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5 Reasons You Choose Avoidant or Unavailable Partners…and What to Do about It

By Jennifer Nurick, MA, author of Heal Your Anxious Attachment

Have you ever felt frustrated at yourself for choosing yet another unavailable partner? Maybe he is married or lives in another state or country. Perhaps he is dating you, but seems married to his work, mother, or friends. Or maybe he lives with you but is emotionally unavailable, leaving you deeply alone in your relationship.

Whatever the situation, here you are again with yet another unavailable partner, wondering if it is you or just bad luck. Let’s break down some of the reasons you chose avoidant or unavailable partners.

1. YOU CHOSE WHAT YOU KNOW: Research has demonstrated that we are often attracted to people with similar qualities to our primary caregivers who seem familiar to us. So, if one or both of your parents were avoidant, and that is what you are used to, you could unconsciously be attracted to someone who matches your beliefs of how relationships should be. It feels comfortable, even though later on, it feels uncomfortable.

2. MODEL OF SELF: When your model of self says that you don’t deserve love, that others aren’t capable of meeting your needs, or that love is not real unless you have to earn it, it can be challenging when you are with someone secure and available. There is an unconscious disbelief that they will stay with you, and you might inadvertently push them away.

3. YOU REPEAT WHAT YOU SAW: You saw your parents have a relationship dynamic where one was more avoidant and the other anxious, or perhaps they were together but emotionally disconnected.

4. OPPOSITES ATTRACT: You might be drawn to qualities that you feel you lack. Often the unavailable partner can seem stable, secure, and grounded, and his nervous system feels calm (although it might rest in hyporarousal; dorsal vagal shutdown). This can be very attractive to those with an anxious attachment style who want more of this in themselves.

5. REDEMPTION: You are subconsciously trying to heal what happened in the past by recreating the same dynamic in the hope that something different will happen. If you grew up with an emotionally disconnected father and felt unloved by him, a part of you will feel unlovable. To be redeemed, this part of you needs him to love you. As an adult, you chase unavailable men so you can get them to love you, then it proves you are lovable and you are redeemed.

When you are subconsciously looking for redemption, a much younger part of you is running the show. Changing this involves going inward and offering these younger parts the redemption they are looking for. When you do this, they stop outsourcing their need to be attuned to and loved, and they start to look toward you. This creates what I call “inner secure attachment,” and it changes everything. It is the most powerful way I know to break the pattern of choosing unavailable partners. I teach you how to do this and much more in my book, Heal Your Anxious Attachment, which comes with twenty downloadable guided meditations.

Jennifer Nurick, MA, is a licensed clinical psychotherapist, energetic healer, teacher, and founder of Psychotherapy Central. She specializes in treating people with relational issues and complex post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) using traditional psychotherapy approaches, as well as body-centered and integrative healing methods.

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