When it comes to the traits we want in a partner, “emotionally unavailable” is never on the list. So why do so many of us end up dating not just one emotionally unavailable person, but a series of them?
In today’s new video, I get to the heart of what goes on when we keep finding ourselves getting stuck on emotionally unavailable people, and how we can break the pattern and find someone who’s ready for a relationship.
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When you say that you want to find love, how serious are you? I recently had someone come to me about a guy she had met. This woman is in her thirties. She is very serious, she says, about finding love, about having a family and about building a life with someone. It’s something she wants the most in her life right now where she’s at. The guy that she described having met on a night out with her friends who is hot and charming and they have chemistry and she has a great time with, and did I mention he’s hot, has one small detail that made me take a pause. He’s 21.
Now. When she was asking me for advice with this guy, the first thing I wanted to remind her of was her goals. You want to find love, you want to get married and you want to have a family. Now, when she described this guy and the things that were causing her some anxieties, one of them was that she had talked about the fact that she wants marriage and kids and he hadn’t thought about it, which of course he hadn’t. He’s 21. It didn’t stop him aggressively pursuing her and asking for a lot of her time and her energy, and it didn’t stop her from wanting to give that time and that energy because, did I mention, he’s hot?
Now here’s the thing. We all have things in life that we really want. We have goals that we say we’re serious about. If we’re really serious about a goal, we have to ask ourselves is the way I’m spending my time, the things I’m investing in and the decisions I’m making in line with that goal? Is there a congruency there? Because if there isn’t, then we are out of integrity with ourselves. We are out of integrity with what we are looking for.
So there’s a level of honesty that has to happen with ourselves. This woman who came to me isn’t right now behaving like a person who is serious about her goal. Because dating a 21-year-old, regardless of what a mature head he has on his shoulders is unlikely to produce the result that she’s looking for. And it’s not even like he’s a 20-year old who’s saying, I want all the same things as you, and on the same timeframe. This is a 21-year old who’s saying, I hadn’t really thought about it. I know that there will be comments from people who say, “Oh my God, I can’t believe she’s entertaining a 21-year-old,” but everyone has had their version of this at some point. It could be someone who lives in a place that makes it practically impossible to have a relationship, and yet we keep talking to them.
It could be someone who’s married. It could be someone who’s a drug addict. We all have our version of dating a dead end for us. What I’m interested in is less so the specific details of this story and more the psychology behind why it is we seem to do things that clearly are not in line with what we are really looking for for ourselves. Now in her case, having spoken to her, I believe that there was this really high degree of a couple of things going on.
One, this person being young and attractive felt very validating for her. Two, it felt like energy in her love life. And when we want something to happen in that part of our life and we really just want to feel like there’s any momentum, something, then the first sign of attention we get we’re likely to pounce on without evaluating whether it’s actually right for our goals. We’re just happy that there’s a story going on in our love lives right now. There’s something happening that I can talk about because my worst fear is that there’s nothing to talk about. And so we entertain it, and I believe that’s why she was entertaining it. And I think that there’s a tremendous fear for her in feeling like she’s standing still. And the reason that having no one in her life would feel like she’s standing still is because she’s taking having someone in her life as a sign of progress.
So there’s an element of needing to redefine what progress is. Whenever I’m coaching someone and they keep saying that everyone I date is emotionally unavailable, of course the response is to look at that person and say, “Well, what’s happening here with you? Why do you keep choosing emotionally unavailable people?” And on one hand you could say that’s because she’s emotionally unavailable. There’s a world where I’m coaching someone and they keep dating unavailable people because it’s kind of a way of not having to really let someone in, not having to truly be vulnerable with someone and open themselves up to that because as long as someone’s not available, I don’t ever really have to have you know me because I know it’s not going to go anywhere anyway.
But I don’t believe that’s what’s happening in this case. I think that with this woman that came to me, if I gave her a perfectly compatible 35-year-old that she thought was attractive, that she got on well with and of course was age appropriate, she would jump on that relationship. However, in the absence of that, she’s too willing to entertain anything that can give her a short-term hit of feeling good. There is a fear of delaying that gratification of saying no to something that might feel good right now, perhaps because there’s a scarcity mindset behind it.
I don’t want to take this for granted because I don’t know where the next one is going to come from. This person’s really attractive, so I’m blinded by that. Maybe the next person that comes along won’t be this attractive. So there’s a lot of scarcity mindset going on there. And of course, just the excitement and the good feelings of doing something that feels good. We’ve all been in that place before, just doing something because it feels good without questioning whether it actually serves our longer-term goals in life. But how do we measure the seriousness of our goals or how seriously we take our goals? By the sacrifices we are willing to make to achieve them. That is how we show that something is actually very important to us. That’s how we honor that goal. And that’s not just true in love. That’s true in business. It’s true everywhere.
In business, if you have a project that you know for a company this is going to be the project that is going to move us forward, this is going to be the life-changing thing if we can get it done, we show our seriousness towards that project by what we are willing to say no to. There might be opportunities that come along that are exciting, that are attractive, that make some money, that are fun, that feel like novel projects that grab our attention. But we say no to them even though they’d be fun and they’re novel because they would get in the way of this thing that’s much, much more important. And the people that never say no don’t ever tend to get that really important thing done.
In love, the people who can’t say no to the wrong thing have a really hard time achieving their goal of finding the kind of sustainable relationship that they’ve been looking for. Last week I interviewed Matthew McConaughey, which is a pretty cool sentence to say. And how did that go? Jameson?
Pretty damn good, man. Damn good, I’m happy to say.
Pretty good, man. We talked about something really interesting, which was a time in his life as an actor where he was tired of doing romcoms. He wanted to do more serious roles, he wanted to really flex as an actor, and he had this very scary period where he was getting massive offers for romcoms that he didn’t want to do anymore, but the money was huge and he wasn’t getting any offers yet for the thing he really wanted to do. So he was having to say no at a time when there was no better option and have faith that a better option would come along if he just kept the space open for that. And that’s a brave thing to do. That takes courage to keep a space open for the right thing by saying no to the wrong thing. He talked about it as saying yes by saying no, and that’s the thing we have to start thinking about in our love life.
When I say no to something that albeit may represent something exciting and fun in front of me, but will take up my energy, will take up space in my life, will take up focus and will probably leave me heartbroken or hurt at the end of it and feeling perhaps resentful that I ever allowed it to take up so much of my space. When we say no to that thing, we have to stop seeing it as just depriving ourselves. Well, there’s nothing else going on in my life. I’m just depriving myself of something fun here. Instead of just seeing it as saying no to something on the outside, we have to start seeing it as saying yes to our longer-term goals to something much, much more important in our lives.
In order to do that, we are going to have to get comfortable in ways that we’ve maybe avoided being comfortable. We’re going to have to build an emotional strength and resilience that says, I am going to do what I’ve been most afraid of, which is to say no even when something better hasn’t come along, even when there’s just a space in my life, and I’m going to have to breathe into that space and feel okay and feel at peace there a little longer. Because if I am living a life where the moment there’s space and someone comes through the door that’s wrong for me, but there’s someone, I flinch and I break that standard and I break my own goals, we’re always going to set back the clock on what it is we really want. And I have watched people, I’ve been doing this for 15 years now with people all over the world, and I have watched people run out the clock on their lives by continuing to entertain the short-term fix over what it is they’re really looking for long-term.
And by the way, an added bonus of saying no to the things that don’t really serve us is that we really build confidence in ourselves because it’s a way of saying, I am important. My goals are important, making myself happy long-term is important, and it’s more important than even giving myself a hit of something that I really want short term. A friend of mine, Brendan Bechard said that integrity doesn’t just show up in the stereotypical way we see it, which is keeping our word to other people. Integrity is also how we spend our time. Does how we spend our time and our energy reflect the promises we’ve made to ourselves and the goals we have for ourselves? Does it reflect the values that we say are our values? And if it doesn’t, then we’re out of integrity with ourselves. But at any point in life, we can get back into integrity with ourselves. We can make the hard choice, we can make the courageous decision, and we can finally create the space in our lives for the right thing to enter it.
Before you go, if you haven’t already tried this, I have a program called The Momentum Texts, which is an amazing program because it actually gives you 67 specific ways of having conversations that create momentum with someone in early dating. And that’s the thing that I find most people want these days. They don’t want to get stuck in casual flings that never go anywhere or just get frozen at this point of non-committal, hooking up, texting that doesn’t turn into dates or dates that never turn into a relationship. If you are in a place in your life where you actually want to move things forward with someone, this is the program that shows you very practical ways to do that. I know you’re going to love it if you haven’t tried it already. It’s a $7 program, so there’s no risk to that. Go try it out. It’s a MomentumTexts.com. So go check it out now, MomentumTexts.com, and I’ll see you next time.