Men Only Like Me Because I’m Emotionally Unavailable

I first met Brett during a visit to my boring suburb of a hometown a few months ago, and he seemed interested in everything except me. His disinterest drove me crazy. One night, I craved Brett’s attention, so I invited him and his friends to a party. For the first time since we had met, Brett and I were able to have a real conversation. It was easy to talk to him. I began to like him even more.

I assumed he’d be blowing up my phone the next day, and when he didn’t, I began to accept that he would never like me. I figured I just wasn’t his type. It changed my dynamic with him—I stopped trying. But the tables quickly turned when, a few days later, he asked me on a date. Usually, I make it clear to the men trying to woo me that it’ll take more than a fancy dinner to get me to sleep over. But it was my birthday, and I wanted something emotionless, so I slept at his house for what I intended to be a one-night stand.

When he dropped me off at my house the next morning, he handed me flowers and a card. I knew what that meant. The guy who shows the least amount of interest has the capability of showing the most when he finds the right girl. But for Brett, I became that girl overnight. Every day afterwards, he sent me text messages that made me cringe. I’d answer his emotional texts with one-word responses, but he wouldn’t give up. Even after I directly told him I wasn’t looking for anything serious, he wouldn’t leave me alone. He told me he loved me in a group chat. I don’t get offended easily, but I hated that he had the audacity to love me. I didn’t do anything to make him love me or to let him feel confident enough to tell me that he did.

Two years ago, my first and last relationship ended without my permission and I still cannot bring myself to love anyone else. I walked in on my boyfriend with another girl, walked out alone, and never had a meaningful conversation with him again. I was completely dispensable to someone who was completely indispensable to me. These days, I place an imaginary Band-Aid over my heart before I allow myself to go on a date. The Band-Aid allows me to have feelings for someone, but it’s always temporary.

My most recent and serious dating experience was with a guy named Peter. He was handsome, took charge of our dates, made me try things I never would have otherwise, and always answered my phone calls, which I hardly reciprocated. But his chivalry quickly became unbearable. Each time I’d glance at my phone, there would be ten missed calls and fifteen texts. When I asked to be alone, he’d leave me gifts at my front door. And a month after I ended things, he went into full-stalker mode, parked in front of my house, and followed me around in his car when I left to run errands. I’ve heard from mutual friends that he’s a stand-up guy, so either he lost all sensibility while dating me, or men are just allowed to be crazy without being labeled as such.

It might be unfair for me to date considering my emotional unavailability, but I don’t understand how he was able to feel such a deep connection to me when I was clearly so disconnected from him. What was it about my denial that made him go into full chase mode? It was as though he felt he was the stakeholder of my emotions and invented the affection he thought he deserved. Andy Warhol once said, “As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it.” All Peter wanted was me, but all I wanted was a little emotional breathing room and the ability to leave my house safely.

I won’t be forced into any feelings for another man. I may or may not sleep with a guy, but I definitely can’t let him love me, at least not for an extended period of time. I long for the part of me I lost, and men long for the part of me they can’t have. I was lucky enough to experience what felt like a real connection with my first relationship. The boy I thought I was going to marry showed me how little he loved me, not only by cheating, but in his cowardly way of dealing with the messy emotional aftermath. I’ll remain emotionally unavailable until I heal myself—which I will—without getting too caught up in any other person’s bruised ego.

Artwork By Elise Nielsen

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