Willing To Settle?


One of the constants from this website is my preoccupation with dating emotionally unavailable persons. I have already written several times on the subject and there is not a day goes by that I do not talk to a client who is dealing with this issue. Whether it’s the bad boy, the “strong/silent type” or in my own case the ultra-mature and conservative person whom you find you are drawn to.

It is not a universal maxim that opposites attract, but it does seem to be a generalization that often proves correct. Let me paint the scenario for you: an outgoing and even aggressive girl finds she is inexplicable drawn to a certain guy/girl. This person is a great listener, passive, and the perfect yin to your yang. There are often warning flags, but you cannot see them initially. He/She has a hard time planning dates and usually leave the details to you. Their idea of a romantic evening is a night watching Netflix, in spite of your many hints that you would like to go into the city for a concert or an event. They don’t get excited when you are alone but come alive when you are with other people. They like to listen when you talk but as the months go by they are less and less interactive. They are more sedentary than you first thought. They don’t seem to tell you what they are thinking anymore. They are nice but if you really admit it to yourself they are, well, boring.


I’m not being dramatic, this is a far more dangerous scenario than most people realize. This relationship is not likely to make it. Seriously. Often this person is not only strong, not only silent, but also passive-aggressive, manipulative, and emotionally childish or unaware. They are almost certainly emotionally lazy and will become more so the longer you are together.

The key thing I will tell you, when you eventually come to see me, is that you need to settle or bolt. If you want to make this relationship work (and by this time you are probably invested heavily and maybe even have children) you need to accept that they will not be the person you can become emotionally intimate with. They will not share your soul, they will not even remotely meet your emotional needs.

Is that enough for you?

Don’t get me wrong, it is entirely possible to live a rich and rewarding life with an emotionally distant person. You can become very very bitter, you can have an illicit affair or series of affairs, you can settle and make the best of your situation and appreciate the person you have for what they bring to the table. No relationship is perfect and there are far worse ones out there. The truth is, however, is that you will not live the life you once dreamed of. There will be no fairy tales, no knights in shining armour, no “sipping Pina Coladas, getting caught in the rain”.

I have been asked why I am so passionate about this topic. Once, a generation or two ago, most of us got married for life and this issue was mute – you did the best with what you got. Today, however, most of us will date much more than our grandparents did, and many of us will pick the same ill-suited temperament time after time.

9 thoughts on “Willing To Settle?

  1. Hi Scott,

    I lack emotional connectivity to women……my ex wife for example. The advice to “RUN” seems reasonable, but what are people running towards? Cheesy piña coladas and a night at the opera? My emotional maturity is pretty scruffy……I am not metrosexual and I don’t plan on converting anytime soon. I would very much like a better way forward to bond with people that means something……deeper.

    It’s easy to red flag the brooding bipolar megalomaniac who is not buying into the fairy tale that he should be playing your knight in shining armor…….I guess I just need to wait for a woman with a little more grit. Someone who accepts my delusional ideas to change the world…….just not while I am frozen to the couch 🙂 Know any Megalomaniac Whisperers?

    That attraction to the bad boy instinct is dying out and hooray for the good boys……I like good guys, at least the ones that are actually good – not just good at looking good.


    1. Well said, Mark, and food for thought. What ARE we running towards?

      Perhaps we run towards (and away from) that simple opportunity to be absolutely open and vulnerable with just one person, to be able to let our warts (and hidden gems) show and to feel completely accepted in doing so?

      I grant that this is something that needs to be accomplished within before looking without.

  2. Well, given the ‘subject matter’ I write about, this subject is not foreign to me. My ex psychopath was eerily calm, cool and collected. After the initial ‘honeymoon phase’ he was rock solid boring…but incredibly dangerous…emotionally sadistic, abusive, gas lighting, exploitative…utterly pathological….and living a completely double hidden life, hidden so well, it took years to uncover.

    I think your description is really much kinder then I would describe as, essentially, pathology ‘lite’.

  3. Scott,

    Wonderful post, as always. I’ve been working very hard, in therapy and out, to avoid the emotionally unavailable partners, yet here I sit in a hotel room with my long distance lover who has traveled 4000 miles to be with me. I was reading this to him and he admits that, yes, he considers himself “reserved”.

    Sigh. Once again I chose “distant” (and safe) – emotionally AND physically.

    You wrote: “The truth is, however, is that you will not live the life you once dreamed of. There will be no fairy tales, no knights in shining armour…” I know what it’s like to be in a long-term relationship with the emotionally distant male – was in one for 23 years – and I left for the idea of “happily ever after” but I’m about ready to give up.

    Is there such a thing – “true love”? Especially for those of us with histories of childhood abuse, addiction and depression? Would love to see a post on that topic.

  4. Run! I am learning. The good news I am noticing the red flags sooner, and I realize that I am worth more than that. It may get lonely at times but it beats settling. I believe the more I don’t accept this behavior, the closer I will get to a more positive relationship 🙂

  5. this. is. my. life. Wish it wasn’t so but your words resonate LOUDLY. and when I read them I have a glimmer of hope that maybe I’m not just being shallow, selfish and full of unrealistic expectations. been holding out for change and telling myself the exact same thing, I have but 2 options: accept or move on. tough call.

  6. I love the bottom-line approach of ‘you need to settle or you need to bolt”. Well said- you need to get it put on a coffee mug or something as a gift to clients 🙂

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