My most common client is in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner. They don’t know what to do and they don’t understand why their partner treats them the way they do.
Their partner says they are committed to the relationship, but their behavior tells a different story.
We wonder if we are a priority in their life. Every time we commit and get closer, it feels like they put us down or tell us we are needy. It’s confusing and hurtful. If you feel like this in your relationship, you are most likely dating an emotionally unavailable partner whose life experiences have taught them to avoid intimacy. Closeness and being connected to another person caused more pain and neglect than the fleeting moments of love they received.
The science of love labels this person an avoidant. But in their minds, they are a non-needy, independent individual. If you find yourself in a relationship with this person, you’re most likely a person who desires closeness and is willing to make compromises in your relationship to make it work. This is not healthy. It will only lead you to a relationship that feels very one-sided. You investing in the relationship but they are not. Any person who desires closeness is going to run into three major obstacles to finding a soulmate.
1) Emotionally Unavailable People Dominate Modern Dating
Our modern world of dating is full of emotionally unavailable partners. The sort of people who are fiercely independent and don’t like closeness often end their relationships first. A recent study on attachment showed that avoidants who entered a new marriage, post-divorce, were more likely to divorce again. Since this type of person suppresses the emotions of love, they get over partners almost instantly. Therefore, avoidants are in the dating pool more often, and for longer periods of time. Secure partners don’t go through countless partners before they happily settle down.
Once things “click,” they commit to a long-term relationship. This is why secure partners are the hardest to find. They take a long time to rejoin the dating pool, if they do at all. Studies also show that avoidants struggle to date other avoidants because they lack the emotional glue to stay together. Ironically, one study didn’t even find a single pair that was avoidant-avoidant. This is why avoidants are more likely to date people with different attachment styles.
Someone’s got to make the effort. Putting the jigsaw puzzle together, you can see that the probability that meeting an avoidant in the dating market is high. Much higher than their actual size in the population: 25%. Avoidants are recycled back into the dating pool more often, but they don’t date each other because they both want space. Nor do they date secure people, because secure people are less available. So who are they attracting? That’s right: potential partners with an anxious attachment type. Partners who crave extreme closeness.
Understanding your attachment type is your key to finding a lasting and fulfilling relationship. You’re only as troubled as the relationship you’re in. If you keep finding yourself dating unavailable partners, the common denominator in all of your relationships is you.
2) You Find An Emotionally Unavailable Partner Attractive
The science of attachment attraction says if you are anxious, you also believe that your partner doesn’t want as much closeness as you want. We are often unaware that the partners we are obsessed with are the ones that reinforce our deepest insecurities. Studies on the science of adult attachment[2. Paula Pietromonaco (University of Massachusetts) and Katherine Carnelly (University of Southampton – UK) found that avoidant individuals actually prefer anxiously attached people. Another study done by Jeffry Simpson of the University of Minnesota showed that anxious women are more likely to date avoidant men.] show that our beliefs about love attract specific partners. People who fiercely guard their independence are attracted to partners who invade it. People who desire extreme closeness are attracted to people who are scared of intimacy. Sounds healthy right? It’s not.
Meet Steven. Steven had a toxic relationship with an aspiring actress named Leah. Leah’s subtle indicators of unavailability made Steven feel insecure. This is typical when someone who desires closeness dates someone who craves independence. Very early in the relationship, the “independent” partner starts sending mixed signals. Leah called, but she took her time doing it. Leah was interested in Steven, but she needed to make sure he knew she was still playing the field. This behavior leaves us guessing.