Article updated 2020
She sat there, all alone, on the curb, crying. She just had it. She had just lost someone dear to her, and now she had nobody – nobody to even call her and ask how she is – and didn’t know what to do about it.
A woman of many family members. A few friends.
And yet nobody was there for her.
She wanted to commit suicide, sometimes. It was all just too hard. She had friends, but they didn’t feel like real friends.
Her family wasn’t nice to her, and her last relationship broke up, even though she loved the guy. And when it broke up, people seemed to move further away from her – not closer! When she needed someone, somehow…they weren’t there.
“What was with that?” She asked.
Why were people abandoning her? What happened to support, closeness and intimacy?
What happened to friendship? And loyalty?
“Do good, loyal people not exist anymore? Or does it just not exist in her world?” She asked.
“I don’t know, I told her. I think you must be talking about me”, I joked.
This was a long, long time ago. I’m still not sure if she was on something, sitting there, on the curb, balling her eyes out. I mean, normal people don’t burst out crying, sitting on the curb like that. It usually makes other strangers uncomfortable. Nevertheless I’m grateful for the encounter, and I think she was the special kind.
And since that moment meeting the girl on the curb, I’ve been both the distant person and the person with absolutely nobody. This is what I think I’ve learned.
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Let’s put it this way. When you’re the kind of gal who loves relationships, who likes being around people, and when you’re the kind of gal who hates small talk and loves to go deep, distant people are a real piece of work.
Why? Because you mistakenly assume that other people are like you. That they also value human connection. That they value bonding. That other human people actually matter to them. That they actually want a relationship. That other people actually want friends. Wait, doesn’t everybody want friends?
Doesn’t everybody want at least one committed and loyal relationship in their life?
No (well, they might, but people’s actions don’t always show that they do).
Doesn’t everybody want a girlfriend? Or a boyfriend?
Ok, maybe on some level, in a particular emotional state and context, everybody does. But not for the right reasons. A lot of people want friends or a girlfriend/boyfriend for the image.
And in reality, are not actually willing to invest emotionally in any person.
Investing in people is entirely different from taking what you can get from people.
Investing in people is entirely different from hanging out.
Investing in someone is entirely different from keeping them as a ‘f**** buddy’.
This is for you if you are tired of distant men and distant people. This is for you if distant people make you irate. This is for you if you have felt hurt by a distant person who you really want to form a bond with.
For some of us, this distant person is a parent! A sister, or brother…
For others, it’s the men you’ve dated. Men keep being distant, hard to get. They never write an email, text or call.
If there’s anything I’ve had to learn, through my work with women, and through my own personal life, it is that many people do not want closeness, for a variety of reasons.
Collecting material things, experiencing “success”, getting attention from new people, constantly experiencing something novel and new, is important to them.
For some distant people…ESCAPING is important to them. Using people is important to them! THEY are important to them. YOU are not important to them.
And you know what?
You need to feel the distance that they perpetuate. Feel the distance that the person is creating between you and them. Absorb the distance. Absorb the pain it causes you, (because if you don’t, you’ll keep getting stuck with distant people until you do).
You can try a couple of times to reach out to a distant person, but if they still maintain their distance, you must feel.
Feel the emptiness that their actions are communicating.
Feel. Feel. Feel.
Take the hint.
Get out of your head. Don’t analyse. Instead, feel.
You really cannot afford to block out your heart’s feeling of hurt towards that distant person.
You are a woman. You will probably always consistently desire more closeness than you have in your life. And even when you get it, you eventually want more.
You really cannot afford to block out your feelings of anger towards that person (you have to feel it!) You cannot keep creating romantic scenarios of hopefulness when there is none.
Because this will make you less and less attuned in relationships.
And being less attuned essentially equals dumbing yourself, and numbing yourself.
The least attuned people also happen to, unfortunately, take value from themselves and show up low value, because they don’t want to feel what is right in front of them, and calibrate themselves to the situation. They don’t want to be sensitive.
Being sensitive is often looked down upon. But I don’t believe that. You MUST be sensitive. Be sensitive enough to feel that person’s communication. A person’s actions communicate almost everything you need to feel.
Feel it. Don’t blindly waste your time on people who don’t want to invest in you.
The fact that you are a woman, means you owe it to yourself and you owe it to your soul (which wants deep union and connection), to not numb yourself to distant people, pretending they care.
Why? Because when you don’t feel the distance they create, you end up filling up your life with distant people. Because you tolerate it. You begin to think it’s normal.
And you don’t like to actually feel the distance and calibrate yourself to the situation, as life brings it to you.
For someone who values connection, distant people can be a waste of time and finite emotional energy, and you need to not waste your time like that – please learn to weed them out quickly.
For more information on weeding men out quickly, please see this article.
There is one important thing to establish here. I want you to know that, just because it is a positive thing to learn to weed out distant people, does not mean that you cannot still love them. And in some cases, you can still try to reach them, and connect to their soul.
But if you want to learn how to deal with a distant person, my first piece of advice is to really, genuinely, think about what they actually value. Do they actually value connection? Do they value someone else more than they value you?
Think about what they need or want in their life right now. And if they are happy to see you or take from you, but there’s no heart in their actions – and if they don’t return your attempts to connect, or reciprocate the value you added, then breathe that in and allow that message to settle into your body.
People aren’t always ready to be deep or close or connected.
People aren’t always ready to be in a relationship. People sometimes do not give a damn about relationships. Some people will always value ambition over a relationship.
Always give value first, and see if they want to escalate the relationship by reciprocating your gestures and efforts. Try to stay acutely attuned to the situation, like you would stay attuned while walking a tightrope, in gale force winds.
Respond as needed; do not force things upon a perpetually distant person. It’s not your job to fix them. Your energy isn’t infinite! No matter how much you want it to be.
Remember that there are plenty of other men, people, and wonderful things you can do with your life to add value to others. There’s no need to get lost in the labyrinth of drama and ignorance, or beat a dead horse.
To help you make sense of the people who are perpetually distant, (or perhaps make sense of yourself), I wanted to discuss with you the reasons why these humans are the way they are.
These reasons leave little mystery. This is why they are distant. If you have any reasons I’ve missed why people are distant, please add to them.
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Here are 12 secret reasons some people will always be distant in relationships
1: They don’t want to be revealed
Close relationship reveals us. Bonding reveals us. People who remain distant in relationships can avoid confronting who they really are, and how they truly feel beneath all of the masks that they wear.
People like this tend to attract and gravitate towards people who don’t challenge them. People who don’t want to be revealed tend to select people who will keep reinforcing their cold and distant behaviour.
Essentially, people who do not want to be revealed, choose social groups where people don’t actually give a damn about them. If somebody cares enough about you, they will engage deeper with you, gradually, over time. People who do not want to be revealed are more comfortable in superficial situations. They don’t have to care about anyone else too much, and nobody else has to care about them too much. Perfection.
It’s not their fault. Sometimes people don’t want the stress of feeling deep emotions when engaged in a close relationship. Emotions can be stressful, mostly when one perceives that nobody will be there to pick them up or validate their feelings.
2: They block almost everything out.
Many people in today’s world block any difficult feelings out. And when one blocks feelings out, they become less connected to you and to everyone else. When one blocks feelings out, their capacity for depth is lower.
And hey, in today’s world, people have tv shows to help them escape. So why bother doing the hard yards for a relationship?
Maybe I’m biased because I have not watched tv in 11 years. Yes, 11 years. My husband, too; he hasn’t watched tv in 11 years. I believe that’s one of the secrets of our incredibly close relationship. We don’t watch tv to block things out, so we go to each other to connect and meet our needs. It’s mutual. And, we see each other ripped open and bare.
3: You are not the type of person that they trust.
This is a continuation of the last paragraph of reason number 1. If someone is distant, but inside, they truly are a loving individual who would like more closeness, then in order to stay close to you, they would need to trust you.
And who do we tend to trust? People with the same values as us. People who are ‘like’ us.
It’s not personal, it’s just how life works….we don’t all mesh well together. If someone doesn’t trust you, and they’ve already decided that they don’t trust you, then you can either prove them wrong by meeting them where they are at in life (and validating their feelings, no matter how wrong their feelings seem to you), or you can accept that they don’t trust you and move on.
Don’t forget that there are two main categories of distant people: 1 – that person is distant in all relationships. And 2 – that person is distant because they specifically don’t want to be close to you.
To trust you, you would need to be attuned to the other person as well. Yes, we are going back to being attuned here.
If you are not feeling outside of your own self, and feeling outside, into someone else’s life and reality, and feeling what they have to go through right now, what their struggles are, then it’s a good idea to consider that. When you feel others, you can be more attuned and create more trust. I’m sure you’d like someone to do that for you, too, right?
4: They don’t want to confront feelings of shame
Oh, shame. Such a painful human emotion, that is so often unnecessary. People these days feel shame over all sorts of things. And it’s not their fault – other people often place shame upon people around them, because they can, and if someone is prone to feeling ashamed, then it’s extremely, extremely hard to get close to them.
That’s why some people have a closer relationship with food than they do with people. Because people shame, food doesn’t. It doesn’t even talk back. And the more people shame them, the more they eat because the food is the mom. Food is nurturing.
And if someone has a pattern of being ashamed, it probably started very young, and was perpetrated by their parents, “friends”, caregivers, teachers, and the environment they grew up in.
By all counts, you probably don’t believe that they ought to feel shame for anything that they are or do in their life. But THEY do.
I wish people understood that there is nothing in this human experience that is wrong. One might be superbly weird (pointing to myself here), one might be an angry person, one might be a fat person, one might be a jobless person, and one might have chosen a bad person to marry and feel shame about that. Yet there is no shame in any of that – it’s all part of the human experience.
None of it is wrong, it’s just what it is. You and I already know this.
But because so many of us have had shame drilled into us, and because shame is just so incredibly painful and easy to avoid – a person might want to stay distant.
And once they’ve started being distant in relationships, that pattern is hard to stop.
5: They value their image more than they value you.
True friendship is real. True love is real. Unfortunately, in our society, a lot of people are living in an image, not for connection. Connecting with you and maintaining a relationship may not serve their ends of achieving the image of the perfect life, or perfect personality.
They would rather keep you at arm’s length because maintaining a facade takes way too much energy, and they can only keep it up for so long. So, short and infrequent meetings serve the upkeep of their image well.
Don’t forget that someone who has had a habit of trying to uphold an image for a long time, will become more and more distant over time, as an ‘image’ is never real. Humans are not an image. We are naturally imperfect and broken. Irregularities are real. Imperfections are real. And somehow, someone made them feel like imperfection, or vulnerability is essentially wrong.
It’s not wrong. But they don’t feel that. So, welcome to their world – but always at arm’s length. Never close enough to reveal their anger and pain and hurt.
6: They are stressed and overwhelmed, (some people are possibly living a life they don’t love and are not proud of.)
I think it goes without saying that many of us are living a life that we were ‘told’ to live. We work long hours, we try to get by, try to fit in and not stand out, we get through the day and we are stressed. We can barely deal with our own stress, let alone deal with letting someone in to potentially magnify that stress even more.
Of course, the truth is, when we trust someone, especially as women, we will naturally open up even in the deepest moments of overwhelm. But that is no less true than pushing someone away because of stress is true.
7: They have sexual intentions that they need to hide.
If someone wants to get sex elsewhere, then, of course, they want to keep you at a distance. The closer they get to you, the more guilt they have to feel if they take their sexual interests elsewhere.
Their interests as a separate human organism are at odds with your interests, and their disloyal behaviour keeps it that way.
A man or a woman who is undertaking suspicious liaisons might well make sure you are far, far away. So that you cannot reveal them. So that you don’t hold them accountable.
Some people care more about sexual variety than having the depth of relationship and connection. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. You just need to respect that that is true with some people, and be willing to accept that sexual variety is what they need to experience (or think they need to experience), and make your decisions about how to deal with them, from there.
You can try to help them see that sexual variety isn’t the answer. Yet, while you would be correct in helping them see that, you cannot change biology. Men and women have innate needs for sexual variety – it is natural – so, without respecting this as the truth; you cannot help anyone nor influence anyone to see differently.
Respect what seems ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ about them, give that part of them a place. And then show them why it’s a bad strategy for the long term.
8: They get super anxious around people and don’t know what to do about it.
People get scared around other people. What if I’m rejected? What if I’m not loved? What if I lose my identity if I enter a relationship with them? What if that person takes advantage of me?
What if it all doesn’t work out? What if I get close to this person and they leave, or die?
Other people can be scary. Some people cannot even leave the house to try to be social. It’s a real problem, just do a google search about this.
People aren’t always distant because they don’t want to connect with us. They are sometimes distant because they want to, deep down inside, but don’t know how (code for: terrified.)
9: They’ve been ignoring the truth their whole life and it’s too late now.
Sometimes people start off treating others terribly, and nobody held them accountable. But even if nobody holds them accountable, inside, somewhere, most people know they did the wrong thing. But the more wrong things you’ve done, the more you want to hide. And hide far, far away.
Not only that, but some people choose to be numb to life a long time ago. And now they have gone too far down the rabbit hole to come back out again. Some people are beyond help, no matter how much love you have to offer them.
There’s one more thing about ignoring the truth your whole life. As mentioned above, some of us are living a lie. What does that mean? Well, here’s an example.
Some people made bad choices and walked that path for too long, and feel they cannot walk back the other way now.
Some people married the wrong person, but stayed there and it’s been too long now to leave.
Some people chose a life and job not because it’s their true gift to the world – but because other people expected them to make those choices. In other words, some people have lived for approval and safety for decades, and can’t cope with the thought that they should have done something different. They should be living a life more authentic to them. They should have spent less time doing this or that and more time doing what really matters to them.
Sometimes, it’s just gone on too long. And when someone’s been living a lie, it becomes kind of hard to relate to others authentically. So they have to relate on the surface – and keep you distant.
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10: They don’t believe in love/didn’t experience intimate love as a child.
This one is hard. For a long time now, the western world has been a society that doesn’t respect nurturing and family. And so, many of us have had less love, affection and attention as an infant and child than we deserved. Some of us have been outright ignored and isolated as an infant. This shapes our brains in a certain way. It also shapes how we relate to people – or if we relate at all.
Some people want distance because that has become their safe place. They never developed a close relationship of trust with their parent or caregiver, or they learned that they couldn’t rely on another human to get what they want, so now, their pattern is to keep a distance.
Having people truly close can bring up a lot of emotions, and perhaps especially so for people who have learned to keep a distance. This doesn’t always feel like a good thing, depending on who you are and how you see the world.
I remember speaking to a woman I know who visibly kept people at a distance, and she did it to the extreme. She lives alone, and has pushed everyone away. I respect her reasons for doing that; it’s not like I cannot relate.
There was once I asked her: “Don’t you get lonely, living like this?” and she said “No no. Lonely is better than angry.”
….so you see, isn’t it true that feeling emotions is a commitment in itself? Some people may believe anger or any extreme emotion is wrong to embody. And this can visibly damage their ability to hold strong, intimate relationships. If you want to know what a healthy relationship looks like, check out my article 10 Ultimate Signs of A Healthy Relationship.
11: They don’t want to invest in you. They’d rather take from you.
Investment. Some of us invest in other people. Some of us invest in separation (we prefer our own success and ambition to having deep relationships). Some of us also invest in fear, or pushing other people away, or judging people, or in the image of success.
It’s hard to invest in people because it feels risky. And so, these people will treat relationships as a place that they go to take value. Take, take, take, and if they discover that you don’t seem to want to treat the relationship as a place to go to take value (and rather, just want to have a genuine connection or relationship with them) they become angry and/or distant.
People like this really exist. We’ve all probably know at least one of them. They don’t seem to know how to have a relationship. They see everybody through the filter of: “What can I get from this person?” “How can this person and their status benefit me?”
Do you think that is going to work out long term? To help you, here are 10 Seemingly Harmless Signs of A Toxic Relationship.
12: Being around you makes them feel inadequate.
Be careful with this one. It’s like the age-old term “She’s just jealous of you!” which is often not true, and just thrown around to stroke a woman’s ego, and to avoid thinking deeper about the issue at hand.
This is the last of the reasons, and it is not to be misused. It is not here to encourage people addicted to the high they get from feeling like somebody else feels inadequate around them.
This is here as a reminder that, for a lot of us today, it is shockingly easy to feel like we are not enough. And there’s a few reasons for that. The first reason is that we are constantly exposed to marketing that enjoys us soaking in our fears and remaining small (think news articles, which lie, and prey on your fears to get you to read their stuff and stay under their influence).
The next reason is that we are often around new people we’ve never encountered before! Walking past them in the street, seeing them on Instagram, or Facebook. People who want attention at any price, and they don’t mind triggering anyone’s inadequacies.
We are also privy to feeling inadequate because of the society we live in.
But it’s not only about the society we live in. It’s about the fact that we don’t give ourselves enough love, recognition, encouragement and caressing. We really have to be our own mother. Caress ourselves quietly, love ourselves, and appreciate that we exist. Tell ourselves that it’s okay to feel. Even the ugly emotions.
Only with this self-esteem can we actually bother to keep close relationships, and intimate relationships where our intention is truly only to connect – not just to, say, leech off someone for safety, or to take from someone because they have something that we want.
This is just to remind you to be aware. Be aware that a lot of people, including you and I, will feel inadequate at times, and if people don’t feel adequate, then how on earth can they be present with other humans? They are always chasing the safety of their cocoon. Or perhaps avoiding any triggers. And, you know what? I don’t believe that they are wrong for doing so. This is just how they cope.
Only, it’s obviously not good for having trusting relationships with others. It is horrifying that relationships seem to be taking this back-seat for many. Relationships are all that matter in the end.
What can you do about people who feel this inadequate? Help them feel adequate. Make this moment about them. Close your eyes and send them love. Bathe them in love. Validate their existence by listening and having compassion for whatever they feel. But also, lovingly (key word: lovingly) hold them to a higher standard. Do not let them use you as a scratching post, to bitch on.
Unfortunately, if you hold someone to a higher standard lovingly, often, this can be when people leave. You want better for them, but they don’t value that. And so they remain distant. But they may have you in their memory. The one who cared.
And the best gift you get out of that is that you purged the weak relationships out of your life.
And there’s nothing wrong with letting go. And purging. Never be afraid to let go of someone whom you know isn’t right to have in your life.
Never be afraid to walk away if that person is just using you, and doesn’t have any loyalty to you. Do you really want to say ‘yes’ to that?
By the way, one of the best ways to protect yourself in love is to be the one to seek an understanding of men. I know that it’s really hard to want to try in relationships – sometimes you just want to give up. I understand. But what if you can become smarter in dating, and protect yourself more, by understanding men deeply?
What if you can increase your intrinsic value with men by simply showing that you truly understand them?
That’s what men truly want from you – to be understood. Plenty of women have taken my Understanding Men course and wish they had done it sooner. I formally invite you to check it out and see if the program is right for you – check out Understanding Men Program here.
Do you have any more reasons to add to this list of 12 reasons? I know there’s more. Please add to the list anything I haven’t. 🙂 I look forward to reading your responses.
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Renee is the founder of The Feminine Woman & co-founder of Shen Wade Media where we teach women how to show up as a high value high status woman whom easily inspires a deep sense of emotional commitment from her chosen man. Together with her husband D. Shen at Commitment Triggers blog, they have positively influenced the lives of over 15 million women through their free articles and videos as well as 10’s of thousands through paid programs through the Shen Wade Media platform.
Connect deeper with her work through the social media links below.