to cut him off.

Connect With That Little Girl Inside Of You Who Feels Rejected And Ignored

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. The love you seek is inside of you and is reflected back to you through the eyes of your beloved. You don’t get love from another person, you share love with your soulmate.

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, but we promise that if you are committed to repairing the relationship with your inner child that the rewards are limitless.

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 are 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 will begin to learn what healthy love feels like. As you raise the level at which you value yourself, you will find a new kind of man attractive – those who are capable of being emotionally available to create a real lasting loving partnership with you.

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

If you would like more specific help to heal your wounds from early childhood, 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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