Great Sex & Relationships

The Appeal of Emotionally Unavailable Men

AGWDM emotionally unavailable menOne of my Facebook friends, Mary Boyer, posted this article, How to Unhook From an Emotionally Unavailable Partner, on her timeline. I had to read it. I had known that guy. Actually, I knew two guys like that. I had been in that situation.

When I first met Richard* and Peter*, I saw the red flags waving in my face. They were the kinds of men I knew I didn’t want to get involved with. Neither of them had been married or had kids. Those were two must-haves in men I wanted to date. They showed that they were seriously capable of having a long-term relationship. They were also relatable commonalities. Guys like that could relate to the big, important parts of my life.

But I was hooked by Richard and Peter’s charm and joie de vivre. They were incredibly intelligent, interesting and articulate. They were masters of seduction and were lots of fun in bed. They were good men who were also bad boys.

Richard and I were on an on-again-off-again basis for a couple of years. We’d see each other for a couple of weeks, and then, “Poof!”, he was gone. He said that he was too busy to see me or wasn’t ready for a relationship.

Then he’d call back a few months later. He seemed happy to hear me or that I actually wanted to talk to him considering how he left things the time before. He even told me a time or two that he really wanted to pursue something more with me than just fucking around.

I had every reason to believe him. He was a pretty emotionally deep guy who divulged things to me he said he rarely shared with other people. Mutual friends and colleagues liked him and often said he was a kind, honest and ethical guy.

Even though that little voice in my head said, “This is the second/third/fourth time he’s said that. Don’t go there,” I went there. The pattern repeated itself until I finally said, “Sorry, I can’t.” I couldn’t handle being on his unpredictable emotional roller coaster.

And then there was Peter. He had all of the qualities that I found so appealing in Richard. He also seemed to be responsible enough to say, “Let’s not sleep together until neither one of us are seeing anyone else.” I knew after our first date that I had no interest in looking any further. It took him a few weeks later to come to that conclusion.

He took me out for my birthday. He had given me a bracelet that I saw and fell in love with in a gift shop we popped into on our first date. How thoughtful that he remembered! He took me out to one of my favorite restaurants and then dancing at a bar where one of his friends was playing in a band. The restaurant was refined. The bar was a notoriously fun shithole of a blues joint. We had a hell of a time in a romantic and subversive, down and dirty kind of way. I loved how we connected in such diverse ways.

When his friend met up with us during a break between sets, Peter told him: “I’m crazy about this woman! I fell in love with her the day I met her!”

I was wowed, gleeful, blissful and ecstatic. He had the guts to say what I had been feeling all along and was willing to admit this and brag about it to his friend.

After his friend left to go back to play, Peter backpedaled.

“Umm … I really didn’t mean what I told Thomas*,” he said. “I just blurted that out. I really haven’t known you long enough to come to that conclusion.”

Ugh. Birthday ruined. I couldn’t wait for him to take me home.

Now keep in mind that I fully know the difference between falling in love and using the “L” word as a commitment and a pledge. They’re two entirely different things. But a few days later, I agreed to start taking his calls and seeing him again. I admit that I was flattered that he wanted help each other decorate each other’s houses for the holidays. He seemed eager to meet my kids and have them be part of celebrating Christmas together.

About two months after the “L” word incident, I felt confident enough to blurt it out after an incredibly wild, sexy and provocative time we had in bed one evening. We even shared some dangerously sexy fantasies we wanted to explore. It was a breakthrough night.

Once again, I heard that long, uncomfortable pause that was followed by, “I haven’t made up my mind how I feel about you.”

The following few weeks were trying and hellacious. He got increasingly critical of me. He brought up comparisons about things his ex-girlfriend (who broke up with him a year and a half before we met) did or how she handled differently than I did. He made it very clear that he missed her and I fell short of the standards she set, or at least that was the message I got. He started griping about hating Valentine’s Day. He called it an advertising holiday that guilted men into buying their wives and girlfriends expensive gifts.

That really pissed me off. I never made any hints or suggestions about wanting anything. That’s not my style. I’m a big believer in kindness and gifts that come straight from the heart.

When I brought these things up to Peter, he told me, “I liked you because I thought you were independent and resourceful. I see that’s not the case. I don’t want someone I have to take care of. I want someone who will take care of me.”

Yeah, he really said that.

I gave him the royal fuck-off and never looked back.

It took me a few more years until I finally swore to myself that I would never fall for emotionally unavailable men. It practically drained my dating pool, but I never regretted it. Given the choice between not getting sex on the regular and putting up with bullshit, I was happy to go without both.

p.s. It turned out that article I mentioned was a writing prompt for Mary, as well. Read her blog post, Examining My Attraction to Emotionally Unavailable Men, at Everyday Baby Steps.

*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.