A new relationship is an awful lot like a new presidency. During the campaign trail, candidates spend months talking about their “first 100 days” in office. It’s the time when we expect then to begin making good on their many promises. It’s also a honeymoon period with the electorate. Even some of the most polarizing presidents in America’s history had high approval ratings during the first few months in office.
But after the “new car smell” wears off, something happens. The president makes some decisions that we didn’t think would be part of the deal.
“Wait, you are invading WHICH country??”
“Hold on, you’re doing WHAT to my taxes?”
“You didn’t mention any of this before I voted for you!”
And isn’t that a beautiful metaphor for a new relationship? The first 100 days are magical, complete with butterflies in the stomach, smiles, and nonstop laughter.
We think we are “falling in love,” but typically we are falling more for the chemical release of dopamine and oxytocin in our body than we are for our partner.
Thus, we hang on even after we start to notice the red flags. All of a sudden, it takes them 6 hours to return a text message. Sometimes, it could take 6 days. We try to make plans, but they can only seem to carve out time when it’s convenient for them.
When we attempt to have the “defining the relationship” talk, they start saying things like “I’m not sure I’m ready for a relationship.”
“But you told me I was amazing when we you spent the night last weekend!?!”
We’ve all been there, trying to move forward in a relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable. However, some people make it a pattern, dating only the people who dangle the “love carrot” before immediately pulling it back just out of reach.
As I work with clients who are in the struggle, I always point out one of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes:
“We don’t attract what we want. We attract who we are.”
With that in mind, get honest with yourself and ask if YOU are being emotionally available? This isn’t about making time or whether you tell your partner how much you care. Rather, it’s about whether you are truly expressing your needs. Are you being vulnerable enough to tell the other person about what you are really looking for?
Ninety-nine percent of my clients who date emotionally unavailable people admit that they don’t openly communicate their deepest desires out of fear that it will “scare the person off” or come across as “clingy.”
One client flew out of state to reconnect with an old flame from school. As they planned their weekend, she said her intention was just to “go with the flow and have fun.” Sure enough, they had a lot of fun. In fact, they rarely left the bedroom. So after flying home, she was surprised that the guy didn’t text her for a week.
What she really hoped for was to rekindle a romance and find love, but she was too afraid to state that intention. So she felt rejected when his first text correspondence didn’t happen until a week later, claiming how he had been “too busy” to reach out. When his next text a few weeks later was trying to make plans to meetup for more sex, she felt used.
When we are clear in communicating our needs, we can hold our partner accountable to meet them. More importantly, we can hold ourselves accountable to not settle for less than we want and deserve.
Does this mean that you should start suggesting baby names on the first date? Or course not! Should you ask them to commit after the third date? No. The key is to slowly build trust, let your guard down, allow yourself to be fully seen, and to unapologetically tell the other person why you are here and what you really want. If they are the right partner, they will respond. They will show up for you. They will treat you with love, attentiveness, kindness, and respect.
And if they shut down and disappear? That’s actually great! At least you know upfront that it isn’t the right person. Move on, wish them well, and don’t waste your time.
But the only way to find out is by making sure that you are being the open and vulnerable partner that you seek. When we embody the qualities of the partner that we want to attract, we become much more likely to find that person.