The Morning After: Why Do I Chase, Then Run?

by Cecily Knobler, Dating Specialist

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Cecily’s been on a few dates in her time, and she’s learned a thing or two.

Dear Cecily,
I tend to get crushes on guys who seem unavailable. But the big twist is that as soon as I get them to fall for me, I’m not interested anymore. What’s wrong with me? Why do I only want what I can’t have, and then when I get it, I don’t want it anymore?

Signed, A Chaser in Canada

Dear Chaser (but reluctant “Chasee”),
Okay, I’ll start with the obvious: you’re insane. Just kidding. The honest answer is that deep down you may not believe you deserve love, and so when a man falls for you, you think there must be something wrong with him. This is the first possibility to explore, because it’s actually quite common. So you unconsciously set out to choose someone you believe you don’t “deserve.” Then when the script gets flipped, you panic because, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, you don’t want to belong to any club that would have you as a member.
Another hypothesis is that you’re attracted to danger, the proverbial bad boy. This could be deep seated in your psyche for reasons ranging from past abusive relationships (physical, emotional or otherwise), or a sense that you’re rebelling against what your family or society deem appropriate. When these men soften and become more vulnerable (and oh no, like you back!) you’re left wondering who you’re even with. Suddenly someone might need you or want from you and you’re not willing to give. This (and brace yourself, because this could be your aha moment) might mean that you’re the emotionally unavailable one, not the men you think you desire.
Now the question is: what do you do about it? Ask yourself what are the initial traits that draw you in? Is it his aloofness? The hot/cold rollercoaster of emotions? If this is the case, you must take a step back and evaluate if this is what you truly want. Does it make you happy? If so, is it possibly because it lets you off the hook from feeling real emotions? Perhaps when actual intimacy arises, you freak out because now you’ve got something real on your hands and you have to be held accountable.
I know it’s ingrained, but try not to look at vulnerability or interest from a man as a weakness. Would it really be so awful to let your walls down and let a guy (bad boy or otherwise) really be himself around you? Maybe you’re saying, “sounds great, but how do I do that?” Well you can start by not prejudging what you think he should or shouldn’t feel about you. As the one who’s unavailable, you push people away when they get closer because you’re possibly scared they’ll really see in you. Let him see you in your own vulnerability. You might be surprised to find he doesn’t run. And if he does? There are plenty of other clubs that will be happy to have you as a member.