Stop Dating Inconsistent People

emily gough, stop dating inconsistent people, relationship coach, relationship podcast

August 29, 2023

When we try to force a relationship with someone who isn’t a good fit, it’s time to do some serious work on our own self-worth. People often end up “chasing” the same type over and over, hoping they’ll uncover something about ourselves we just aren’t seeing. But to have a healthy relationship with someone else, we first need to recognize our own innate self worth – with and without them. 

It may involve a painful decision to let go, but it’s a whole lot harder and more painful trying to convince someone to choose you.

Today is all about how to break the cycle of getting stuck in bad relationships (there’s even a science behind why we often do). What if you valued yourself so much that you were willing to let go of everything, including the inconsistent and one-sided relationships, to make space for powerful, loving, beautiful and consistent relationships that will absolutely light up your life?

In this episode, we’re talking about:

  • Why you keep choosing people who aren’t a good fit for you
  • How to improve self-worth 
  • Why your partner might be moving at a different speed than you
  • Communication in a healthy relationship
  • Being consistently available emotionally in a relationship 
  • Why bad relationships make us feel safe
  • Why we’re sometimes attracted to the wrong people
  • Anticipatory dopamine and our attraction to chaos
  • How to foster a healthy relationship

The thought of letting go and breaking patterns can be very confronting. I’d love to help support you on your relationship journey – I’ve got 1:1 coaching openings available now. Please reach out by email or DM me on Instagram (@emilygoughcoach)   


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Anticipatory Dopamine (Via @Zoecrooktherapy)

Episode 289 | Consistency Is Sexy As F*Ck In Relationships

Episode 270 | Cultivating A Deep Sense Of Self Worth

Episode 259 | Following The Path Of Least Resistance

Episode 291 | Confident Detachment & Radical Honesty In Relationships With Dr. Jade Teta

Episode 316 | Regret Is Shame Disguised As Maturity


Hey there, welcome back to the Room to Grow podcast, Emily Here and today I’m pretty fired up about this one. We are going to be talking about why you need to stop dating inconsistent people, and we’re also going to be getting into some of the actual science around why we can sometimes get sucked into loving the chase and perhaps even confusing the chase with attraction, and you know the roller coaster of emotions that can come with dating someone who is super inconsistent or not a great fit for us, and these are deep patterns that we can get ingrained in, and I’ve talked to so many people who will be struggling with the question of like why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep dating the same type over and over again? Why do I keep choosing people who are emotionally unavailable, who set my nervous system on edge? What is this and how can I get to the root of the problem so that you don’t have to continue to repeat these patterns? And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. So I have a number of episodes that I’m going to be referencing in the show notes that are really great to go with this one. So there’s there’s multiples in here. I will mention them as some of them as we go throughout, but make sure to check the show notes, because there is, if you want to know where to start on this podcast, I know there are hundreds of episodes. At this point I’m going to be giving you lots that are closely related to this one, so let’s get into this more about why you keep choosing people who aren’t a good fit for you. What I want you to know is that when you try to force a relationship or a connection with someone who isn’t sure about you, it’s not because you love them. It’s because you don’t have the love that you need from yourself, that you don’t have the love you need for yourself. And I’ve talked about that on on another episode about self love and loneliness and learning to like yourself. That’s a really great one to dig into here, because when you find yourself drawn to people who are completely and totally ambiguous about you, it’s because you don’t trust your own worthiness. And if you don’t know your own worth, then you won’t have a strong sense of self. And if we don’t trust who we think that we are and our own sense of worth, we’ll believe that people who are like wishy-washy about us that they must know something that we don’t, and it’s going to draw us in because we want to know what it is that they see in us that needs fixing so that we can figure it out. We will likely only believe what someone says about us, or believe in our own worthiness, our own unworthiness, when we come across someone who doesn’t recognize just how worthy we are and that that if someone thinks that you’re unworthy, that won’t actually really plant a seed of doubt in you about your own sense of worthiness, unless there’s some part of us that already believes they must be right. So one example of this that I’ve heard used before and I think it’s so helpful, I’ve referred back to it often over the years is, let’s say, you have brown hair okay, but someone comes up to you and they’re like oh my God, like your hair is purple. You’re going to laugh at them because you’re going to know no, my hair isn’t purple, motherfucker, what’s wrong with you? You’re like what’s going on? Why do you think that my hair is purple? You are fully aware and fully trust the fact that you know that your hair is brown, okay. But if someone comes up to you and starts telling you you know what terrible work ethic you have and that you’re not very creative and you have bad ideas, and you know why can’t you hold on to a healthy relationship, those types of things. If there is even the tiniest, most microscopic piece of us that believes that that might be true, that is going to hit us straight in the heart. It will feel like we have, we’ve taken a massive hit to our self-confidence and that’s going to hurt. That is going to cut so deeply and it cuts because there is a tiny little piece of us that believes it to be true. And a lot of times we’ll wonder why we’re so stuck on ruminating about someone who wasn’t good for us, who didn’t truly see us. It’s not so much about love in that instance, as it’s actually because we view them as having more insight into us and about our sense of self-worth than we do. And we need to know it’s like this need that comes out of it’s like a drug, because in some ways it feels like the answer to all of our problems. It feels like if we can just find out that one reason why we’re unworthy from that one person, then all of our problems will be solved and we’ll finally be able to fix what’s so-called wrong with us and we’ll finally feel whole and complete. That’s what we’re searching for when we are chasing people who are unavailable, and it’s also consistent in terms of like. That’s a consistent pattern of us is dating people or chasing people or ending up in relationships with people who are inconsistent to us. On their side, they are very inconsistent. We are consistent in the pattern of chasing people who are inconsistent. That’s what we’re after. We are trying to dig to figure out what’s wrong with us so that we can feel whole, and the answer here is not to chase people who are inconsistent or unsure of you, or making you an option rather than a priority. The answer is to recognize your own worth, with or without them, and then let go so that you can move forward, because your value and your worth is innate. It is innate. You do not have to earn it. You don’t have to fix something about you that you may have believed in the past was broken. You don’t need someone else to love you before your worth shows up. You are worthy, period, full stop. I saw an example that I thought was super powerful, and I’ve seen this multiple places actually, and I think that is such a great example of this you gave someone a gift of something valuable, such as a great deal of money or plane tickets for an all expenses paid trip, and they threw that gift into the garbage. You wouldn’t think less of the gift, you wouldn’t think that the gift was any less valuable. You’d wonder why that person behaved that way and what had them, what happened to them, to make them throw away something so valuable. And yet, when someone isn’t sure about us in a relationship, we can instead question our own worth and spend all kinds of precious time and energy trying to convince them to see it, but when, instead, there are other people out there who would see you for exactly the treasure that you are. So then, why do we keep chasing after the people who don’t see the value that we hold, the innate value that we hold? We keep chasing the people who don’t see us when all we really want is to be seen and you are more than capable of moving through the pain of rejection. Because, listen, it fucking sucks. It sucks when you are interested in someone and they don’t feel the same way about us that we feel about them. That hurts, that is so painful, and I feel you on that. That can be so heart-wrenching, but you are more than capable of handling and moving through the pain of it and you are deserving of being with someone who recognizes just how worthy you are. So to move through this you know the pain of letting go like breathe, move I always talk about this like moving the energy, literally moving your physical body to shift the energy Journal, cry, scream. Talk to the people who truly love, see and understand you. There are so many tools at your disposal that you can start to utilize to move through this and to get to the other side, because you need to recognize that it’s not really about you. It’s not about you Someone who is unable or unwilling to recognize your worth or simply isn’t in the headspace to be in a relationship that has very little to do with you and everything to do with them. And that doesn’t take away from the fact that, yes, we all have areas that we can improve upon and grow through and get better at and be accepting of feedback around, of course, like we are all on a journey of growth. But when someone you know actively rejects you or doesn’t see your worth, that’s a different conversation than just not being compatible for a variety of reasons. If someone is just being super inconsistent with you and being very emotionally unavailable and all those things, truly that probably has very little to do with you and a lot to do with them, and that doesn’t make them a bad person. By the way, I want to be very clear on that. It does not make them automatically avoidant. It does not make them, you know, a terrible human being. It does not make them a narcissist. It doesn’t make them any of those things. It means that they are on their own unique journey and the two of you came together for perhaps it maybe even just a very brief moment in time to learn from each other, to grow potentially, and then to continue on your way, perhaps on totally separate paths, or maybe it ends up working out in the long run. I don’t. I can’t predict that for you, but what I can say is that you deserve to be in a healthy, fulfilled relationship and that is going to start from within and that’s going to start from you recognizing exactly what you are worth. This is an opportunity to come home to yourself, to do your own inner work, to deepen the connection from within and to fully step into your sense of self-worth, to remember exactly who the fuck you are, and to own it, you have to choose your heart. You have to choose your heart I’ve talked about that on a previous episode that I got some really great feedback about, so I’ll reference that one as well but choose your heart, and in this case, something like letting go might be choosing your heart. And letting go is painful, it is difficult, it is gut-wrenching sometimes, but it’s a whole lot harder and more painful trying to convince someone to choose you. Let people who want to leave leave and yes, if you genuinely want them to stick around, tell them. Let that know, let them know, communicate that to them. Otherwise, you might find yourself living with the pain of regret and all of the what-ifs. You know? Like what if I had told them how I really felt? Any of those things? Like, put your ego to one side and show up in a confidently detached way. Ask them where you stand. You might not like the answer, but at least it will hopefully be a truthful response. But why would you want to stick around someone who is clearly demonstrating to you that they don’t want to be there? Like, ultimately, yeah, this decision is up to you, but if you’re looking for a healthy, thriving relationship. You’re not going to be able to find or create it when you are in the space of continuing to repeat patterns of being with people who are not emotionally available to you. And it starts from within. It starts by recognizing your own self-worth and cultivating a deep sense of self-worth, which I go into more in episode 270 as well. But allow people to show up as they are and to show you who they are, and then you have to let the chips fall and be honest with yourself about how they make you feel Like. Are you hanging on to them because you like the idea of them or because you truly like them and how you feel around them? You can have feelings for someone, but how do they make you feel? And how do they make you feel about yourself? What if you valued yourself so much that you were willing to let go of everything, including the inconsistent and one-sided relationships, to make space for powerful, loving, beautiful and consistent relationships that will absolutely light up your life? We tend to date at the level of our self-esteem and we tend to date what feels familiar. So that’s why these can sometimes turn into patterns as well, because, if I’ve talked about this multiple times in this podcast. If our nervous systems are used to chaos in relationships, that is what is sometimes going to feel safer than what is actually calm, because we get addicted to the chaos. More on that in a second. We get addicted to the chaos and more than that. Chasing someone unavailable is a form of self-protection and control, because it prevents us from having to get vulnerable and it feels safer. We get to play the victim card by pointing to the other person as being unavailable, even though we’re actually doing the same thing from a different angle. Are we holding back because they are Sure? Absolutely. That’s a valid argument. But someone who is truly emotionally available is totally uninterested in someone who is inconsistent and ambiguous. Let that land for a minute. If you yourself are, if you recognize your self-worth, if you feel it on a deep level, if you are truly emotionally available, you’re not going to be into someone who isn’t into you. And when we keep attracting shitty relationships, it’s because we don’t value ourselves. I didn’t want that to be true for so many years. I did not want that to be true. If someone had said that to me years ago, I would have fought back with everything I had. It wasn’t until I recognized the truth in that statement and actively started working on myself and what I was willing to tolerate from myself as well as from others, and and leaning into my own sense of self-worth. That is when I was able to call in a wildly different, mature and beautiful relationship. And it didn’t happen overnight Like that took years. That took years, but interestingly and I have I have stated this on podcasts over the years and this is absolutely said to be true Consistency became the number one thing I have looked for in a partner for years now, and when it arrived, I recognized it right away Because I was no longer going to tolerate. I made a commitment to myself that I was no longer going to tolerate inconsistency in relationships, because I also was not willing to tolerate inconsistency from myself and I knew what I was worth and I was not. I was not okay with engaging with people who were unsure of me or who didn’t see my worth. Now the other the caveat that I want to add to this, because there’s always nuance. There’s always so much nuance in the early stages of dating. We can be super quick to label someone as avoidant or emotionally unavailable if they’re moving at a slower pace than we would like, but that’s also really normal, as both parties explore not only the context of the relationship and the compatibility, but how the other person makes them feel too. And if we’re going to like, define consistency here, consistency to me is following through in your word, like actions, matching words, showing up regularly, transparency, open, honest communication. That doesn’t mean, though, that everyone is going to be ready to commit immediately and generally. That’s actually much healthier, because real intimacy and trust it takes time to grow and develop. But I want to add here to not to not let anxiety kill a beautiful relationship in the early stages, before it’s ever had time to bloom, because their, their uncertainty could be for a variety of reasons, and sometimes you have to allow things to run their course a little bit, because we can’t always predict how things are going to unfold. Like context matters here. So, to me, as long as there is consistency in in their actions, if they’re perhaps a little bit slower to dive in headfirst or commit or something like that, that can actually be a really healthy thing within reason. So again, there’s a huge amount of context and gray area here, as there always is. I talk about living life in the gray area like there’s. There’s no hard and fast rules to me, especially when it comes to relationships. But what I most want you to recognize here is your own worth, because if you can like reconcile with that piece, that will change everything else. And I wanted to to wrap up here by giving you some of the actual science around this, around how uncertainty can play out in relationships. So there’s something called anticipatory dopamine, and this is another reason why we can end up more hooked on ambiguous, inconsistent relationships than stable and healthy ones. And I’m giving you the science around this to deepen your understanding, not to provide you with an excuse. I want to be super clear on that, okay, but I want, I want you to have this information if you haven’t heard about this before. You know everyone started of dopamine, but we don’t always know about anticipatory dopamine. So dopamine is released when we receive a reward of some kind. It’s also released in anticipation of a reward. But when we’re getting into inconsistent relationships, there can be a bit of a prediction error. That happens. So, basically, we get addicted to the highs of a relationship, even if those highs become fewer and farther between. So think about, think about when you first start dating your partner. You would maybe feel like that rush of excitement and euphoria when you see them or get a text or go on a date, even just hearing their voice, and our brains then start to naturally anticipate that feeling and and make a prediction that that when we get that text, that phone call, when we hear their voice, when we’re getting ready to go on a date with them, we start to anticipate the reward. But then if we start to run into our regular you know, into regular instances of interacting with our partner not being very pleasurable, we still get the initial hit of the dopamine, but it’s a prediction error. This is where the prediction error comes in. We still get the dopamine surge to the text of the phone call, you know, for example, whatever, but the actual reward that our brains are expecting from our partner never comes. So maybe they’re moody, maybe they pick a fight, maybe they don’t show up because they’re being super inconsistent, whatever it is. And that’s when our dopamine neurons then go into withdrawal and start releasing less dopamine than usual, which will not make you feel good because you’ll be in a deficit. So at that point you’ll try to do anything to get that dopamine hit back. So obsessing over the person, chasing after them, trying to get them to behave in a way even trying to exert control over them that will try to get them to behave in a way that will give us the high that we’re looking for. It’s really tough to forget that initial dopamine surge when we experienced it with someone. Our bodies remember that and the roller coaster of emotions can easily be confused with attraction. So how to fix this? The first thing I’m going to say is to start focusing on where you can bring joy and dopamine hits, dopamine rewards, into your life on your own, depending on one other person to provide you with everything in any instance, but you know, including all of your necessary dopamine is a very bad idea. So start doing things that you love that will get you into flow, and use your creativity. Make you feel alive. Anything else you can do like communicate openly and honestly with your partner about your feelings, be transparent with them without blaming them, and start to dig into some of the issues that you might be dealing with as a couple, and that might mean initially some conflict as you work through it, but the beauty is in the repair. So if you can come to a place where you are actually repairing from the conflict that can actually create deeper connection than ever. And you know, I can’t promise you that you’re going to experience that with your particular partner, but it’s something that you can certainly try and work on. You can also make the very conscious effort to lower your expectations. Sometimes, when you see, you know, a text coming in or something like that, that is easier said than done. So I just want to acknowledge that that can be quite difficult, but to make the conscious effort around that, starting to create new experiences together with your partner, go on new adventures, do new things together that can actually, like, really get the dopamine up as well. And I’m going to state the obvious here again, sort of what this whole episode has been about Evaluate if this is the right relationship for you and, while doing so, evaluate how you feel about yourself. What is the relationship with yourself? How do you view your own sense of worth. These are going to be really important questions that are going to help to determine how you move forward and progress. So I’m really excited to hear how this one lands for you. And again, I’ve got multiple other episodes in the show notes. I’ve got episode 291 about being confidently detached. Episode 316, regret is shame disguised as maturity. We’ve got episode 289, consistency is sexy as fuck in relationships, and there’s all kinds of options for you that are all very related to this one. So I would love to hear how this lands. I’d love to hear how this goes for you. I would love to hear how you maybe have broken out of some of these patterns for yourself, or if you’re still in it, like what’s coming up for you when you’re hearing this. This is probably very confronting to hear. I know that this would have felt deeply confronting to me for many, many years had I heard this before I started doing so much work. So I also have spaces available for coaching. If you want help with this. I would love to get to support you on your journey and reach out. We can chat, we can see if you’re a good fit, there are different options available and I would love to get to connect with you. I just always love hearing from everyone getting to create this community and I’m excited to hear more. So let me know how it goes. We’ll talk soon.


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