Have you ever felt like a magnet for avoidants or wondered if commitment-phobic people are all that’s left in the dating pool?
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I was coaching a woman in my love life coaching group recently who told me, “Matthew, I always date avoidants.” These people just break my heart every time. They don’t want a relationship. They make up excuses as to why they can’t have one. Now, avoidant is a word that is used often in attachment theory. The idea of an avoidant being someone who is potentially afraid of commitment or even commitment-phobic. It could be characterized by someone who is easily suffocated or finds that they have a need for space that people who are anxiously attached don’t. It can also be a kind of person that often finds rationalizations for why they can’t be intimate or have a relationship. Now, of course, there’s a whole spectrum of avoidants and not every avoidant is incapable of a relationship. Many people are in relationships with avoidants, even successful ones, but there is a kind of avoidant person who will willingly waste your time and becomes a very dangerous person in your life, not just for time but for your heart too.
So I want to talk about what it is that was going on with this person and see if you can relate, if you know that you keep going for the kinds of people that ultimately break your heart. This is a woman who had talked about having done this many times. “I have a pattern of going for people who are avoidant and who eventually hurt me.” When she told me her story, she said that a typical line she gets from guys is, “You’re too good for me.” And I suppose we should start by saying that anyone who says you are too good for me, that’s guy language for, “I feel guilty because I know I’m stringing you along and I know it’s going to hurt you, and I know that our goals are different and I’m being willfully ignorant of that. And I’m going to continue to try to see you and use you for my own ends even though I know this is going to hurt you.
I feel guilty about that, so I’m going to say, you are too good for me because it somehow makes me look like the wounded soldier in all of this and that’s a sympathetic role to play rather than the perpetrator of your pain. You’re too good for me.” That’s that rationalization, isn’t it? “I can’t be deeply connected to you. I can’t really commit to you because you’re too good for me.” Often what you’ll find, by the way with avoidants, is that the rationalizations they use for why they can’t be too close or why they can’t commit will make them seem in some way either heroic or sympathetic. In other words, whatever they say will often make them somehow come off smelling of roses and you more confused than ever. In this particular woman’s case, she was currently engaged in a situation with a guy where he said to her in a conversation when she tried to bring up what it was or what they were heading towards. He actually said, “I really enjoy the relationship that we are having together, but I don’t want to talk about the relationship we’re having together.
I don’t enjoy having conversations about it.” And that again, is like a hallmark avoidant thing to say because what you’re really saying is, “I’m enjoying what this is giving me. I’m enjoying existing in the moment with this thing. I’m enjoying using it to meet my needs. But anytime you talk about what this actually is, anytime it comes with any form of commitment or a vision for where this might be going,” which is a perfectly reasonable thing to want from somebody, “I am freaked out. I am scared. I don’t want to have that conversation.” Now, that’s fine if someone doesn’t want to do that, but what we have to ask ourselves is if I am someone who wants to meet someone who is a teammate with me, who has a vision with me, it feels like we’re on a mission together. It feels like we’re excited to build together, and those conversations are exciting to me, but to this person, they’re nothing but negative.
Why is it I am still hanging around after a long time? It may be one thing if in the very beginning someone is saying that because they’re saying, “Hey, I certainly want to see where this is going, but I also want to make sure we go at an organic pace and I’m still getting to know you.” That’s fair enough that if you’ve been seeing someone for many months and they’re still phobic of any conversation about what the two of you are or where you are headed, that is a sign of an avoidant and we have to ask ourselves, why is it I keep entertaining this kind of person? The thing I like saying to people is, I don’t want you to become a serious person all of the time. Who is constantly trying to scope out who’s looking for something serious and you’re grilling people with your questions to get to the bottom of it, and there’s no playfulness or sense of humor or romance in the process.
I don’t want you to become a serious person. I think the lighter, more playful parts of ourselves is some of the most attractive, but I do believe that we need to get serious about what it is we’re actually looking for. And if we know that what’s important to us right now is to find a meaningful, committed relationship, then I need to have a really strong internal compass that either says, “Yes, this person is a green light because I can see that they’re showing signs they’re in the same place as me” or “This is the wrong way.” So why is it we keep saying yes to avoidants? Firstly, I want us to exercise a little self-compassion, if you identify with this. The woman that I was working with in reality had had four or five relationships with avoidants. If you actually look at it over the context of a lifetime and all of the growth work she had done, which she had done a lot. She had come a long way.
She was self-aware, she was introspective. She had clearly done a lot to build her confidence. There was an enormous amount for her to be proud of in her progress in life, but what she saw was, “I’m 43 and the relationships I’ve had have all been relationships with avoidants who eventually left me or just moved onto somebody else. I am a failure and there’s something wrong with me. I must be broken in some way because I keep repeating this.” The thing I said to her is, you didn’t make a mistake every night. You’ve not been going out and making a mistake on every date you go on and that you’re just making a thousand mistakes over the course of your lifetime. When you really look at these relationships you’ve had, they amount to four or five mistakes that cost a lot of time and energy. And I say that because I think sometimes we overstate when someone says, “I always do this.”
When I really look at it, for a lot of people, we’re not talking about that many instances. We’re not saying they had a hundred relationships and every single one of them was like this. We’re talking about a small number of relationships that had an out sized impact on their life, that created a disproportionate amount of pain. And when relationships like that do create that much pain, they imprint on us in a way that makes us feel like our whole dating life, our whole mission to find love has been a global failure. That we are a failure. Instead of actually seeing it like, you know what, if this was a scientific study, this wouldn’t be that much data. This would be a very small data set, so we should exercise compassion towards ourselves. If you identify with continually picking the wrong people, take a moment right now as you’re watching this video to just acknowledge how far you’ve come.
Maybe there are instances where you feel like you’re continuing to make some of those same mistakes. Maybe you feel like you’re still drawn to some of those things that aren’t good for you, but where have you made progress? What standards of yours have increased? What self-awareness have you gained in recent years? That means you are a different person today than you were five years ago or even a year ago. What about 10 years ago? This is really important because the story we have that I am this person who does this creates this identity that is this constant identity we’re just saddled with. Instead of saying, “No, no, no, all of this is operating on a continuum.” If I’ve been consistently growing sometimes maybe in undetectable ways, sometimes only by half a percent or 1%, that’s still growth. And every 1% shift I get towards a higher standard for myself or what treatment I will allow or more self-awareness of my patterns or more awareness of what’s wrong when other people do it.
Every 1% shift is getting me closer to a point where my behaviors, my actions and what I accept will change. So take a moment. Even if you don’t see the results of your love life having changed, take a moment to exercise gratitude and compassion towards yourself for how far you have actually moved in terms of progress along that continuum. The next thing I want to say is this. I want you to ask yourself why is it I keep going for these kinds of people that demonstrate often very early on that they don’t want what I want and I don’t say that from a place of judgment. This isn’t a video about condemning avoidance. It’s not a video about saying that people who don’t want a relationship are bad in any way. It’s a video about why it is we go for people where the goals are completely misaligned.
Now, often people will cite chemistry, connection. We had something really special. When we spend time together, it feels amazing. We have a really good thing, everything is there. People often say things like that to me. It’s all there, everything that should be there is there. But for this one tiny pesky detail that they don’t actually want to be with me, we talk about that as if it’s a detail when that’s actually the story. The story isn’t all of these ways that we align and all of the great conversation we have and all of the great chemistry we have. The real story is this person is not in a place where they can give me what I want. They do not want for themselves a relationship. So right now in this person’s current form, this is a non-starter. But why do we keep doing this? Why do we give someone like this more time and energy? And I believe at the heart of this for so many people is this embedded fear that’s sort of derived from a deep sense of insecurity and scarcity.
“This attention I’m getting is valuable. It’s sacred. It doesn’t come along very often, and I don’t know when it’s going to come around again, if I let go of this.” And this is especially true if we’ve been single for some time and if we haven’t felt any attention in a while. Especially you may have felt attention from people you don’t want, but you haven’t felt any attention from someone where you feel like the attraction is mutual. And from that place you look at this thing and you go, “I can’t let this go. Yes, there’s that one detail that they don’t actually seem to want a relationship with me, but the real story is that I have finally found someone with whom I have a connection, with whom I have chemistry, where the conversation flows, where it feels like real attraction and I don’t want to let that go. Because who knows when someone will want me again in this way, and especially if it’s someone I’m attracted to in return.” I want to get something clear because this all comes from this real sense of scarcity.
I can’t afford to lose this thing. What we fail to recognize when we’re in that mindset is that we didn’t get lucky for someone to be attracted to us. If someone’s attracted to you, that’s because there’s something attractive about you. There’s something about you that was compelling or sexy or fun or great to be around. You see, when this woman told me that this avoidant guy said to her, “I love being around you. I really enjoy your company. I really enjoy seeing you. I’ll miss you if we stop seeing each other. I just don’t want to be with you in a relationship.” I don’t think he was lying about those other things. I think he’s telling the truth, but he’s also telling the truth when he says, “I don’t want a relationship.” The reason that that’s important is because all of those things that he’s attracted to in her, she’s responsible for those.
He’s not. He’s just seeing someone who has attractive qualities and he’s drawn to that, so she’s not lucky. If there’s someone who wants to spend time with you, who enjoys being around you, who finds you attractive, who enjoys your company, who wants to talk to you for hours on end, you didn’t get lucky, you are great. There are wonderful things about you. There are attractive things about you, and if that person found you great, and if the last three people you dated found you attractive or found that there was something compelling about you, then that means thousands of people will feel that way. Those are just the four you met. Those were just the four that you happened to have that moment with that you happened to date. Many, many more people can feel that way about you. We have to stop being in this mindset that we won the lottery, that someone found us and is attracted to us.
No, the reality is many people will be attracted to us. What we have to do is free ourselves up to find the people who are attracted to us, who are actually worthy of what we are willing to give. Now, if I gave you 300,000 people, let’s say 200,000 of them are avoidants who are going to make your life miserable, that leaves 100,000. Of those, there’ll be 70,000 that are just wrong for you or you’re not really attracted to at all. That leaves 30,000. Let’s say 20,000 of them you’re kind of attracted to, but on the fence about and 10,000 of them you are really attracted to and they’d also be great for a relationship. That’s your pull. Now, the point is, in order to meet one of those 10,000, you can’t be preoccupied with one of the other 290,000 because those people who are right for you cannot find you when you are hung up on somebody else. They cannot find you when there’s no space in your life.
They cannot find you, when you are too anxious and torn up and in pain over somebody who is consistently breaking your heart in small ways. They can’t even make eye contact with you. If your head is down, in your phone texting someone who’s a dead end, you will find the right person sooner if you form the habit of saying no to the wrong people more quickly. The reason we don’t say no to the wrong people is because there is some part of us that thinks that the right people are scarce. Not that the person we’re entertaining could possibly be the right person anyway, but we’re also afraid of time. That we’re in a rush, that we’re running out of time, that we have to make something happen now, and if I’ve got someone that I have chemistry with and connection with and we have great conversation and there’s attraction, I should just go for it.
I should just try to make this work. And so we try to force something that is only going to hurt us and most importantly, in some ways, it’s going to waste incredible amounts of our time. And there’s such an irony to it because time is the thing that we’re scared of. We’re lonely. We want to meet someone, and we’re afraid that the whole time we’re feeling lonely and have that gnawing feeling of, “I just want to meet someone. I’ve got no one to share my life with.” We’re worried about time running out. The great irony is that time runs out a hundred times faster for people who say yes to the wrong people. The thing that we should be panicked about is not running out of time being single, but running out of time saying yes to people who are all too willing to waste it. Being patient, saying no to the wrong people so that you can say yes to the right people.
That expands your time, that gives you time. The danger, the thing that makes your time, your life collapse in on itself, another six-month painful relationship. There goes a two-year painful relationship. Here’s another three-year or a four-year or a five-year who was never serious. When you start adding those up, those are the time killers. Remember, you have time. You didn’t get lucky that someone wanted you. You are someone people will want and you’ll find the right person sooner if you say no to the wrong person quicker.
Before you go, if you are serious about no longer stagnating in your love life. If when you meet someone that you like, you want it to actually go somewhere. Go pick up a copy of The Momentum Texts. It is all about how to get momentum in your dating life instead of stalling with time wasters. By the way, it’s $7 so you don’t have to think too hard about it. Go check it out. Momentumtexts.com.
5 Replies to “How to AVOID Dating Time Wasters”
This is a fabulous video. Just what I needed to hear this morning. It has helped me so much. Thank you.
Brilliant video Matthew!
Great one! really resonate with me.. the anxious avoidant trap is something very familiar to me.
One questions though; what if the scarcity mindset is not coming from the belief that guys will not like me (worked hard on my confidant there :), but coming from not finding guys that I like? That’s a bit harder to argue with as it is coming from years of experience and I know that the type of men I’m looking for is hard to find. So when I do find one (even if he’s avoidant), it’s really hard to let go. I’ve managed to end it with the last guy without much damage to my confidence, but I still struggle with the missed opportunity, wondering if I was too quick to dismiss it and should’ve been more patient with him, the feeling that I still want to be with him and afraid I will not find anyone like him again. In a world where as a women, the older you get and the more successful you get, your pool is getting smaller and smaller, how do you deal with the scarcity mindset?
You’ve nailed me to a ‘T’ in this post. I have been on my own nearly 40 yrs after my husband cheated on me and got another woman pregnant! For years I thought there must be something wrong with me, so if any man showed me attention, I thougt they were worth investing in, but I always ended up disappointed & alone. I’ve always been happy with my own company and independent so was never prepared to settle for just any man rather than be alone, (hence why it’s nearly 40yrs being on my own. In 2021 I found myself developing feelings for a neighbour I’d befriended post Lockdown who’d come to my rescue with a problem in my Flat I was unable to deal with myself. I know I liked talking to him and stroking his dog, but never gave a relationship with him a second thought until I came across a list I’d made of all the qualities I was looking for in a man I would want to spend my life with. I was amazed to realise this man had nearly all of them! The problem was he had an ex-partner who was Toxic and they have a Son together, (was 11yrs at the time).When we first started talking he revealed a lot to me about his situation and made me feel honoured he felt comfortable enough to share these things with me. He helped me move when I was given an eviction notice and even lent me the money to pay the cost of Removals in April. Everything was fine until I told him in a letter about my feelings that July – he looked extremely agitated as I watched him read it, then said “Cool”, going on to say he couldn’t commit with all that was going on with him. I wasn’t asking him to, I just wanted to get to know him better to see if the Chemistry was there, but he started pulling away. He stopped popping round to see me, stopped ringing/texting, and I didn’t know why!
I went to see him a few weks later and he seemed genuinely pleased to see me, (I always got the sense that he liked me too by his actions, although he never told me he did, but he had this uncanny ability to know what I was thinking, whereas he was a total mystery to me).!
Despite telling me he would visit me again, (more than once in the coming months), he never did, but I still foolishly still clung on to the belief he would turn up at my door declaring undying love, (how sad is that). He wasn’t there for me when I was diagnosed with Cancer last year, or when I needed a Friend leading up to and during the Christmas Holidays & my Birthday on January 3. I finally got to see another sideto him on January 8, when he shut the door in my face & told me to go away in no uncertain terms.Harsh, but it was what I needed to finally let him go!
That’s it really.
You message them, and they reply, and you have a conversation and it peters out. And you complain about time wasters.
The truth is, they gave you a chance, you didn’t rig their bell. It’s not necessarily your fault, you didn’t have anything in common. But they did engage with you and it didn’t work.
There are endless men complaining about people on dating sites who won’t “give decent men a chance”. Maybe, but they are not wasting their time. You’ve met someone who did give you a chance, and it didn’t go anywhere, so you invested time that didn’t pay off.
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