in: Dating & Relationships

Why do I keep attracting emotionally unavailable partners?

Do you find yourself attracting emotionally unavailable partners? There are three reasons this might be a pattern… and it’s time to break free.

Have you ever wondered why every partner you seem to attract is an emotional robot, or unavailable to meet your relationship needs? You may see yourself as emotionally available, and feel confused about why you keep finding partners who are your opposite.

You may have a history of dating people who fear commitment and intimacy, lack emotional sensitivity, cheat, or seem emotionally withdrawn. There are usually a few reasons why this becomes a pattern for people.

Science, baby

The science of human attachment may be the best explanation for this pattern. Many people who fear commitment and who struggle with intimacy and emotional connection are people with what’s called an avoidant attachment style. This means the roots of their emotional unavailability run deep into their childhood.

Attachment describes the bond that develops between a child and a primary caregiver (birth parent or other caregiver) in the first few years of life. This interaction creates the foundation for how we interact in our adult relationships. It is a crucial framework for understanding adult relationships and dating. Attachment styles remain fairly stable throughout the lifespan, but can be changed with influences from a healthy, or unhealthy relationship, therapy, and self-awareness.

There are a few categories of attachment, but to simplify here, we’ll only discuss the secure, anxious, and avoidant styles.

  • A secure style indicates a comfort in adult relationships, and an ability to desire and tolerate intimacy and commitment.
  • An anxious style feels a lot of anxiety in relationships until there is commitment, security, and intimacy.
  • An avoidant style fears intimacy and closeness, and often struggles with reading emotional cues of others.

Often, people with anxious attachments and avoidant attachments will end up together in relationships. The anxious person will feel perpetually anxious and unfulfilled, wondering why their partner isn’t meeting their expectations for commitment and intimacy. They often feel like they aren’t good enough for this type of partner to love them. The avoidant will withdraw and feel a sense of anxiety that they are being suffocated, or pushed into something they don’t want in the relationship, as the anxious person expresses a need for more closeness or commitment. It can become a painful cycle that likely ends the relationship at some point.

If feel like you may have a more anxious style, and you’ve been dating avoidants, it could be helpful to learn more about adult attachment. Once you can learn your style, and the pattern of partners you usually date, it becomes easier to find compatible partners who are emotionally available.

You’re emotionally unavailable.

Another reason you might be attracting emotionally unavailable partners is you may not be open with your own emotions. If you struggle with self-esteem, shyness, or feelings of inadequacy (like you’re not good enough), you may find it difficult to be authentic and vulnerable in intimate relationships. It could also be that you’ve had your heart broken too many times, and the vulnerability of love makes you hold back your emotions. You may find it intimidating to date people who are emotionally available, because it feels too risky. If this is the case, it’s time to work on taking the courageous step to be vulnerable and authentic in your relationships.

You’re a fixer.

Do you attract emotionally unavailable partners who seem to need healing? If you are a sensitive soul, or if you come with a history of not-so-healthy caretaking or codependency, you may be attracted to the pattern of helping. This can be a toxic pattern for some, as it can lead to unhealthy or even abusive relationships that leave you feeling unfulfilled and out of balance, as you are likely giving more than you get out of the relationships. This is a pattern that requires some attention and healing itself.

Remember there are plenty of emotionally available people who will be willing to go the distance, and share in the depth of love with you. Raise your awareness and you can change the pattern.

About the Author:

Chelli Pumphrey

Chelli Pumphrey, MA, LPC is a love & dating coach and a Licensed Professional Counselor from Denver, CO. More importantly, she’s a human being who strives to live an authentic life, by being real, raw, and unafraid to express her truth. She is devoted to helping others live and love passionately by gaining the confidence to be authentic in their own lives. She works with clients through her relationship coaching practice and as a therapist and founder of Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, where she offers retreats, dating and relationship coaching and therapy. If you’re looking to boost your dating confidence, self-esteem, and become a dating warrior, you can visit Chelli at, Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, follow on Instagram, Twitter, or like her on Facebook.


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