Why Am I Attracted to Unavailable Men?

by Dr. Fayr Barkley, Ph.D. • More.com Member { View Profile }

One of the women on my Cougar dating site wrote an interesting question for the members to comment on a few weeks ago. “I don’t know what to say to people when they ask me why I haven’t married and am still single. I’m a little more selective than the average female and seem to be more attracted to unavailable men. I am not sure how to reinvent my attraction radar to men who want me.”

My interpretation of what she meant by her attraction radar is that she has a pattern of going after men who are emotionally unavailable. We tend to seek out a relationship that mirrors who we are. If she is going after unavailable men, it is likely because she has some walls built up to protect herself and is not very emotionally available.

Emotional availability means we have the capacity to take an emotional risk in letting ourselves be vulnerable to another person. When we are not capable of doing this, it is due to a conscious or subconscious block. If we grew up in a dysfunctional family where mom or dad or both were not available to us in some way, we may push down our natural desire to bond. If we don’t bond properly with our parents in childhood, then how can we bond appropriately to others? Many people have a fear of abandonment that goes back to childhood. If one or both parents had an emotional, mental, addiction problem then it will have a profound effect upon us and how we relate to the world and others.

Chances are, the woman who asked the question about resetting her radar never learned how to bond appropriately to healthy, available people as a child. There may have been some really great guys who came into her life but she rejected them because they were “too nice” or she “didn’t have chemistry” for them and so she relegated them to the friend zone. These men may have been absolutely appropriate for her, but she could not bond with them in a romantic or sexual fashion.

We all tend to mate, date and marry someone who “fits” a degree of comfort level from our childhoods even though that comfort level may have been borne of dysfuntion. Usually we choose someone whose dynamics are like either mom’s or dad’s in an effort to work out the struggles we had with them through our mate. One of the questions I ask men and women when I help them process their past is,” In what way is he like your mom or dad?” The answers I get and the expressions on the faces of the women are very telling. The push/pull or approach/avoid from childhood is staring them in the face. Since this is a very important dynamic in creating sexual tension, the dysfunction is often confused for sexual attraction or even love. Since “nice guys” don’t necessarily know how to create sexual tension or understand “the dance“ that men and women need in order to establish attraction, the women gravitate toward the  more dysfunctional guys: the jerks. Since this pattern is very ingrained by childhood imprinting, the women and men will complain bitterly that there is no one decent to date and all men/all women are jerks. The fact is, there are decent people to date and  marry, but they tend to fall into the friend zone due to lack of sexual attraction.

When the woman asked how to reset her radar, she is basically asking how to fix herself so that she will be attracted to a good man. This takes time, effort and willingness to go against imprinting; which is very powerful. It is very possible to do this, provided a person can get past the excuses of “this is just the way I am and everyone else needs to accept me.” That type of thinking will only get a person more of what they have already gotten in life and they are not likely to overcome their maladaptive patterns of thinking and behaving and end up either spending life alone or going from one failed relationship to another.

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Beth 11.28.2014

This article makes so much sense. When we look back through our failed relationships and even ones that never really made it out of the gate, the relationships tend to mirror what we needed to work through. We put out a certain vibe that reflects our comfort zone.

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