Ask Elizabeth: Why do my relationships always end the same way?
I have gone on four dates with a man over the course of maybe a month. It’s been very slow going which had me encouraged… I was really thinking that he was serious about dating and getting to know me. We have spoken nearly daily via text, and it’s been equal initiation. On our last date, I invited him up. We both sort of awkwardly chatted on the couch for maybe 20 minutes and then he said he should go. We had a really wonderful kiss, and he left. I sensed that we were both maybe a little frustrated by how difficult it is for each of us to show our emotions to one another in that way. Since then communication has been fading. I haven’t heard from him nearly as much, and now it’s down to only me reaching out. He mentioned on our first date that sometimes it can be hard for him to read situations with women, so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he likes me and that maybe he just doesn’t know how to take it to the next level? I’d like to talk about it with him, but on the couple of occasions I’ve initiated getting together, he’s had other plans. I’m not sure what to do at this point. Obviously, I need to either tell him how I feel – that I’m confused about whether or not he wants to see me – or just stop reaching out full stop (although this feels a bit like playing a game to me). I should mention that this feels like a distinct pattern I keep experiencing with men over and over.
Thank you for your question
You must be feeling so frustrated that you keep dating and the same thing keeps happening. You form a relationship with a guy only to find he pulls away from you.
There are some reasons why this might be happening that I can help you with. The first thing is it could be stupid dumb luck that you aren’t meeting nice guys, and I hope that you will continue to work with me to improve your understanding of toxic men.
However, I don’t think this guy sounds as if he is toxic. I think this is about you. The hardest and most important thing to recognise is that the one common denominator in all of this is you. This really is about the type of guy you are choosing and even maybe about how you interact in the relationship.
It could be that you are choosing men that have difficulty expressing their emotion or that are emotionally unavailable. I feel I should mention here that when I talk about unavailable men, I often use them as an example of how men can be abusive. It isn’t always the case that men who don’t reveal their inner feelings or who struggle to engage in a relationship are abusive. It could be that they just struggle with communication, or when a relationship gets serious, it scares them off. The question you need to ask yourself is why are you attracted to men like this. The answer comes from patterns within your childhood that are unresolved that our unconscious seeks to resolve through our partner choice. If you have had parents who were emotionally distant, this can play out in wanting to be with a man who makes you work hard to be loved just as mum or dad made you work hard to earn their love.
This process of choosing men who are unavailable is about having a relationship with a man who doesn’t engage or make an effort to make the relationship work. You then over function, as you have always done to pull him into the relationship. To make the relationship work. In your question to me, there are a few clues that this might be what is going on for you. You invited him to your place; you have been making an effort to contact him. I wonder if these are indicators that you find yourself working very hard in relationships to make them work.
When we over function in a relationship we push too hard to try and make the relationship work. Rather than stepping back and allowing the relationship to go at its own pace, or giving our partner space to engage we are doing all the thinking and all the organising in the relationship.
I wonder if rather than inviting him up to your place which is very action orientated, if it would have been better to have said “I wonder what we should do now?’ and give one of those looks. “I really can’t think what we should be doing now?” and look at him with a look and give him the option to say …… well we could go for a nice walk or continue to flirt. It gives him the option to step forward or step back. He can step forward with another flirtatious remark which then means you have the permission to go further or it allows him to step back. That way you wouldn’t have gone upstairs to sit awkwardly on the couch because you would have already set the agenda during the date of where you were at.
I am wondering if it might be good for you to slow yourself down and think about how you are on a date that might be replaying some of your past hurts. Does this cause you to over function in the relationship and push too hard too quickly?
Think about the types of guys you are choosing. If you find that you do choose men who are more reserved, then this means you need to slow down, watch for abusive signals and take your time thinking about what his reluctance to engage in the relationship actually means. There are levels of emotional unavailability. I think all men struggle to talk about their emotions, you just need to make sure the guy you choose isn’t going to create a toxic dance where you reach out, and he pulls away.
Think about your anxiety. We can be carrying anxiety from childhood. This can play out in all aspects of a relationship. I am going to be having a blog post coming up on the blog 7 Steps to manage your Dating Anxiety with some guidance so you can stay engaged and hold onto yourself.
I also think it might be helpful for you to think about educating yourself in some body language so you can read dating signals better, or even how to flirt so you can have some strategies up your sleeve to …… ask a guy for sex without putting him in a situation where he feels pressured.
Although this guy doesn’t sound like a toxic toad, I think it would be helpful for you to read my book Stop Kissing Toads – Pucker up and find your handsome prince. The book details the things you need to look for to keep yourself safe from a toxic toad – but also goes into detail describing the unconscious patterns we may be recreating in our partner choice and how to interrupt those patterns.
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