Are You Addicted to Emotionally Unavailable Partners that Abuse and Abandon You?

Are You Addicted to Emotionally Unavailable Partners that Abuse and Abandon You?

Those of us who suffer from abandonment wounds are operating with a tremendous disadvantage. Many of us have never developed the capacity to differentiate between love and our feelings of longing and emotional hunger. In fact, the only time we seem to be able to experience those intense feelings of being in love with another individual is when we’re longing to be with someone who is rejecting, withholding, distancing from or abandoning us.

The filters through which we perceive a partner or potential love interest have in many instances become distorted by all the highly charged emotions that we’ve internalized and the unmet needs that carry over from our childhood. Those deeply wounding experiences of abandonment and the hurtful interactions with parents and other significant attachments that we have yet to process continue to live on the inside of us. In many instances, they have taken on a life of their own.

Those of us who have suffered from abandonment and other traumas are prone to reenactment and are often retraumatized. We continue to gravitate to certain kinds of individuals and are pulled into relational dynamics similar to those of previous traumas.

Parts of us are still desperately trying to get the love that we didn’t receive as children when we needed it most. Only now we’re attempting to fill these unmet needs as adults through a partner or someone we’re wanting to be with who is either unwilling or incapable of being emotionally vulnerable. Our hearts ache with this incredibly powerful longing. And maybe we think to ourselves that we want someone that we can truly love and be loved by. But we keep misreading the cues and then we end up chasing after someone who is unavailable.

What so many of us have yet to understand is that those individuals who ignite such intensely overwhelming feelings of attraction along with that painfully deep sense of longing are actually firing off emotional triggers held within our subconscious. Much of this process is happing outside of our conscious waking awareness.

These triggers we’re established as a result of our early childhood experiences in which we formed attachments to our parents and other people of personal significance. The activation of these triggers will in many instances put us in touch with our deepest unmet needs and emotional wounds. We then find ourselves experiencing all these powerfully overwhelming feelings of attraction. And that leaves us feeling as though we cannot live without this person.

We often end up pursuing a potential love interest who is emotionally and otherwise unavailable. And over the course of our love life …or lack thereof, it could be a whole series of potential partners who serve as a representation of our deepest unmet needs and other traumas resulting from our early childhood attachments.

Many of us are unwittingly searching for the addictive combination of the emotional high produced by our infatuation and the stress hormone induced states of torment we get from the guy or girl who makes us feel intensely insecure. The chemistry has to be just right. And if we’re not feeling starved for love or in grave danger of being rejected or abandoned by this person and then having them completely disappear from our lives, then we’re just not turned on.

We’ve come to associate feelings of anxiety, insecurity and the fears of being rejected and abandoned with having the right chemistry for love. And when someone we feel an attraction to evokes these feelings within us, we then assume that it’s true love and that we share some kind of special bond. We may even delude ourselves into thinking that we share a soul connection with this person.

Attraction serves a purpose by getting us to notice certain individuals. Our desire and longing to be close to someone who captures our attention helps us to form relationships by bringing us together. But those intense feelings of attraction are going to diminish in time. In a healthy relationship, those feelings will be replaced by a growing emotional bond referred to as companionate love.

Attraction can be such a powerful force in that we find ourselves engulfed by these all-consuming emotions. But those of us who are suffering from abandonment wounds often find ourselves attracted to people for the wrong reasons. Attraction becomes a destructive force in our lives when we repeatedly find ourselves longing for individuals who evoke all these feelings of insecurity, hunger and hurt.

We feel little or nothing for someone if they’re not evoking that state of arousal. We’re not able to feel that powerful attraction if he or she is a decent person, because there’s no spark or chemistry. Feeling comfortable with a guy or a girl, means that we’re just friends. He or she could make a wonderful partner if we were to ever give them a chance and yet we relegate them to the friend zone.

By chasing after potential partners who are emotionally unavailable, we are avoiding the risk of being truly intimate with another human being. Unless we recognize the patterns that we’re enacting and heal the deeply wounded parts of ourselves, we will most likely continue to reenact the toxic drama of chasing after unavailable partners that has and continues to create so much suffering in our lives.

Traumatic experiences that we’ve gone through in our past and especially those pertaining to our childhood attachments have us configured in a way that leave us feeling a magnetic pull to those individuals who are emotionally dangerous. Powerful fears of abandonment are evoked by the dysfunctional dance that takes place whenever someone shows up in our lives with all this ambiguous intensity and then pulls away. But we have become so conditioned to associate attraction and love with feelings of insecurity and fear of loss. And that’s why we experience such a powerful magnetic pull to partners who are hurtful, emotionally unavailable and that abandon us.

Infatuation is like a drug in that it is a biochemically induced high. In these states of infatuation, we distort reality. We find ourselves becoming heavily intoxicated by the dopamine, oxytocin and other neurochemicals being produced by our own brains. We think and fantasize about that person incessantly.

And when that someone pulls away from or rejects us, we go into a state akin to drug withdrawal. We feel depressed and anxious. We may have difficulty sleeping and cry uncontrollably. We either lose our appetite or binge eat. And then we fantasize about getting back together.

The biochemical high that we experience in these powerful states of infatuation is truly mind-altering. Our normal inhibitions cease to function. And when we’re under the influence, we will do almost anything for that person. We end up saying things or acting in ways that are inappropriate, foolish and extreme to remain in contact with and impress that special someone. We may even jeopardize our wellbeing. Many of will later feel a sense of shame and embarrassment as we come to regret our words and actions. 

We need to be paying especially close attention whenever we’re triggered by someone into these powerful states of psycho-biological arousal that we’ve come to associate with infatuation. Romantic intoxication makes it easy for us to feel drawn to a person, but it also makes us oblivious to the dangers posed by that individual and our relationship with them. The high produced by our brain’s natural opioids blind us in ways that prevent us from seeing the object of our desire for who they truly are.

We often find ourselves feeling deeply hooked by this person. But in many ways, we’re like moths drawn to a flame. We’re so incredibly turned on by partners and potential love interests that exhibit signs of emotional unavailability and other signs of danger. And yet we repeatedly flame out in these disastrous encounters.

Attractions that are based upon initial appearances are often short lived. We may initially feel that passionate sense of longing and burning desire for someone who captures our attention, and yet we lose interest as soon as we know that we have that person. Any feelings of attraction or sexual desire will immediately go out the window when we realize that person has become emotionally invested in us. We become disinterested and dismissive. And then we totally disregard that person because they are no longer firing off all those attraction triggers that have come to be associated with unavailability and abandonment.

We completely lose interest in the person who initially caught our attention once the façade falls apart and the chemistry wears off, possibly becoming angry, mean and hurtful. And then we blame it all on the other person, as though it was something he or she did to cause us to feel turned off. We then go out looking for someone harder to get, who will once again create all those intense feelings of insecurity that we have come to associate with love.

It’s important for us to grow beyond those individuals who take us on a wild ride and open ourselves to being with a partner who is able to remain fully present. A partner that we can truly bond with will not initially arouse that intense chemistry that causes us to feel so madly in love.

The underlying foundation of any healthy relationship is sustained emotional intimacy. Partners of true substance are consistent in their feelings of attachment for us. He or she is accepting, caring, considerate and understanding and has the capacity to truly love, nurture and support us. We know we can trust this person and count on them to be there for us.

We must stop discarding and running away from the good ones. We do so by giving the good guys and girls a chance. Being with a partner of substance may initially feel uncomfortable or even boring because we’re not going to experience all those intense states of arousal triggered by those individuals who evoke so much anxiety and fear of being abandoned. 

We often reenact these patterns of attaching to unavailable partners out of our own inability to handle emotional intimacy. We cannot handle the responsibility of being intimate with someone who feels a deep sense of attachment for us.

We’re may initially feel uncomfortable connecting with someone who has an emotional investment in us, because we’re going to have to drop the pretenses and show up more fully present. We’re going to have to learn to tolerate the feelings of closeness that are a normal part of developing a secure loving attachment. And that’s going to put us in touch with our own fears of intimacy. It may also evoke other feelings and issues that we’ve spent much of our lives avoiding.

Breaking our addiction to abusive and unavailable partners

Healing and growing beyond the patterns that have become so deeply conditioned into us over the course of our lives can at times be a difficult process. In this case, we’ve confused romantic love with the biochemical high of infatuation, coupled with stress hormones such as cortisol triggered by our fears of abandonment and the pain that we experience when that person is pulling away or doing other things to hurt us.

It is crucial for us to recognize the patterns playing out in our relationships. Otherwise we will remain trapped in the vicious cycle of continually reenacting the deeply wounding experiences of past abandonments.

Changing these patterns is a process of breaking an addiction that has cognitive, emotional, biochemical and neurological components. Breaking our addiction to partners and potential love interests who hurt and abandon us is a process that requires a great deal of commitment and hard work. And yet those of us who actually take the steps necessary to facilitate the healing of our deep emotional wounds will invariably find ourselves forming attachments to healthier individuals.

The abuses and abandonment that I suffered during my childhood and adolescence predisposed me to form attachments to women who were themselves deeply wounded. My desperate attempts to make these relationships work was me resisting the deeply internalized pain of past abandonments and the repeated reenactments of that trauma.

It took me some time to realize that I couldn’t heal these wounds until I went to those deeply wounded places within. I then had to allow myself to fully experience my authentic feeling responses to all the suffering I had and was continuing to go through. I did that by breathing softly and deeply while centering my awareness within the midst of all those feelings and bodily sensations that arose in response to those reenactments of my own abandonment trauma.

I found it necessary to work with this practice of breathing into any feelings and bodily sensations that arose on a daily basis. I would in many instances continue to work with this practice while going about my daily activities throughout the day or while sitting with my eyes closed for hours at a time.

The work I did with a number of gifted healers began the process of dismantling those wounding configurations that maintained the pattern of addiction to unavailable partners. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to work with these healers with any consistency because they didn’t come around very often. I had to wait for months or even years between sessions.

My mentor Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Tribe transferred portions of his own healing gifts to me during my early twenties. He then had me go on the vision quest, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water.

I struggled on my own with these patterns of abandonment for much of my twenties. But I began to feel that pull around the time I turned thirty to return to the Wichita Mountains to go on the vision quest.

Parts of the vision quest are in many ways like a near death experience. I would often experience a succession of imagery and emotion as the memories of past traumas and other wounding experiences flooded my awareness. I could feel a very powerful presence working to transmute the deeply imbedded impressions of all those past traumatic experiences and the painful emotions that had been held within my body for so long. I could then feel the deeply entrenched patterns that caused me to become so attached to women who were so wounded and emotionally unavailable coming apart. Newer and healthier models of attachment began to form in their place.

I gradually began to see through, lose interest in and even find myself repulsed by the women who were so emotionally damaged and unavailable. And as that happen, I found my attraction growing to women and people in general who were kinder, more caring, considerate and available.

So many people spend their lives getting caught up in the drama and yet they never fully allow themselves to address the issues head on or experience their true feelings. It’s our unwillingness to address these issues and fully experience our true feelings that maintains the state of unconsciousness. Those of us who continue to operate out of ignorance and unconsciousness will invariably reenact the same dysfunctional patterns and may continue to do so indefinitely.

You need to be making a concerted effort to face the issues head on. Working to gain a cognitive understanding of the patterns that have been playing out in your relationships is a good starting point. That could involve a great deal of reading and possibly working with a skilled psychotherapist.

You cannot heal the abandonment wounds until you allow yourself to fully experience your authentic feeling responses to the suffering of past abandonments and that which continues to play out in your present-day relationships. Acknowledge what you’ve gone through and what you’re currently experiencing in your relationships and other aspects of your life. Notice what you’re feeling in response to these concerns. And then be sure to breathe softly and deeply while centering your awareness within any feelings that arise.

It’s also important for you to be make use of the most powerful therapeutic interventions available. Deep tissue body work will help bring the feelings pertaining to past experiences of abandonment and the patterns playing out in your current relationships to the surface. Remember to breathe while centering your awareness within any feelings or bodily sensations that arise.

Healing practices such as those utilized by Native Americans and people of other indigenous cultures are by far the most powerful and effective means of healing the abandonment wounds and other forms of trauma. Indigenous healers serve as conduits by allowing a powerful presence to work through them to facilitate healing that would not otherwise be possible.

My training with a traditional Kiowa doctor and having gone through so many vision quests has enabled me to work in this same capacity. Those who have the opportunity to work with me go through a process of transformation that is in many ways similar to what I’ve gone through as a result of the vision quest.

The presence working through me during the individual healing sessions brings all the impressions and feelings associated with past abandonments and other traumas into conscious awareness. All this content is then transformed in such a way that it can be digested. Once digested, it can be utilized as fuel for continued growth.  

So many of the people I’ve worked with over the years that have been caught up in a cycle of toxic relational drama have been able to let go of partners and love interests that abuse and abandon them. The emotional triggers that have caused them to desire unavailable partners are reconfigured. New and healthier models of attachment begin to form. As they continue to progress in their healing, they invariably find themselves gravitating to healthier friends and companions. Many have gone on to form lasting and meaningful connections with partners they can truly love and be loved by.

Have you received value from the insights you’ve gained through my writing? Your generous and thoughtful donation via Paypal or (Venmo @BenOofana) makes it possible for me to devote considerably more time and effort to creating more articles and videos.

A huge Thank You to Donatella Marraoni for allowing me to include an image of her painting “I’m Ready” in this post. Check out Donatella’s work at donatellamarraoni.com. You can also follow her work on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LeAlydiLia/ Twitter https://twitter.com/LeAlydiLia or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/le.ali.di.lia/

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