The Frustration of One-Sided Relationships (Emotional Unavailability)

one sided relationships

Unconsciousness is getting caught up in one’s own story so much that there’s no awareness of the reality of the moment. It has happened to me and can happen to the best of us. Getting caught up in the unhealthy dynamic of one-sided relationships is one classic example of such unconsciousness.

We all desire healthy and fulfilling relationships. That desire for social connection is not of the ego but the genuine need of the biological organism. However, the relationship becomes unfulfilling the moment we realize that there is no effort from the other end.

It is disappointing to see that despite our best efforts there is hardly any reciprocity from the other end. In friendships, it can be more heartbreaking than in romantic relationships.

It is relatively easy to break up in a romantic relationship but how do you “unfriend” someone? The prospect of breaking up or unfriending someone is terrifying as it triggers abandonment trauma for most people.

This is quite often the case because many of us lose touch with our core (the true self), which is the substratum of all experiential awareness; the sensitivity, tenderness, and ability to feel, emote, and express comes from that Source of unconditional love.

When we remain identified with the image of who we should or should not be rather than who we really are, we remain disconnected from our core.

One-sided relationships manifest as the other being emotionally unavailable. I have seen this trait even in many spiritual gurus. I was in a relationship (as a follower) with a guru and he would say many nice things, but the moment I wished to express myself emotionally, he would shut me down. Such a dynamic can take place between friends, romantic partners, or any association for that matter.

Why do we get involved with unavailable people? Well, the psychological aspect is beyond my capability to explain. In the concept of attachment theory, there is a pairing dynamic of anxious-avoidant; you can read about it online but I will explore this subject from another angle.

It is fundamentally the gap between the actual and conceptual. The gap is the duality. Actual or What-Is is the reality, as it is. Whereas, the conceptual is a projection of the unreality or concepts on the actual.

We live with an image of ourselves that blocks access to our core or “being.” This image is the conceptual thought “me” that creates the subject-object split or “me” vs the rest of the world. In other words, the “me” believes itself to be separate from the rest.

Just as “me” is a conceptual image, so is the “other.” When we meet people and form new friendships and relationships, we only see what we want to see in them and not what they really are.

We get attracted to the image of them, which is nothing but an extension of our own image. Our own projection. We seek fulfillment through them. We fall in love or become devoted. We feel that we need them to complete us.

The whole idea is that the seeking of fulfillment in any form through the other is a diversion mechanism of the ego (or “me”) to avoid facing itself. Avoid the ugliness of it all. It is the nature of the ego to expand.

That is why anxiously insecure people self-sabotage their relationships. They show neediness that pushes people away. The avoidant dismissive, seeing the anxiousness, shuts down to avoid feeling hurt.

It comes from the image which is an accumulation of past events and unpleasant experiences. Shutting down and avoiding seems like an easier choice than to venture into the unknown. This image is the fear.

It comes down to identification with the images that one has created for themselves. Now the big question. How do I get rid of the images? “You” can’t get rid of anything because the notion of separate “you” itself is an illusion and an illusion cannot dispel another illusion.

All that is needed is the total attention to see what’s going on and the images dissolve by themselves. This takes time and experience. It is not possible to manipulate this process consciously as it happens at an extremely subtle level of consciousness.

Someone said that a relationship with an emotionally distant is like banging your head on the wall for the duration of that relationship. You cannot change the “other” because there is no other. It is only when they become aware of the image and feel the pain it is causing them and others that a possibility of change may arise.

So what is one to do if one is stuck in such a relationship? Well, what you should do depends on your attitude towards life and the expectations you have for yourself and others. Once you get in touch with your core beyond the deepest feelings or what is happening on the surface, there remains no need to fulfill yourself through others.

Please note that I’m not implying that you dissolve the relationship. Again, what you do with your relationship will depend on your unique situation and your attitude towards it. If there is abuse involved in a relationship, one can certainly seek help or move away.

I’m still in touch with the guru except that I’m no longer his disciple or follower. He may have a fancy image of himself but I see him as a fallible human being just like I see myself. The understanding of Advaita (Non-Duality) does not strip away the conditioning but liberates one from it through acceptance of What-Is.

Therefore, I am not much bothered about what he thinks of me. I don’t feel the need to please him or agree or disagree with him. I don’t feel the need to text or email him randomly or anybody else for that matter. I don’t need his validation. I don’t feel the urge to change him.

He is a good speaker so I listen to him without judgment. The change in my attitude towards him has changed the nature of our relationship. The inferior/superior relationship was my own creation – a modification of the image. As the image dissolved, so dissolved the need to cling to another for comfort and safety.

There is no more identification with the person but a realization that the “other” is an expression of the universal energy just as I am.

This awareness itself brings harmony to many of our relationships. Whether you want to keep the relationship or discard it is your personal choice. I did away with many of my friendships that were one-sided, where there was no reciprocity from the other end.

My relationship with people is now based on mutual enthusiasm, trust, and synergy. I keep deleting contacts whom I haven’t reached out to or who have not reached out to me for months or years.

I keep deleting the email contacts of people who haven’t opened my newsletters for months. This way I free myself and others from unwanted energetic exchange. Not everyone is going to match your energy. It is okay. It is a part of the life’s design. Let them go if they want to. In their freedom lies your peace.

Relationships are sustainable only when there is a balance between give and take. And of course, not everyone will resonate with this thinking. Some will be anxious to give while others will be resistant.

But you will find your energetic match once you know your core or being which is the groundless ground of the highest love and the reservoir of infinite abundance. The being is pure knowing. It is complete.

Take a step—a leap of faith. Don’t feel shy. Move away from your story for a minute and reach out. Share something and I’ll respond. I’m not here to judge you. The being that powers you is the same as what powers me. I’m not asking for anything in return. When you feel love within yourself, I too experience the radiance of it because we are one.

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Jagjot Singh
Jagjot Singh

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3 responses to “The Frustration of One-Sided Relationships (Emotional Unavailability)”

  1. Thank you, I can relate to this.

    1. You’re welcome 🙂

  2. sonia singh Avatar
    sonia singh

    Thank you jagjot ji.. my guru is also Gyan Margi, Gurudev Tarun Pradhan.While reading it felt like he had written it. Thank you again.