Why the unavailable man is so attractive

Whether it’s the holiday romance, the ‘friend’ who is more than a friend but is never quite ‘ready’ for a relationship with you, or the man who takes ages to text you back, and keeps you guessing about his feelings for you…At some point in your dating life, you have probably fallen for the ‘unavailable man’.

 But even though he

  • lives in a different city, or country you think: “I could move there”

  • Is ‘genuinely a nice guy’, you tell your friends: “he’s just not ready for a relationship”; or

  • takes centuries to text you back, you tell yourself “he’s just busy”

When you ARE together, the sex is hot, he says all the right things and you know he really likes you (or perhaps even loves you).

For as long as I can remember, I have been chronically attracted to unavailable men. Whether he lived in a different city [or country], was [currently] in a relationship, or simply not willing commit, it didn’t seem to matter.

It happened so often that I convinced myself I wasn’t the ‘relationship type’. That I didn’t really want a stable relationship because I knew how those turned out: BORING.

So I continued to fantasize about the holiday romance – meeting in a foreign city, spending fleeting moments together, the sadness of saying goodbye and the uncertainty of when we would see each other again… At the time, this was the definition of romance for me. Two people, who meet by fate and conquer the odds. Who make sacrifices for LOVE [which in my eyes, being the hopeless romantic that I am, was the ULTIMATE sacrifice].

Except when it came down to it, I was the one who was doing all the sacrificing while he wasn’t giving up anything. 

And the more he pulled away, the more I clung on to the fantasy. I would tell myself “he’s just scared – you need to give him space”. Or, when he had ‘seen’ my message and hadn’t replied for a couple of hours (or even days) I would make excuses for him: “he’s just busy”. I told myself I was being too needy, too desperate, and shut down my feelings, trying to ‘be cool’ about it when in reality, I my heart was breaking.

But here’s the thing – all of it was a fantasy.

The image I built up in my head of the relationship we could have if only he chose to me [i.e. if only he changed] was so strong and convincing that even when I did ‘win’ and get the commitment I was after, I quickly lost interest because:

  •  My definition of love was bound up with the sexual tension I felt when someone was unavailable. 

  • I was shit scared of real commitment. It was safe to love someone who is not unavailable, because he never got to see the ‘real me’ (which in my mind, was imperfect and therefore unlovable).

  • And because I didn’t correlate stability and availability with love, I continued to unconsciously choose people who perpetuated this story.

Here’s clincher though: our bodies are biologically coded to seek unavailability. And what this means is: the feeling we have come to believe is love (thanks Hollywood and every romance novel that was ever written) is actually emotional tension.

We mistake unavailability for something that has high status or in high demand (because when something is in high demand we want it more right?).

This is also why the ‘bad boy’ is so alluring. Rebellion signals to our body that in order to live outside the law, they must be higher status.

When I became aware of this pattern, I had a choice – 

1)  I could keep following these highly charged sexual attractions and continue to believe the story that ‘all the good men were gone’, or

2)  I could take responsibility for the role I was playing in attracting these connections and consciously choose something different.

But choosing this is not always easy. I continue to fall for, and be attracted to men who are unavailable, even after developing an awareness of this pattern. 

What HAS changed is that I am quicker catch it happening. I am more forgiving of myself. And I believe that the relationship I deeply desire IS possible for me. 

When you have years, or even decades of experience which confirms your belief, it is not easy to change the story. But, I assure those of you reading this:

It is your absolute birthright to love and be loved in return. And there are many good, great, and amazing men out there who are available, and want to love you the way you deserve to be.

Their job to not to love you, and be available for you. We set the bar for the love we deserve, and only we have the power to change the story.