Question: I’ve been involved with a guy for a year and a few months. He’s very physically attractive, charming, witty and shares my interests and values. He’s also one of the few people not afraid to point out my mistakes, which I really do value. But the relationship has its problems. I don’t want to call it toxic but there is definitely something unhealthy going on in that when one gets closer the other tends to move away and vice versa. I’m not as bad at this as he is. He can be so cold and distant to a point where I resent him because then I want him so bad. This is when I do everything I know how to draw him closer but when he responds, I lose interest and start acting cold and aloof. He then becomes more interested in me but when I show interest, he breaks up with me. Right now, we’re not together and I know he expects me to make the first move. I’m trying to understand why people find those who act aloof and distant more attractive. And how can we have a normal relationship?
The Love Doctor’s Answer: Not everyone finds people who act aloof and distant more attractive. For some people it makes them want someone more, and for others it’s an instant total turn off.
You see, when someone is intentionally making him or herself inaccessible physically or emotionally, he or she is trying to trigger the “fear of rejection” or “fear of abandonment” in another person. If you have this fear inside of you – due to insecurities, low self-esteem, jealousy, controlling personality, co-dependency issues etc – you’ll respond from that place of fear. You’ll try to “stop” the rejection or abandonment by drawing closer to the person who is triggering this fears inside of you.
Your words/language and actions will (sub-consciously) reflect that fear. E.g. over-declarations of love, doing too much to please and all the things that look like you’re becoming “more attracted’ to the other person but which in reality are your fears being acted out.
The sad part is that most people who use “Acting Aloof and Distant” strategy to make someone attracted to them are people who have “issues’ themselves (insecurities, low self-esteem, jealousy, controlling personality, co-dependency issues etc.) Very often, the very person who triggered the abandonment fear inside of you, may either take advantage of it to manipulate you or reject you because your fear triggers their own fear of “fear of rejection” or “fear of abandonment” or being “asked to give” what they are either not prepared to, don’t want to, or simply unable to.
This is why it’s important to be aware of what’s happening when someone is trying to draw you closer by acting aloof and distant. Some people have likened it to emotional abuse where someone repeatedly withdraws physical and emotional access and attention just to make you feel unwanted and/or undesirable. It’s like someone hitting you on the head several times and you can’t figure out who is hitting you and why.
Can you have a normal relationship in this dynamic?
If you’re looking for hook-ups or one night-stands, this may work with certain men and women (insecure, low self-esteem, jealous, controlling personality, co-dependent etc.). But if you’re looking for a long term relationship, this strategy doesn’t stand a chance.
To make this work, one (or both of you) has to quit playing “the game” and create a different dynamic where you draw closer to each other at the same time. Problem is, for most people acting a loof and distant is the only way they know how to get someone’s attention or interest (a carry-over from childhood), and so are just not willing or ready to give it up.
Sometimes what is best is to let go the person who thinks the only way to get you to be attracted/fall in love with him or her is to make you feel unwanted and/or undesirable. It’ll hurt now, but it’s better than hurting over and over every time they feel they want to draw you closer.