Emotionally Unavailable People


Question:
Iím so frustrated in my relationships with men. It seems like I always end up with emotionally unavailable people who start out professing to be attracted to my independence. But things change and after a while they are constantly telling me everything thatís wrong with me, as if theyíre perfect. In reality, they do not see me as a friend, but as a "challenge" to figure out, or a "problem" to fix. Their "love" or "concern" lasts only as long as I take their advice and let them direct my life's decisions. If I become more self-confident and want to make my own choices that they disagree with, the "friendship" is over.  If they aren't the all-knowing guru, they don't want to play. Iím mad that I continue to fall into the same type of relationship over and over.


Answer:
That is very well put! I have gotten into this exact situation before and it is very frustrating and discouraging because the ultimate message is shame. "I'm not good enough the way I am. I'm unacceptable and must be changed." Meanwhile the other person will gloat on their superiority (which I feed into by taking on the shame).

At some point, I also noticed how many narcissistic people were in my life. I wondered if I attracted these people because I'm used to it since so much of my family is that way? Or maybe there's just a lot of narcissists in the world.

I don't like the idea that "I attract" these kind of people. It seems so voodoo magical -- a thing I SHOULD be able to control, but don't because why? Because
I'm not good or smart enough? Scientology people seem to say this a lot and it seems to ultimately communicate shame.

So, what are my options? Well, I can't control anyone else in my life. I can only control my own behavior and responses. So it's important that I be aware of my partnerís behavior and modify my relationship accordingly so that I don't set myself up for disappointment (which, admittedly is a lonely situation to be in because I can imagine that it would be cool if there were more caring people in my life.

Here's where the interpersonal effectiveness skills come in: When I speak to my partner I try to use the GIVE skills -- be gentle, act interested, be validating, have an easy manner. Why not? There's no reason to hold a grudge or be passive-agressive by behaving irritably.


But it doesn't end there. I must also use the self-respect skill to take care of myself - FAIR. The F is fair and that means being fair to myself by not engaging when I don't feel like it, not looking for approval, and setting boundaries (something was not demonstrated to me by my family when I was growing up).

The A is for no apologies. I don't have to explain myself. This is a big one!!!! I have spent a VERY big portion of my life justifying my behavior to others. My therapist has ground it in to me -- whenever I feel like I'm explaining myself, STOP! I don't owe anyone an explanation. Often, a simple yes or no will do.

The S is for sticking to my values. It serves no purpose to get caught up in something I wouldn't normally do. I deserve respect and I have to keep to my own values for myself and not get caught up into wanting to be accepted and giving in to peer pressure.

The T is for truthfulness. There's no reason to lie. I donít have to participate in a discussion that I donít want to be led into. It's okay to just say, "I don't want to talk right now." AND let it go. I'm not responsible for the feelings of others.

That's my experience.
- Lisa

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