Choosing Unavailable Partners

Choosing unavailable partners

Psychoanalysis may be helpful in overcoming this difficulty.

Here’s an example of a man finds himself, consistently, choosing unavailable partners. 

Don, a talented professional, considers psychoanalysis because he finds himself consistently choosing unavailable partners.

Don, a talented, professional man, in Washington, DC, seeks psychoanalysis because he is choosing unavailable partners. In his mid-thirties, he purports to want a family. Yet, he continues to seek out partners who are unavailable. Eventually, they “dump” him saying that he is too demanding. He worries about being “too needy”.

During his evaluation with a psychoanalyst he comes to understand that, actually, he is excessively tolerant and generous. In fact, he always gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, second chances – and, even, third chances. As he describes his childhood it becomes apparent that growing up he, consistently, assumed a caretaking role with his parents. This continues to this day; for example, despite his very demanding job, his parents who are both healthy continue to rely on him as their de facto handyman.

In contrast to his love relationships, he reports longstanding, fulfilling, friendships that date back to his childhood. He adds that his friends characterize him a “generous and caring friend”. In the career arena, he is happy and satisfied. However, he feels that he has not always gotten the promotions that he believes that he deserves. As the psychoanalyst listens, she begins to hypothesize that he has conflicts around self-assertion and intimacy.

During this consultation, he begins to recognize that his dissatisfaction in his relationships and his workplace share a similar pattern. That is, he says, “good guys finish last”. Similarly, he is able to see that with his parents, he has always subordinated his own needs to theirs. He begins to wonder if this pattern of over-functioning might be a part of his difficulties. A friend of his who consistently “chooses unavailable partners” has been working with a psychoanalyst four or five days a week for a few years is now the friend is in a good relationship with a very nice woman. As he learns about his fear of intimacy, Don wonders whether he might benefit from psychoanalysis.

Dr. Lynn Friedman

Dr. Lynn Friedman, Ph.D., FABP, is a Clinical Psychologist, a Supervising and Training Analyst, and a Clinical Supervisor in full-time, private practice. She provides evaluation, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as supervision to psychoanalysts-in-training and other mental health professionals. Beyond this, she is a board certified, psychoanalyst who teaches at Johns Hopkins University and the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis.

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I provide psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, clinical consultation, supervision & executive coaching. If you are seeking consultation from a psychologist, psychoanalyst, in DC, feel free to call me: 240.483.3530.