6 Things I've Learned From Dating Emotionally Unavailable Men

In the spirit of breaking bad habits, I’ve been working really hard to change the type of guy that I usually date. Though I tend to be someone who lives with her heart wide open and maintains an ever-hopeful spirit, no matter what life throws my way, I’ve tended to attract (and be attracted to) one very sad type of person: emotionally unavailable men.

They’re the type of guys who have a way of charming their way into your heart, your bedroom and your deepest fears, often taking advantage of your vulnerability and your desire to be a good partner. They know how to push your buttons, hanging on one frayed, desperate thread, keeping you in their grasp, but never fully in their arms, their life or their priorities. The scary thing about emotionally unavailable people is how easy it is to be duped by them, and how they don’t always reveal their true colors until you’re already attached.

I’ve started to notice the warning signs and steer my direction far away from them in recent years, but if there’s anything I’ve taken away from dating men who couldn’t give me the love and respect I deserved in return, it’s how to put myself first. If you find yourself leaning toward these types of people, here are the things that I’ve learned from many failed relationships, so you don’t have to waste your time:

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1. It's Never Possible to Fundamentally Change Someone

Oh, but how you’ll try! When you’re dating an emotionally unavailable person, they’ll seek your advice. They’ll say they find comfort in your arms and your words. They’ll let you take the lead, they’ll cry on your shoulder, but they won’t call you their girlfriend. They won’t actually open up. Or take your candid, kind words of wisdom. They won’t change their ways. While it’s true that couples often grow together, and of course, transform over time, the fundamental values a person has - what they believe, what they want in a relationship, their integrity — doesn’t shift.

2. Those Aren't Butterflies — That's Anxiety

There’s a difference between that new relationship flutters that make you excited to see someone who has potential to be a big someone in your life, and feeling anxious all the time. While it might feel electric to always be on edge, wondering what they're doing or what they're thinking, an emotionally unavailable will never allow you to relax into the relationship. They’ll keep you guessing for your entire relationship (if they even call it that), and will restrict the amount of trust you have between each other. This lets them have the control and also never let you get too attached to them because they're not capable of making that commitment. To you, or to anyone. If you don’t trust them… it’s a big red flag to get away.

3. Great Sex Doesn't Always Equal Great Intimacy

Blatantly speaking, emotionally unavailable people may be some of the best you’ll ever sleep with. They have moves, they likely love having sex, they’re even probably a bit kinky. But when it comes to making love or building true intimacy, they never hit the mark. And while they might not be selfish in bed, they're incredibly selfish with their emotions, so even post-orgasm, you might feel unsatisfied.

4. You Can't Love Someone Enough to Fix Them

I want to believe that love is really the answer to everything, and in many ways, I think love has the ability to transform a lot of things, but you can’t love an emotionally unavailable person enough to make them love you in return in the ways you need. The hardest pill to swallow in these emotionally unavailable relationships is that you can give every ounce of yourself to someone, but if they aren’t willing to go on the ledge for you, it’ll never be the type of long lasting connection you desire. It’s OK to love fully and openly and truly, but save it for someone who can be a partner — not a dependent.

5. It's Not Your Fault, And It Never Was

Another part of an emotionally unavailable personality? Manipulation. They’ll discount your feelings - probably calling you ‘crazy’ along the way. They’ll convince you to place the blame on yourself. They’ll make you think you’re just expecting too much. Worrying too often. Make you question if you see those bright red flags or if you’re imagining them. But trust me, it’s not your fault. It never was. It’s how they’re trying to get out of talking about the real pink elephant in the room.

6. You Have to Be Brave Enough to Walk Away

My very first adult relationship was with an emotionally unavailable man that I sincerely loved. I took me a few years to finally detach from them and not only see their true colors but accept them, but I tell ya — there’s nothing more empowering than saying ‘This isn’t enough for me.’ Because it wasn’t. It never would have been or could have been. The first step to getting there was walking away from the bad to give myself the opportunity to find the good. And for me, what’s so special about knowing that and believing it, is fully trusting that there will be a person who is willing to give themself to a real relationship, with all of its vulnerabilities and love. And all of the emotional availability I could dream of.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

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