How To Break The Pattern Of Choosing "Unavailable" Partners

Marriage and Family Therapist By Shelly Bullard, MFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to relationships. She has worked with thousands of clients on improving their relationships with others and themselves.

One of the biggest complaints people have in relationships is that they choose "unavailable" partners. We all have different ideas about what "unavailable" is, but for the most part it centers around the following:

  • A person doesn't show up for you the way you'd like
  • A person doesn't share himself or herself with you the way you'd like
  • You don't get enough in a relationship

While you may think overcoming this pattern starts with finding the "right" person who will always be available to you, this is not the case. Issues in relationships begin within us, so in order to break this pattern, you have to address what's happening inside of you, first.

With that, here are the three biggest reasons people attract unavailable partners, and tools to break the cycle:

1. You aren't being available to your partner.

If you want to be with someone who feels available to you, then the first rule is: You have to be available to him or her. The truth is, many of us are not as available as we think we are.

Even if you're considering your partner's feelings, thinking about him or her often, and head-over-heels in love, this doesn't necessarily mean you're being available in your relationship. While showing up for a person in a caring way is very important, being available also means you show-up in an authentic way. This is where many of us go wrong.

When you are not being the real you with someone — when you mold or change yourself to please him or her, when you hide parts of yourself, or when you don't share who you really are — you technically aren't being available in the relationship. This behavior sets you up to attract people who also aren't unavailable to you.

So how do you change this?

Be the real you.

The practice of authenticity is not always easy, but has huge benefits in relationships. You do this by expressing your disagreements (respectfully, of course), sharing your true feelings, and being who you really are regardless of what the other person thinks. The more you share your authentic self in relationships, the more you will feel accepted, seen, known, and cared for by others.

2. You're confusing sacrificing yourself with being available.

People who chronically over-give in relationships typically end-up with unavailable partners. Here's why:

If you're a chronic over-giver, you sacrifice your needs for other people. And when you sacrifice your needs for other people, guess what? You end-up feeling sacrificed!

Over-giving is a behavior we use to compensate for not feeling good enough. On an unconscious level, we believe that by giving, we'll get in return. But it doesn't work out that way! Instead, when you sacrifice yourself, you feel used, burnt-out, and taken advantage of in relationships. Not fun.

So how do you break this pattern?

Catch yourself in the cycle of over-giving, and stop it!

Notice when you're falling into your people-pleasing patterns and make a decision to not do it anymore. Stop saying yes when you really want to say no. Learn how to set good boundaries. When you let go of your self-sacrificing tendencies, you'll attract partners who you are less likely to "take" from you as a result.

3. You aren't being available to yourself.

This is the biggest issue of all. When you change this, everything else will fall into place.

The most important lesson in relationships is this: People will treat you the way you treat yourself. Until you are completely accepting, loving, caring of yourself, it's going to be difficult to find a relationship in which you are treated this way, too.

Many of us think we're being completely accepting of ourselves, but when we take a deeper look, we find that we're actually pretty harsh with ourselves. We don't accept our true feelings, we judge ourselves for our mistakes, we have critical self-talk. All of this less-than-loving behavior sets you up to feel unloved with other people, too!

How do you change this?

Create practices of treating yourself exactly the way you want a partner to treat you.

The more you love and care for yourself, the more you feel love from other people as a result. (For specific tips on how to love yourself, check out my article: 5 Easy Ways to Make Yourself Highly Attractive.)

The pattern of attracting unavailable people is highly frustrating, but it's something you can overcome. The more you practice being completely available to yourself and other people, you'll find that this experience will shift in your life, and your relationships will become much more fulfilling as a result.

Please leave a comment below telling us one change you're going to make to make yourself more available in relationships. I look forward to hearing from you.

Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to...
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Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a...
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