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Why do anxious people chase emotionally unavailable people?


Have you ever wondered why you seem to attract people who are emotionally unavailable?

It turns out, it isn’t necessarily the universe punishing you, or karma from that mistake you made 15 years ago (that you still think about more often than you’d like). As it happens, anxious people can tend towards attracting people who are emotionally unavailable.But why would someone who thrives on certainty, craves security, and needs predictability actually seek out someone who cant provide those things? I’m so glad you asked.


What do we know about anxiety? We know that people with anxiety live in a world of uncertainty. What do we know about emotionally unavailable people? They are a world of uncertainty. They keep you guessing, are hot and cold, and don’t seem to know what they want. For an anxious person, this feeds right into their insecurities. When they get the attention of the person they chase, they are flooded with dopamine and reassurance. When that person starts to pull away again, their brain screams “CHASE THEM” and they bend over backwards, subjugating themselves trying to get that hit again. This can be a bit of an ego-stroke to someone who isn’t available, so they might dip back in, thus reinforcing the anxious attachment. This pattern is often characteristic of how an anxious person’s early attachments - needing to behave in certain ways to receive love; uncertainty about when a parent will show affection; walking on eggshells with attachment figures; or inconsistency in attachment figure’s emotional availability.


Most anxious people don’t find joy in chasing emotionally unavailable people. However, a lot of they time they know no different. And you don’t know what you don’t know. Other times, there is a part of them that is unavailable too. A fear of losing their identity in a relationship; or a fear of “too good to be true”. Even though it doesn’t feel good, there is a certain comfort in familiarity. Just like there is huge discomfort in the unknown. When faced with the possibility of a stable, secure relationship many anxious people will feel overwhelmed and left waiting for the other shoe to drop. This is when they start engaging in self-defeating behaviours – because their anxious reptilian brains are still looking for danger – and if they can’t find any, they will make it (seeing red flags that aren’t there, anyone? Blowing minor irritations out of proportion maybe?).


If this sounds like you, there is hope. Maybe you aren’t finding the kinds of relationships you want right now, but with support you can learn to recognise your anxiety and how it’s impacting your life, and learn to move forward and be more than who you are.


If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to admin@youmatterpsychologists.com.au and we will answer any questions you may have.


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