Do Men Want What They Can’t Have?

“Hi Orna and Matthew,

Do men want what they can’t have?

Here’s my pattern… every single time I allow myself to TRULY love a man and trust/become vulnerable/believe he loves me back – he leaves!

All different types of men, wildly variable circumstances and timelines, but each time I chose to love – they leave. Of course, the ones I don’t care about I can’t get rid of.

I just want to know, do men only want what they can’t have?!?


Hello Paula,

The journey to lasting love can be filled with frustration, we truly feel your pain. Especially when you’re looking for Mr. Right and all you find are Mr. I Can’t Have. You’re asking us, “Do men want what they can’t have,” when it appears to us that this issue is actually yours.

We don’t want to be curt or offend you, however, the only way for you to see that the common denominator in all of your relationships is you is to point out that your internal GPS for love is guiding you to attract unavailable men.

The men who are interested are ones who, in your own words, you “can’t seem to get rid of.” And the ones you are hot for don’t choose you, and don’t stay.

This problem isn’t about men, it’s about the type of man that you find attractive. Something inside of you is drawn to men who are not a good fit for you. And because it doesn’t work out with the happily ever after you’ve hoped for you end up stuck in a pattern of relationships that don’t pan out, feeling frustrated and heartbroken.

Here’s the good news, while you can’t change men and how they behave in an intimate relationship, you can change who you choose to commit your heart to.

The first step is to recognize whether a man is ready for a committed relationship.

When Men Are Ready They Will Pursue A Woman They Desire

A man who wants to be with you will move the relationship forward. He will ask for a commitment to take you off the market. And he will stick around through good times and bad.

Men who are not ready for a relationship will do none of these things. However, they still want companionship and intimacy with a woman they find attractive – especially if the woman is doing all the work. (Most of these men will not even admit to themselves that they are not emotionally ready for a long-term relationship.)

Men who want what they can’t have are certainly not ready for a relationship, but this problem is not gender-specific. It is just as likely for men to want what they can’t have as it is for women. Both men and women can fall into this pattern of having a burning desire for what is unattainable. In fact, this seems to be the unhealthy pattern that has kept lasting love elusive for you.

There are plenty of men who are interested in a relationship with you. And isn’t it interesting that you don’t care about these men? This tells us that there is something off in your selection process.

The Real Reason You Are Struggling Has Nothing To Do With Men

As difficult as this may be to hear, this is an internal struggle. It appears you have a subconscious program that is guiding you to desire a man you cannot count on.

Since we do not have many details about you let’s say this blueprint inside of you matches something like: love feels like abandonment (or some such thing). Whatever the specific language of your subconscious limiting belief it is currently at odds with what you desire for yourself when it comes to romantic love.

The subconscious mind is designed to keep you alive, and therefore it will continue to draw you towards similar experiences. You will attract what is familiar.

This is why so many women who grew up with physical and emotional abuse in their childhood then select partners who are also abusive.

When abuse and trauma are present it’s easy to see the pattern and where it originated. Unfortunately, without such egregious circumstances, your patterns and strategies may be more covert and difficult to identify.

What Is Familiar To You Is Not What You Want!

There is a discrepancy between what you desire (loving a man who is able to commit to you long-term) and what you have experienced (each time you choose to love, he leaves). As long as you have this inner conflict, you will continue to struggle to create the long-lasting love you desire.

It is your subconscious that highlights the men who are not interested in a long-term relationship with you, and because they stand out they appear attractive to you. And the men who are interested in a relationship appear unattractive to you.

There’s no juice, no spark with the latter because it doesn’t feel “right” to you. The available guy is not a match to what is familiar from your past experiences (all the way back to your childhood). The men you’ve labeled “wants what he can’t have” are familiar to you and you find him irresistibly attractive. .

We Call This Subconscious Love Program Your Love Imprint®

Your strategy for giving and receiving love is created in your family of origin when you were between 0 and 8 years old. You see, as a child you need to feel loved and safe to survive. And you will take on any behavior to feel loved and safe, even limiting beliefs about who you are and your place in the world.

All children take full responsibility for their parents’ behavior because they don’t have the capacity to think of it any differently. You think, “What is wrong with me that my parent is behaving this way?” You take on a limiting story about yourself and that story becomes part of your identity. This wound becomes the basis of Your Love Imprint®.

Your Love Imprint is comprised of your limiting beliefs, mental/emotional patterns, and behavioral strategies around giving and receiving love. It even determines who you have the spark of attraction with!

The real kicker about your subconscious mind is that it does not have the capacity to judge. It’s like it has two buckets, one with all your experiences, and one with everything else that you haven’t experienced. The first bucket contains all that is known and therefore familiar. The second bucket contains all that is unknown and therefore is considered unsafe to the subconscious mind.

This part of you is wired to keep you alive – and that’s it. Since you’re alive right now, and you’ve made it this far, your subconscious assumes that if you keep experiencing the same circumstances, you’ll continue to say alive.

However, if you step into the unknown, and therefore unsafe territory, your subconscious will react with resistance and will strive to return you to what is familiar. 

Surviving Does Not Equal Thriving

Your subconscious doesn’t know if your current circumstances are positive or negative, it just knows that they are familiar. It doesn’t have the capacity to know if you are alive and blissfully happy, or miserable and suicidal. Its only purpose is to keep you alive.

You can never truly thrive in life when you are focused on just staying alive and surviving. This is just the basic foundation of what is necessary without any of the goodies that create a life well-lived.

Everyone who has changed their circumstances considerably has made the adjustment to move into unfamiliar territory. It’s common to hear from motivational speakers, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

When it comes to matters of the heart it’s not so simple. We think of love as something that is mysterious, that we have no control over. Yet, ask anyone who has been married for any length of time and they will unequivocally tell you that lasting love is a choice.

To make things even more confusing, there is contrary information about how to find lasting love everywhere you turn.

YOU Are The Common Denominator In All Of Your Relationships

YOU are the one constant. So, if you’re unhappy with your results thus far it’s time for an internal change.

Continuing to see the problem as men who want what they can’t have, instead of realizing the problem is actually inside of you, will leave you feeling powerless and at the mercy of this unhealthy pattern.

You may have tried going against type. Dating those men who are gung-ho about you – those men you don’t find attractive (and who are unfamiliar). Unfortunately, that will not move you towards your goal of long-lasting love either. Chemistry is a necessary ingredient for love to last, so you cannot forego it completely.

Your GPS for love needs to be recalibrated. This is not something that you can think your way through. It is about having an experiential shift. Once you have a new experience, you cannot un-have it – just like riding a bike.

Reconcile The Difference Between What Is Familiar And What You Desire

The desire you have to share your life with a man who gets you, who will stand by you, who desires you as much as you desire him, exists in your conscious mind. This desire is not in alignment with what you experienced as “love” in your family of origin.

Your parents loved you in the way in which they were capable of loving you. Often this falls short of how you wanted to be loved. Additionally, all the events of your childhood were assigned a meaning by the younger version of you, with her view of the world.

The meanings you assigned to the events of the past as a little girl determine how you feel about yourself when it comes to intimate relationships – and oftentimes do not play out in other parts of your life. It’s the child version of you that created your belief system for your own personal GPS for love.

Right now, as a grown woman, you are selecting men who reflect back to you the same energetic dynamic of love that you experienced in your family of origin simply because that is familiar to you.

Ask yourself what happened in your childhood that led to you believing that love is out of reach, that you can’t win someone’s love and approval, that the feeling of abandonment is familiar. You can dig even deeper to discover additional limiting beliefs you’re carrying that have you believing you’re not worthy of love in some way.

You Can Change This Unhealthy Pattern

The first step to change is having awareness of what is out of whack. This investigation will put you in the driver’s seat to make the changes you desire. Discovering your subconscious blocks to love will give you insight as to why love being difficult is so familiar to you. Then you can begin the work of dismantling those beliefs and strategies and of course creating new ones (that bring your desires to fruition).

Notice your inner dialog when you meet a man you find attractive. Do you find yourself evaluating your behavior after the fact looking for what you could’ve done better or differently? Are you feeling light and uplifted after spending time with him, or do you feel insecure, anxious, and find your inner critic is on a tirade after you two part?

How you feel after you part from him will tell you a lot about whether he is a good match for you long-term. Feeling euphoric and obsessively thinking about him can be a warning sign that he is a match to your unhealthy pattern.

Make requests of him and notice how he responds. Does he get defensive? Does he argue with you and belittle your request? Does he downplay or try to diminish your feelings? By making requests you can discover if he has the capacity to step up and meet your needs. If he cannot, or doesn’t even try, it’s time to move on and deselect him.

Focus on what’s really important. Attraction is important for lasting love, but it’s only one ingredient. Without shared values, love won’t last because there won’t be common ground for you two to connect through difficult times. If you don’t share the same values, you can’t build a life together.

Who knows? Maybe one of those men that you can’t seem to get rid of is actually a good match for you? You’ll only know if attraction can grow if you give him a chance.

By approaching the search for love in a whole new way you’ll create new strategies and cultivate discernment through the dating process. This will allow you to evaluate if a man is an ideal match for you before you commit your heart.

Lasting love may feel elusive, but the truth is you’re most likely getting in your own way without even knowing it! Your limiting beliefs, mental/emotional patterns, and behavioral strategies for giving and receiving love are operating on autopilot and may be sabotaging your best efforts to find the love you want.

If you’re tired of having your heartbroken, or you’re unsure who to select and deselect through the dating process, discovering Your Love Imprint® is the most powerful step you can take to bring you peace of mind.

The best part is that you don’t have to rehash the past, and crying is optional! Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your love life and discover Your Love Imprint in one pain-free virtual session.

Book a call with us and apply for Your Love Imprint® Session here.

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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