Why Do We Go for Emotionally Unavailable People in the Pursuit of a Relationship?

As a person who lacked confidence when I started dating, I was ready to “welcome” anyone into my life. The lack of confidence had another side effect – quick attachment to people who never really reciprocated.

Emotional unavailability has turned into a buzz word but do you know what it really means? According to Psychology Today, the signs of emotional unavailability include commitment phobia, the desire to control all aspects of the relationship, anger, arrogance and a history of relationships ending whenever things started getting too intimate.

Why are we drawn to emotionally unavailable people?

That’s a question I had to ask myself after being drawn to man after man who did not respond to my quest for a deeper connection.

Here’s what I found out on the basis of personal experience and research.

Your Own Emotional Trauma 

Your own emotional trauma and pain from the past could be impeding your ability to build emotional strength.  

If you have suffered heartbreak in the past, you become much more likely to crave an emotionally unavailable partner. This person isn’t going to take things to the next level and trigger you. Emotional unavailability is safe and it doesn’t cause pain.

Childhood trauma like parental neglect or intense bullying could also contribute to pursuing unhealthy, even detrimental relationships. If you see a dating pattern, you may have to dig deep and discover the real reasons behind the type of partner you seek out.

Self-Esteem Issues 

I already mentioned my self-confidence issues and experts seem to agree – insecurities often lead women to accept any kind of attention (even if it happens to be the damaging kind).

Psychologically speaking, “converting” a man who isn’t emotionally available will provide proof that a person is worthy.

This is the explanation behind the bad boy phenomenon. So many women are attracted to bad boys, hoping they could change such men and turn them in loyal partners.

The subconscious response, however, perpetuates even deeper insecurities.

Emotionally unavailable men do more damage than good during dating. They could contribute to the internalization of such deep insecurities that years may be required to eventually go back to healthy dating and relationship patterns.

Not Ready for a Relationship 

Subconsciously, you could be choosing emotionally unavailable partners because you’re not ready for a serious relationship.

This is much like online dating through DoULike – you are in charge and if you don’t want to, you’re not going to take things to the next level.

By choosing a partner who is emotionally unavailable, you’re making sure that the relationship isn’t going to progress. It will remain superficial and within a zone of comfort for you.

Seeking a Challenge? 

Emotional trauma and insecurities aren’t always to blame.

Some people like a challenge when it comes to dating.

They see emotionally unavailable partners as a transformation project.

What could be better than completely altering the world views of a person who isn’t ready for love and commitment?

Emotionally unavailable partners are mysterious and charismatic because they don’t reveal a whole lot about themselves. They provide scraps of attention and affection, tiny pieces that can motivate a person to move forward with the relationship.

All of us want to feel desired. This is why we may continue self-destructive relationships in hopes that things get better. What matters the most is recognizing the pattern and getting out at the right time.

Changing Your Dating Patterns 

Is it possible to change your dating patterns?


What matters the most in such instances is taking a bit of time to do some self-reflection.

Introspection can be difficult and challenging. It can force you to examine painful memories and past trauma that you’d rather keep hidden.

Once you face these demons from the past or the specific root cause of your unhealthy behavior, you will find it much easier to initiate change.

The most important thing to understand is that you deserve love, affection and respect.

There is nothing you need to change about yourself in order to make an emotionally unavailable partner fall in love.

Rather, you need to start dating the kinds of people who will understand you, appreciate you and shower you with the affection that you need.

How did the story end for me, you may ask?

Luckily, it had a happy ending. After going for multiple emotionally unavailable men, I finally tired and gave a good guy a chance. He pushed me to open up and share my past hurt. Once I let it all art, we were capable of making the relationship serious, meaningful and fulfilling for both parties involved.

Opening up and looking inside can be scary but you need to make it happen. I promise you, the rewards justify the potential angst and terror. You will start healing and the negative pattern will finally be broken.


by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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