WTH? Change is possible?

How to get over your addiction to unavailable men

Posted May 02, 2011

I'm flattered to receive any e-mail, not directly sent from a Nigerian prince, so I usually write back, if just to say "thanks." Until a few days ago, when I received a message from Alex B., who simply asked: "Are you still drawn to non-committed guys?"

Instead of feeling the usual joy and arrogance I experience when someone in the world has acknowledged my writing, I felt nervous. Vague memories of my biggest insecurity had suddenly resurfaced. My infamous "Do Girls Really Love Assholes?" post from last January had received a lot of controversy on the site and in my own circle of friends.

After I published the story, a lot of girlfriends ended up commiserating with me. We did dumb things like analyze every ex-boyfriend's behavior from the last decade-meticulously reasoning how certain hand gestures and haircuts deemed them unavailable or available. We compared men to taxi cabs, which sometimes had the light on and were "in service" or remained unlit and would drive right past us, even when empty.  I even did the unthinkable and bought "He's Just Not That Into You" on DVD.

However the most important step I took was actually cutting out the "unavailable", yet incredibly attractive men from my life-past, present and future. I mean, I kept everything painfully platonic and made no real effort to stay in touch with anyone.

I've found that oftentimes, when we have problems, we sort of acknowledge them, discuss our concerns and change absolutely nothing.  We are told that recognizing the problem is half the battle- so we pat ourselves on the back and feel really good because we use our brains for exactly one moment. But what's the point of acknowledging a bad situation or a problem if you're not going to fix it?

Thanks to my intense rehabilitation process, I am proud to tell Alex and the rest of the world: "Yes, I am still drawn to unavailable guys!"

WTH? Well. This is the thing: you can't stop liking something you've always liked. For example, I love turkey bacon. I'm not just going to stop liking it because it's not healthy for me. However, I can stop eating it by training myself to stay away from it.

This unknown and unpopular concept is called sacrifice. We do it every Lent and every spring to get into shape for swimsuit season. We challenge ourselves to give up something so we can be better, more grateful and happier people.

And letting go of my need to be with an unavailable person follows the same principal. Of course it's difficult and sad and makes you feel incredibly lonely, but a year later, I'm a different person who no longer puts herself into precarious situations with unavailable people and later ponders: "Why me?" And you know what else? I don't miss it. I don't miss feeling insecure, anxious and that feeling of not being special enough for someone.

Bottom line. If you want to stop being attracted to a certain type of guy, stop dating them. Do not communicate with them. Do not text them at 2 a.m.: "Wanna cuddle?"

You may end up in a relationship moratorium for longer than you like or you may even decide to join a monastery, but you'll finally have something that was missing for a long time: your self-worth.

Change is possible. I've always believed that we are essentially exaggerated versions of our high school selves, but I am quickly realizing that you can change whatever and whenever you want-but the catch is, you have to do it yourself. And for most people, that's a big and difficult turn off.

Oftentimes, it seems that the only catalysts for change are force or fear. For example, high gas prices are making an obvious impact on customers. People no longer fill up their gas tanks. Instead, they are opting for carpooling or using public transit and also significantly reducing their recreational driving. They have to change, because if they don't, they will literally have to run (not drive) to the poor house.

But I still believe the most effective change occurs when you have the desire to make it happen.  In the previous example, we know that once gas prices stabilize, people are going to return to their original wasteful behavior. Change spurred by force or fear often results from necessity, not choice.

I think that's a big reason why interventions and boot camps, though they make entertaining reality television, just don't work on their own.  In order for real change to take place, you need more than a catchy presidential slogan, you need the intention to follow through with it.

So where does intention come from?

I repeat: It was not easy to cut people from my life. But when I thought of being in my 30s with the same exact problem, I just couldn't bear it. I guess you could say that that alone was enough to inspire me to cut the bad boys out-- cold turkey bacon.

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