Unavailable men… why the attraction?

by Rod Smith

There’s a segment of women in the wider community who, for some reason, are primarily attracted to unavailable men (married, committed, etc.) can you explore that as a topic of discussion?

It's self-esteem

It's self-esteem

KATHRYN: Women who are drawn to unavailable men have a low self-esteem (lack of a healthy sense of self). The confident exterior is a façade that covers the inadequacy they feel that lurks underneath, haunting them. They are drawn to the “chase” and the secretive way of life as it brings a sense of intense emotional intimacy that cannot be achieved without the third person (the wife or girlfriend). The focus is on the shortcomings of the third person of the inability to maintain a healthy relationship of her own.

From Canberra

From Canberra

JEAN: I believe that growing up within the family structure, we learn to relate. It is in the family that we learn giving and receiving of unconditional love – we learn ‘you are special, you belong, you are such a significant part of this family.’ This message meets and nurtures a very deep need inside of each us.

I know, I know, not many of us have that experience!

Any childhood wounding, from a lack of love and nurture, will influence greatly how we relate as adults. It sounds very simple, but life becomes very complicated as a result of our drive to get our relational needs met; to receive those messages that never came to us as children.

I ask women with a history of being attracted to unavailable men, what it is about the men they found attractive. They often tell me it was the man’s sensitivity and ability to ‘connect’. And/Or, they tell me that there was something in the man that turned was like their father. One speaks of the relational need, the other: unresolved issues from family.

Jo Russell, Scotland

Jo Russell, Scotland

JO: I can’t help wondering if women who are attracted to unavailable men are actually unavailable for relationships themselves. They say they want to be in a relationship, and they may think they want to be in a relationship, but then choose unavailable men as a way of then avoiding the reality of relationship. To love someone, and to be loved by someone can be devastating, particularly if our experience of loving thus far has been complicated by disappointment or hurt. It is easier to manage our fears when we don’t embrace the risks, and we believe we are inoculating ourselves from further pain. Far from advocating initiating a relationship with a man who is married or committed to someone else, find those who are already your friends; love them, and learn to let them love you.

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