After having already dealt with the reasons that can make a person unavailable for a healthy relationship, as well as the damaging effects that being with such a person can have on you, I will now dedicate the next few posts to the question of why we often don’t manage to opt out and save ourselves from all the hurt and pain. Despite of clearly not being happy and fulfilled in our relationship, despite the feeling of being neglected, taken for granted and treated inconsistently and disrespectfully, we often hold on for far too long out of a variety of different reasons. Drawing out the inevitable will in the end only cause more pain, heartbreak, disappointment and despair than would have been necessary. By ending the relationship and abandoning our futile endeavors to change everything for the better, we could often save ourselves a lot of misery. We somehow don’t manage to find the strength to do just that.
The first reason for holding on I will discuss in my blog is a naive belief that things will someday change for the better. Instead of drawing clear boundaries, sticking to them and opting out when our partner oversteps them countless times, we hold on and allow them to go on hurting us and causing us stress and agony. One could argue that it is clearly our own fault if we allow people to trample all over us and can’t find the strength to save ourselves. While this may partly be true, there is often also the fact to consider that unavailable people tend to feed us with little breadcrumps of attention and affection that lead us to hold on to our hopes for a better future. Instead of being fair and square about their unavailability, they often give us false promises, little tokens of their alleged love, dedication and appreciation of us.
Codependent people cling to those little tokens of appreciation for dear life. We don’t want to seriously assess all the evidence for their unavailability. Instead we leap at every little sign of their affection and we are tempted by those signs to hold on and allow them to keep on hurting us. I often found myself on the brink of letting go and opting out of the unhealthy relationship I was part of. However, I was repeatedly kept from following through with it by my naive hope that things might still change for the better, fueled by his false promises and affectionate gestures.
In the course of dating Mr. Unavailable I faced many instances that should have prompted me to run for my life. When I talked to friends about my relationship they were often completely astonished that I still allowed him to stay in my life and didn’t have enough self-respect to leave him. They pointed out to me numerous times that his behavior was unacceptable and that he has overstepped the boundaries of decent behavior on too many occasions. They were absolutely right with that assessment: I allowed him to cancel our dates in the last minute, I allowed him to prioritise his exgirlfriend’s feelings over mine. I accepted his lame excuses and bore the many disappointments and broken promises with understanding, patience and endurance.
I was on the brink of leaving him countless times because his dishonesty, changeableness and disregard hurt me to the point where I could not take it any longer. I was a wreck both physically and emotionally. When he realized how hurt I was he would feed me with little breadcrumps of affection to keep me going: He would promise me that he intended to move out of his exgirlfriend’s appartment and things would get better. He would tell me he considered staying in Germany and make things work here. He wrote me the kindest messages telling me how smart, attractive, appreciative and kind I was and how thankful he was for my patience and understanding. Instead of evaluating his actions with a clear mind, I focused on these breadcrumps. They were all I needed to hold on to the unhealthy relationship.
A clear assessment of the situation would have brought me to opt out of all that pain and drama. If I had had the strength, self-respect and sanity to see that his words were never followed by actions, I would have left and saved myself. I was never able to see that all my hopes were completely in vain, that he was completely unavailable and would not change anytime soon. I ignored the sound advice of my friends and relatives, I ignored all of the clear signs of his narcissism, disrespect and unavailability and clung to him as if all my life depended on him.
It took me far too long to let go and to realize that I was not the reason why our relationship failed. Whenever my hopes were crushed, I would have the tendency to put blame on myself. One question repeatedly occupied my mind: What am I doing wrong that he cannot treat me with consideration, care and respect? Am I too needy? Am I not attractive enough? I now finally realized that the fault was not with me. The guy was simply unavailable and prevented me from seeing it by feeding me his little breadcrumps of affection.
He dealt me a final slap in the face at the end of our relationship: He clearly didn’t want to see that he was giving me reasons to hope through his promises and tokens of affection. According to him, I was completely responsible for my own misery, as he had made it clear from the beginning that he was unavailable. This blatant lie is just another proof of his narcissism: Narcissists can never admit mistakes and never take responsibility for their own behavior. Mr. Unavailable therefore put all the blame on me and told me that “my hopes for a good outcome exceeded a reasonable assessment of the situation”. He might have been right, but the decent thing would have been to acknowledge his complicity in feeding my hopes. Being the textbook narcissist that he is, he was of course unwilling to do so.
My experiences have taught me that it is absolutely necessary to face the cold facts instead of clinging to hopes that will never be fulfilled. Narcissistic and unavailable people will likely not change their behavior for us, and it is a waste of time and energy to think otherwise. All the time we spend agonizing, evaluating their behavior and playing out possible scenarios in our heads is just wasted and should have been spent on ourselves instead. We could save ourselves a shitload of pain, drama, anger and time if we would acknowledge their unavailability right from the start and opt out of unhealthy relationships with them.