Psychologist, author and relationship expert Dr. Seth Meyers is back and blogging about an issue plaguing many women. Here are his thoughts about unavailable men — specifically how to spot them AND stop dating them!
One of the most common problems that plagues romantic relationships is the tendency to repeat the same negative patterns over and over again. In fact, one of the most common patterns women repeat is falling for emotionally unavailable men, a pattern I call “emotional chasing.” Please understand, however, that the chasing isn’t literal. Instead, emotional chasing involves a woman investing her time and energy in a man who is only half-interested or capable of a real relationship. It’s called emotional chasing because she ends up chasing his love and affection, but never fully gets it.
Characteristics of the Emotional Chaser:
If you repeat the pattern of emotional chasing, it means that…
• You tend to fall for men who ultimately won’t commit and settle down or who will cheat on you
• You are usually more emotionally committed to the relationship than your partner is
• You feel like your partner has all the control and power in the relationship
• You often feel less worthy than your partner, as if your partner were more interesting or desirable than you are
• You believe you have to work hard to keep him interested because you’re afraid he will otherwise leave and find someone else
• You try to shape yourself into being what you think your partner wants
If this is a pattern you repeat, there’s both help and hope ahead for you. Try the following exercises to help you fix this problem.
Brief Insight Inventory:
Ask yourself the following questions to gain some insight into why you fall for unavailable men…
• What is the trait that you look for most when you meet a man?
• What are the traits – or warning signs – you look out for and avoid when you meet a man?
• What do you believe the purpose of a romantic relationship is?
• What lessons have you learned so far from your past relationships?
Many women make the mistake of focusing on some of the wrong factors as they look for a suitable partner. The most important traits to look for are emotional stability, reliability and kindness. Another mistake many women sometimes make is falling victim to distorted thinking about the purpose of a romantic relationship. The truth is that a good romantic relationship brings out the best in each member of the couple, so that each member feels happy, strong and competent, and can then go out into the world, be productive, and ultimately reach the goals each has for their lives. Finally, one of the most important things you can do after a relationship ends is gain understanding about the lessons you learned. People who keep repeating the same negative pattern – falling for unavailable men – do so because they didn’t sufficiently learn the lesson they needed to learn from their previous relationships.
Now that you’ve spent time working on the insight part, it’s time to focus on some of the behaviors you can change to set out on a course to meet men who are more suitable for you.
Try these behaviors to help you stop falling for unavailable men…
Letter to Your Exes
• Imagine that a group of your exes has gathered into a room and is lined up against a wall. You are going to write a letter to your exes and tell them exactly how you feel: why you’re angry, what they did that made you feel bad, and what you deserve from your next boyfriend. Imagine that you’re going to take your letter and read it aloud to each one of them. This is your moment to vent, so let it all out!
Confess to Your Friends and Family
• In 12-step groups, the first step is always admitting that you have a problem. If you have a pattern of falling for unavailable men, you, too, have a problem that deserves fixing. Approach a few friends or family members – only those you trust the most – and tell them that you are working on stopping the cycle of falling for unavailable men. Ask them if they’ve noticed you have this issue, even if you believe they already know. Finally, ask them why they think you repeat this pattern – again, even if you already know what they’ll say.
Interview Happy Couples
• One of the best ways to point yourself toward more suitable men is to spend time around happy couples. Interview a few happy couples and ask them the following questions:
What first drew you to each other?
What do you believe are the qualities that make for a successful relationship?
What are the different ways that each of you offers emotional support to each other?
Falling for unavailable men is a pattern that afflicts many women, so don’t feel that you’re alone or destined to repeat dysfunctional relationships forever. The key is to accept that there’s a problem, do the work to change, and have faith that a good, consistent man is waiting for you once you’re ready. If you make sincere efforts to give a new type of man – an emotionally available one – a chance, each effort will bring you one step closer to a man who’s good for you.
Learn more about Dr. Seth and his book, Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Find the Love You Deserve .