Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

I am reading a book that is helping me to understand my motivations and attraction to Soldier.

It is completely blowing my mind.

I wanted to finish the book before I posted a review but I am literally absorbing every word I simply had to get this post going so that others could check it out.

The book is called: Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl by Natalie Lue (aka NML).

The book describes the "Mr. Unavailables" of the world - how they're usually emotionally unavailable due to their current circumstances (*cough* war, maybe?), past relationships (boy did I ever hear about those), and the way they were raised. I liked this part:

"Most Mr Unavailable’s have at least one tale of woe about a woman from their past who screwed them up and left him the way he is. The first few times he told the story, it was heart wrenching and cute, but over time you realise that it’s just a story and he is so disconnected from himself that he is giving you the watered down version where he has no responsibility and he gets to pretend that he was this totally emotionally available person. You then make it your life’s mission to heal his wounded heart."

She points out that women are supposed to present themselves as happy, sexy, have-it-all-together, well-adjusted, independent people. But men frequently get women to fall for them by playing this "poor me" role. They would never fall for us like that. Why do we fall for them?

Why are we attracted to broken men?

Mr. Unavailable is unable to be available due to fear and that "fear transcends relationships".

They're frightened of being alone but also have a fear of commitment. They are frightened of actually having to face what pain they have. They have to shut it down and see themselves as "Mr. Wonderful". And they need Fallback Girls to remind them that they are Mr. Wonderful. If a girl gets too close, she might see him as who he really is.

The Fallback Girl is also emotionally unavailable and has a feeling of low self-worth. She most likely had a strained relationship with her father (me!) or perhaps had a mother who had problems with her father and/or other men (um... me too!). She has negative beliefs about herself, love and relationships that she seeks out men who will reaffirm those beliefs. She also tends to be attracted to the drama of being in such a relationship because she's addicted to the highs and lows.

She will be attracted to Mr. Unavailable because she wants to feel needed and worthy. What better way to feel worthy than to find your worth in someone else. So, she keeps trying and trying to heal him so that she'll feel like the queen but he's never going to let her in. We'll always put his needs above our own.

It really hit home when she said,

"You need to believe in yourself more than you believe in them."

We equate our trying to heal (a.k.a. change) this man as unconditional love.

(Do you remember me saying, "I enjoy feeling like the light in the lives of people who are damaged."??)

Unconditional love can only come from a place of unconditional love of yourself. We (Fallback Girls and Mr. Unavailable) can't expect to give or receive unconditional love from someone else if we don't unconditionally love ourselves.

I was unavailable too. I had my own pain to deal with... my father's death, the demise of my marriage, my resentment of being a single mom... He was unavailable due to his impending deployment. Its no wonder we were seemingly falling in love. Like attracts like.

NML says about Mr. Unavailable and Fallback Girls:

"Until you grieve or face your trauma so that you can move forward, you will be emotionally unavailable."

I was getting quite a few comments about my possible co-dependence with Soldier. The Insanity of Organized Chaos also wrote a post about co-dependency that struck a chord with me.

The thing is, I now realize I was putting all of my value in what I was doing for Soldier. I was also taking whatever crumbs he could offer me from his broken state. I was content with those crumbs and letting his actions determine how I felt about myself.

I was clinging to the potential established at the beginning of our relationship.

During our weekend together, he told me that I was worth more than crumbs. I am now realizing, thanks to this book, that I now agree with him. What a gift!!

I'm also realizing that I always had a good sense of self-worth but chose to ignore some of the red flags and warning signs. There were many times I felt like something was off. That these Soldier's girl clothes didn't fit. Not that he was being hateful or anything but just your normal signs that perhaps we wouldn't be good together. I imagine that eventually, our relationship would have imploded. Or I would have gotten very resentful for giving up so much of myself under the guise of "unconditional love" and nurturing him.

I really need to trust my instincts. I already knew from my marriage that even landing the guy for a long term commitment didn't heal him.

I was keeping him at arm's length too. I was so comfortable with him being away because subconsciously, I knew I couldn't tolerate some of his behavior here. I could still lead my own life and still be independent whereas if he was here, I think he may have been too possessive, too controlling. I'm pretty headstrong and dominant and so is he. I now wonder how much of a healthy relationship we could have had, if at all.

Still, I ignored all of that because, like all Fallback Girls, I wanted him to be "the one". I wanted to be "the one" for him... the one who could heal his broken faith. Even when I knew, it was only he that could heal himself and me that could truly know my own value.

I don't think he was "preying" on me or even conscious of pulling me in and pushing me away. He did tell me many times that he was emotionally unavailable but I chose to ignore it. I chose instead to hold on to every golden crumb that fell from his heart. I chose to do this. I chose to force this to be what I needed. Just as he did.

I was thinking yesterday that neither he nor I are guiltless in this situation. Both of us were selfish.

But then today it hit me:

Both of us ARE guiltless because we only wanted LOVE.

There is nothing "wrong" with that. What is there to forgive?

I guess we were both looking in the wrong place for that love. Or else we both felt such lack inside that we simply didn't recognize it when it was right in front of us.

I am not even to page 100 yet of this 329 page book but I highly recommend it. It is very empowering even if she does use the term "assclown" to describe some of these men. I tend to try to be a bit more compassionate because... that's just what I do. Ironically, this book has helped me to be more compassionate, both with myself and Soldier.

The author also has a blog called Baggage Reclaim that I have linked to on my "Single Parent" sidebar. I'd definitely check her out.

Here's to the healing the Mr. Unavailable's and Fallback Girls of the world!

I had to post this song from Fiction Plane. This song and the lyrics... should be Mr. Unavailable's theme song. If the voice and face look familiar, its Joe Sumner, Sting's oldest son. And a heck of a nice guy:


  1. I am getting this book as soon as I get paid!!!!!!!!!

    I was reading it and going "yip thats me" and "oh wow thats me too" - really THIS IS THE STORY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!

    I am the poster child for Fallback Girls!

  2. I have heard about this book and plan on getting a copy myself. I wouldn't worry too much about the word "assclown"....I think she uses "doucebag" too! *wink*

    Healing takes time. It's your awareness that gives you the empowerment. You rock, T.

    Keep on keepin on!


  3. Whoa. I may have to check this book out, myself. Sounds like you've gotten some good insight, T.

  4. You are so sweet to share all of this growth with others. You, girl, are one who likes to grow by leaps and bounds!

    "I enjoy feeling like the light in the lives of people who are damaged."

    Now there is a mouthful. Many, many, many people (women and men alike) do this and feel it's their big unconditional and selfless contribution to the world. When really it is almost the epitome of self-centredness. It's still all about me. About how I feel good being important to others.

    This life sure ain't easy, is it?

    Now, when you're done with this book... I'm going to INSIST you get hot on that WOLVES book! Or else I'll give you a spanking!

    You seem to want to get in touch with trusting your instincts. I think it's time you learned about some very basic and strong methods to do that very thing.

  5. I have not heard of this book, but damn girl, it sounds enlightening. I do hope it's bringing you some comfort and because we all need a bit more comfort now and again ...



  6. Sounds like a really great book that helped you through more awarenesses. I wonder if there's the opposite version: Ms. Unavailable and the Fallback Guy. I don't happen to agree with the second part of this statement:

    But men frequently get women to fall for them by playing this "poor me" role. They would never fall for us like that.

    I've played the knight in shining armor role for plenty of women who needed rescuing, and I'm guessing plenty of men have done the same. Men sometimes do fall for women who are wounded. It's not a gender thing.

    On that note, maybe I should pick this book up and see what I can learn about me, so I stop falling for women who are emotionally unavailable.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. wow sounds like quite an enlightening book... I'm glad you're getting a lot out of it and you are definitely worth more than crumbs.

  8. Great post! I like how both you (and the author) encourage us to look to ourselves to figure out why we attracted these types, and how we ourselves were unavailable (to ourselves). I noticed at some point in my singledom that I was attracting either emotionally unavailables or "glommers" who basically wanted to merge with me. Scary. It was a powerful prompting to take a step back and evaluate what the heck was going on.

    Anyway, here's to quantum growth! Woohoo!

  9. Aho!!

    Just Aho....

    (It's a desert term of agreement).

  10. Ah the old I'll help them then they will love me and never leave me. Been there and done that, not a happpy ending. Happens on both sides of the street.

  11. I have been reading her blog for a year now; funny you should mention it here now. It is very enlightening, and applicable to both genders if the lector is open to reading it that way.

    Be well, T.

  12. Wow T! Thank you ever so much for sharing your thoughts about my book! You write very well and have a way of connecting with people, so as I read about your experiences, I was nodding away like crazy!
    "I enjoy feeling like the light in the lives of people who are damaged."
    That is a powerful insight into your relationships and I think you'll find now that the desire to be that light will have dimmed greatly. The whole healing, helping, fixing thing is very exhausting and unrewarding. Thanks again! x

  13. Great post, T.

    I can see how I've been Mr. Unavailable at times. Having survived some serious domestic violence (why I'm a solo-dad now), I can definitely see how that experience made me unavailable to a woman in my recent past.

    I think it also goes both ways. Both of my marriages had elements of rescue-situations (note to self: STOP!). Once you enter a relationship from this vantage point, it's hard to stop. Givers give but rarely know how to receive.

  14. Sounds like a must read for me!

    Thank you for sharing your heart and growth. This rocks!


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