I find myself googling “Why do I fancy emotionally unavailable people?” Eventually I end up on Quora Digest, whose purpose is to provide “the best answer to any question.” In this case, the answer comes from someone called Ludvig Rose, who has responded by drawing from his own experiences.

Ludvig explains that he spent his upbringing chasing people who weren’t interested in him. “I now understand I did this because that is how my parents were,” he begins. “They were not affectionate people. They did a great job with providing for me but rarely showed any love and affection. And the love they did show was highly conditional. It only came with performing well in school, being a good little boy, and following strict directions. Most of the time, I was put down, ridiculed, and compared to others, particularly by my father.”

It’s weird because a lot of Ludvig’s behavior matches my own. But, at the same time, I can’t say my upbringing was similar to his. My parents were—and are—so loving that it can actually be annoying. Maybe that’s the problem?

If my mum tells me off for not rinsing plates before putting them in the dishwasher, my dad will say, “Annie can do no wrong.” If I tell him I love him, he says “Not as much as I love you.” My mum simply cannot process the idea that I might not be the best at everything, so, if I mention something good someone else is doing, she’ll dismiss it by pointing out that they went to private school, that they’re from London, that I’m prettier than they are. Their love is beautiful, but sometimes it feels like having an oven glove over my face.

“Maybe that makes sense,” suggests Moya, when I text her back. “Maybe because you had all this affection and praise, you think it means more when someone doesn’t give it right away.” I think she’s right. (It’s funny, no matter how hard your parents try, you still end up a mess.)

I guess I really do fancy emotionally unavailable people. Maybe that’s why the longest relationship I ever had was with someone I felt inadequate around. When we went to the cinema together, I would sit in the theater rehearsing clever things I could say once the film finished. And that’s also why that relationship lasted five years. I enjoyed that I had to work for him; it felt like I had won. But everyone has their own things. One friend of mine likes critical people because of the way her mum is always commenting on her weight. Another likes old men because their father left.

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