5 Reasons Why It's So Hard To Let Go Of Unavailable Men

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woman walking away from walking away from emotionally unavailable man
Heartbreak

It’s painful and exhausting being in a relationship with an unavailable guy.

Sleepless nights rehashing confusing mixed signals, intense, soulful, and connected sex, and then sitting anxiously awaiting for a text, days later.

Waking up with the familiar gut-sinking fear of being ghosted, and the emotional whiplash of uncertainty that comes with being with someone who just can't seem to commit.

If this type of relationship is so painful, why is it so hard to let go?

RELATED: Emotionally Unavailable People Share These 10 Confusing Traits

Here are 5 reasons why walking away from an emotionally unavailable man is so hard.

1. You're getting mixed signals.

First, mixed signals can keep you hooked. Feelings of hope, longing, anticipation, and anxiety often fuel passion and desire.

These feelings keep you on edge emotionally and become powerful attractors and emotional activators (rather than detractors) for holding on to an emotionally unavailable partner, even when you know your needs are not being met.

From a biological perspective, when you’re imagining your love interest and you get a mixed signal, you tend to hang on hoping for the best.

"The neurotransmitter dopamine lights up areas deep within the brain, triggering feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward...the brain stem also gets into the act, releasing phenylethylamine (PEA), which speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells," says Daniel G. Amen, M.D., author of "The Brain In Love."

With this potent chemical cocktail going on in your brain, it’s no wonder that you can start to feel out of control — and hooked.

You don’t have to be a slave to mixed signals or dopamine-fueled emotional activators.

Remember that your needs for intimacy and consistency are important and don’t make you "needy." You deserve to be with someone who can be consistent with you without the hot/cold behavior.

2. There's intensity, not intimacy.

Relationships with unavailable people can have a lot of emotional intensity and excitement that masquerades as intimacy.

Inconsistent behavior, intermittent separation from a partner, and exciting adventures (in and out of bed) can all trigger emotional intensity and excitement, but lack true intimacy.

If you’ve unconsciously mixed up the intensity with genuine intimacy, which involves both partners being vulnerable with each other and not fleeing, you can become convinced that intensity and excitement equal true love.

Getting hooked on intensity and excitement can make it very difficult to move on. Strong emotions can blur the facts.

Taking a step back, you may see that the love you feel doesn’t match up with the reality of the situation.

In moving on from an intense relationship that lacks the intimacy or commitment you need, take it slow.

As a first step, search out the activities and interests that fuel your passions. What makes your heart sing?

Could you be seeking excitement and intensity in your life in another area and using an unavailable partner to fill this need?

3. You have a great sex life.

When you meet someone you are very attracted to and have good chemistry with, it can be especially hard to hold back being physically intimate, even if there are red flags.

It may feel awkward, but be direct and find out early on if you have similar expectations about relationships, sex, and dating. Once you start having sex with someone regularly, there is more of a possibility of falling in love and getting deeply attached.

In an interview with Vox, biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher says, "When you have sex with somebody, and it’s pleasurable, it drives up the dopamine system in the brain. That can push you over the threshold into falling in love."

If you are physically intimate with someone who is not at the same level of commitment or emotional investment as you and you are suffering, it can be very hard to leave.

Each time you reunite you are reigniting the dopamine and attachment system in the brain that keeps you hooked. Be gentle with yourself but interrupt the cycle, which may include avoiding contact and getting support from a therapist or coach.

If you continue being intimate with this partner, what’s the cost to your overall well being? 

RELATED: 6 Dating Mistakes Women Make That Attract Emotionally Unavailable Men (Instead Of Quality Guys)

4. You have a personal "unlovable story."

Carrying around a feeling of unfulfilled longing for mutual love can become part of your identity and corroborate a long-held internal storyline or limiting belief system.

There’s a saying, "The heart wants what it wants." But if you gravitate to limited, impossible relationships or unavailable partners over and over, there may be an older belief just under the surface.

Your personal "unlovable story" could be running quietly in the background.

This story may go something like this: "If I get too close he’ll see how weird/flawed I am and reject me," or "I’m just undesirable," or "I’m not good enough."

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Deciding to engage and stay in unavailable romantic relationships offers up confirmation of this negative belief or story you tell yourself.

If you are wavering about leaving an unavailable relationship where you are always longing for more, it can be helpful to ask yourself: "What 'story’ about me might this relationship be confirming?"

5. You’re at different stages of relationship readiness.

Sometimes, you meet the right person at the wrong time. You may be completely compatible in every way and mutually in love with only one thing missing: the ability for your partner to be ready to commit.

For example, if a man is not settled in who he is, feels he doesn’t yet have enough life experience, or feels unsteady about his career, purpose, or "mission" in life, it can be almost impossible to commit to a relationship, even if he is in love.

If your need for companionship, compatibility, exclusivity, consistency, and love are being met by your less committed partner, even if he says he’s not ready to commit to a long-term relationship, you will probably still be tempted to wait for him to be ready.

The downside is that you can lose valuable time waiting and your self-esteem can take a hit. Fear of loss can be enough to keep you hanging on indefinitely.

If you have put your own life on hold while waiting, now is the time to refocus on yourself and what you want, outside of the relationship. 

Learning how to walk away from an emotionally unavailable man can be extremely difficult, but it’s not impossible.

You deserve a healthy relationship. And realizing that you have a choice can feel really liberating and empowering.

By building self-awareness and support now, you can work on being more emotionally available and vulnerable as well as looking out for these same qualities in others.

It’s possible that from there, you shift your awareness so that you become more mindful of your choices and stop putting your heart into these types of relationships and partners.

In time, you can begin to identify emotional unavailability in partners and opt-out before you become too emotionally invested and attached. 

RELATED: How To Tell If He's Emotionally Unavailable ... Or Just Not Into You

Stephanie Lazzara is an ICF-certified holistic life and relationship coach. She helps clients change their patterns of attraction to unavailable partners and learn skills for creating healthy, fulfilling relationships. She is also a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga in Brooklyn, NY. You can schedule a sample coaching session or find out about her relationship and life coaching programs on her website.