Just Because He’s Unavailable To You Doesn’t Mean He’s Unavailable



Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Beautifulgame
Comment: Hi,

I have a question about unavailable men.

Some of my exes and nearly all of the men I’ve tried to be in a relationship with were/are emotionally unavailable. My issue for choosing them in the first place, which I am trying to resolve with a therapist.

However, one thing has always puzzled me. All those unavailable men – either after our relationship had finished or after rejecting me being emotionally unavailable for a relationship – have been able to commit to another woman quite quickly, and long term. When I say commit I mean: two exes both got married less than 18 months later; two other guys I was trying to be with found their now long term serious girlfriends a few months after meeting me.

My therapist has assured me that those were emotionally unavailable people, and that I chose them because I have low self esteem.

How is this possible, if they could commit so soon and so long term, to someone else? Aren’t unavailable men unavailable to all women, not just to some?

Thanks for your reply!

Beautiful Game.
Age: 41
City: London
State: UK

First of all, I’m wary of any therapist who makes judgment calls or diagnoses people they have not met or treated. There’s something very sketchy about that. That said, you have to remember something: therapists can only base their assessments on what we tell them. Since most people lack objectivity and a healthy level of self-awareness, what the therapist ends up hearing is a skewed version of reality. Their job (which is very similar to mine) is to apply critical analysis in order to separate fact from fiction and go from there.

Now, if all these men are moving on from you into a serious relationship, then it’s unlikely that they are or were emotionally unavailable. They could have been that way with you, but that doesn’t mean they are inaccessible in general.

The only “fact” I have to go on is that you attracted these “unavailable men” with regularity. Therefore, I have to wonder not why you chose them, but why they chose you. What is it about you that appears to attract men who are not emotionally available?

As I’ve said before, I think the low self-esteem excuse is an easy out. It’s a go-to excuse to explain why a woman sleeps around or can’t seem to settle down. While low self-esteem may very well be a factor, that’s not always the case. I happen to think there’s way more to it than that.

I’ve spoken of this before:  I know exactly what I seek in a partner and in a relationship: he has to have grit and an unshakable sense of himself.   If I find with those qualities, super. If I don’t, well gosh, my heart will go on. I am no walk in the park when it comes to dating. I’m difficult, I’m demanding, I’m outspoken. I am also an emotionally closed off person until I know you’ll stick around.  The battle that rages inside of me is this paralyzing fear someone will leave me versus a compulsion to push someone away just to see if they’ll stay or go.  One voice tells me I don’t matter and another says, “Fuck you. I don’t need you.”  Like I said, I’m a delight. It is a struggle for me to quiet both of those voices and just trust. When I meet someone, I know instinctively whether or not they are up to the task of dating me, and when that happens, I let go. I’ve met one man up for the task, and I know that it’s possible to meet another like him. Now if he would just show up at my apartment since I make zero effort to meet anyone, I’d be all set. Other than the occasional bouts of loneliness and longing, I am oddly content with my life as it is. Or maybe I just prefer the safety of my insulated world. Or maybe it’s both. I don’t know. What I do know if that my life right now is fairly stress and conflict free. The probate case is over, I’ve managed to maintain relationships with my sisters on my terms, I go out when I want and stay in when I don’t, I’m learning to cook, I’m managing a high protein diet, my sleeping pattern has gone back to normal, I’ve been doing yoga for several weeks now and loving it, the third draft of my book is gelling and my writing continues to improve,  and I haven’t had a depressive episode in months. Until something compels me out of my cocoon, I’m good here.

Aren’t unavailable men unavailable to all women, not just to some?

Nope. Unavailable men are usually unavailable to unavailable women and vicey versey. While there are cases where two people fall in love despite one or both of them being unavailable, I tend to believe we seek out (consciously or unconsciously) unavailable people because we are unavailable and they are safe.

Whether it’s low self-esteem or fear of abandonment or just an ennui bred from the frustrations of dating, something is causing you to shut down. These men you’re meeting might not be unavailable, but become that way when they realize you are not open to real intimacy. Or they find you because, at that particular stage in their life, they aren’t looking for anything serious. Whatever it is, they are deeming you ideal solely for something casual, something devoid of an emotional connection.

Rather than focus on these men and their deficits, it’s time for you to turn that white hot glow of introspection on yourself. That’s the only way you’re going to figure this all out.



PS…While I am pretty good with cooking red meat, I need to expand my diet to poultry. How do you chicken? I need some easy chicken recipes.

Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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26 Responses to “Just Because He’s Unavailable To You Doesn’t Mean He’s Unavailable”

  1. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    Well, I agree with the therapist and disagree with Moxie to the extent that I don’t think this has anything to do with whom you “attract” but, rather, whom you CHOOSE to form relationships with.

    I’m going to give the OP the answer. There’s no magic or mysticism. You can’t read people’s minds, and they can’t read yours. You are initially connecting with people who you find superficially attractive, and they with you. The problem is that, after you meet, as you get to know them, you then for whatever reasons, CHOOSE to develop relationships with these men who are unavailable TO YOU. In other words, it’s not about magical attraction, it’s about choice. Whether they are “generically” unavailable to the world is unanswerable and simplistic. I’m not sure generically unavailable exists – all people behave differently in different situations.

    In any event, I don’t know how you know these men are in “committed” or serious relationships after you’ve dated them. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. Presumably, you are learning of this through external sources, such as Facebook or friends. It should go without saying that what you see on Facebook is not reality but what a person wants to project about themselves. In fact, you have no idea the nature of someone else’s private relationship. Most of us learn through a lifetime of experiences that things are never what they seem….

  2. Marshmallow Says:

    I have tons of chicken recipes. do you like all kinds of cuisines? Anyway, of all the recipes I’ve ever given people, this is the one they love the most.

    Amazing chicken pasta
    You can substitute low fat everything

    4 – 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
    1 bottle Italian dressing

    Dump in crock, cook till done – mine is about three hours on low.

    Then melt in a pan –
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 cup chicken broth
    1-8 oz. pkg cream cheese
    1/2 tsp. dried basil
    1/2 tsp. dried thyme
    salt and pepper to taste

    Drain the crock of 1/3 of the dressing liquid.

    Add the melted ingredients to the chicken in the crock. Cook for 1 hour on low. Serve over angel hair pasta. The person you are cooking this for will love you forever.

  3. Nia Says:

    This is *insanely* good. It’s relatively easy, very healthy and so savory and yummy, especially for cold nights.


    It might seem a bit intimidating but it’s pretty fool proof.

    Another easy chicken recipe is:

    I’ve made both of these a couple times each and I’m at the “advanced amateur” stage of cooking, so if I can do it….:)

  4. Yvonne Says:

    To me, emotionally unavailable means someone who is not able to reciprocate your affection/interest. These people sometimes have some sort of external excuse, like they’ve just gotten out of a relationship or are not over their ex, or they simply send mixed signals and blow hot and cold. People with addictions are usually not emotionally available wither. Often you can have an intense physical connection with them, and a good times when you are together.

    If you’ve made a habit of picking men who don’t/can’t respond to you, you’re settling for less. You are also hoping that if you hang in there, things will change, and they almost never do. Maybe these men aren’t ready for a relationship at the time they are meeting you. Maybe they are just not that into you, but they like you and the sex is good, so they stick around on their terms. In other words, the relationship you have is easy for THEM (not necessarily for YOU).

    You may have your own fears about intimacy, and you may not think you deserve more, which is why your therapist mentioned the low self-esteem. Maybe you’re not sure what you want and haven’t confronted that, and so pick men who act out your own ambivalence for you.

    It’s great to go with the flow, but often not being more decisive and demanding in relationships can really work against you. The clearer you are about what you want and how you want to be treated, the less time you will spend with the guys who aren’t serious about you.

  5. alan Says:

    use the ny times cooking site there are easy and hard recipies there


    my plug for the day.

  6. NewEnglandMan Says:

    I agree a lot with what Moxie said. I also think you might want to check out the book ‘Attached’ by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. It talks about how people tend to have either an avoidant, anxious, or secure attachment style in their romantic relationships. The worst pairing to have is someone who is avoidant paired with someone who is anxious. And it sounds like this is the type of pairing you seem to find yourself in. The book talks about how to avoid this type of pairing and what you can do to improve things if you find yourself in this type of relationship.

    One of the most interesting things I found in the book is their description of the online dating world. They said that women mostly tend to find men with avoidant attachment styles (roughly speaking, men who are emotionally unavailable) on online dating sites because men with secure attachment styles tend to be in relationships and spend less time available in the dating pool. And since men who have the avoidant attachment style tend to spend more time being single, they’re more likely to be in the dating pool. So while the book explains that 25% of the general population have an avoidant attachment style, this percentage is probably higher on online dating sites.

    • Timothy Horrigan Says:

      The online dating world is hard for everyone but it’s especially frustrating for the hetero men because he gets ignored a lot, often by women who would be perfectly capable of tolerating or even enjoying his company if they agreed to get to know him. The women get ignored a lot too but they have no way of knowing who’s ignoring them, since women almost always leave it up to the guys to make the first move. That’s a state of affairs which is less uncomfortable for avoidant types who are already accustomed to being ignored than it is for other types.

      • The Original D Says:

        I dunno why you’re getting so many downvotes. I used to terrible at approaching women and was ignored a lot (at least in my head).

        It wasn’t until the last 6-7 years that I got more assertive. And now (humblebrag alert) women tell me all the time that I’m really attractive. I look roughly the same now as I always have. The difference now is I ignore my feeling of being ignored and pro-actively introduce myself.

        • Dori Says:

          He got many downvotes, because he whined that online dating is especially fustrating for (hetero) men. Newsflash: it is frustrating for women too. It was talked about on this blog (and elsewhere) ad nauseam.

    • BostonRobin Says:

      Excellent book that turned my dating life around 180 degrees! Avoidants abound in the online dating world. It was made for them.

      I used to find myself in these “emotionally unavailable” situations. So I did a lot of work on myself to make damned sure I was emotionally available myself, and started demanding a lot more of dating partners. That book helped me identify the Avoidant style so I could bail early–often the profiles themselves are a giveaway. How can you not “touch the hot stove” if you don’t know what it looks like?

      Eventually I developed the confidence in myself to be able to say that I no longer care about the emotionally availability of someone who isn’t right for me. If it’s not working, how sad, but move on to find a good match. But I make sure that I am clear about my feelings and my expectations in a relationship, and I do it in such a way that they know I’ll walk on without them if they won’t walk with me. I used to put up with so much nonsense from people that it makes me cringe to look back. This blog and some others gave me a baseline of what’s acceptable behavior, especially in the sometimes baffling online world.

      Short version: don’t waste energy trying to figure out the person who doesn’t treat you right!

    • Eliza Says:

      Thank you–I am going to check out this book. and the idea that most men on these online dating sites are avoidant types makes so much sense…and this applies to women. I am guessing I have an avoidant type of attachment. I only attach, once I know I am not being fed “bullshit”. No time for that. The endless text messages, yet never being free to meet…for a 2 min cup of coffee, for instance. Other excuses, which I won’t go into. Who doesn’t want to avoid that nonsense? Great suggestion for a book/advice. Thanks NewEngland.

  7. SS Says:

    Everyone has already made awesome comments, but I’ll add this:

    My unavailable male friend was married for a decade. He bumbled along but was never really “happy” (he mentioned once or twice he doesn’t think he has ever been in love).

    She divorced him because they lacked intimacy. She couldn’t get him to make that connection with her. He still doesn’t understand what that even means (!)

    The truth is that attachment styles are intensely difficult to change – avoidants are usually the *most* difficult to change. These women may not have won a prize, and in fact you might have had a lucky escape.

    More to the point – once you realize they are unavailable, why are you staying, and why PINE over an emotional cripple?!

    I do think that water seeks its own level, so if you are consistently meeting these men and not immediately seeing the red flags, you may definitely want to investigate your own ambivalence and unavailability.

  8. GI_JANE_is_back_yall Says:

    2 Question OP

    1. How long are you dating these men?
    2. Have you ever had a talk with them about where this relationship is going?

    The men you speak of are clearly capable of love at some point in their life. But the thing is, men will date anybody.

    Is there some signs of moderate interest in the beginning that you may be missing?

  9. fuzzilla Says:

    My favorites from here are the chicken in peanut sauce, oven fajitas, and homemade naan pizza:


  10. mxf Says:

    I love everything about eating a high-protein diet. I’ve been doing it since the spring (as well as weight training) and I feel excellent a lot more often.

    One of my most frequent go-to meals are these turkey burgers. You can swap in ground chicken if you prefer it, but I think turkey has a slight edge for protein count. Anyway, they’re so tasty I eat them as stand-alones instead of in a bun most of the time, just topped with some cheddar, salsa and avocado:


  11. fuzzilla Says:

    Her therapist’s opinion (or the slant she chooses to take on it) seems to clash with reality somewhat and this seems to be the crux of the OP’s issue. If all these “unavailable” men are such mustache twirling, puppy kicking villains, then how is it they’re now in presumably happy relationships with women who presumably have healthy self esteem?

    You are the common denominator in these relationships. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a terrible partner or that men aren’t attracted to you, just that they weren’t the right ones FOR YOU. It feels safe to say that you stick around in dead-end situations longer than you should if you’re repeatedly left dumbfounded by relationships that end abruptly. There was no doubt a “tell” along the way that these guys weren’t super invested (forgetting to call, dragging their feet on introducing you to friends or family, etc.).

    Like DMN said, everyone behaves differently in different circumstances. Like Moxie said, turn the white hot glow of introspection on yourself, the one common denominator.

  12. myself Says:

    I can’t answer anything to the OP because I tend to do the same things.

    GO ME!

    As for cooking, this I can help with!

    I adore this recipe!


    This is also a personal fav


    All of the above are super easy peasy!

  13. tasia Says:

    This recipe is amazing, sophisticated & dead easy. Only takes 30-40 mintes to bake. Nuke some 90 second Seeds of Change quinoa & brown rice (complex protein & tasty/textured to boot), steam some green veggies & dinner is served.

  14. Eliza Says:

    I agree about a therapist only getting on side of the story–the patient’s…and then perhaps a skewed perspective…because it’s so subjective. We don’t know how we sometimes come across to others. I have also been called “detached”, “aloof”, close off, hard to get to know. But in a way–with me, trust is earned, I don’t trust within seconds of meeting someone over a cup of coffee in Starbucks. Agree with Moxie…the way she has described herself and her life, resembles mine. I actually love the stress-free/conflictless lifestyle of being single in a way…hard to let someone in that may create chaos. I come and go as I want…and perhaps these men the OP is meeting are the same? Until they meet a woman they perceive as not being wrecking balls to their lifestyles? Don’t know the OP, so can’t comment on how she is coming across…but it sounds like these men may not be “unavailable”–but don’t want to be available to the OP for some reason. Hard to pinpoint why. I am also a piece of work, fairly demanding on myself, and in turn on a potential mate…and quick to dismiss, since I have little time for crap, or nonsense. The whole “it’s not you, it’s me” game. No…it’s me…He’s Just Not into You. Watch the movie. Read the book. It’s so much easier to be single. But yes, it would be nice to meet someone that “I get” and that actually “gets me”. I did find that person once…so there MUST be another man similar to him…a Type A, although, very compatible. Major con: very bitter ex-wife…which drove him over the edge…that can pretty much poison any union.

    Oh…great chicken recipe here!

    Good ole Martha. :)

  15. Jules Says:

    Perhaps these unavailable men just weren’t that into the OP.

    Looking back at two of my ex-boyfriends, I would have described them as emotionally unavailable at the time we broke up. But after a few years, I now realize that they just didn’t want to be emotionally available to me. They weren’t that into me.

    I’m now with someone who is very emotionally available and our relationship it’s a compete 180.

  16. eviec Says:

    Also, I agree she should work on herself and make sure she is available.

    Best chicken recipe I’ve made lately:

    Roasted Chicken Provençal
    by Sam Sifton

    Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
    Yield: 4 servings


    4 chicken legs or 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
    1 lemon, quartered
    8-10 cloves garlic, peeled
    4-6 medium-size shallots, peeled and halved
    ⅓ cup dry vermouth
    4 sprigs of thyme, for serving

    Download The New York Times Cooking App on the App Store.

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