If you’re looking for a long term relationship in the online world, I’ve got some bad news and some good news. Let’s start with the bad news. The dating pool is full of partners who have no desire or ability to maintain a committed, long term relationship. Why is this? It’s simple. People who want long term relationships are usually in them, so they are not as well represented in the dating pool as the people who don’t do long term.
Now, it doesn’t mean that everyone is unavailable. The good news is that it can be easy to spot them by paying attention to a few red flags on someone’s profile.
To understand how to spot these unavailable partners, I think it’s helpful to add a little psychology into the mix, so we can understand what typically makes someone unavailable. The science of human attachment is the best explanation for this pattern. Many people who fear commitment and who struggle with intimacy and emotional connection are people with an avoidant attachment style. This means that the roots of their emotional unavailability run deep into their childhood.
Attachment describes the bond that develops between a child and a primary caregiver (birth parent or other caregiver) in the first few years of life. This interaction creates the foundation for how we interact in our adult relationships. It is a crucial framework for understanding adult relationships and dating, and often determines whether someone is long term relationship material or not.
Here are a few red flags that often indicate whether someone may be either temporarily unavailable, or they could have an avoidant attachment. Please remember that these are not definite. They are simply red flags that can alert you that there may be a need for further detective work to find out what’s really behind someone’s relationship goals.
Have you ever seen people write this on their profiles? I see this one quite often, and it is one of the more subtle clues. Often, people with avoidant attachments date people with a more anxious attachment. An anxiously attached person often desires a lot of connection and intimacy, which pushes the avoidant partner away.
When pushed away, the anxiously attached partner often resorts to dramatic efforts to re-establish contact with the partner. These types of relationships can often have a lot of drama involved in them, simply because of two opposing attachment styles. Someone who writes this in their profile has probably had some run-ins with “drama” in the past, possibly because they are avoidant and have been dating anxious partners. While this isn’t a clear cut sign this could be an avoidant partner, it could be worth keeping in the back of your mind as a red flag to investigate later.
Never been married.
If someone has never been married and they are forty or older, this is also worth investigating. Why haven’t they been married? Often avoidant partners have a series of short term relationships, or they clearly state that they don’t want relationships. Avoidant people often idealize and fantasize about a perfect partner in their lives, but then have a pattern of never finding someone who lives up to their ideal. Again, not being married can have many explanations, so do your detective work on this one.
They state the obvious.
This is a given. If they say they aren’t looking for long term, then believe them. Anyone that writes anything close to this statement on their profile should be kept in the “casual dating” category in your mind. Don’t get your hopes up to change this one.
No details at all.
If someone isn’t writing any details about themselves, or if they don’t have a picture online, there’s something fishy about this. Someone who’s serious about finding a relationship is going to make an effort to write details in their profile. It could be someone hiding their true identity, or someone who’s cheating. Serious relationship seekers take looking for love seriously and will put some effort into a profile.
This should be another easy one, yet it happens all the time. If they are still married, they are not available. There are always a lot of stories about difficult financial situations, or “it’s complicated”, but the cold, hard fact is, they are not available. This rarely ends well if you’re looking for a long term fit. People coming out of a divorce often need some time to date and reinvent themselves. They may also still be in a state of grieving from the separation, and not ready to responsibly begin a relationship.
Again, it’s best to look at these as red flags and not necessarily a clear indication of someone’s level of commitment. It’s always best to be a good detective and get to the truth if you’re unsure.
*Originally published on Digital Romance by Chelli Pumphrey.