Nicole asks: I’m 24 and this Mr Unavailable and I have been involved with each other for almost 6 years now. We were together once upon a time and we broke up because he cheated on me. Like a fool I stuck around thinking that we could make it work and he kept telling me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship right now so I thought that I would just give him some time. We never stopped doing relationship things, we just had no title.
Its been almost 4 years later and still no relationship title but just found out that he is in a relationship with someone else. This has happened twice. He is a Mr Unavailable and I know it. He even told me that just because he is in a relationship with her doesn’t mean that he is going to change (still mess around).
I have two questions that I should not even be worried about but I want to know: 1) Why has he been telling me that he doesn’t want a relationship but has got in one with someone else? 2) Why would he get in this relationship already knowing his intentions for her?
I should add that he said the reason he keeps me around is because he wants to be with me when he is ready to truely commit to someone. Mr Unavailable!
I am sorry to hear of what has happened and certainly one of the best things that you can do is to distance yourself from this man and stop pursuing him and instead work on grieving the loss of the ‘relationship’ and accepting that it’s over. And there is a reason why I make a point of saying ‘pursuing’, because you are the one who has kept this ‘relationship’ going while he is crept behind for the ride enjoying the fringe benefits.
But to answer your key questions first:
The reality is that he didn’t and doesn’t want a relationship with you.
That’s not to say that he is going to be any better to this new woman, but for most of the 6 years you’ve been involved with this man, in one way or another, he has communicated that he does not want to be in this relationship and has very little regard or respect for you. He started out by trying to extricate himself out of the relationship by cheating and being caught. You decided to give him another chance, in spite of the fact that he told you directly that he didn’t want a relationship. You thought it would be a matter of time but it was also about thinking you knew better and not wanting to ‘give up’ after expending your emotional energy – effectively, it’s like making the blind decision to stick at the relationship irrespective of whatever takes place.
He has got into a relationship with someone else because he’s not in a relationship with you, and has learned that regardless of how poorly he behaves, you’ll be there anyway.
How do I know this? Because this is the second time that he has started up a relationship with someone else which means that you have already taught him that it’s OK for him to step out because you will keep holding out for the dream.
You are betting on a potential that doesn’t exist because this disrespectful man has mentioned to you that when he wants to be in a relationship, it will be with you. What you haven’t considered is that that time may never come so you’re betting on a wing and a prayer rather than looking at the consistent behaviour of the man in the past and in the present to draw a conclusion about how he is likely to behave.
Does it really matter why he has got involved with someone else? Shouldn’t the fact that he is involved with someone else be like an enormous alarm bell ringing?
Sometimes as women, we want to play Columbo and dig our way back through the relationship crime scene so that we can understand the what, why, where’s, when’s, and how’s of what has happened. The problem though when you do this in relationships is that we expend energy digging for supporting information when the obvious massive piece of evidence tells us more than we need to know.
We obsess about the finer details because we’re looking for reasons to stay invested and will also find reasons to blame ourselves for what has happened.
This is why it is important to have boundaries, an awareness of red flags and use your gut, judgement, and instincts. It means that if you have these things, when it’s crap, it’s crap; you’re not going to throw away your time and your self-esteem trying to understand why it’s crap because you know it’s crap.
You also asked why he’d get into this relationship knowing his intentions, i.e. he has no plans to change and is likely to continue to mess around.
You can turn this question around and ask: Why, when you know that a man can’t keep his pants on and is always looking over your shoulder trying to start up pseudo relationships elsewhere so he can mess up Yet Another Woman’s Life, do you still continue to be involved with him? You know his intentions too.
Why does any man (or person for that matter) continue to start up ‘relationships’ with people knowing damn well that they are incapable of actually being in a committed relationship and are likely to engage in behaviour that is counterproductive to any relationship succeeding?
Because they can. They overestimate the level of their interest and their capability of being ‘different’ because they are frequent users of the Reset Button, which is where they have an uncanny ability to erase all of the inconvenient details of their dalliances so that they can start afresh. In the ‘hot’ phase when they are pursuing their latest ‘target’, the excitement and desire created by the chase feed their illusion that things are different.
The moment that this new woman wants, needs, or expects more than he’s prepared to be wanted, needed, or expected from, he’ll lose interest and start playing around or creeping back up around you.
Let’s be real – the guy has an allergy to the truth and being decent. Letting new women know what he’s all about might actually scare them off before he’s had a chance to screw them over
You’re concerned about him being a Mr Unavailable and while that is certainly true, you need to address your own issues with emotional unavailability and understand your part in this. You’re not responsible for him being how he is – the guy was an assclown before you became involved, while you were involved, and will no doubt be long after you are (hopefully) out of his life – but you are responsible for the fact that you are still there, that you allow him to treat you badly, and you are so deeply entrenched in illusions that you haven’t got so much as a toe in reality.
From the moment he cheated and said that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and you decided he needed more time, it became clear that you were going to be one of those women who wasn’t going to listen and who would basically stick by his side.
You’ve been making decisions about this relationship in isolation. You’ve disregarded what he’s said and done and decided to stick with your own agenda and illusions and this has meant that you have been in a relationship without a ‘title’. The problem is that he told you what the status was – he didn’t want a relationship – and that means that you weren’t in a relationship.
This is the type of guy that decides that he has given you all the warnings and as you won’t listen and are so up for being disrespected, he’ll realise that you’re useful to keep in the background.
He’s passing time and you’re a stopgap, the Fallback Girl he keeps on ice when he’s run out of other options or just feels like messing with your life.
In the meantime, you accept a watered down version of a relationship, ie a relationship without a ‘title’, which was effectively like giving him free reign to take advantage.
This isn’t loyalty; it’s emotional laziness and self-abuse.
You’re being loyal to someone who can only be loyal to the concept of mistreating you. You’re treating him like you’re one and only while he is treating you like one of a number of options. Never allow yourself to be someone’s option.
You say that you guys do relationship things – you’d be amazed at the amount of women I hear from who thought that they were in a relationship because they had sex, made him their priority, did social stuff together, and felt like there was a connection. The guy unfortunately thought they were hanging out, keeping it casual, or even worse, friends with benefits.
You assume that because you’re doing ‘relationship stuff’ that it’s a ‘relationship’. He assumes that because he’s shown you that he’s not relationship material and has stated that he doesn’t want to be in one, that he’s hanging out and passing time.
The best thing you could do for yourself right now is to look, listen, and stop allowing this man to enjoy the trappings of a relationship without actually having to be in the relationship and let go. What he is doing is incredibly disrespectful to you but you are also being disrespectful to yourself by throwing yourself in the frontline of pain and refusing to get real.
Actions speak louder than words – someone who wants to be in a relationship with you, will be in a relationship with you. Someone who wants to pass time with you and wants to be assured of the benefits of your hope and illusions, will say what they need to, to get their needs met in the present and be assured of misguided loyalty in the future. You’re 24 – this guy is eating up your youth and if you don’t break the habit and get wise, you’ll be involved with same guy, different package and wondering where your life went. Let him go – there will always be women who will welcome guys like this with open arms and feed into their delusions – don’t continue to be one of those women.