Ashley broke away from her Mr Unavailable a few months ago and started to date again, however she has found that she has been really missing him while on dates and thinking about past relationships where there was “real chemistry, attraction and fun”.
Her Mr Unavailable works in the same company, has two kids (16 and 18) and used to tell her that he loved her but that he didn’t want to waste her time because he knew that she wanted more than he could give. He was telling her all of this while still contacting his ex-girlfriend and he sent text messages to the ex the week after he broke up with Ashley also claiming that he loved her too.
Recently she went to the bar where she knows he hangs (he tends to hang out in the bar alone, texting and emailing) and he was happy to see her. The attraction was still strong between them and for the last half hour they were holding hands.
“I did tell him I missed him. He said, ‘How could you miss me after how I treated you?’ I said it was complicated and at the end of the day I clarified that what I missed were the good times. I was hoping that maybe he missed me enough to think that having a healthy, real relationship with me might not be so bad. But – he still is not interested in it.
He came out with the ‘I am very attracted to you’, ‘It’s not you – it’s me’, ‘I am very guarded and distracted right now’, ‘You are great, you are sexy, pretty, nice, fun – but I know you want more and I can’t give you what you want’ (a lot of this came out over email after I left the bar).”
How does she feel knowing this?
“That’s what is confusing me. I feel actually pretty good about it all. I know that he hasn’t changed. Of course I know that people don’t change unless they truly want to change. I guess I just thought maybe he might miss me enough to want to reconsider being in a relationship with me. It’s so hard for me to get my head around why he wouldn’t want to be with me when we have such a strong attraction and get along so well. But – he doesn’t. And I think I should believe him when he says, it’s not me – it’s him, because – it really NEVER was about me. It was always about him and what he wanted at the time and it was NEVER about, How can I make Ashley happy? or, Man, I really upset Ashley, I should tell her I am sorry or I need to not do that anymore, or I need to make it up to her. It was always – Why does she have to yell at me when she is upset?, Why does she want to change me? I have to focus on building my business, blah, blah, blah. Even though he acted like a complete buffoon most of the time, he was very good at playing victim when I would stand up for myself and he would never accept responsibility or apologise. All I wanted was to be treated right and he always fell short – and at the end of the day, that killed it for me.”
Ashley recognises that he won’t change and that he may even be involved with someone else and believes that she has gotten a level of closure. On the other hand she feels the attraction between them both but knows that she can’t act on it. They will only meet randomly and if she wants to see him, she would have to seek him out like she did at the bar. “He would never find me or venture out of his life to secure time with me.”
So here is her dilemma: “How am I supposed to process these feelings? On one hand – I saw him for what he was – at that true self is someone with whom I do not want a romantic relationship.
How am I supposed to remember him? I am tired of hating him. I am tired of loving him. But – he’s still on my mind and I just don’t know what to do with the thoughts. I guess I just need to live life, stay healthy, focus on my friends and move on. I guess I am just confused because I am not hopeful of a reconciliation, yet I am not torn apart in anguish, yet I have a sort of good feeling toward him right now. Is that wrong?
Ashley, what you are experiencing is not unusual. You are a woman that loves emotionally unavailable men which means that even though they are responsible for the source of much of your angst, on the same level they appear to be the source of your highs, even if they are fleeting. Much like childbirth, you seem to have distanced yourself from the agony and ambiguity of being with him and now you are to an extent, romantacising the connection that you think you have with him and thinking about how it could be if he was X, Y, and Z. In childbirth, forgetting the pain is perfectly fine as you have something wonderful to reward you at the end of it and you can go through it again. With Mr Unavailables though, you’d do well to get real and stop throwing yourself into harm’s way.
The only way you can process your feelings is by 1) being real and staying real about who he is and 2) getting real with yourself. Your feelings for him are tied up in your lack of feelings for yourself. You would not invest so much time and emotion in an emotionally unavailable man if your self-esteem were better. You say you want more than you know that he can give and what he says that he can give, yet your actions are in conflict. If you want a man that accepts responsibility for his actions, is thoughtful, doesn’t talk about his needs, his problems, his feelings, his world, and is present and accountable for the relationship, you are barking up the wrong tree. You want to know how to remember him?
Remember him as the emotionally unavailable man that he is. Remember him as selfish. Remember him as being liberal with the term “love” but deficient of the actions to go with it. Remember him as a user. Remember him as somebody who needs the attention from lots of women. Remember him as the man that told you he loved you and then told his ex the same thing a week later. Remember him as the man who cannot give you what you want and has told you that point blank. Remember that he is incapable of having a healthy relationship and no matter how much you try to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, he doesn’t want to change.
You’re not tired of loving him and because you don’t have a high enough regard for yourself, you don’t think of him negatively enough despite a multitude of evidence that shows that you should.
Mr Unavailables are all about themselves. When he tells you that it’s not you, it’s him, this is mostly true. But if you track him to the bar where you know he hangs, focus on the attraction which is actually built on 1) knowing you can’t have him and 2) him knowing that you really want him, it’s dysfunctional and his idea of loving you is far from enough.
Attraction does not a relationship make. Attraction only means something if it accompanies all of the things that are a foundation for a healthy relationship with the prospect to develop.
You’re mistaken in holding on to good feelings about him, especially when this creating bad feelings towards you. Let go. Walk away and cold turkey it out. Start addressing why you can’t move on from him and why you pursue men that are incapable of giving you relationships and why you think about being with them even when you’re out on dates. If you want this guy it is because on some level you don’t actually want a proper, bonafide relationship. Ask yourself why you keep chasing a man that falls short.
Think about your past history and ask yourself if there is a pattern and what it is – e.g. emotionally unavailable men. Do they all give you the same excuses? Separated? Married? Basically come up with a list.
Evaluate where your interest in these men stems from. You choose partners like him because they reflect negative things that you believe about yourself. On some level, you believe that this is all you’re worth. Why?
Take a break from dating because you need to separate how you feel about life and yourself from the men or lack of them in your life. There is no point in dating if you’re fantasising about old times. You can’t possibly enjoy the date and it just gives you a reason to think that you should return to people from your past.
I’m not asking you to hate the guy. I’m asking you to get real about his behaviour and what that means to you and the possibility of a relationship, and use that information to move forward. He’s shown and told you all that you need to know. Let go. That is what closure is about. Accept the short term pain because it does pass. Drop this guy out of your life because if you don’t, you will always be in limbo and you won’t gain closure.