October 21, 2020
When I was in law school, I was in a relationship with a guy a little bit younger than me. He was a really sweet guy and we had a lot of fun together. I probably dated him for nine months, but he told me he didn’t want a girlfriend so I guess you could call it a “situation-ship” vs. “relationship.” Eventually I was like OK, enough is enough I want more than this. I deserve more than this. You said you don’t want to have a girlfriend but we’re spending all this time together so I’m clearly your girlfriend, you just do not want to say it.
“When someone says I don’t want you to be my girlfriend, but they’re treating you like one,
what they’re really saying is; I don’t want to have any further responsibility for you. You are fun to be around, and I enjoy getting to know you, but I don’t want to be tied down.”
So, we broke up and after a few weeks, he told me he missed me and had made a horrible mistake. Finally, I got him… or so I thought. When we got into the relationship a couple of things happened. First, I did not put as much energy into chasing him as I did before. So, I started paying attention to who he really was. I began to discover we didn’t fit in a lot of ways. He wasn’t really what I wanted. It was like I had overlooked all of these things because my primary focus had been getting him to want me.
Second, He started treating me differently. Being in a real relationship actually meant something to him. And he started doing all of the things that people in relationships do like, calling me all the time, setting up proper dates, He even started texting me more during the day to check in. This caused a problem because in an effort to dissuade me from wanting the “girlfriend” title in the past he would tell me “we don’t need labels; labels don’t change anything.” But once he applied that label, the content of the relationship changed the same way the feelings changed. His level of responsibility towards me shifted. I also noticed that he was much more open and vulnerable with me. He was ready to take the relationship deeper and the fact that I had already invested so much time and energy with him, buying into this idea that nothing would be different if there was a label made me upset when it changed. I felt resentful.
Here are a few problems with waiting around for unavailable guys.
Have you ever waited for someone who was unavailable? You think if you can just stick it out a little bit longer, He will change, and you will finally have the relationship that you’ve always wanted. The first problem with this theory is, you don’t get to know someone until they are fully engaged in a relationship. They’ll keep you at arm’s length and show you limited truths about themselves and when they finally come around, the form of the relationship changes. And now that you guys are in a committed relationship and he wants to show up for you fully you will see more of who he really is. And that can bring up a lot of different emotions, which you may not like.
“I feel being in a physical relationship with an unavailable man really comes down to the fact that they don’t want to commit.”
Typically, guys who get involved in these push-pull types of relationships are very charming, suave, fun to be around, and make you think why not? He’s such an amazing guy! It’s easy to imagine how special and beautiful he will make you feel. But it’s not always like that, because sometimes people that have a high level of charm spend a lot of time manufacturing their self-image and thinking about how other people perceive them and not the feelings of others. Obviously, he’s enjoying the sex, but If he meets someone else while he’s out with friends or if someone really cute comes across his path, he doesn’t want to have to say no to her. Once you enter a relationship with someone you no longer chase them and you’re no longer worried about commitment, or how to get him to like you more, or how to keep them from running away from the relationship, so your attention shifts And that’s when you might actually start to pay attention to who he is. And you may realize you don’t actually like the person that much, but you’ve invested so much time, so you try to make it work. It’s like both sides are doing the same thing. He’s really focusing on how you perceive him and you’re focusing on how you can get him to like you. It’s not a healthy dynamic. It’s sort of a self-focused dynamic that you’re creating there that will eventually lead to disappointment.
The second thing that comes up varies from person to person. You can actually get the relationship that you want and it’s not as satisfying as you had expected. You finally got everything you dreamed of, but it doesn’t feel right. There is a reason for that.
“For most people something happened when you were a kid, something that made you feel like you had to earn love and as you grew up you carried these issues into your relationships because the healing hasn’t taken place yet.”
We are looking for the healing by having that relationship shift, by being with that person, or having that boyfriend show up for us and finally calling us their girlfriend. In a lot of cases it’s a proposal or getting married. But all too often the pain is still there because that’s not where the wound was initially. Until you can actually look within yourself and do some healing on your own, it won’t automatically shift just because a partner steps up in the way that you’ve been wanting. Now that doesn’t mean healing won’t take place within partnership at times. Of course, it does. Otherwise, we would have to be perfect before we could become partners. I think it’s important to make the distinction between starting the work on yourself and being willing to evolve vs. being perfect and having done all of the work on yourself and not meeting anyone. Imperfect people are able to enter really happy and healthy relationships, but it’s about doing those first steps on your own rather than waiting for a partner or the relationship to rescue you from that pain. This is particularly important for Romantics and Givers to keep in mind.
OK, the third thing that is problematic about waiting for an unavailable partner is the end goal. For some relationships the goal will be to have partnership, someone to support and to be supported by, and someone to care for. It’s basically this idea that having a partner is expansive. It allows you to expand your world, which is a beautiful thing. But someone who’s unavailable can’t do that. They can’t share what they don’t have. So, instead of having a partner who’s expanding your life, you’re actually holding onto a partner who’s limiting your life because they are not involved in the things you want to share.
For individuals who are alone and who don’t have someone to share with, That’s a different thing. Obviously, someone who’s single can have a very expansive and full life. But when you’re holding onto someone who doesn’t want to show up for you, you’re much more likely to cut yourself off from different opportunities. Whether that’s when you don’t go out with friends on Saturday night because you think he might call or you miss out on the trip your friends invited you to because he will get jealous or he has three days off during that time and he wants to see you but winds up blowing you off because that’s what he does. He disappears sometimes because he’s not available. He’s not taking responsibility for you in the time that you’re not together. So, it creates this limitation. Women really struggle with the “maybe.” They find themselves saying, it’s fine if I met someone else, I will move on and let him go! We aren’t in a relationship. I’m not tied down. But in practice, they are acting like they’re tied down. They’re not interested in developing other relationships or getting to know other guys. They are just waiting on the maybe. This becomes a cycle. Either way, it’s not a good situation.
So, the fourth issue with waiting for someone that’s unavailable is the wear it has on your self-esteem. It starts to bring down your confidence. You think there must be some part of you that allowed this situation. Because part of you wanted to experience some type of healing or satisfaction by going to this dynamic. So, when we stay in scenarios like this under such circumstances, we create a set of stories in our mind and we feel like we deserve these problems, and this is the best we can have. A story is the meaning that you are giving to a situation. So, when you already have this unhealthy narrative in your mind, whatever belief you initially had that got you in that situation becomes more solid and more real. And you might expand on it even further.
Here are several actionable steps. If you believe you are in one of these situations here’s how you can start to bring your awareness so you can move out of it.
Not taking care of my body, exercising, and not eating foods that nourished me was one way my neglect manifested itself to me. Obviously, the biggest manifestation was staying in relationships that were causing me a lot of pain. I was looking for the relationship to rescue and heal me. But I couldn’t stop long enough to ask myself how can I make this less painful? What can I do to take care of myself? How can I show up for myself?
Apply these three steps so you can start pulling this apart and getting a clear visual on what your patterns are and how to start upgrading them!