Emotionally Unavailable, Attachment And Disappointment: A Toxic Cocktail

Photo CreditLizziliz

A wicked stew!

Building walls, so fucking fast while climbing into our numb cocoon aka comfort zone and telling ourselves, we're just fine. It's how we cope with any possible disappointment whether it's a date or relationship gone bad!

Until that someone comes along, sparks fly and before we know it we're attached! What appeared as a life under control, is now all over the place.

We start coming up with labels, as to what makes this extra special! We may call them our soulmate or some other name with a lot of intensity attached to it, because certain areas of the relationship feel magical. Usually the sex, certain views and interests, perhaps even having this person understand us like no one before!

It's amazing, except for the anxiety of the emotional roller coaster. It's up-and-down -- "will I hear from he or she, what does he or she want" and so on...

The focus is entirely on the other person and what we can do to be who they want, so perhaps they'll choose to be committed to us.

There is no focus or care for the self in this situation.

And for those who have extricated themselves physically from the relationship, they are still caught up in the cycle of emotional unavailability, attachment and disappointment.

Why can't we go?

Because it's about us, the individual, the other person is a mirror to how we treat ourselves.

Physically leaving for many, solves nothing emotionally, especially for those who suffer from insecure attachment.

With attachment comes emotional unavailability, which is what we usually blame the other person for, but we are just as unavailable.

Do you:

  • Protect yourself?
  • Not trust others?
  • Compartmentalize?
  • Become numb?
  • Suffer from major anxiety around relationships?
  • Blame others for your feelings?
  • End relationships, but never really move on emotionally?
  • Not want to get too close, but also don't want to go to far?
  • Believe sex is the only way to have intimacy?
  • Look for external validation on a date or in a relationship, while withholding it from yourself?
  • Fear rejection and disappointment?

Answer yes to a few of those and you may want to look deeper into why you're emotionally unavailable and perhaps deeper than that into insecure attachment issues.

People stuck in these intense yo-yo relationships, often blame the other person, if only he or she would_________ or if only he or she would not___________, then the relationship would work.

We only feel our feelings of angst around what this person is doing (or telling ourselves how stupid we are or why can't we move on), but not on a deeper level as to why we're here in the first place. Instead we try "no contact," deliberately ignoring them, trying to inspire fear of loss in the other person. We may for a moment, but then once he or she knows we're not going anywhere, everything is back to how it was... we are not here to control others, but that's what the insecurely attached do.

Why this hellish cycle?

It keeps us from feeling our own feelings, because we never learned how, we learned intellectual strategies to survive as a child instead. Not that it had to be an abusive environment, but if mom or dad ran hot and cold, or were overprotective, or dismissive, we never learned to take care of our feelings.

Vulnerability does not come easily and feels very scary, so we choose people where their characteristics bring us to the brink of those painful early childhood feelings and yet, the hope is we will be rescued this time. Somewhere between the euphoria of their physical presence and the extreme anxiety when they're gone.

In this cycle, we're mystified, perhaps seeking out psychics or anyone who will agree with us that he or she is "the one" so we do not have to let go of this relationship. Anything to stave off the inevitable disappointment.

Disappointment takes emotional resilience and many who are insecurely attached find it difficult to deal with, that's why the intellectual strategies for life and control of others is so important. It gives an illusion that everything is okay, but it never really feels good consistently.

Insecure attachment shows up across the board in life, especially with the inability to have emotional intimacy with others. It's why in these "soulmate" relationships, its a toxic cocktail of he or she getting us, understanding us and seeing who others never see us to be, because we really never connect emotionally with people on that deeper level.

Healthy relationships are reality based with vulnerability, not much intensity and feel good.

Unhealthy relationships are built in fantasy, with the idea that someday it'll all be well. There's moments of vulnerability, usually followed by major distance and inconsistency.

The bigger the fantasy of a painful relationship becoming happy and sustainable, the bigger the disappointment.

I speak with so many who are stuck in these relationships, they rattle off a list of the ideal relationship and then make excuses around why this is not there yet, or they know this person is not for them, but can't let go!

How do you start to break free of this pain, suffering and cycle of lack?

Start small. Seek help, it's much easier to have someone point a flashlight where you can't see, especially with the list below -- it sounds simple, but it is not an intellectual exercise, it's emotional.

1. You have to be able to re-focus your feelings on yourself, not the other person. How do you feel? (beneath the anxiety)

2. Resistance feels heavy, it is what we tend to focus on when it does come to our feelings and it's a form of non-acceptance of circumstances. Allow yourself to feel resistance, and release it.

3. Follow your feelings deeper when you find yourself stuck, what is it you really want? Meaning get beneath the want of the other person, find out why you want the other person -- why do you need their validation? For them to say you're okay or you matter? Why? What does it give you?

4. Learn the difference between love vs. attachment, it's huge! To start, when it comes to love there's not a feeling of I'm going to die, if this person leaves my life. With attachment, it's all about the other person, you do everything in hopes of holding on and he or she giving you what you want -- you give nothing to yourself.

5. Develop awareness by paying attention to your words, feelings and actions; get to know yourself.

6. Start knocking on the walls you've built by being vulnerable, by looking at reality for what it is at the moment and accepting it, so you can learn to deal with disappointment emotionally. It'll start to break the cycle.

We repeat this cycle until we finally start to give ourselves value. It's again, not about the other person being right or wrong, it's about our own self-worth, emotions and perspectives. For more, check out my podcast Time to Stop The Vicious Cycle of Attachment, Emotional Unavailability and Disappointment.