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Education Emotionally Unavailable love psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

The Reason You Date Emotionally Unavailable Men.

Do you continue dating unavailable men? If I asked, “What are the warning signs of an emotionally unavailable partner,” you’d recite them swifter than a recovering alcoholic recounting the big book.

After dating several self-absorbed men, you’d assume spotting one a mile away would be easy, as if their clothes are draped in red hazard lights, sporting a sign that reads, “Caution, you are entering a hazard zone. Turn around or die.”

You were certain this guy was different, and yet, he turned out to be the same. What gives?

Well, the common denominator in all your relationships is you. The process unfolds in a subtle manner, so it’s easy to conclude you’re the available one and he’s not. You’re also emotionally unavailable, and the reason this truth is deceptive, is because it began in infancy.

John Bowlby’s, Theory of Attachment is widely recognized in the field of psychology, and offers insight into how emotional bonds formed in early childhood affects ability to secure relationships later on in life. In order for a child to develop normal social and emotional development, a healthy attachment must be formed with at least one caregiver.

It’s the first relationship a child experiences and it sets the tone for future bonds as it teaches what it means to be loved and nurtured. Receiving adequate nurture and affection throughout early childhood develops an adult with secure attachment– securing fulfilling and healthy relationships with likeminded people.  

Out of the four, the avoidant and anxious-insecure are the two adult attachment styles that compel to one another, forming a toxic, dysfunctional relationship. Avoidant dismissive attachment develops when a primary caregiver fails to comfort their infant, forming an inclination to suppress their emotions.

The avoidant-dismissive adult has learned, in early development, to bury emotions due to the formed belief that depending on others isn’t sufficient in meeting their needs, hence their value for independence and desire to remain detached- avoiding vulnerability.

Anxious-insecure adults receive inconsistent nurture from caregivers; fluctuating between responsiveness and affection, while other times, unresponsive, and emotionally unavailable. Having needs met is a gamble. This unpredictable behavior is confusing, causing a child to cling as an act of desperation- like hey! I’m here you asshole, pay attention to me!

 When successful, the child feels rewarded and validated, encouraging the clingy behavior, and when it’s not, feelings of insecurity and distrust arise. Anxious adults internalize beliefs that love is a confusing and inconsistent ordeal, influencing future relationships to reenact that relational dynamic.

Opposites do attract. An avoidant adult is familiar to the anxious adult since they offer unpredictable displays of affection, resembling their first attachment. As he pulls away, you seek validation by moving closer, and if successful, needs are met. This dynamic allows space for both partners to dance around their opposing vulnerabilities.

 He retreats with little consequence, since you’re always waiting for his return. With control to set the limitations, this persistent cycle mainly benefits him. Within this dynamic, a committed relationship will not form, allowing both partner to remain unavailable, acting in a way that’s familiar.

If you haven’t considered the relationships formed during early development, I would recommend doing so. A significant portion of human behavior is learned from childhood. We tend to behave, abiding by what we believe is “normal.” As a child, belief systems aren’t challenged, and unfortunately, are so engrained, that as adults, we hardly recognize their influence.

It’s important to stay vigilant, discover your blind spots, and challenge them!

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse Psychology Relationships Toxic Love Uncategorized

Does distance truly make the heart grow fonder?

We all know the saying and we’ll use it from time to time to make ourselves feel better when facing a shit circumstance… but is it true?

Here’s the thing. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Love releases chemicals within the brain that are similar to the effects of cocaine. When removed, just like cocaine, distance creates symptoms of withdrawal within the body.

The brain became accustomed to the euphoric release of chemicals and without them, functioning becomes impaired for a short period of time. Like drug addiction, the body’s dependent on their drug, so when devoid, intense cravings occur, along with uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Most individuals crave and miss their partner during distance. Their presence was comforting, familiar, and felt good, however, not everyone will experience this phenomenon.

An emotionally unavailable partner is likely to reach out during distance when bored or lonely, but not because their heart grew founder. Why?

Any symptoms of withdrawal such as cravings or missing their partner, is considered a negative emotion, so when experienced it’s habitually suppressed.

Boredom and loneliness, although negative emotions, are also suppressed, however, they’re present enough for action to take place, but it’s not authentic. It’s like a watered down juice; you taste the flavor, but not nearly as strong.

When feelings are wholeheartedly expressed, withdrawal produces impairment and takes time to recover because the body’s essentially detoxing. If you loved and cared deeply for someone, it’s natural to feel deeply saddened by the loss.

It’s also important to consider that an emotionally unavailable partner or a narcissist, have sought out a replacement, filling that void. Since incapable of creating lasting, meaningful relationships, it’s likely they’ll reach out when that replacement ends, like it inevitably does.

If you find this dilemma is applicable to your current situation, just remember that you’re not an option, especially when they’re bored or lonely. Not to sound crude but…. fuck that.

Be with someone who treats you like the main course.. not a platter of desserts to pick and choose which one to indulge in.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing Letting go Mindfulness Psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships Uncategorized

Your Love Won’t Save Him

Letting go of someone you love deeply is a very hard fucking thing to do. Grieving over someone who’s alive feels strange. He’s not dead, but it’s easier to behave as if he is, because thats the best route to take when moving forward.

It’s even harder to let go when the decision to do so feels forced due to circumstance. I loved someone in a way I never thought was possible and not only was he emotionally unavailable, but dabbled with cocaine a little too frequently. (that’s a nice understatement )

For over a year I tried to help, which of course, pushed him away. He showed interest in changing but actions remained the same and yet I persisted.

In retrospect, attempting to change someone who’s not willing is selfish. Of course, I cared and wanted to see him be his best self, but more importantly, I was so blinded by love, I never considered that I was sick of feeling heartbroken.

If he improved then maybe I’d stop hurting or he’d be “normal,” and treat me the way I deserve to be treated. Sadly, I ended the relationship. We didn’t date very long but that didn’t stop me from seeing him in hope he’d eventually realize what he lost, deciding it’s time to change.

It never happened and I can’t say I believed it ever would. Despite having a constant taste of reality in my mouth, I didn’t give up, and he broke my heart several times- each time progressively worse.

Letting go of someone who’s incapable of authentic love really sucks when you’re committed to fight for it, but in reality- it’s not going to happen. I’m not saying it never will, but the decision isn’t yours to make.

You’re not giving up on love because you’re tired of setting yourself on fire and burning for someone while he looks the other way.

I’m still in the midst of healing and I won’t lie and say it’s been easy or devoid of relapses, but I’d like to share a few tips that really help the process.

1. Acceptance & Honesty:

Holding on to someone who makes you feel lost, anxious, and upset is wasted energy. You’re doing yourself a disservice when you could be directing that energy inward to eventually crawl out of the darkness. The first step must be acceptance. It is what it is. You cannot change someone who doesn’t want to be changed. It’s not fair to you or him. Accept him for who he currently is. How does he fit into your life? Chances are he doesn’t. Be honest about the situation. Acknowledge the damage it ensues within your life and take action. Letting go is an act of self love and respect.

2. Commitment:

Its not enough to merely accept the situation and decide to let go. You must commit to that acceptance. From here on out, you dedicate yourself to the journey, making healthy actions that guide you forward rather than keep you stuck.

3. Ride the waves:

You also must understand there will be moments of emotional turbulence. We often backtrack any progress made when reacting to heightened emotions, instead of riding that wave. It comes and goes. You won’t feel that way forever. Once you successfully ride a few waves, they lose their momentum- occurring less frequently and won’t pull you all the way under.

Remain compassionate and self comfort during dark moments. You’re the only one who can truly make YOU feel better. It won’t be him.

You have all the tools necessary to let go and move forward, you just have to use them.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing Letting go love Narcissistic Abuse psychology Relationships Toxic Love Toxic Relationships

Narcissism Isn’t A Choice – It’s A Mental Disorder

When healing from narcissistic abuse, the aftermath of confusion and pain are often the focus of conversation.

Of course, it’s healthy to discuss and understand your relationship with a narcissist, but I’ve noticed an important aspect missing in that conversation.

Narcissism is a mental illness. In the DSM-5: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, (also my version of google) refers to this illness as Narcissist Personality Disorder.

For an individual to meet criteria for diagnosis, five of the following nine symptoms must be present:

  • 1. Grandiose sense of self- importance
  • 2. Preoccupation with fantasies of success, brilliance, power, ideal love, and beauty.
  • 3. A belief that he or she is special or unique and can only be understood by likeminded individuals.
  • 4. A need for excessive admiration
  • 5. A sense of entitlement
  • 6. Exploitative behaviors
  • 7. A lack of empathy ***
  • 8. Envy of others or belief others are envious of them
  • 9. Arrogant or haughty attitude and behaviors

A disclaimer is paramount: behavior ranges on a spectrum. Not all individuals who display a few of these symptoms meet criteria for diagnosis. The average person will experience moments of self-importance, arrogance, entitlement, or a need for admiration, etc.

During an evaluation, presence of symptoms is not enough- duration and frequency are essential components when considering diagnosis. A person who exhibits such symptoms for a short period of time, on a less frequent basis, will not qualify for narcissistic personality disorder.

An individual must present with five out of nine symptoms, beginning in early childhood and also occurring in multiple situations. A desire for admiration, sense of entitlement, arrogance, in romantic relations alone- isn’t enough.

An individual fitting criteria for diagnosis would frequently meet five symptoms with an early onset, causing impairment in several domains of life- social, vocational, educational, and relationships.

Being aware of this is important for healing to take place. You were dealing with a mentally ill individual that operates under a skewed and irrational perception of reality. If he doesn’t acknowledge or seek intensive therapy, he’ll continue to suffer from NPD.

Nothing was your fault. Take it with a grain of salt and never take his actions personally. There’s nothing you could have done differently to change him. It’s a decision he must make. If forced upon him, it would only lead to resentment and under such circumstance, improvement is rarely effective.

All that confusion, frustration, and mental exhaustion wears you down, to the degree of questioning your own sanity. You were in love with an individual who currently lacks capability to think and behave rationally, using manipulation and exploitation as means of communication.

You’re not crazy, dramatic, or asked for too much. You were a vicim responding to a confusing and abusive situation.

This weight is not yours to carry.

It’s time to put it down.

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

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healing love psychology Relationships Toxic Relationships Uncategorized

Your Relationships Are Avoided Mirrors

You can’t stay up in the sky forever. Is that what you thought? Or were you so high you forgot to consider the inevitable come down?

That’s what happens when you date an emotionally unavailable partner. It’s not a “normal” heartbreak, leaving a conventional mess, because it was never healthy. And I get it, he was unavailable, it’s him, not you….well, not exactly.

You’re also emotionally unavailable– it just doesn’t seem that way because your unavailability plays out differently. Emotional suppression and avoidance are not the only indicating traits. If you continue to date partners who fall within that category, it’s because your unavailability is approached and exhibited contrary to theirs.

This polar opposition forms a dysfunctional sense of balance, which is why you’re attracted to avoidant men and they’re attracted to you.

If you’re falling in the same trap a hundred times, there’s a lesson you’re not learning. Whether you believe it or not, you were presented a mirror, and each time it was deflected. How do I know this? Because nothing is different. It’s the same partner, different face.

Ignoring the role you played is easy. when you’re doing the heavy lifting to make the relationship work, therefore, you’r the available partner and he’s not. It’s not that simple.

Available people don’t date unavailable people, and if they do, when their partner begins behaving like someone they don’t know- it’s a door slam in the face and goodbye.Why would they stay to watch the rest play out? That sneak peak was informative enough. This isn’t the Jerry Springer show, and besides, there’s more favorable forms of entertainment than that shit.

You staying to fix or change someone else= unavailability.

Why? You believe you can. You’re blind to the facts. You’re emotionally invested and emotions distort the truth.

The facts/ the truth = the real story.

An available person would see the story for what it is, regardless of their emotions. A person who’s experienced healthy, loving relationships has an overall positive self-image, knowing damn well what isn’t tolerable.

An unavailable person will fabricate and re-write the story until it’s favorable. “I can change him. I just need to work harder.” Meanwhile, you moving closer, pushes him further. *Kills all feelings* If he’s not comfortable with emotions, why would he be with yours? Because that became your story.

“He loves me. He said he never felt this way about someone before so I must mean something special. I just need to prove it.”

Unfortunately, in a budding romance, avoidant men make all women feel that way. I’m not saying it was a lie, but during the initial stage, it’s likely he always feels that way. It’s new, exciting, and lacks expectation, which for him = perfection.

No real commitment = no need to suppress emotions

When called out for behaving inconsistently, he then begins to withdraw and suppress.

A negative emotion = disconnection.

Avoidant men leave and return- a predictable pattern, which speaks for itself, but that truth is distorted because you re-wrote the story, remember? I know, “He said he regrets it and that he misses you.” And you believe those words, regardless if he meant it, because that consists with the story you’re telling.

If you stay with a partner who’s minimally committed, inconsiderate, and behaves selfishly, you’re not as available as you think. When he retreats away from you, it prevents a deeper relationship from forming. If you’ve been ignoring the men who can give you that, is it a coincidence or a deeper issue?

Are you chasing after an unavailable partner because you’re used to the emotional highs and lows? When it’s good, you feel good, and when it’s bad, you feel really bad, and now, you don’t just want that high, you need it to feel normal. More often than that, we accept the love we think we deserve.

If you’re familiar with unpredictable and inconsistent love, then that becomes your normal, hence why that “mirror,” is difficult to see. Chasing a person or thing that’s not good for you, is really just a way of escaping yourself.

Why are you escaping your own reflection?

Look. What do you see?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
Education Emotionally Unavailable healing Letting go love Narcissism Narcissistic Abuse psychology relationships Relationships Toxic Relationships

You can’t reach someone who isn’t there.

Hi and welcome, I’m Jessica, your candid, probably too candid, cyber blogger, and …..someone else’s therapist.

I’m happy to see that you’ve fallen and crashed into my blog instead of colliding, dead smack into another emotionally disconnected, avoidant partner. If you ever decide to return, I’ll make sure it’s a meaningful experience, filled with promising revelations and insights. You have my word. I’m also not your ex, so comparatively speaking, this is a promising start.

Before I discuss the premise of my blog, in other words, why you’re reading this and what you’re (hopefully) here for, I’ll start with a brief background introduction. I obtained a bachelors degree in Sociology from Coastal Carolina University as well as a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling, Applied Psychology at New York University.

I have experience treating adults with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic, bipolar disorders, and substance use disorders, in addition to individuals struggling to cope with life stressors, relationships, family, work, death etc.

If you had asked me, face to face, what I do for a living, *assuming history repeats itself* it’s likely you’d ask one of three questions, “Are you gonna psychoanalyze me?” or “Cool, can you help me figure out why I’m so fucked up?” But nothing takes the cake, quite like this one, “Are you gonna…read my mind?” No, I don’t have superpowers but I one hundred percent wish I did.

Although this transaction is virtual, I can’t psychoanalyze you, personally at least, but in a way, I already have. If you’ve been trying to reach an emotionally unavailable partner, again and again, then we’re on the same page, and therefore, I say with confidence I’ve been psychoanalyzing those (also you) who present with this issue. I wanted to understand why certain people are attracted to and consistently find themselves in a relationship with such partners.

Several answers to this question are out there, floating throughout cyber space, but I wasn’t satisfied by the half-assed articles I read. For a complex topic, I was also shocked to see a small selection of available self- help books on the internet, so I began writing one.

I referenced my studies of psychology, experience working as a therapist, and my own personal experience, to consider all angles and formed my own answers. Yes, my fascination, as well as dedication to intellectually rationalize this two party dynamic is quite personal. I share tidbits of my experience in my book, and I’ll do the same, here, in future posts.

Why you should give this attention:

If you’re tired of dating the same person with a different face, feeling disregarded and rejected by inconsiderate, detached, and selfish partners, I resonate with those frustrations. If you’ve ever asked, “How did I get here?” or “Why am I here again?” then time and space has been kind to lead you here.

My blog is dedicated to answer those questions, encourage healing, and help you cultivate intellectual weapons to fight off the possibility of colliding into a relationship like that ever again.

If you’re willing to be challenged and face brutal truths, we have some work ahead of us, so, I must ask you for one thing and one thing only.

When presented with this mirror, I need you to look.

Till the next reflection.

-Jessica Bruno, LMHC