Are you finding that when you finally meet a guy you really like, it seems only a matter of time before he heads off into the sunset, without you?
It can be really frustrating, and was definitely one of the patterns I experienced when dating. Just when I finally let my guard down, I would be faced with “I’m just not ready”. Or I was ghosted completely.
So why does this happen?
Firstly, this could be due to reasons completely unrelated to you - their ex got back in touch, a sudden illness in their family, a massive career change. As unromantic as it sounds, timing plays a huge part in the conversion of dating to relationships.
However, if you’re seeing this happen frequently, it could well be a pattern that you’re triggering.
There are four patterns that I see playing out again and again. Check them out and see which of these are true for you.
1. Attracting the wrong type of (avoidant) guys
If you haven’t yet discovered the concept of attachment styles in relationships, check out my Instagram account for piles of info on this. And buy a copy of the book Attached, ASAP. If you have, you’ll know exactly the type of guys I’m talking about.
Avoidant guys have the same fundamental need for companionship that we all have. However, they have a in-built defense system that gets triggered by intimacy. Every time they start to get close to someone, this system tells them to run for the hills.
They may truly believe they want a relationship and say they are seeking to find “the one”. But they’ll find a host of different reasons why you’re not their one (don’t worry, they’ve done this to a billion girls before you).
Due to their tendency to run away from the mere mention of a relationship, there’s a lot more of them in the dating pool. Odds are, they’re rarely in a relationship for a long time.
If you keep attracting these guys, eventually they are going to leave.
Solution: learn how to identify these guys and quite simply, avoid dating them.
2. Not being honest with yourself or them
Being in a state of denial gives off weird vibes. If you’re pretending to be something you’re not (with or without realising it), your date will pick up on this (consciously or subconsciously). Often they won’t be able to pinpoint exactly what it is, but they’ll start to feel uncomfortable around you. And eventually, exit stage right.
Perhaps you’re pretending you’re super chilled, when inside you’re deeply agitated. Perhaps you’re acting like you don’t care when inside you’re deeply afraid. Either way, people will pick up on this conflict within you and start to associate it (and therefore you) with a negative vibe.
Guys look to the way girls make them feel. If they don’t feel good around you, they won’t want to spend time with you.
If you’re not being honest, you may also be pursuing something that’s not right. In a state of denial, I dated a guy that on paper I really liked - he was older, had a great job, a lovely house, and was generally charming and didn’t play games. But every date, I was playing a persona. When I eventually let this pretence go, our date that night fell pretty flat and he ended things saying he felt like there wasn’t any chemistry.
Solution - be deeply honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to show your true self. Don’t pretend to be ok when you’re not, or act how you think the guy wants you to.
3. Displaying erratic behaviour
I get it. You’ve been in the dating position before and when a new guy comes along, you’re one part excited, one part terrified it’s going to end horribly with you sobbing into a tub of Ben and Jerries, again.
If he doesn’t text back for ten hours, your internal radar starts firing “alert, alert”. You panic, and end up sending him some angry and demanding messages. Dateable Dave has been on a work trip and has barely had a chance to look at his phone. He’s pretty surprised when he eventually does.
Then, when he does text back, you then don’t reply for three days to “make him see what it feels like”. Dateable Dave is left wondering what the hell happened to the chilled, intelligent girl he thought he had been dating. Slightly overwhelmed, he heads back onto Tinder.
You’re not a crazy person normally. So why are you suddenly going crazy in the dating world? Because your inner radar system is being activated, your mind and body panic, and they act out of survival, rather than rational, mode.
The annoying thing is, survival mode is not going to make the best decisions for your future love-life.
Solution: Changing this radar and its associated behaviour requires some deep inner work to understand what is going to trigger it, and how to calm yourself down so you express your needs rationally.
4. Putting too much pressure on too soon
You know that feeling when everyone at a wedding is asking you how your love-life is and whether you want to get married? And you just want to run away and enjoy Netflix in peace?
So is presenting guys with ultimations after just a few dates, or setting a list of expected standards before you’re even exclusive.
And it doesn’t feel nice. Remember guys focus on how you make them feel. When they feel good, they’ll want to spend more time with you, and they will come to you.
And the right guy will come. You are the prize. You don’t need to be forcing anyone in.
It’s important to establish that the guy you are dating is open to the same things as you early on, via a casual conversation. It’s equally important that things develop at a natural pace and you’re not disappointed if they don’t want to book a week away together after three dates.
If a guy seems to shy away from more commitment, let him have the space to think about it, and if he comes back, you get to choose whether you believe he’s ready.
Solution: have enough going on in your own life that you’re feeling happy and fulfilled without the guy(s) you’re dating having to “deliver”. That way, you’ll both enjoy dating in a natural, unforced way.
What to do next
Trust me, you are not the only one faced with guys running away. Absolutely everyone will have experienced this at some point.
But it’s also preventable. Here's an exercise you can do today to work out why guys have run away in the past and how you can stop it happening again.
Start by writing a list of all the times this has happened, what happened immediately before and how you were behaving at the time. Now, look for the patterns between them.
This is a variation of one of the exercises in my Finding Mr Dateable program, helping smart single women to find a long-lasting relationship.