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  • Writer's pictureLauren Walsh

A Therapist's POV on the Attraction to Emotionally Unavailable Men + How to Recover

Is your relationship history an absolute train wreck? Do you feel like you deserve an award for having the worst taste in men? Do you feel like giving up on your dreams of finding your person because it's the same song and dance every time and you always somehow find yourself attached to another emotionally unavailable guy?

I wish I didn't but trust me, I GET IT! It's incredibly disappointing and leaves you feeling hopeless and confused. Also, depressed because you're grieving a loss. Another person you gave your heart and body to, for it to fall apart or just be an ongoing cycle of toxicity and hot and cold behavior.

Now, I'm not excusing their behavior by any means, BUT... it's time to start looking inward if you related to anything I just said. That's right, you can't play the blame game or the woe is me card forever. Well, actually you can but it's not going to get you anywhere but stuck in the same cycle. These guys have depleted you enough already... emotionally, mentally and physically. It's time YOU change because that's the only person you can control anyway.

Don't worry, I'm going to tell you how to start :)

First things first, you need to find out WHY you are attracting and attaching to emotionally unavailable people that can't meet your needs. There are reasons why you're doing this and it primarily stems from your past experiences as well as your self esteem. Some examples could be:

Your caregiver when you were growing up was not emotionally available. A caregiver is who teaches and shows a child what love is and how it's shown/received. It's who is supposed to be meeting a child's needs. If your caregiver wasn't able to do this for you, you learned at a young age that your needs don't get met and that's normal. You also absorbed emotionally detached relationships instead of secure ones. It is extremely common to mirror in partners what we were taught in childhood, because it feels familiar.

You also may have grown up with the idea that love is something that is not easily given. Something you have to earn and work hard at receiving. No one is harder to get love from than an emotionally unavailable man... hence why you're drawn to this type. It feels normal to fight for love and try to earn it. When you finally do get little crumbs of "love" from them, you get a massive dopamine rush. It feels so good to get what you've been working for, even though it's temporary.

Abandonment wounds are also a very likely reason why you would attach to an emotionally unavailable partner. A caregiver or someone you valued may have left your life or someone you were in love with may have discarded you. This is traumatic. Even though these are bad experiences, humans tend to repeat familiar things. Therapists call this "repetition compulsion" or a "re-do." That's when someone continues to repeat something traumatic over and over again (i.e. picking the same kind of guy). You're reinacting the same thing, hoping to change it for the better this time. Ending up being the woman he picks, the "different" one that breaks the mold and makes him change. If you just do this one thing different this time around, you'll totally break through and heal him with your love. Sometimes you might have awareness that you're doing this but for lots of people this is happening in their unconscious. They don't even realize it!

Self esteem plays a monumental part in this as well. If you do not value yourself, have a good relationship with yourself, genuinely believe that your needs deserve to be met and that it's actually possible for someone to meet them... you will only find yourself in unsatisfying relationships because you don't really believe you're worthy of anything better. In all honesty, how can you expect someone to fall in love with you, if you don't even like yourself?

In my experience as a therapist, these are the most common reasons why people latch on to the emotionally unavailable but of course it's not the end all be all.

After reading this, you might be thinking that this makes a lot of sense, sounds like stuff you've experienced but wondering what you're supposed to do about it now that you know this. You probably want to know how to "fix" it.

I have found therapy to be the most helpful tool. Therapy helps you understand what happened and gives you a confidential, safe place to discuss your past in. No matter how supportive family or friends are, you can't tell them everything. You need a different place. You may even have trauma and memories that you repressed that can be uncovered in session and properly dealt with.

True healing and inner peace isn't possible unless you work through your negative experiences, not around them. No one wants to hear this, I know. You want the coping skills, the quick fixes, the mood boosters, but doing those things without any additional help is a bandaid. Surely helps in the moment, but does not have the long lasting results you want. You have to go through the pain and the hard stuff to come out on the other side. Although this sounds awful, it actually brings so much awareness to your life and mental clarity. Which is what most people are wishing for. You're able to see things so much clearer and be able to catch negative signs or people much quicker than you did before.

In combination, you're also learning a lot about yourself in therapy. What you truly want, what needs to happen in your life in order to achieve that and you're becoming more solid and secure as a woman.

Think of your self esteem as your foundation, like the foundation on your house. If it's weak and damaged, your house can't stand strong. It's struggling, on the verge of collapsing. The same goes for your self esteem. If it's low and damaged, you're feeling weak and on the verge of breaking down.

We have to pour energy into ourselves and our healing process so we can stand up strong and make better choices that lead us to our dream life and ideal self.

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