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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Why Are We Still Rooting For Emotionally Unavailable Men?

If you’ve watched Prime Video’s The Summer I Turned Pretty or have read Jenny Han’s book trilogy that inspired the show, you’ve probably made up your mind as to which team you’re on: Team Conrad or Team Jeremiah. Even though we all know that Team Cam Cameron is the one we should all be passionately rooting for (he’s just so… nice), the protagonist, Belly, is torn between the two Fisher boys. On TikTok, the hashtag #TeamConrad has more than 340 million views, and #TeamJeremiah has more than 180 million views, so it’s fair to say that Conrad is in the lead here.

But why?

Throughout the series, Conrad is either flirting with Belly and leading her on, or completely ignoring and being rude to her (like when he flat-out called her a brat, which was just mean). So why is this man the favorite both in Belly’s and in the public’s heart? While Conrad is playing hard to get, Jeremiah is treating Belly with kindness and being there for her when she needs him the most. Shouldn’t he be considered the better brother? Shouldn’t we all be on Team Jeremiah? 

Without giving away too many spoilers, if you’ve read the books — especially We’ll Always Have Summer — it’s understandable why Jeremiah isn’t your favorite, but Conrad isn’t exactly the golden choice, either. In fact, he’s presented as nothing but emotionally unavailable. He’s hot and cold. In one moment, he’s all in — the next, not so much. Yes, he’s just a teenager, and — again, without spoiling the whole thing for you — he’s going through a lot. The problem is that Conrad represents a type of fictional character that we’re all familiar with: The mysterious, emotionally unavailable man. “I can change him,” you’ve probably thought to yourself while watching Conrad on screen, or Hardin, from the After movie and book series, or even Jess, from Gilmore Girls. So, why are we still rooting for emotionally unavailable men?

Fumi, a lawyer, relationship coach, and content creator with over 500 thousand followers on TikTok, explains that people who fall for emotionally unavailable partners can be emotionally unavailable themselves. “Some women have a really deep discomfort of letting themselves be taken care of by a guy, some are afraid of being hurt, and some are emotionally unavailable because they’re really focused on school or their careers,” she tells Her Campus. According to Fumi, it’s easier to fall for someone who’s emotionally unavailable because it gives you the sense that you’re putting yourself out there, yet you’re not actually risking being in a relationship. 

So if we’re crushing on emotionally unavailable men not only in books, movies, and series but also IRL, it’s important to take a step back to understand if there’s a pattern. Are all your crushes emotionally unavailable? “If there’s a pattern, it’s important to think if you even want to be in a relationship in the first place,” Fumi says. 

Something else that might attract you to emotionally unavailable men is the “I can change him” narrative. Belly did it herself: She wanted to help Conrad open up and be vulnerable with her. However, that wasn’t how he was wired. She was asking him to be someone he never was. “Sometimes people get into a relationship with a guy who’s going to need a full personality transplant to be a good boyfriend,” Fumi says. “It’s very hard to pull somebody off the ‘I can change him’ narrative because when it comes to a guy who’s not a bad guy necessarily, there are these high points in the relationship that make you believe that he’s the guy for you. It’s a tough situation, I don’t think anyone should go into a relationship thinking how successful it would be if they could change their partner’s personality,” she adds.

The content creator, however, agrees that there are situations that can make someone a bit more introspective and emotionally unavailable, especially if they have family issues, like Conrad, for example. “There’s a lot of nuances when it comes to dealing with people. People come with all sorts of baggage and history. You can hope that the person receives the support and help they need, but do you need to stick around necessarily in a situation where you’re not validated and your feelings aren’t reciprocated?” 

The creator started posting relationship content on social media to help young women understand that they should be respected and valued in romantic relationships. Fumi believes that choosing a partner is one of the most important choices in someone’s life because it can impact their family life, self-esteem, and even their careers. “I never want a woman to wonder who she would’ve been, or what she could’ve done, had she not met her partner,” she explains.

Fumi explains that a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person can feel like a whirlwind romance, with many ups and downs, but that isn’t necessarily what a healthy relationship should feel like. More often than not, a healthy relationship feels a lot like a friendship: steady and calm. 

Whether you’re on Team Conrad or Team Jeremiah, Fumi advises that you pay more attention to how you feel when you meet someone new. “It’s important to take the focus off them. You can guess all day what their thoughts may be, but instead of going through these mental gymnastics, you should focus on how they treat you and how they make you feel.”

Carolina is a national contributing writer and was formerly a summer and fall 2021 editorial intern at Her Campus. She's a Brazilian journalist and writer, and she's very passionate about TikTok, coffee shops, and Taylor Swift.