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Darlene Lancer, JD, MFTDarlene Lancer, JD, MFT
A blog about Women’s Issues, Self-esteem and Relationships

How to Spot Emotional Unavailability

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT Updated: Jul 12th 2012

If you've ever been in a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable, you know the pain of not being able to get close to the one you love. They're evasive, make excuses, or just inept when it comes to talking about feelings or the relationship. Some use anger, criticism, or activities to create distance. You end up feeling alone, depressed, unimportant, or rejected. Usually women complain about emotionally unavailable men. Yet many women aren't aware they're emotionally unavailable, too. When you get hooked on someone else who is (think Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big) your problem is disguised as his. This keeps you in denial of your own unavailability.

sad womanThere are several types of unavailability - both temporary and chronic. Some people have always been unavailable due to mental illness and/or a troubled childhood. Others temporarily make something a higher priority than a relationship, such as a family obligation, education, project, or a health concern. People recently divorced or widowed may temporarily not be ready to get involved with someone new. In the middle, are those who are too afraid to risk falling in love because they've been hurt by one or more relationships, which may include being hurt by a parent when they were a child. Often these different reasons for unavailability overlap, and it's difficult to ascertain whether the problem is chronic or will pass.

If you're looking for a close, committed relationship, a person living in another state, or who is married or still in love with someone else is not going to be there for you. Similarly, addicts, including workaholics, are unavailable because their addiction is the priority and it controls them. Still, some people give the appearance of availability and speak openly about their feelings and their past. You don't realize until you're already in a relationship that they're unable to really connect emotionally or make a commitment.

Here's a list of more subtle red flags that may signal unavailability, especially when several add up. They apply to both genders. Following them are questions to ask yourself to find out whether you're ready for a committed relationship.

1. Flirting with flattery. Men who are too flattering. Like snake charmers, these wooers may also be adept listeners and communicators. Often good at short-term intimacy, some allure with self-disclosure and vulnerability, but they prefer the chase to the catch.

2. Control. Someone who won't be inconvenienced to modify his or her routine. Typically, commitment phobics are inflexible and loathe compromises. Relationships revolve around them.

3. Listen. Your date may hint or even admit that he or she isn't good at relationship or doesn't believe in or isn't ready for marriage. Listen to these negative facts and believe them. Ignore vulnerability, bragging, and compliments.

4. The Past. Find out if the person has had a long-term relationship and why it ended. You may learn that prior relationships ended at the stage when intimacy normally develops.

5. Perfection Seekers. These people look for and find a fatal flaw in the opposite sex and then move on. The problem is that they're scared of intimacy. When they can't find imperfection, their anxiety rises. Given time, they will find an excuse to end the relationship. Don't be tempted to believe you're better than their past partners.

6. Anger. Notice rudeness to waiters and others, revealing pent-up rage. This type of person is demanding and probably emotionally abusive.

7. Arrogance. Avoid someone who brags and acts cocky, signaling low self-esteem. It takes confidence to be intimate and committed.

8. Lateness. Chronic lateness is inconsiderate, and can also indicate the person is avoiding relationship, but don't assume that punctuality means he or she's a catch.

9. Invasiveness or Evasiveness. Secrecy, evasiveness, or inappropriate questions too soon about money or sex, for example, indicate a hidden agenda and unwillingness to allow a relationship to unfold. Conversely, someone may conceal his or her past due to shame, which may create an obstacle to getting close.

10. Seduction. Beware of sexual cues given too early. Seducers avoid authenticity because they don't believe they're enough to keep a partner. Once the relationship gets real, they'll sabotage it. Seduction is a power-play and about conquest.

Most people reveal their emotional availability early on. Pay attention to the facts, especially if there's mutual attraction. Even if the person seems to be Mr. or Mrs. Right, yet is emotionally unavailable, you're left with nothing but pain. If you overlook, deny, or rationalize to avoid short-term disappointment, you run the risk of enduring long-term misery.

Be honest with yourself about your own availability.

1. Are you angry at the opposite sex? Do you like jokes at their expense? If so, you may need to heal from past wounds before you're comfortable getting close to someone.

2. Do you make excuses to avoid getting together?

3. Do you think you're so independent you don't need anyone?

4. Do you fear falling in love because you may get hurt?

5. Are you always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Although people complain about their problems, many have even more difficulty accepting the good.

6. Are you distrustful? Maybe you've been betrayed or lied to in the past and now look for it in everyone.

7. Do you avoid intimacy by filling quiet times with distractions?

8. Are you uncomfortable talking about yourself and your feelings? Do you have secrets you're ashamed of that make you feel undesirable or unlovable?

9. Do you usually like to keep your options open in case someone better comes along?

10. Do you fear a relationship may place too many expectations on you, that you'd give up your independence or lose your autonomy?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, counseling can help you heal in order to risk getting close. If you're involved with someone emotionally unavailable, pressuring him or her to be more intimate is counterproductive. However, marriage or couples counseling can change the relationship dynamics and help you to have a more fulfilling intimate relationship.


Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Darlene Lancer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and expert on relationships and codependency. She’s counseled individuals and couples for 27 years and coaches internationally and is the author of two books: Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You and Codependency for Dummies. Her ebooks include: 10 Steps to Self-Esteem, How To Speak Your Mind - Become Assertive and Set Limits, Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps and Codependency Recovery Daily Reflections. Ms. Lancer is a sought after speaker at national conferences, on radio, and to professional groups and institutions. Her articles appear in professional journals and Internet mental health websites, including on her own, and, where you can get a free copy of “14 Tips for Letting Go.” Find her on, Twitter @darlenelancer, and Facebook.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Ruined by an EU spouse - She - Mar 5th 2015

Wow! i was 22, he was 30. now i am 41, he is 49. He has sucked the love life right out of me. how did i let this happen? the ONLY way that he knows how to take care of me is through sex, but i have recently become celibate. he does not know what to do with this. it is the only way he seems comfortable in expressing himself. but how can i keep "giving" myself to someone like him. i told him once he does things differently, i can then reconsider. I feel glad that im now doing something that should have always been a standard for me. We both have issues, but he started it!


Contagious emotional unavailability! - Ra - Jan 27th 2015

Aaron, you expressed that so well. A really different side to the coin. I've been both, emotionally available being hurt by the emotionally unavailable, and now the emotionally unavailable myself. So I can see your argument, but I can also understand people's need to identify and avoid emotionally unavailable people. 

I started out being emotionally unavailable. I've had a lot of personal issues over the years, moved out of home when I was 16 to get away from a very dysfunctional family life. The rest of my adolescence living out of home was a bit of a train-wreck. I always found it difficult to get close to guys because I never wanted to burden them/make them feel awkward or uncomfortable/ bring them down by talking about my childhood, family, etc. They never knew enough about me for me to ever really feel that we were close. 

I ended up meeting someone I liked quite a lot, who also had a very rocky start to life and was comfortable talking about it. It made me comfortable to talk about it. We became very close and it turned into a relationship. Finally, I felt fully emotionally available, but it turns out he wasn't available at all. He'd been in and out of foster homes throughout his childhood and teen years, and perhaps learnt from a young age not to become attached to people. He said he loved me (perhaps he did), but he could never talk about the future in any capacity, even in the relatively short-term (we couldn't even plan a holiday). 4 years later, and still in love with him, I had to leave. His complete inability to show me that he might like to have some sort of future with me broke my heart. 

And now I'm emotionally unavailable, again! This time I feel like it could be chronic. A year and a half later, and I still can't imagine any time in the future where I'll ever want to stick my neck out and get into a relationship again. In fact, I'm terrified of the idea. I've become good friends with guys who are basically perfect for me, and I flake out if they show more than just friendly interest. I avoid any situations that might even be misconstrued as dates – no dinners or movies or picnics at the beach! I even tell people explicitly that I'm not interested in a relationship. I have one night stands with people who are also not dating, to avoid having the dry spell I think I'm too young to have. (Sorry to be so Frank). 

Yes, I still hold some hope for a time where I might meet the right person when I'm not expecting it and am willing to chance it with my feelings. I would hope that people might respect the fact that I've been hurt by my relationships, but not treat me as a total write-off. 

On the other hand, though, the reason I'm now so open with people about my emotional unavailability is because I feel that noone should ever have to feel strung along and then heartbroken the way I was by my emotionally unavailable ex. I don't want to give people the chance to love me and be hurt by me, just as I don't want to love and be hurt again. Tricky. 

Emotional Unavailability - Anna - Nov 7th 2014

I got involved with a man that seemed to genuinely want to be in a relationship. He was fun loving and easy going and a little on the lazy side but that was ok with me. He was 53 and I was 44 when we met and I was DATING him for 3-1/2 years. I didn't have that much to do with his family but I always involved him in my family. He took our situation day by day and never planned anything with me or never discussed having a future with me. In the end, I felt like I was just a option to him as he always had one foot in and one foot out of the relationship. I loved him so much and gave him my heart completely. We had an amazing sex life and I just wanted him to spend the rest of my life with him. The problem was is that he took me for granted, always had excuses as to why the relationship couldn't move forward. He always put things off except when it came to his family! In the end, I just felt hurt and dissappointed. We broke up several times and he always hunted me down to get me back and promise things would be different and that he would commit but he never did. He even proposed marriage to me twice but never followed through with. I even told my family he proposed but he said nothing to his, they aren't even aware of what our situation is, I think they see me as just a date day by day woman! I feel his proposal was just a sham and all his crap words means nothing and he had no actions to follow. He rang me recently to wish me a happy birthday and all that did was hurt me more. Everyone sees him as this terrific nice easy going guy but he treated me like an option! He was never nasty for mean, just really blazay about me. Im the only woman that never did wrong by him and stuck by him and i was always faithful. I dont' know if he was faithful or not as everyone from his side is vaig about me. Im young looking for my age and attractive and have a great personality and look after myself. He is grey and overweight and 9 years older. My friends said he doesnt know how lucky he is having you. Obviously he just seen me as an optional day by day. I've told him not to call me anymore and move on and find that someone special he would talk about as he used to say, when I meet someone special blah blah blah. I am a devoted woman when I get involved with someone but from what I've learnt, people don't appreciate devotion anymore. I now very scared to get involved again, I couldnt handle the pain again. Sometimes I get the feeling men want cold women that treat them like dirt!

So what? - Octarin - Jan 23rd 2014

Yeap, true enough, I've answered Yes in some of the questions, answered a Yes-In-The-Past for some others and a No for some. I've been hurt, heaps, both me and my child, I've been betrayed, also heaps, by multiple people including friends and family, and I have a measure of responsibility in almost all of these circumstances. These are things I know and am aware of. Does it mean I need therapy in order to get close to someone? I don't think so. It did, back when I was still so hurt that I just had to blame everyone and everything, but not anymore, despite having been hurt even worse since then. Why? Cause it really just takes to realize that things are never black-white, that its never a single person's fault, and that nothing but ailment and death is permanent. So, no, I feel good about myself not being with someone now, six months after my break-up with a narc [call him emotionally unavailable if you wish-an understatement]. I flirt and go out and have fun with men at times, but I think it's rather a conscious decision and my prerogative to be temporarily unavailable, than illness related. So, thanks, but, no. Therapy isn't the panacea. People need to try themselves first. Going around handing them the "happy pill" solution isn't helping them.

This blog is really dealing with NPD traits (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) - Ken - Sep 28th 2013


I feel for all the sufferers, but I've also noticed that the term "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" hasn't surfaced even once.  This blog is basically talking about such people.  And the  sad part about NPD is that it's practically incurable, because people with such disorder believe that everyone else is mentally sick except for them.  

And yes, they are certainly emotionally unavailable, and in fact, lack the capacity for empathy (unless they superficially pretend to have it for the sake of perceived substantial gain). 

But worst yet, if not careful, one can get burned so badly by people with NPD that one becomes just like one of them, coldhearted and cruel, emotionally unavailable.  Their spiritual "cancer" is rather infectious, because after stealing your heart and soul unbeknownst to you (if you didn't guard it well with proper boundaries and firm principles), you will feel so lonely and empty when they abruptly walk away that you will feel as if you are dying in the alley, as someone commented above.  

In my case, it was my belief in spirituality that enable quick and thorough healing.  Good luck to everyone.  Don't get stuck with that "cancer".  

Emotionally unavailable after last relationship with an emotionally unavailable man - shana - Jun 21st 2013

Emotionally unavailable after last relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. I was in a relationship with a very sweet and flirty Alfa male. He blew me away with his sexy alfa status. Later I learned he was very emotionally unavailable and appeared to have the same hang ups as me. He is still attached to his mother (I don't think anyone will be as good as my father) something he's instilled in me himself. we were together three years he broke up with me to date someone else online that he grew up with a week later he proposed every day for five days. This was two years ago. I was initially over it but every time he contacts me (because he wants me back) I go back to that hurt empty rejected place. I'm terrrified of being hurt again because I'm still not healed. I did have sex with him once more seven months ago. He was very emotionally abusive also degrading me constantly. I have very low self esteem have since high school. I am terrified to rejection but I feel ready to date again. Ever time I go on a date the guy never calls me back. I am friendly open and chat the whole time. But they never call me back even if it feels right. I am wondering what i'm doing wrong and how I can heal? I'm in counseling and have been for the last four months I also have a psychiatrist because I am bipolar. I'm really lost and I'm tired of being alone. I've also tried to develop my friendships and deepen them. But I'm always incapable of doing that too. What do I do? I don't know how to build self esteem. I'm so tired of being alone. I've tried being alone and being ok with not having close connections but I'm tired of it now. It's been since last fall when I transfered schools that I lost all my close friends because they moved to other schools and we don't chat now. Almost never. 

continued! - jeff - Apr 28th 2013

its tough but surely worth it. Read my story below. I loved her, I still do. but said so many wrong things out of anger that she wouldn't give me enough time that I lost her and she won't even talk to me. Sure, love hurts. But live with the hope that she will give me a second chance or that I will find someone else in the meantime when least expect it. Don't give up!

Men, women and relationships - Jeff - Apr 28th 2013


I read your comments  perhaps you also read mine below yours. Might suggest that 'emotional unavailability' is not a male thing or a fmale thing but just a problem that some (maybe a lot) of people have thse day. As one gets older there is a tendency to become comfortable with your lifestyle. You form habits over time; you watch a particular TV show at 9 PM on Tuesdays; you shop  at specific supermarkets; you do this, that and the other. then someone comes along and throws you for a loop! they start demanding your  time. its tough, but surely 

Heartbroken - Sadie - Apr 26th 2013

Yes, i really do hate men.

Yes i don't agree to meet a lot of the times, if anything it takes MONTHS!  especially is they live close to me.

I feel like i'm so independent that a relationship will inconvenience me.   

I FEAR falling in love; I can feel the pain already.

I'm very negative.

I can't trust any guy.

I'm always looking for friendship because i'm more open with my feelings that way.

I feel i don't have what it takes to keep a relationship alive anymore; it's like i don't want to try anymore ever! Nobody is ever good enough for me and when the guy tries to make a move, it's like he's the enemy.  I'm not interested in a guy 99.9% of the times.

If my ex bf only knew how badly he messed me up he wouldn't even care.    

I'm so messed up and i use to think all you needed was love.  I never felt loved and i'm devastated now.  I feel completely empty.

Unavailable - Jeff - Apr 19th 2013

Started dating a woman that had been a friend for several years. She has a responsible job and is currently supporting (under the same roof) her daughter, whis still at university, son in law, who is apprenticing in a new career, and their baby son. knew going in that there would be limited time for 'us' for a couple of years, but soon discovered that the stress and strain of her life made her emotionally detached from me. Physical intimacy was difficult under these circumstances and sadly, she broke off our relationship after about 6 months. wish there was a way to rekindle this relationship.

Unavailable or just isn't feeling emotion? - Tygg - Apr 16th 2013

On the list of questions answering for myself I had a yes to 3 of them.  Guessing from how my BF acts there were maybe 3 that were no.  I would have had more yes answers if I hadn't started therapy a couple years ago to deal not so much with relationship matters but just things wrong with myself.  In order to give you an idea of the mind wondering and getting really frustrated with her BF I'll share this about myself.  I'm twice divorced and have raised 3 of my kids alone I'd say 85% of their lives.  I lost a child during my first marriage when she was 2 months old due to RSV.  When I started seeing similar behaviors in my oldest son I started going to therapy for myself so I would have the tools to also help him.  I'm diagnosed Bipolar Type 1, chronic depression, PTSD, Panic disorder and ADD.  I steered away from relationships becuase I knew I was broken and never expected a man that could handle it.  Once I started medication and therapy I started becoming a normal person.  Dealing with people became easier and I learned how to communicate with others.  

A year and a half ago I went on a date with the brother of a high school friend.  We had texted for months and I kept putting off going out because he seemed almost too clingy.  And any time a man seems super sweet and does morning texts I get a warning bell in my head.  So I said what the hell and we went out on one of the rare nights I didn't have my kids.  I planned to go out and that be the end of it.  But here we are a year and a half later still dating.  We had been together probably 6 months before I finally told him I love him.  His response, \\

I'm confused and frustrated with this man! - Ms IT - Apr 12th 2013

I have a friendship with a man who has been divorced for about 15 years. I am in my late 50s and he is in his early 60s. He chased me when we were young and we hooked up for a short time. I was the one who ended it. We saw each other several years later when he was married and then a little over a year ago. Since then, we've started spending lots of time together as friends. My feelings changed to wanting a more intimate relationship with him. We have several things in common and have fun when we're together. Neither of us want to be married, but this time I initiated hooking up with him. His words spoken to me are what people say to each other when they're in an intimate relationship along with some of his actions, but he won't admit that. He wants to spend a lot of time with me.  However, when I confront him he acts like he is not saying anything that indicates he's interested in me like that. Like I said, I'm frustrated and confused. He knows how I feel and he doesn't walk away.

I am a professional and I am not known to others as being delusional. My friends don't think I am either. I have never been married, but before my 40s I was asked in several relationships if I would marry. I've never had a problem with men wanting to date me. This is unfamiliar territory and I need advice. Friends don't understand this guy either and feel like he is being a jerk.

Questions that beg Answers - everevolving - Mar 19th 2013


I would wholeheartedly agree with you that there is much to be said by way of IDENTIFYING all the multiply nuanced unhealthy types of dynamics between people in all kinds of relationships...but not enough practical pro-active measures we can take to go beyond identifying all these toxic possibilities to taking steps to create new and lasting positive experiences which i do believe exist. through a long series of multiple attempts to make a go of relationships thats premise and meager growth is planted and expected to survive much less thrive in an atmosphere of EROS love with hints of supercial PHILEO love only stands to reason that what will ultimately germinate will soon be a pathetic withering sort of plant is to be expected...i personally think some basic knowledge of hortaculture would be a good foundational begining point for anyone who desires to cultivate a healthy foundation and to know the proper nutrients to feed it as to produce a more resilent zort of plant/relationship.


doing the same thinv in just slivhlty different ways is a recipe cor serious dissLlusionment and INSANITY.

RE: Aaron - Ranting Angrily - Jan 1st 2013

I swear you (above or below) eloquently explained my personal situation. However, I feel or fear I am in a more vulnerable position as despite harboring the same exact feelings as you, I let myself attempt to open up to women. 

Those who seemingly, out of vocalized or physically cued consistent action, represent what I want tend to, and have tended to be the ones who hurt me the most. As, I find that any emotions I express are considered wrong, whereas any emotions they have and furthermore act on - be that irrationally or overreactively - are accepted as right and OK. So the more I am with women who overreact, the more it is put on me, and I become the one overreacting to simple things I would have otherwise believed inconsequential; however in relation to how they react to what I do, or were I doing something similar, it feels minimal in comparison. So if I mention a girl's name and she can flip-the-fu**-out and cry and have a tantrum, it's ok. But if I inquire as to what she thought of a male who was obviously hitting on her, and she was flirting with, I am suddenly wrong, and it is not right for me to have slight issues over her denial of us even being together in said scenario. Simultaneously, it's wrong for me to not want to talk about relationship issues if I don't think we're in a relationship, though she says that's fine, we're not together, but I can't see nor mention anyone else, and that we are exclusive, but it's wrong for me to think that's ridiculous if she won't tell anyone, and she think's it's my fault for then saying we're not in a relationship as bf-gf if you are keeping it a secret. 

Then the opposite end of the coin where I am totally emotionally unavailable to some women, or find myself acting on such a drive as to be closed off and not hurt, not cheated on, not lied to, that the woman becomes clingy and desperately seeks my desiring to see her or be with her and goes out of her way to sexually lure me in.

In both scenarios women use sex as the bait and hook. In both scenarios they are the ones deciding everything, even if they pretend I am in control. And I always thought we were supposed to reciprocate, be honest, and obviously not be with people you didn't want to.

I don't know what I'm saying beyond the fact that whether it's a woman I just meet or one I've let myself open up to or attempt to see, I KNOW without a doubt that I can never trust what they say nor believe that what they do around me is how they are when I'm not there. And that's in a disheartening way. I know they may pretend to like me while around me in private even as far as sex, but in public I may as well be a stranger, and away from her I simply know I do not exist, the next male who smiles the right way during her menstraul cycle's shift will easily be able to swoon her into the restroom like I have women into my car.

The subtle mechanizations of female deception, insiduous behavior, and lewd, abhorrent, unthinkable selfishness prove themselves to be beyond my capacity to accept more and more every day. Men are shit too, but I'm spekaing specifically about in relationships.

There is no way to be with a woman after you've been with so many you don't know the difference between a good one and a bad one - because there is no difference, they all do the same things.

It can be argued that men do as well, however I know they don't. This isn't even a gender thing, in my opinion. It's a problem with humanity now. Everyone is so self-driven, entitled, and prince-princess syndrome ridden they believe the harm of another is worthwhile if even for the fleeting benefit of pleasuring oneself - and moreso, for the chosen ability to forget ones ethics and morals for the sake of being a free, modern, adventurous person.

For those of us who are not sociopathic, this world is of no use. You must learn to be a machine in order to produce what results the world around you claims it desires. The moment emotions are let in, people swallow you whole, devour you, or leave  you to bleed in an alley after they've stolen your dignity and property - figuratively or literally.

If I weren't attracted to women, I would have a solution. I wouldn't even need a solution. There'd be no problem. There'd be no consistently proven true, despite and beyond all conscious or otherwise efforts to deny the reality of all situations, that I am simply either a hopeless piece of shit, or all women are bound to act exactly as all women I know, have known, and assume will know do - without concern nor ability to care for those whom they pretend to love, UNLESS it benefits them and WILL benefit them in the foreseen future. So remove the body, and put a robot there, if it did the same thing as you, woman would be happy. Whereas I feel that men actually desire the human connection with another person, the intimacy, the if anything delusion that life is worth living through fabricating some emotional bond with another being who is of the opposite sex and can further reproduce and benefit the human race while remaining aware that happiness is fleeting as is sadness and it's not appropriate to act on emotions at ALL times. But then they SAY they WANT something, and go and DO another. Such are humans, and mainly such are women. I WANT THIS I AM UNHAPPY YOU ARE WRONG EVEN THOUGH I DID IT IT'S YOUR FAULT ENTIRELY BECAUSE AS A WOMAN I AM ENTITLED TO ACCEPT ZERO RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTION'S AND CLASSIFICATION OF DESCRIPTIVE ASSUMPTIONS CONCERNING MEN AND DON'T BE SEXIST YOU PIG BUT IT'S OK IF I AM BECAUSE I AM WHO DEFINES WHAT IS AND IS NOT, IN FACT I AM A GODDESS BECAUSE OF MY VAGINEEEEE - that's woman in a nutshell.

But I am. And some of them seem to be attracted to me, at least for periods of time. My luck seems to make me the guy that turns straightedge girls into whores cheating on their boyfriends, or whorish girls wanting to clean their life up and leave me for a better option. 

When you're the Man at the Crossroad's there is no hope but pointless & unpredictable relations with women you KNOW, not by expectation, but in experience, are going to leave you, cheat on you, or could care less about you than they do their schedule and facebook status.

Articles like this are a waste of fu**ing space. They do not speak to any truth but that of the common, average, foolish, person with no experience, who then learns to further push away those of us who have given heart and soul to other women only to learn their true nature, and learned that the only reason happiness existed before this lonliness is because we were deluded into believing those women we were loyal to had faith in, beyond empty words, the same thing.

Never have I met a man who, unless being cheated on, or used, is happy with a woman. IF women don't change, then certainly men are, and so is the treatment of women who find it absolutely OK to f**k over other peoples lives due to their \\

Sad, but not a sob story - Darlene Lancer MFT - Jul 13th 2012


9/10 "yes" answers only indicates the degree of pain you're in, which you needn't apologize for. The women who cheated on you were also unavailable and their low self-esteem is evident from their choice of new partners. It's not a reflection on you. I don't know your history, but typically people repeat pattterns from their family of origin. The unfortunate things is that when someone has been emotionally abandonned in childhood, he or she enters relationships like that. Closeness can feel frightening for a number of reasons, varying from the fear of being seen to smothered. Then the adult abandoning relationships leave wounds that make one fearful of reproducing them.

In answer to your question, the solution isn't simple, but involves support and ideally therapy to let go of anger and grief from the past and to build your self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem and confidence are the foundation for all relationships. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and shame all contribute to depression. Not all therapy is equal. Cognitive-Behavorial Therapy is excellent for depression and raising self-esteem. If you've experienced trauma, there are specific therapies for that as well, such as EMDR, Sensory Experiencing, and EFT. You may find support and friendship in a 12-Step program like CoDA - codependents anonymous. I recommend my books, because they deal with these issues and also contain self-hellp exercises.

Now what? - Aaron - Jul 12th 2012

Hi Darlene,

You know me too well. That is to say, I answered yes to 9/10 of the questions you pose at the end of the article. It isn't news to me, though. I've recognized my emotional unavailability for years now. Undeniably, my case is a chronic concern. I was depressed in elementary school due to bullying. I've been in therapy for a couple years following a bout of suicide contemplation, and I've found my mindset hasn't changed much.

For almost 6 years I've kept my distance from people who might have been interested in a relationship with me, because I'm even less interested in hurting someone else than I am in ending up hurt again myself. My previous girlfriends all cheated on me, lied to me, or left me for guys who treated them very poorly in the end. I certainly wasn't perfect, but they never expressed concerns to me directly before they ran and I did not cheat or let them down severely or have physical confrontations.

So, here's my question.. Now what? What do you recommend, exactly? I see articles like yours all over the internet reminding people to stay away from guys like me. Is that supposed to be helping my mental state? Romance and sexuality are lower than self-esteem on Maslow's heirarchy, but I can't engage anyone because I'm hot and cold and I don't trust anyone else in relationships or myself at this point. If I could blacken my heart and kill the drive on behalf of the well adjusted world, maybe I would. Sounds so easy.

Time has not been a healer to me. I am bitter and afraid. Does that mean I don't deserve to be close to anyone? Maybe I should atone for my icy heart by taking up residence at a monastery. Repress it all until I think I'm above it.

Part of me really is sorry to be cynical, and I know it contributes to my loneliness, but the people I've let my guard down around have not given me tremendous reasons to keep doing it. Do you lock the door of your house? How about your car? Well, my emotions are more vital to me than my property and a lot more effort to manage.

Maybe I'm not so strong alone. Perhaps I need help and the support of others to live comfortably. So, where is my help? When I express my sorrows, people back away uncomfortably. Nobody wants to hear the shallow sob story of some spoiled middle class white guy, and I really don't blame them.

Cheers, Aaron.

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