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Maybe You're The One That's Emotionally Unavailable


I have a question about unavailable men.

Some of my exes and nearly all of the men I've tried to be in a relationship with were/are emotionally unavailable. My issue for choosing them in the first place, which I am trying to resolve with a therapist.

However, one thing has always puzzled me. All those unavailable men - either after our relationship had finished or after rejecting me being emotionally unavailable for a relationship - have been able to commit to another woman quite quickly, and long term. When I say commit I mean: two exes both got married less than 18 months later; two other guys I was trying to be with found their now long term serious girlfriends a few months after meeting me.

My therapist has assured me that those were emotionally unavailable people, and that I chose them because I have low self esteem.

How is this possible, if they could commit so soon and so long term, to someone else? Aren't unavailable men unavailable to all women, not just to some?

Thanks for your reply!

In my experience, I've encountered two kinds of unavailable men: the ones unavailable to me and those who were wholly unavailable, period. The question isn't why these men suddenly became available, because that answer is simple: their either met someone they felt was an ideal fit for them and became available or they met someone accepting of their unavailability. I don't happen to agree that unavailable people stay unavailable in perpetuity. For some, it's a phase that happens as a result of something else, like a break-up, a divorce, illness or other stressors. Then there are the people who are emotionally deficient in some way.

It's great that you're in therapy, but remember: your therapist only knows what you tell them and that your experiences are processed through your personal filters. Telling you that your alleged low self-esteem is to blame for this pattern feels a bit reductive to me. I know plenty of people with healthy self-esteem who have a habit of being drawn to unavailable partners. Much of this boils down to our individual attachment style. It's possible these unavailable men are finding partners who are accepting or even prefer their unavailability or think their unavailability is normal.

With that in mind, I want you to consider one other possibility. Maybe it's not just the men that were unavailable. Perhaps what's actually going on, at least in some of these cases, is that the men you're meeting think you're unavailable. One reason why certain people perpetually attract unavailable partners is because they are unable to make themselves vulnerable enough to engage in any real kind of emotional intimacy. Water seeks its own level, as they say. For many of us, pursuing unavailable people is safe. We do it as a way to protect ourselves.

Ask yourself this: what's more likely? That all the men you meet are unavailable until they date you and then suddenly become available? Or do you think some of these men actually are available but didn't feel that availability reciprocated so they moved on?

I don't have the answer to this. The only certainty for me is that it's not as simple as you have low self-esteem and so you settle for unavailable men. There's something about that theory that rubs me all kinds of the wrong way. Humans are more complex than that. I would ask your therapist if future sessions can focus on your possible emotional unavailability and, if it exists, what the root cause could be.

Your thoughts, readers?

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