In my past, I attracted unavailable men like flies to honey. Over and over, I found myself dating men who either disappeared when the relationship began to approach emotional vulnerability, or were really never open to begin with.

Oftentimes, I would find myself involved with men who were totally ready to talk a lot about themselves and their experiences, but rarely stopped to really get to know me. In retrospect, I can say this was an obvious sign they weren’t really ready for a mutually supportive partnership. In other cases, I'd be with men who simply kept our relationship in the casual zone for as long as they could, and would simply end it when that casual zone inched towards anything serious.

I was frustrated. I couldn’t understand how I — a woman who considered herself equipped to have deep, intimate relationships — kept finding myself in this all-too-familiar relationship dynamic with men who were so guarded and seemingly allergic to intimacy.

Then one day, the curtains dropped: I saw that the great and powerful source of the lack of intimacy in my relationships was not the men I’d assumed had availability issues. Behind the curtain, I saw myself.

I've since realized that my unconscious mind used to find these relationships safe. That is, if I were in relationship with an unavailable man, I wouldn’t have to be vulnerable myself. I wouldn’t ever have to be known.

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As I’ve uncovered this knowledge about myself and as I work with my clients who face the same pattern in their love lives, I’ve realized that attracting someone who is comfortable with intimacy begins with our own ability to be truly intimate with ourselves. Here are three essential truths that we need to internalize in order to prepare ourselves for the love and intimacy we want and deserve.

1. The more emotionally aware we are of ourselves, the more intimately we can connect with a partner.

Most of us are probably at least somewhat aware of the belief that we must know (and love) ourselves before we can be fully available to a partner who is equally available and loving.

But it's less common that we think of this in terms of "intimacy with ourselves." This is an essential ingredient, and one that is easier said than done. Sure, we might think we are ready for a committed, intimate relationship, but we may be holding onto fears and limiting beliefs that are holding us back. Take my case: I was deeply afraid of being vulnerable, but wasn't "intimate" enough with myself to face this fear head-on.

So what to do? Well, we can cultivate intimacy with ourselves, the same way we can when getting to know someone else. We can do this by taking the time to notice our patterns in thought and also patterns in relationships.

Just becoming aware of these parts of ourselves is a powerful, and essential, part of the process. And even more powerful intimacy comes when we give ourselves permission to uncover what these patterns are showing us about ourselves.

It takes permission because sometimes what we see feels “icky" — bad, guilt-provoking, scary, frustrating and so on. But this is the birthplace of really knowing ourselves so that we can make better partners and attract people who are ready to connect with us on as deep a level as we have connected with ourselves. This is paramount to attracting an emotionally available partner who also knows himself or herself well and will be a healthy partner.

2. Dating without games is an essential practice for attracting someone who's actually available.

When we play dating games, we attract partners on the surface-level by pretending we are something that we are not. People who are most comfortable with games are more likely people who feel safer with a relationship that stays on that surface-level; so when we use these as a protection from dating as our authentic selves, we are not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with potential partners.

A man or woman who is ready for true intimacy will love you for all of you, not just the "perfect" you. By practicing letting your true self be seen on the first few dates, not only will you date with more freedom, but you will also begin to “weed out” those who are not ready for such vulnerability. Don’t get discouraged if these people disappear; they weren’t ready for the deep relationship you deserve.

3. Fear is not getting you anywhere, so take the plunge.

A lot of times, we find ourselves in relationships with people who aren’t good at intimacy because we have, consciously or unconsciously, remained guarded in the relationship ourselves, even beyond the beginning of it. When we guard ourselves in relationship, it’s often because we feel that we have to protect ourselves from being hurt by the other person. Such fear does not invite intimacy. Instead, it invites disconnection.

Sometimes we give power away to what’s outside of ourselves rather than understanding that we have all we need inside of us. This relinquishing of power manifests itself in a heightened fear of rejection or in external blame.

Truly, we cannot attract a partner who is good at intimacy if we enter relationship from this guarded space. Once we understand that we have everything we need inside of ourselves, we can be fully open with our romantic partners because we do not fear that they can take anything away from us.

You deserve a healthy, deeply-connected relationship, and you can make it happen. This deep connection begins within you. Always. Trust yourself. Know you’re complete. And let yourself be seen. This will attract the emotionally-available man or woman you’ve been waiting for.

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