Mr. Brightside 3 - Emotionally Unavailable

I mentioned in my last post that Mr. Brightside was emotionally unavailable; this is a term that gets thrown around easily but what does being emotionally unavailable actually mean?


"Emotionally unavailable means not fully emotionally present. It’s struggling or being unable to access emotions healthily and as a result, being emotionally distant due to ‘walls’ which basically act as barriers to true emotional intimacy.

Fully experiencing all feelings, whether good, bad, or indifferent, is avoided because they create vulnerability, so feelings are experienced often for a limited time and in bursts as opposed to consistently feeling on an ongoing basis. Emotionally unavailable equates to intimacy issues, which is being afraid of the consequences of getting truly emotionally close to someone such that to lose them would hurt.

- Nathalie Lue: Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

So again I say: Mr. Brightside was emotionally unavailable.

And I was his Fallback Girl.

"Mr Unavailable’s inadvertently complicit partner is you, the Fallback Girl, the woman he habitually defaults to or ‘falls back’ on to have his needs met while selling you short in the process.

Pursuing or having relationships with Mr Unavailable is symbolic of your need to learn to love yourself more and to set some boundaries and have better standards."

True. All of it.

Mr. Brightside was emotionally unavailable and I was his complicit partner. It takes two to tango, so here I am, admitting to my dysfunction and how it contributed to what in hindsight was a very unhealthy relationship.

The only reason a relationship happened between us was because: I had very low-standards, I either didn't set boundaries or I easily violated them, and I didn't love myself enough to walk away from a man who was so much less than what I wanted, needed, and deserved.

The woman I am now would never date Mr. Brightside, but it is only because I dated Mr. Brightside that I can say that I will never date a man like him again.

In this post, I want to outline emotional unavailability: what it is, what it looks like, and how we contribute to it, so that you and I never, ever, end up being anybody's FALLBACK.

The first half of this post will be focused on excerpts which I hope will help to define this (with my comments in between), and the second half will be about my direct experience with it as it pertains to Mr. Brightside.


"The unhealthy pattern goes like this…

You’re dating a guy and you notice that you’re feeling:
  • unimportant
  • neglected
  • unsafe
  • disconnected
  • always hungry for more (of his time, presence. or affection)
So what do you do? You ping him, text him, casually “stop by,” or (ahem) nonchalantly email him a sassy little note.

He acknowledges you, returns the text/IM/email, but with something far less specific or warm than what you sent him.

But still—it’s something. Woohoo! You’re elated.

(But you conveniently “forget” that you’d stalked him on social media or were obsessively checking your phone to make sure you didn’t accidentally mute it. Or that you’ve had a knot in your stomach all day, anxiously waiting, waiting, waiting for something—anything—from him.)

And the good feelings? They don’t last, because before long you begin to feel that longing for more of his attention and energy because even though he responded you still feel he’s disconnected from you. You had to initiate contact, after all.

And he doesn’t seem to move things along—at least not as fast as you wish he would. You’re mostly left wondering when you’re going to see him next and what he’s really thinking inside that mysterious head of his, and even if weeks (or months) pass, you’re never quite sure of his feelings.

This is an unmistakable pattern. It tells you that you’re falling for an emotionally unavailable man, or at the very least one who is more casual about your relationship with him than you are.

What should you do when you see this pattern?


"If you have that nauseating or nagging gut-feeling (woman's intuition) that you can fall off the face of the earth without him realizing it until a few days later, he's clearly not interested in whatever it is you two have at the moment (I wouldn't insult you by calling it a relationship)..."

- Bruce Bryans: He's Not That Interested

Mr. Brightside's indifference was palpable: everything in the way he spoke to me and the way he treated me in so many small ways said: I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK.

I'm not saying that he didn't care about me at all; in some ways I think he must have...? But the feeling I had was that my presence or lack thereof made absolutely no difference to him at all. (He actually validated this after our break-up when he - almost proudly - said "I was fine with or without you.")

That is NOT ok. It's not ok to be in a relationship with someone who makes us feel as though they just don't care if we're there or not. The whole damn point of a RELATIONSHIP is to RELATE.

If the person you're with is not RELATING then it is not a RELATION-SHIP.

The biggest problem with being with an emotionally unavailable man is that his words and actions tends to confuse women, leading them to believe that there could possibly be a future with him...when a man shuts himself off from love it doesn't mean that he's emotionally dead. This confuses women because they assume that an affectionate, caring man...cannot possibly be emotionally unavailable.


Instead of equating emotional unavailability with emotional deadness, equate it with not being "all in," vulnerable, or willing to fall in love or showing a desire to claim you as his very own...

Emotionally unavailable men will seem as if they're sending conflicting messages when they're really not. What they've done is simply informed you that they "don't want anything serious" or that "they're just looking for something casual" and you've mistaken their affection and attentiveness as being their true feelings for you.


- Bruce Bryans: He's Not That Interested


"The reason you are attracting partners who are unwilling, unable, or unavailable to love you isn’t because you’re unattractive or dull. It’s because you are not available to yourself— to taking responsibility for your own feelings.

As long as you are abandoning yourself, you will attract someone who is also abandoning themselves, and this self-abandonment may show up as emotional unavailability.

If you want to attract more available partners or someone who is willing and able to love you in the way you want to be loved, you must stop abandoning yourself by ignoring your feelings, judging yourself, and turning to addictions, including the addiction of making another person responsible for your worth and lovability.

This means that if you NEED to be in a relationship in order to feel good about yourself, you are self-abandoning.

You also know you’re self-abandoning when:
  • You ignore your feelings and needs.
  • You are feeling compassion for others’ feelings and needs while not even being aware of your own.
  • You are caretaking others in order to get their approval and then hoping others will attend to your feelings and needs.
  • You don’t care at all about others feelings and needs and just pull on them to take care of yours.
  • Your attention is on others while ignoring yourself.


How do you know you’re not loving yourself and therefore operating from a low vibration?...

By definition, getting involved with and staying with a toxic partner means that you’re not loving yourself enough.

People who love themselves completely do NOT stay when an at-first charming partner turns dark. The low energy feels revolting to them and is not a match for their high energy.

Say, for example, things are going well with your new man...until you happen to speak up about something he said that hurt you. Instead of listening to you and apologizing, he turns it around and makes it YOUR fault for speaking up.

Now, when you don’t love yourself, here’s what happens:

Instead of paying attention to the wrenching feeling in your stomach that things are not right, you backtrack and try to appease him. You get all nervous that he will think you’re high maintenance, so you tell yourself you should never have opened your mouth.

You start tip-toeing around him. You don’t want to make him mad. And the very last thing you want is to say something that will make him leave.

And just like that, you’ve started the dance of toxicity. All because your energy is so low, and your self love is low.

Every single time you shut down a feeling within your body and move away from your truth, you guarantee that you will stay a magnet for toxic types.

And every time you honor the sensation in your body that says, “This doesn’t feel right,” you automatically PUSH low-vibration people like narcissists out of your realm.

Self love is cultivated by honoring your feelings—one feeling at a time.

The more you learn to pay attention to that inner compass, the faster your will cut your energetic ties to unhealthy men.


"What To Do About Distant People?

Feel the distance they are giving you!

Feel the distance that the person is creating between you and them...

You can try a couple of times to reach out to a distant person, but if they still maintain their distance, you must feel.

Feel the emptiness that their actions are communicating.

Feel. Feel. Feel.

Take the hint.

Get out of your head. Don’t analyse. Instead, feel.

Be sensitive enough to feel that person’s communication. A person’s actions communicate almost everything you need to feel.

Feel it. Don’t blindly waste your time on people who don’t want to invest in you."

Our feelings and intuition tell us everything we need to know. Especially as women, we are highly intuitive as long as we don't allow the outside world and the opinion of others to cloud our own judgment.

I did not listen to my intuition in my relationship with Mr. Brightside: three weeks into our relationship, I had an anxiety attack in the middle of the night.

Let me say that I'm not someone who is prone to anxiety attacks. I know that some people suffer from them regularly; their thoughts runaway with them and they're prone to regular attacks. My heart goes out to those people because anxiety attacks are awful things to suffer through. To me it feels like spiritual torture, because my very soul is writhing in pain, fear, and doubt.

However, anxiety attacks for me are not a result of runaway thoughts or fears that have been magnified. They are the result of my inner knowing trying to speak to me, with me trying desperately to ignore it; to pretend that EVERYTHING IS FINE WHEN IT MOST DEFINITELY IS NOT.

(Before my Mr. Brightside-induced anxiety attack, my last attack had been a year and a half prior, when I was still working for Company X but knew in my heart of hearts that I needed to leave.)

That night, my attack was brought on by all the voices that refused to stay silent about things I had noticed on a subconscious level.

For me clarity often comes in the middle of the night. The noise of the day, the busy-ness, the distractions - it all falls away and I am left alone with my truth.

I see my truth as the surface of a lake. When all is right, when I am in alignment with my inner knowing, the surface of the lake is clear and smooth, like glass.

But then when I am in a new situation, every new bit of insight that is somehow out of alignment is like a ripple on the surface, a disturbance: all is not clear, all is not well.

And that night, three weeks into our relationship, my truth wouldn't leave me alone, the ripples grew into a tidal wave: "Jasmin, this man is not right for you. He doesn't SEE you. He is not interested in you. He is not concerned with your well-being and he never will be. WALK AWAY."

Ripple, ripple, ripple, ripple.

All of the things that Mr. Brightside had said and done - small subtle things that my subconscious had picked up on that I was not allowing myself to consciously acknowledge - were there that night, trying to talk to me.

People show us who they are. Even if people want to hide themselves, they can't because anyone who's paying attention at all will notice, will see.

It's in the things that are said or not said, done or not done. Very very small, but at the same time, so big. Those small things represent who someone is - they're glaring pointers to their true character: "Why didn't he ask about this? Why did he hesitate there? How come he did that?"

People show us.

But we have to be willing to listen.

I didn't want to listen.

I was lonely. I hadn't dated anyone in a year and a half. We were in the middle of a global pandemic and I felt isolated.

And unlike most of the guys I had previously dated, Mr. Brightside was physically present. He was showing up (if not in spirit, at least in body).

I mistook his physical availability with emotional availability. In hindsight this is almost funny because my father was physically present my entire life, but emotionally never was. Yet another way that Mr. Brightside was just like my dad.

So I forced myself to ignore what I felt in my heart.

The next day I told Mr. Brightside about my anxiety attack; I had to because when I had gotten up in the middle of the night during my attack, I had been so distraught and unfocused that I had walked into a door and broken my toe. I had to explain my limp and my very purple foot, along with the bandages.

In that moment, he asked me what he should do if I ever experienced an anxiety attack while I was with him (See? He wasn't a bad person. He had moments where he was capable of being considerate. So confusing...)

I told him that they weren't a regular occurrence, and that there was nothing to worry about.

What I didn't tell him though was that he was the reason for the attack; that it was because I knew in my heart that him and this relationship were all wrong for me.

I grew up with parents who invalidated my feelings and it isn't until now, after my relationship with Mr. Brightside, that I've finally begun to validate and act on my own feelings.

But then, at that particular moment in time, I felt unable to validate what I felt in order to act on it.

So I didn't. And I stayed.

And while I don't regret it because of all of the things I learned, now that I know, I would very much regret it if I ever again got involved with another emotionally unavailable man.

Once we see, we can't unsee.

The day I wrote this post, I had a dream.

I wanted to reach Mr. Brightside. I picked up my phone to call him, and his contact information was gone.

I felt panicked. I searched through my contacts again.

He wasn't there.

I became more and more anxious.

I needed him to be there, and he wasn't there, he wasn't there. Why couldn't I get in touch with him?

Somehow, I finally found his contact information, but when I looked at the time, I saw that it was 8:00 PM. My heart sank. He was likely watching a movie with his daughters, as was his habit most evenings, and even if I called, he wouldn't pick up the phone.

I couldn't reach him.

Couldn't reach him.

Because he was not available.



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