Opinion: Dating Someone Emotionally Unavailable Makes A Long-Term Full Commitment Impossible

Stacy Ann

Photo byAlejandra Quiroz/Unsplash

I pined over Tom for many years, a man whom I had known since I was very young as we had grown up together in the same small town.

Tom was kind, smart, handsome, motivated, had a good relationship with his mother, you name it, and he probably checked the box. Time and time again, our paths kept crossing, and in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but wonder… was it fate?

False hope can linger for as long as we let it, and I continually allowed myself to fall into a pattern where we would get close, sort of date, start to fall into some relationship, and then Tom would pull away like clockwork.

It wasn’t until years later that the lightbulb moment happened, and I realized that Tom had been emotionally unavailable and never able to give me a full relationship that was vulnerable and true.

Here is how Tom’s behavior constantly showcased the reality that he was emotionally unavailable.

He projected his issues unto me.

Time and time again, the same pattern would ensue. Tom and I would begin talking all the time, skyping, and flirting. When we were in the same city, we would go out on dates and have adventures together. Then, Tom would begin to get distant.

When asked why he was acting strange, the response was always around the lines of, “I never said that I could be in a relationship,” or “you want more than what I want to give” as if it was my fault.

The reality is that Tom wasn’t available and was projecting his feelings unto me, to avoid having to deal with them himself.

He blamed his unavailability on his past.

Tom had once been engaged to a woman, who ended up cheating on him with another man. Although I am not going to excuse her behavior as he didn’t deserve what she did, they were both very young, and in my opinion, not in a place to get married.

That incident always came up between us as the reason why we couldn’t be together. Tom would repeatedly say that he had no guarantee that I wouldn’t hurt him as his ex had. Even though I pleaded for him to give us a chance, there was no way to change his mind.

The reality is that plenty of people have been hurt and gone through heartbreak. Although I sympathized with Tom’s hurt, I had gone through my own share of hurt in the past as well and was still willing to be vulnerable.

He pushed me away, constantly claiming it was “too hard” to open up

Have you ever begged for someone to love you? That’s how I felt with Tom, even though I never actually said the words, “I love you.”

Time and time again, I would try to tread carefully to keep from “scaring” Tom away again. Then we would come to a point where I would beg him to give us a chance and beg for him to stop running. It always ended the same way, with Tom claiming that he was too damaged and that it was too terrifying to open up again because I could hurt him.

Sure, Tom’s point of view wasn’t incorrect in the sense that he wouldn’t open himself up to the potential of getting as hurt.

Refusing to open up to the possibility of getting hurt is a refusal to open up to the possibility of finding deep and real love.

He only really cared about what benefitted him.

When the time came when Tom and I got to a stage where it felt like it was time to decide whether or not we would be in a relationship, things fell through just like I knew they would.

Although it felt like there could have been so much more, there came a point when I realized that it was time to move on because it takes more than one person to make a relationship work.

Of course, a few months after I moved on, Tom seemed to sense that he had lost me and called me out of the blue, saying that he worked we had truly dated. I couldn’t help but laugh as it was such a classic case of, “You don’t know what you want until it’s gone,” and he had been given a chance for years and years to make it work.

It took a long time before I accepted the truth that the right person won’t have to lose you in order to realize that they want you.

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