Relationships: Being attracted to unavailable people

In this article, we'll explore loving and being drawn to unavailable people - why this happens and how to resolve it.


From the dawn of my own relationship time, I was drawn into loving those who didn’t/couldn’t love me back, and this was not only in romantic relationships but also in my close friendships.

From an analytical perspective, I can see as a therapist that this came from having both parents who were totally lovely people but were self-absorbed. And also focusing on the whys and wherefores of their own failure rather than connecting with each other.

For my mother on 'the why', she didn’t get that my father’s focus took precedence. And, for my father, he didn’t get my mother’s focus - no time for the children. As long as we looked perfect and were well-fed and well-educated, it was job done. Emotional focus (or any emotional individuality) was either our's to be met or not possible. We just had to thrive somehow emotionally on air, curious huh? However, it was really common in those days.

However, let me tell you today where parents are super challenged - regarding safety. Both financially and status-wise - in the workplace pretty much both parents are breadwinners as well as interesting, socially active and looking good. Not to mention the trauma vagaries of Covid and staying safe and alive. Parenting and being parented has its own challenge that so competes with being able to give our children sufficient focus.

We have all the vocabulary around mental health and what we should be doing and feeling and providing, however, still in schools absolutely zero is being done to inform parents and children on the whole.

Here, when it came to my own parents, I understood you had two people who were used to being adored and imbued with the constant focus of their own parents. Neither one was able as parents themselves to “provide” only externally and practically, as they never had to learn to give of themselves other than via gift means, everything was either an extension of them or it didn’t exist. So, with no mirroring or sense of who you are unless it is by association, we were full of a sense of something huge missing but different people with different characteristics and temperament deal with this in different ways.

If you are sensitive, you can’t see the red flags. And the early belief or feeling of belonging and home with these illusive people is the honey that reels you in with wholly unsuitable partners and friendships. Yet it is within the hollow of the pain of the disconnect and the absence of limbic resonance where they are familiar. Familiar maybe, but in what way exactly? Mostly, as explained above, our own early dysfunctional exchanges with our own parents or caregivers call the shots.

The dynamic is “known” here. We are not known to ourselves or by ourselves in a fundamental way, so we outline our own selves through being wanted and associated with and also the visibility through a partner. If you are attracted to distant people who panic with intimacy, you are not going to be in a comfortable place at all. And also feeling to boot like you lack something fundamental at the very least and it is your fault whilst they smugly push you away. Here of course the irony is the minute you actually heal and don’t want this kind of pale not good enough exchange, they feel free to love you.

Here the answer is...

Please get help to realise the truth in that you are lacking nothing. You are far better suited to a securely attached type of person, that is well enough to be emotionally present, and not use your insecurities which they keep stoked up, to bolster up their self-esteem at your cost. I have seen this dynamic again and again.

Your pursuit of the unavailable friend or lover is from the early trauma of not being safely attached.

As children, we live in a feeling, emotional world where our reasoning is not yet established. We cannot rationalise this state and so we feel that it is because of something we lack fundamentally not through deed or non-deed but of and about who we actually are.

Even worse here is the trauma rewind, when the unavailable object of desire and affection is telling you how valuable you are. But they are not ready for a myriad of reasons - ranging from age to where they might be at - but they will put some kind of metaphysical bookmark on how amazing you are for them in the future. And you will hang on to that and never commit to anyone else because you are leaving that space free for them! Secretly you will be wanting to be fought for (not put on someone’s shelf), or maybe not so secretly!

No, no. Here you are getting robbed of living a full life with someone who IS available and wants to be in the now.

What to do

Get some answers. As adults, we can rewrite our real understanding through a good therapist or coach, we can hear ourselves talk in the therapy and discover really important truths. This is fundamental to recovery and entirely possible.

Find relationships with those who absolutely celebrate who you are, where you feel no shame. If that dynamic doesn’t exist in the significant long-standing relationships you have, then question this and them. Those who really love you will be OK with examining this in my experience. And if not, maybe it is time to review how good those relationships are for you. Often those people you tend to be suffocated by have issues of co-dependency, where they choose dependent people to prop up their own sense of importance. I mentioned this above.

Start to read and learn and look into this dynamic. Awareness is key here and whatever you learn will become valued tools that you can count on in the future. Things can and do change but not through blame - avoid this like the plague. It keeps up narrow and reactive behaviour and it isn’t either necessary or elegant. Remember you don’t have to prove what you truly know, it just quietly steers you away from more trauma and its ill effect because it belongs to who you are not - someone else’s version of you.

I specialise in healing from this dynamic. I have worked with a great many wonderful people who I have seen flourish in front of my eyes and change. Support here through this I believe is the key. I sponsor those I work with, this makes all the difference in the world. I do this through WhatsApp support in between consultations via calls messaging and voices.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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