Moment of Clarity: Emotionally Unavailable
We understand. Sometimes, problems with romantic relationships, friendships, career or family life get you down. And we want to help. That’s why JET is working with therapist, Jinnie Cristerna, who will take your questions and offer some sage, sanity-restoring advice every Tuesday.
You can submit your own question via our contact form and don’t fret, we’ll keep your name and identity confidential. Now we have a question from a reader we will call “Emotionally Unavailable”
Question: I am a successful female executive in a Fortune 1000 company. I am very attractive, so I’ve been told, and I don’t have any children. I’ve dated men who have fallen in love with me but I don’t seem to feel “love” toward them. Instead, I feel as if I like them, but quite honestly, they bore me. After a few months I am done and move on to the next guy. I haven’t been abused or anything like that. I grew up in a loving two-parent home in a middle class family. I don’t know what is wrong with me–could it be that I don’t know how to love? ~Signed, What is Love?
Dear Emotionally Unavailable,
It sounds like you either haven’t met Mr. Right or you’re unable to connect with others at a deep, emotional level, so you can actually experience and give love. The question then becomes, “What is preventing you from connecting with other people in a deeper way?”
Let’s say you’ve ruled out not being into the guys you’ve dated, that leaves you being unable to connect with men emotionally. When this happens, the first thing that comes to my mind is some form of attachment disorder or alexithymia.
Attachment disorders are disorders that occur after a trauma of sorts is experienced by an individual rendering it difficult to bond appropriately with another person (e.g. Bonding too quickly with strangers or not at all). Alexithymia is a more of an inability to know or describe how you are feeling (e.g. I think I love you, but I might just feel excited; I can’t be sure.). Both pose a problem in developing and maintaining healthy intimate relationships.
In either case, you would be described as “emotionally unavailable” and it is important to explore the reason(s) you’re unable to form an attachment to others. Again, it could be as simple as you just aren’t into the guys you’ve date (fair enough) or despite what you’ve stated above, something happened when you were younger (usually between birth-6 years old, though it can become progressively worse over time) at an emotional level, that thwarted your emotional development.
This doesn’t mean that you were abused, it simply means that you may have experienced an emotional trauma like rejection, shame, neglect, or something to that effect, and it really stuck with you. For example, some children are hard to soothe and others lack the interaction needed in order to develop an emotional bond with their caregiver.
The best way to get to the bottom of your emotional unavailability is to work with a reputable therapist. Working with a therapist who is seasoned in attachment disorders can help you figure out where things went awry so you can heal and become whole.
If you are a high achiever, you definitely want to work with someone who is familiar with your disposition and can help you navigate the emotional terrain during your journey.
While I could say more about attachment disorders, I want to stay focused on your specific question so as not to get too lengthy and complicated in this post. I hope this was helpful in thinking about your specific situation as you begin to pull the pieces together.
Do you have a question for Jinnie? Submit it to us via the contact us form. You can also learn more about our “Moment of Clarity” JET therapist via:
Her site at International High Achievers.
Facebook: Like Jinnie’s Page!
You can also subscribe to her High Achievers email list here!