Attracting 'Emotionally Unavailable' Men? Here's How To Fix That.
I really thought I was doing something proactive and smart. OK, maybe "slick" is the better word than "smart". I was sitting on the couch click-clacking on my keyboard, talking with one dude on the phone while chatting with another on Instant Messenger.
Phone Guy knew it was my birthday. He also knew that I traveled a few hundred miles so that I could hang out with him. But on the day of my birthday, his RSVP changed from "yes" to "maybe". Or more specifically, "I don't know."
I was lowkey livid although my tone maintained my professional voice because I figured I had a spare on speed dial. This was also after Phone Guy had already brushed off a prior birthday because, "You know it's Mother's Day." But it wasn't his mother he was celebrating. It was his son's mother and they weren't even together.
So on this birthday, I thought I was making big, slick moves by entertaining the dude who was IM-ing me about attending my local birthday outing upon my return. He expressed interest but apparently that was then.
All I was really doing was repeating a cycle.
Months later, I cooked a midweek dinner for two. After work, I picked up some fresh salmon, fancy sides and libations for blended drinks. I timed the cook time of the fish to coincide with IM guy's arrival so that it would still be flaky and moist. Then, I poured myself a daiquiri and waited.
And texted. And waited. And texted back and waited some more.
I was the only one to eat the meal that I prepared. IM guy was a no-show with no legitimate excuse for his absence. But the more angering part isn't just that he had the nerve to ask me to bring the entire meal to work for his lunch – we worked for the same company – but that this mofo really had no intentions of even showing up despite his text messages expressing otherwise. And for the record, I threw that ish in the trash.
What made both of these situationships (because ultimately that's what they were) baffling is that I didn't approach either of the men. They pursued me. But honestly that's the part that requires some reflection because it happened twice in a row.
Blowing off plans and showing up late sends a passive message of "Sis he don't want you." But a much softer way of delivering this message is to say he's "emotionally unavailable".
According to Healthline, emotional availability refers to the ability to build and sustain an emotional bond with someone else, generally in a romantic relationship. Emotional availability is a major component of a healthy relationship because without it, there's no intimacy. A person without any emotional connection to a potential partner will struggle in relationships and hella confuse the other person.
Emotionally unavailable people actually hate to make plans but agree to them anyway. They also avoid the word "relationship", although they happily engage in relationship behavior. Nevertheless, they can never quite articulate how they feel about you other than mirroring back what you say to them. For example, he may respond, "I feel the same way about you" or hit you with the "Ditto" the way Patrick Swayze's character did Demi Moore's character in the movie Ghost. (Until his ass died, of course, and then he could find all the words.) Ironically, emotionally unavailable people will ghost you if things get a little close for comfort.
The more distant an emotionally unavailable person becomes, the more tempted we may become to try and reach him. We convince ourselves that if I can get him to open up to me, then he'll appreciate me and this relationship will work. This tactic is a trap, sis. They'll simply avoid vulnerability and you'll emotionally exhaust yourself and damage your self-esteem in the process.
Ideally, we'll make healthier romantic decisions after encountering an emotionally unavailable partner, after all, as the great Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. But sometimes it seems that a more appropriate saying for our dating life is like attracts like. These men aren't drawn to us because we're the ideal companion to help them overcome their commitment phobias. It could be that we may very well be emotionally unavailable, too.
Here are a few telltale signs that you’re emotionally unavailable:
You say you want a committed relationship but in the back of your mind, you keep your options open. OK. I didn't need to have my edges pulled like this. I'm indeed a relationship woman. I believe in exclusivity, monogamy and all that jazz. My intent is to connect with another person for a purpose other than casual companionship. However, there was this whisper deep within that kept saying, You don't want any ties to this area. The truth was I didn't really want to get involved with anyone because I planned to eventually move to another city, which I did. That part of me was still unavailable and I attracted that in a person.
This also manifests when you subconsciously think that you don't want to settle for a person because there may be someone better out there. So you keep swiping and dating. The problem is, again, you'll continue to meet the same person in different skin until you decide that you're going to give a great guy a real chance.
You're worried about what a relationship could cost you. As a single woman, you're I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T but coupled up you don't want to risk the possibility of getting lost in a relationship or somehow becoming C-O-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T. As a matter of fact, you may fear that you have to sacrifice a large part of yourself: your schedule, dreams, career, social life, travel, to name a few. But this way of thinking will limit you from making a meaningful connection with anyone because you're going to automatically build a wall with everyone. There's no exact formula for a relationship but it never means that you have to forego all of your goals. If the relationship is healthy, there'll be balance and compromise on both sides. You'll never know what you'll achieve as a significant other if you don't communicate and explore with your partner.
You're afraid of rejection and intimacy. You say you want a relationship but subconsciously you're afraid of getting hurt or revealing too much because you think someone will use your vulnerability against you later, either as manipulation or ammunition in an argument. In these instances, you'll find it safer to be with someone who's also emotionally unavailable because you know there'll never be a real commitment on either side.
Now that you have some idea why you continually attract emotionally unavailable men, here are some ways to break that cycle:
Understand your attachment style in relationships. There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Your attachment style links the bonds you had with your parents when you were youths to how you form bonds with significant others as part of a couple. It also helps to explain why you're too distant or too clingy. You can read "What Your Attachment Style Says About Your Love Life" to determine your attachment style. Once you know your attachment style, you'll better understand how it influences the types of partners you are attracted to and you'll easily pick up on what the signs of that particular style look like in a potential partner.
Practice expressing your emotions before you need to share them with a significant other. This is still going to be uncomfortable, of course, even if you speak to yourself in a mirror or talk to very trusted friends and family members. (And I stress the word "trusted" because if you divulge personal details and feelings to the wrong person and they repeat it, you'll have that much more difficulty connecting to the next individual.) Nevertheless, the idea is to get comfortable with vulnerability while you're still single. Other ways could be to journal those same feelings or use art or music to help foster those feelings and get them to easily flow.
Make a list and check it twice. We're not talking about a list for Santa but rather a list of non-negotiables and red flags. A Psychology Today article recommends notating the warning signs that we ignored in the past and then from that list determine the top 3-5 that we absolutely won't tolerate in the future. Examples of no-gos may be haphazardly dismissing plans, disregarding important dates (like birthdays!) or showing little respect or regard for your feelings. And just as you do in goal manifestations, you want to review this list of non-negotiables periodically, especially when you start dating someone new.
Date another type. Yes, we do have a type, otherwise we wouldn't fall into these patterns. We also tend to pursue individuals that trigger some sort of feeling such as those butterflies in our stomach. But according to Psychology Today, that flutter may not mean that's the right person; it could indicate that we're about to repeat the old pattern all over again. Instead, we should consider the person who gives us a neutral feeling. Go out on a couple of dates and take notice of how this person makes you feel. Even if the attraction isn't there immediately, studies show that it can gradually increase over time.
I'm not going to lie to y'all. I don't know about having someone grow on me and I love butterflies, literal and figurative ones! But I wholeheartedly believe in breaking toxic cycles. If it means that I need to do reflexivity work or inner reflection to change my fearful-avoidant attachment style. Done. If I need to anticipate the deep questions and journal the responses, that's done, too. Because there's nothing slick or sexy about attracting and juggling two men who don't want or have the emotional capacity to reciprocate my love.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up. We drop xoNecole events and special opportunities into our Tribe first.
Featured image by Shutterstock
- 3 Ways To Avoid Falling For Potential In A Man - xoNecole ... ›
- Why You Always Attract Commitment Phobes - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- Guarded: How I Learned To Love The Walls I've Built - xoNecole ... ›
- 6 Signs He Won't Ever Commit To You - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- Healing Absent Fathers To Attract Healthy Relationships - xoNecole ... ›
- Best Shadow Work Prompts For Healing Growth - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Emotionally Unavailable: What It Really Means ›
- 5 Reasons You're Attracting Emotionally Unavailable Partners ›
- Why You Keep Attracting Unavailable Partners | Psychology Today ›
- Why We Find Emotionally Unavailable People Attractive | Talkspace ›
- To the Women Who Repeatedly Attract Broken, Emotionally ... ›
- Are You Attracting Emotionally Unavailable Men? ›
- Am I Emotionally Unavailable? How To Tell & What To Do ›
- How to Stop Attracting Emotionally Unavailable Men - The Ladies ... ›
- Attracting emotionally unavailable guys? Here's how to change that ... ›
I write about lifestyle and women's health and wellness. When I'm not in front of a computer screen crafting stories, I'm in a kitchen crafting cocktails. Follow me on the 'gram @teronda.
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Savannah James Opens Up About The Ways She’s Becoming A Better Woman And A Better Mother
Savannah James is opening up about her personal life like never before.
The 36-year-old talked about her transformative journey to become a better person and how her positive changes, combined with her childhood experiences, have molded her into a well-rounded parent for her children.
Savannah is married to Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. The couple, who have been together for over two decades, share three children Bronny James, 18, Bryce James,15, and 8-year-old Zhuri James.
During her May/June cover story issue with The Cut magazine, Savannah revealed the importance of therapy and caring for one's physical and mental health.
Savannah On Becoming A Better Woman
In the conversation, the mother of three expressed that she has attended therapy in the past because she wanted to "find out more" about who she was as an individual and how her mind operates in "certain situations."
In addition to therapy, she has been finding new ways to enhance her physical and mental health by staying active, removing toxins from her body by incorporating juicing, and following a detox program.
"I've gone to therapy. Anything just to find out more about myself and the way that my brain functions in certain situations. I am a woman getting to a certain age and I need to be aging like the most amazing 19-whatever vintage wine on the market," she stated. "I took a super-heavy intention with my health, moving my body, doing things that may sound weird, juicing for three months. I went on a detox program. I enjoyed it. I felt like I was able to tap into meditation, and my mind was much clearer."
Savannah On How Her Childhood Experiences Have Shaped Her As A Mother
As the conversation transitioned to parenting, Savannah reflected on her childhood experiences and how it has impacted her parenting skills.
The mother of three revealed that growing up, she was always surrounded by love from her family members, including her extended relatives, so much so that they would often frequent and spend quality time at her grandmother or aunt's house.
Savannah shared that those cherished moments made her want to pass that tradition on to her own family --which also consisted of her close friends--- when she eventually had one.
"Growing up, we always did something together. It was always a gang of us. I had a ton of cousins, aunts, and uncles, and we always had fish fries and things like that at my grandmother's house or at my aunt's house. Having that sense of family, I always wanted to have that from my family. When we moved from Akron, we had to create a new family. Our friends became our family," she said.
Another factor that helped "shape" Savannah's parenting skills was how "super-understanding" her parents, Jennifer Brinson and JK Brinson, were to her as she aged.
Savannah revealed that her parents allowed her to "make mistakes and work through them" and gave her the opportunity to express herself in various ways, which she says she does for her three children now.
"I think also having super-understanding, amazing, positive parents in my life was a part of what shaped me and my parenting style," she stated. "I was given opportunities to make mistakes and work through them. I was an athlete, so I was given the opportunity to express myself in the ways of sports, and they let me jump off the walls and do all of the things, so a confidence in that and a freedom in that, which I also give my kids."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images