Ep 19 - Top Reasons Why You’re Attracting Emotionally Unavailable Men With Isiah McKimmie
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist, sexologist and coach. I’m thrilled Isiah is here to discuss why you might be attracting emotionally unavailable men.
Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and more.
Broadcast: June 18, 2021
Here is a snippit of our conversation…
Looking at relationship patterns…
Amy: Why is it that some women find themselves getting caught up with men who aren't ready to commit or who are emotionally unavailable, again and again?
Isiah: Our relationship patterns start really early, in our childhood. It's the relationships that we have with our primary caregivers. It's the relationships that we witnessed in those very early years that start to form the blueprints of what we expect and how we show up in our relating. So we might've had caregivers who weren't able to attend to our needs, or attended to our needs in ways that didn't feel good for us. So actually intimacy, even though it's something that we all kind of long for, there are other ways we kind of block ourselves from it. And I think one of the things that I had to recognize for myself was that in not feeling validated by my caregivers and not feeling that they were there to be able to meet my needs, I would unconsciously recreate that with the people that I was dating. So I would somehow repeatedly find ways of dating someone who seemed really available at the beginning and seemed like they were really intimate, but wouldn't be able to take that relationship to the next level or to give me the kind of commitment and intimacy that at my core, I'm really wanting. There have definitely been patterns that have kept me away from that.
A question of worth.
Amy: And possibly at your core, you really wanted it, but deep down didn't really feel worthy of or deserving, did that ever come up for you? Because I imagine that would be quite common, that deep-seated belief or disbelief that you are deserving of this incredible human coming in to meet you.
Isiah: Yeah. And there's often something of safety in choosing someone who isn't fully available. So it's that we believe we're not worthy of it, or if someone really sees who we are, then they won't love us. And so they might be showing up saying all the right things to begin with, but when it comes to that deeper level that they're not able to give it. And I think one of those really hard truths is we attract unavailable people because it’s really creating a kind of safety. If I'm not fully seen, it's safer.
Saying Yes to what you want.
Amy: I'd like to share a personal experience here because the word safety is really resonating with me. So there was a period over the last few years where I knew that I wanted a committed relationship, but there was something very deep, deep inside of me, I couldn't quite imagine it. I had the vision board, but when I really felt into it, I couldn't feel it in every cell of my body, this person adoring me. At its core there was a number of things going on, but certainly one of those was a fear of being hurt, a fear of being abandoned and having the rug pulled out from under my feet, which had happened a couple of times in my life, in a terribly shocking way. So I was choosing men as an example, who were interstate, who I couldn't have wholly because they weren't available. So that was safe. And I'd convinced myself that that was enough. Or I chose a man who was either in an open relationship or non-monogamous, not that there is anything wrong with either of these relationship types, but it wasn’t what I ultimately wanted. I chose them because I could never have all of them anyway. And that's when I decided I had to start saying No to the types of relationships that just weren't going to serve me long-term and that's when I met my fiancé.
Isiah: I totally relate to that as well. For many years of my life, even though I was exploring intimate relating, I wasn't doing that in a way that was committed. I was very open about my sexuality and like you, I also chose people who were in open relationships. Which I think is a really valid choice for a lot of people but what I've had to acknowledge for myself is that it doesn't support the kind of relating that I ultimately want. I think one of the other things that I'll add as a kind of disclosure for me is that I also chose men who gave me a sense of safety because of how they were showing up in the world. So often charismatic, very successful. I felt with them, I would have a really good life, but I was overlooking some of the more important traits, like how they communicated and self-awareness because I was looking at how someone appears to be in the world and the level of intimacy that you're experiencing with them and that they are willing to offer.
Are we expecting too much?
Amy: What do you say to women who like me for much of my adult life was told I was just too picky? That I expect way too much? It becomes really confusing because there's been so many times in my own experience where I've met a guy and it could be feeling quite good and we seem to be meeting each other on a reasonable level, but then there's some little red flags or areas of that relationship that don't feel right. And so, because of all these people around me saying I was too picky, I started trying to convince myself that I must’ve been looking for perfection, that my expectations are too high, that I need to start lowering my standards because of all these voices. And it can become very difficult to trust yourself when that happens.
Isiah: And it's a really difficult line, because there are people who've shown up to therapy who had such rigid guidelines of what it is that they're looking for, that it ends up inhibiting them from ever really kind of finding someone and giving them a chance. I have had people say to me, 'Well, no, one's perfect. You know?' And it was like, ‘Oh, actually, Big lesson for me!’ And it's still really something I'm wading through the challenge of, of intimate relationships, like everyone else, I’m learning to be more discerning about who I give my time and energy to, because for me, my challenge, wasn't staying and trying. My challenge was staying and trying with the wrong person. I saw the signs. I knew that they were there, but just like you, that kind of self-doubt, because that's what I'd heard from people. And we just don't have to do that. It’s really about trusting.
It IS possible to find meaningful relationships.
Amy: What is your advice to a woman who is dipping her toe into the world of dating for the first time?
Isiah: Good question! I still think that there are people out there. There are men, and there are women out there who are looking for meaningful relationships. It's still possible to find those. It's possible to find them on dating apps and it's possible to find them in real life. I think what is really important is that we are discerning and that we are clear in terms of what we're looking for. So trust yourself and dip your toe in slowly as you're ready and also make sure that you're really giving attention to your self care and your support networks as you're going through this, because it can be really challenging putting yourself out there over and over again, feeling uncertain, having to turn to your intuition. It's challenging. So make sure that get support.
Dating doesn’t define you.
Amy: And if I could add something else to that as well, if you are someone who is going out on a couple of dates and let's say a couple of those dates doesn’t go so well. This does not say anything about what you deserve, about who you are as a person, it doesn't define you. It doesn't say anything about your worth in the world. They are just two experiences you've had that have taught you something, I don't know, maybe around your expectations and how you can better manage, but we have to be so careful about the stories we can tell ourselves as we go through that process. It doesn't mean that you're broken. It doesn't mean that there’s not somebody there for you. And it's as you say, it's about gathering some really good support around you and staying positive in the process. Thank you for being here. You can connect with Isiah and her wonderful work over at Instagram @isiahmckimmie.sexologist.