You want connection and you believe you’re showing up in a way that invites fulfilling relationship. But you keep attracting emotionally unavailable partners. Hmmm.
Time passes, you connect the dots, and you see that yes – you keep attracting…
Players. Peter Pans. Men who want mothers. Men who want you to heal them. Sexy boy-men who bathe you in pleasure but offer no future. Men who partially step in but shuffle their feet because they never intended to truly close their exit doors. Men who are just plain guarded. And so on.
I’ve spent a lot of time living this out. I say all of the following to you with love and from personal experience, and with the hope that my journey can help you become more aware of your interpersonal dynamics and experience greater fulfillment – soon.
Warning: If you want a quickie post that will give you The One Magical Insight That Will Bring You True Love Now – close this tab immediately. This is a long post. And it’s long because there are a lot of factors that can create this pattern. So many I can’t even get into all of them here. But I’m going to give you a bunch of what I’ve learned, and a list of amazing resources, so grab a cup of tea, coffee, wine, or whatever your jam is and board the ride. I hope it empowers and inspires you.
1. Honey, it’s time to grow up and become a more discerning person.
Remember how shitty it was when you learned Santa was your parents? I do. My third grade teacher told us and I’m sure every kid in that classroom will live with a scar from that moment the rest of our lives. The way we clung to the magic of Santa and how catastrophically disappointed we felt when we learned the truth is the same way you cling to the naive perception that believes everyone who’s seeking connection actually wants to genuinely, deeply connect… because they don’t.
Lot of men are hunters. They’re conditioned to get their sense of worth and power from the conquest. It’s an external thing for many of them. And just because they’re SNAGS (Sensitive New Age Guys) does not mean they aren’t hunters – being a SNAG is a disguise many hunters (and predators) wear.
Beyond this, lots of men (and women too, for that matter) aren’t ready to drop-in in the way you might like. They have things they need to learn first. They have individuation work to do. They have trauma and false identities to heal.
All of this – hunting, healing, or being on the path of self-knowledge in whatever form it looks like – is absolutely a-ok. But if you meet someone who is involved with any of this, you need to accept and honor where they’re at (i.e. not where you wish they were, or where their potential says they could be) and engage in a way reflects your awareness of them and honors what’s right for you.
2. Your adult self needs to be behind the driver’s seat – not your wounded little girl.
Being discerning, being clear on what sort of dynamic is happening in a connection, knowing what you’re available for, and deciding if someone is a match means you’re just as OK to let someone in as you are to let them go.
This is a mature, heart-centered position. This is the view of your wise, loving adult self. The one inside you who knows it’s OK to be alone because she values herself, trusts life, knows something better will come along, and is accepting of more me-time in the interim.
Your wounded little girl absolutely does not know these things. She wants attention, validation, and affection… and she’ll do whatever she needs to get these needs met including saying yes to things that look like love even if they are a far cry from it – such as sexual attention, intellectual debates that engage but don’t connect, and game playing.
Loving yourself enough to become a mama bear who will bear-hug your wounded little girl, get her out of the driver’s seat of your perception and choice making, and kindly put her in the passenger’s seat is a major rite of passage. It’s deep work, an ongoing process that will take time, and one filled with Goodbye-to-Santa-esque growing pains.
I can’t begin to list the many, many insights you’ll have as you do this work, but one of the biggest I’ve learned is:
Only open yourself emotionally as far as is true for the dynamic.
Your wounded little girl’s ability to navigate subtleties, like all kids, isn’t well developed. She does not have the ability to put aside what she wants to have happen and see what is happening. She’s too afraid of loss, abandonment, and never getting what she wants.
But your adult self, who loves herself and trusts life, is absolutely able to discern what’s available in a connection. She has the patience to get to know someone over time so she can see what a dynamic is truly offering. And she knows how to honor herself through only going as far emotionally as is true for that connection.
3. ONLY GO AS FAR AS YOU CAN STAY EMOTIONALLY CLEAR.
Once upon a time I was in a gigantic dry spell. I could not, for the love of all things holy, make a sexy or romantic interaction happen. This went on for two years. The silver lining was that I got very spiritually focused. I meditated a lot. Cleansed my body. Got into yoga. Made art. Spent time alone. I was increasingly fulfilled within myself, but I wanted connection. And I really wanted passion.
Then I met someone. Our chemistry was electric – beyond what I thought was possible in a sexual interaction. It was the first time I had a lover like this and to say I felt elevated by it is the understatement of the year.
But soon the high hit an edge and I started to feel confused. Then tired. Then I got very sick and was bedridden for two weeks. Then we broke up and I felt l-o-s-t. I had no idea how to access that level of sexuality without him and I was terrified I’d never experience it again.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly every woman I know has had such a lover.
What I know now, that I did not see then, was that we were in an exchange: We gave each other what we each had an abundance of that the other was lacking so we could each feel whole.
In my case, I had an abundance of emotional and spiritual energy that I gave him, which he was missing as he was largely centered in his mind and sexuality. In his case, he gave me sexual energy.
There is a deep, whole, potent part of each of us that is absolutely ok with anything. But honoring yourself by only going as far as you can stay emotionally clear means that you listen to all the parts of yourself – your little girl as well as your wise-woman – and make choices that respect the totality of you. This often means going slower than you might like so you can see who you’re interacting with and what’s really available, and then responding in a way honors what’s true for you.
That said, sometimes you have to cross your own boundary to find out where your boundary is. I certainly did and it was a priceless, albeit humbling, learning experience that taught me a lot about my blind-spots and how much I confused sexual chemistry and affection with love.
If I could live this moment again knowing what I know now, I would definitely say yes to the opening gift life gave me. But unlike before, this time I would be honest with myself about what was really being offered: an exchange, not a long-lasting connection. Something to enjoy temporarily, not something to hold onto. A moment to receive a gift, and then let it go. And I would open myself to it only as far as I could stay clear.
4. Are you as available to yourself as you want your partners to be?
Who do you present as when you’re with someone you’re attracted to? Do you remain centered and connected to yourself – staying true to what you feel, sense, and need? Or, do you split off into a persona that says you’re available for more than is true for you?
We all want to be accepted, loved, approved of, and wanted. Most of us learned early on that if you want these positive responses from others (i.e. your parents and family), you had better hide the parts of you they don’t like. This is how we, very cleverly, got the positive emotional responses we needed to survive childhood.
Now as adults, out of habit and fear, we keep doing this. We present as who we believe others want us to be so we can get what we want from them – approval, love, validation, desire.
In the case of dating and sex, you may present as sexy, successful, fun, available, open, confident, or whatever else is you believe others want from you. But when you do this you’re not being real. You’re not staying connected to yourself. And you’re not energetically, let alone verbally, or physically, bringing your vulnerable self forward. So of course you’re not being met there in the way you want to be by others.
It’s no surprise that when we do this – and we all do it until we develop the awareness and self-confidence to be more vulnerable – we attract people who aren’t available for a meaningful emotional connection… because we’re not emotionally connected to ourselves. Instead we attract people who are guarded. Insecure. Split. Cool. Wounded but hiding it behind shiny personas or by leading with their sexuality. Etc.
To operate from a place of I Am Enough, to stay centered in yourself, to neither hide nor puff yourself up, to be real and not guarding yourself behind a persona goes completely against how we were conditioned to survive. It’s deeply vulnerable and while “vulnerable” sounds good on paper, most of us run for the hills the second this feeling comes over us because it feels like unsafe.
But, with discernment, it is safe. And it’s the only way to attract the integrated, emotionally available partner you truly want because life is a game of resonance where like attracts like… yes?
5. *Educate yourself… Especially About Attachment theory
Few of us learned how to be in a healthy relationship unless you had one modeled to you. And even still, some things you have to learn on your own. But all is not lost! You can give yourself the education you wished you would have had… now.
Here’s a list of top-notch relationship books I suggest to my coaching clients that they consistently say change their lives for the better:
- Attached – Amir Levine
- Getting the Love You Want – Harville Hendrix (The title’s not ideal but the content is amazing.)
- There is Nothing Wrong With You & Be the Person You Want to Find – Cheri Huber
- The Mastery of Love – Don Miguel Ruiz
- Aphrodite’s Daughters: Women’s Sexual Stories and the Journey of the Soul – Jalaja Bonhiem
- I Need Your Love, Is That True? – Byron Katie