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Guy seems like model citizen but clearly has avoidant attachment issues towards women - how to approach/help him?

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi all, met him through work, polite, confident, bit shy, great listener, genuinely wanting his clients to get value from his service (job is professional), several signs of suppressing neg. emotions. We kinda connected.

Asked him to catch up for 'strictly business' dinner, he misunderstood and took as date. He was very different, over-confident, well-rehearsed list of 'screening' questions about my dating preferences, humble-bragging, fishing for compliments, careful to not reveal too much. Clear signs of hidden low self-worth I think. He mentioned only toxic on/off 2 relationships of 1.5-2 yrs each, blamed women for being too controlling. At least one of those ended many years ago so seems strange he mentioned it. I also think they were engaged but never married. Possible traumatic heartbreak?

Travels nationally/overseas for work most days each week. Very unsettled, lifestyle seems like endless escape. Has almost no online presence (i.e. social media), we don't have shared contacts, I can't verify his statements. I decided to assume he's a typical 'player' with women in every town - I put my walls up. Since found out that some of the info I didn't believe is actually true.

Attractive, nearly 50, lives alone, never married, no kids. Huge family in US he seems close to, his siblings married for 20-30 yrs with mostly adult kids. Christian schooling, family living those values still. Older siblings and parents all high achieving in work/school, he perhaps struggled bit more, it's possible he felt/was made to feel like he wasn't measuring up to expectations. Siblings probably not still living at home when he was in high school. Yearbooks reveal he wasn't in in-crowd but very involved in extra-curricular activities: various team sports, 2 Christian community service clubs, new student peer counselor, marching band, chess & language clubs etc. Then BA and MA, good unis, financially well off, still plays sports competitively, surf lifesaver, donates to friends' fundraisers, job is broadly about helping people be/do better in life/work. Clearly cares about people around.

Nothing in this screams asshole/bad person - except how he relates to women is in complete contrast! No obvious trauma except maybe the failed engagement or missing out on girls who favored the 'bad boys', or too many girls?

Please give me explanations for this discrepancy? How do I get him to trust me and open up?

We are not dating. I'd be happy to be just friends until he sorts himself out.

19 Replies 19

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi alfa*star,

It seems you are wanting to know everything about this guy. I am wondering if you are like this with all your relationships and connections?

Do you need to know the ins and outs of each persons life in order to feel comfortable around them?

Does he need to "sort himself out" ?

I'm wondering if you use these detective and observational skills within your work life as you have obvious skills to research, deduce, examine, explore and come up with theories.

Maybe life has shown him different ways to believe, value, explore, and experience his place in existence. He might be comfortable the way he is.

I'm curious as to how you gathered this much information about this guy?

Cheers from Doolhof

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

It's all info he either told me himself, or publicly available to anyone.

He has not treated me with all that much respect and the same with other women he told me about. I naturally need more open communication to build trust with people I just met because of my own background.

I basically want to know whether to have some patience and faith that he will open up over time, or whether to run now to avoid getting badly hurt myself.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi alfa*star,

I take doolhoff’s point - publicly available or not, you seem to be expending a lot of energy trying to figure this guy’s behavior out, which isn’t a good sign. The fact that he is 50, lives alone, never married, with hardly any relationship history says to me that there is an issue with commitment/women. I’ve been there, thinking I could change a person, but the reality is that they will freak out at absolutely every single step. If you want to spend your life waiting for a person then go ahead, but I’m reminded of the quote “be carefully trying to fix a broken person, because you may cut yourself on the shards”. I’ll leave it with you but I think that you will find a loving relationship with an emotionally available person much more fulfilling.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Thank you Juliet_84.

I agree with you. I don't want to fix him, I know nobody can do that but the person themself, IF they want to.

And I don't want to get hurt and "played". I do not like the way he has treated me so far at all. So I guess I'm trying to figure out whether that player behaviour is likely going to continue in which case I should protect myself now, but it makes me sad as in all other dimensions he seems great and it seems like a waste (yes I know, waste of HIS life)... I can't just ask him obviously as he would probably deny any issues or unhealthy behaviours.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
And yes, I have my own attachment issues. I am well aware of them, how they play out, where they stem from, and am actively working on them with my psychologist. But changing myself to be able to just walk away without a second thought here is tremendously difficult.

Hi alfa*star

You are strong by posting on the Beyond Blue forums. Its fine to be cautious about a person and their background/health/idiosyncrasies....yet we also have to use our own people skills to ascertain if we actually 'click' with the person too!

Whether a business or personal relationship taking people on 'face value' is utilising our own best judgement

Its only my humble opinion that 'microscoping' a person can take the 'magic' out of any relationship..I have been overly cautious with my past relationships and doing so has only given me high expectations which only made things worse when the relationship didnt work out

Just a note re Juliet_84's post above....Even if a guy has had difficulty with commitment issues he can still engage in a loving relationship if the chemistry works 🙂

Thanks Alfa*Star for the great thread

my kind thoughts


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi alfa*star,

I have some attachment issues myself, which can make us particularly vulnerable to this type of thing. It’s good that you recognize it and are working on them. I think that when you care about a person, your natural tendency is to want to understand them in the hopes of “fixing” them or helping them, which leads you to want to understand the why. But even if you do get to understand the why, it’s not often that you can change the outcome, that really needs to come from the person themself. Rather than thinking “if only they did x, we would be good”, I ask myself how things are in their current state. And perhaps most importantly, are MY needs being met. Some people have a way of making you pour all of your energy into them, so much so that you start to forget about what you want. I’m not saying that is the case here, his issues may be relatively minor and he could just need some time, but just make sure that you don’t lose sight of what you want and whether he is actually meeting your needs, not “he could, if he stopped doing x”. Just some things to think about.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Alfa*star..

I have been reading along with your conversation here..I am a bit concerned as to why you would want to continue to get to know this person, when he hasn’t treated you with respect...as well as some other women...

He might look and act like a model citizen.. but you don’t like the way he has treated you so far...Has he got two sides to himself?...I ask this because....To everyone we knew..my husband was a model citizen..couldn’t do no wrong..was loved by them...but behind closed doors was a completely different person...I won’t go into detail here....

What I’m trying to say..is to please be careful...You are worth so much more then the way he has treated you so far....”without respect”....

People don’t change on the inside....and they only let us see the part of them they want us to see...and can act differently in the outside world...then they do behind closed doors...

Kind thoughts..


Hi Everyone,

Has anyone every read an old fashioned Mills and Boons book (I think that is what they are called) My Mum used to read them, when there was nothing else new in the house I would borrow one of her books.

It seemed that every story had a similar formula. Lady meets man. Lady and man dislike each other at first then remarkably fall in love with each other.

Maybe in real life this is possible. Maybe a person can be unpleasant for a while due to past issues and experiences, then a connection can be formed and a relationship may grow.

Or there could be hassles from the start that just continue.

How do we determine which relationships are worth trying to keep and which are best to leave? I guess for me the point is to make a decision and try to stick to it. If it doesn't feel right then maybe it never will.

Unfortunately we won't know until we try!

Like Grandy wrote, people can act one way in public and be totally different behind closed doors.

Walk carefully, be open when you feel safe and close the door if necessary.

There we are...clear as mud!

Cheers all from Dools