October 16, 2014

Why We Like Unavailable People.


I like unavailable people and, if you’re reading this, you most likely do too.

To start, what is a so-called unavailable person and why would anyone like something which even has a complicated sounding name?

Answer: Steffen Kovanda. That name won’t mean much to you, but he was the first boy I ever liked. He was cute, at least, when I was 10, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes.

Sometimes, he was really nice and other times he acted like he didn’t know me. He would wolf whistle after school, then insult me on the school bus. Something about this conundrum left me wanting his approval. Maybe you had a Steffen Kovanda of your own.

Unavailable people are the ones you get romantic texts from, yet they don’t ask you out. They’re the type you go on a month of great dates with and then mysteriously never hear from again.

They’re the person you date for eight exciting months, yet they forget about Valentine’s Day or have an excuse to not celebrate your birthday.

They’re the flirty married colleague at the office. An unavailable person is the hot yogi who always places their yoga mat next to you in class and winks, but never asks for your number.

Unavailable people can be our best friends, parents, lovers, spouses, or bosses. They can be the parent who never says, “I love you,” or the boss who doesn’t offer affirmation for your hard work.

If anything, they are consistent in their inconsistency. In the absence of clarity or follow through, they are emotional magicians. They can intrigue and leave you wanting more, without stopping to question why you want their good favor. Worse, the juggling act and roller-coaster of not knowing where you stand can riddle you with self doubt and insecurity (e.g., “What’s wrong with me?” “Why didn’t Joey/Mary/Susan tell me I did a great job?” “He kissed me after our date and said he had an amazing time, but never called!”)

However, relationship professionals suspect it has nothing to do with who we are now or our first crush. Often, going back further, a natural affinity for emotionally unavailable people is established very early in our lives. It likely has to do with our connection to adults in our formative years.

In my case, my parents divorced when I was two and my step-father was never very loving. Which, in a roundabout way, is probably why I married my husband. He was the only man to not ooh and ahh over my supposed beauty. It took him six months to tell me I was beautiful.

He’s a great guy, but part of what draws me to him is that I can never tell what he’s thinking. A college class could be built around his facial expressions. He also might be a victim of bitchy resting face disorder (I say this with love). All of this means that when we fell in love, I felt as if I’d earned something priceless and solved a puzzle others wouldn’t have had the stamina for.

Liking unavailable people is also why I became best friends with Judy. She was a brilliant writer and we had deep, intellectual conversations, but making plans with her was harder than extracting teeth.

The greater truth is that the unavailable person isn’t the true constant.

The real constant is, well, us.

The common denominator is that we choose the friends and comrades we interact with based on who we are and how we are.

This isn’t, contrary to the slant of pop psychology, necessarily a weakness, flaw or defect. I look at it as a tool. Every day, we have a chance to ask if our choices are serving our highest good. It’s not about what our friends think on our behalf, it’s about honoring our own needs. It’s also on a spectrum—what serves us at age 20, might not in 10 or 15 years.

For me, (regardless whether it was my parent’s divorce, watching too many Woody Allen movies, or something in my genes from the start) I like my people a little on the unavailable side and I can handle it. I appreciate the occasional mystery of my husband, while I released my friendship with Judy out into the wild.

As long as I’m treated with love and respect, I find some emotional space freeing and it serves my inner artist. This wouldn’t work for everyone. If, conversely, the people you have in your inner or outer circles bring you pain or emotional unease, it’s only right to cut them loose. You’ll be sending the universe a signal that you have your sights on something happier or healthier. You’ll give yourself a chance to find out what fits and works for you.

We all deserve boundless, ceaseless love. We deserve happiness—not the kind that sounds good on paper, but the kind we feel from head to toe!



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons



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