13 Actions that Point to Emotional Unavailability in Someone

When someone is emotionally unavailable, it implies that he or she has a certain inability to sustain emotional bonds in relationships. Why does it matter? Well, it’s quite difficult, if not impossible, to have a healthy relationship without an emotional connection, and that’s why so many people find relationships so challenging.

For example, let’s say you’ve dated someone for six months. You have many things in common, including great personal chemistry, but something is still a bit off. It could either be the fact that they shy away from conversations about their own emotional experiences or talk too much about their lives and interests and never about what gets them moving.

It implies a certain lack of investment that makes you wonder if they’re even into you. However, your involvement (whether it’s a committed relationship or something casual) goes on, so you just reason that they must, in fact, feel something for you to a certain degree. The good news is that they definitely do. The bad news is that it might not make any difference if they are emotionally unavailable.

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What makes someone emotionally unavailable?

Spotting someone who’s emotionally unavailable can be quite tricky. Plenty of emotionally unavailable people have a certain knack for making you feel amazing about yourself and also hopeful about the future.

But after a very fresh and encouraging start, you can’t seem to connect more intimately, or they simply don’t have the ability to keep anything beyond casual involvement for now. Here’s how to recognize it in someone:

They don’t like planning things.

Emotionally unavailable people show less inclination to commit, whether these commitments are minor or more significant. For instance, you might suggest getting together next week. They seem to be very enthusiastic about the plans, so you ask what day would work for them.

They promise to get back to you, but they never do. Or maybe they could even say something more ambiguous, like “I will pencil that in.” However, when the time comes, they have this amazing excuse for why they can’t make it.

They call the shots.

When you see each other, they decide what you do, which is, in many situations, an activity that aligns with their usual routine. They might even put on the latest episode of their favorite Netflix show, even if you’ve never seen it.

Or, they could ask you to help them out around the house. This doesn’t automatically mean there’s an issue, especially if they are quite receptive when you make suggestions. However, if they never ask what you would like to do or even seem irritated when you don’t agree with the plans they’re suggesting, then it might be the right time to consider if this relationship is really serving your needs.

You do most of the relationship work.

You can’t remember the last time they sent a text that wasn’t a direct reply. Also, you feel quite frustrated that they’ve never even set up a date or initiated any kind of plan. If you are the one who always does the calling, texting, and planning, there’s a high chance you’re committing to an emotionally unavailable person.

Sure, they might enjoy spending time with you, but only when it works for them. However, they don’t want to work too hard for it, either. If you don’t make things happen, they won’t, either. When you’re not spending time together, you rarely hear from them.

They might even take days to reply to your messages or ignore them altogether, especially those that are meaningful. They might even say, “I would rather talk about important things in person.” In theory, yes, we couldn’t agree more, but there’s never a follow-up.

They avoid using the word “relationship.”

Emotionally unavailable people often suffer from a fear of commitment and intimacy. You could participate in relationship behaviors with someone special, go on dates, spend the night, and even meet each other’s friends, and they still wouldn’t want to discuss the prospect of being together.

As long as things are casual, things go quite well. However, when you try to swim to deeper waters, they might try to make a break for the safer shores of casual dating. If someone you’re dating mentions they’re not looking for anything serious, talks quite a lot about one of their exes, has unrequited feelings for a friend, or openly admits to having a fear of commitment, then you know what it means.

Luckily, sometimes it’s possible to meet them at a time when they’re ready to work toward change. However, in most cases, when someone says the things listed above, they really mean them.

You never seem to grow closer.

At first, they openly share their vulnerabilities or describe how much they love spending time with you. But for some reason, things never get serious. It’s quite tempting to make things work with someone who is obviously distant. You might think they just need to find the right person. Well, if you can reach them when no one else would, then you might have a chance. As long as you try harder.

No. Because that’s exactly how emotional unavailability can trap you.

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They reflect your feelings instead of showing their own.

Be very careful with how someone responds when you share your emotions with them. For instance, do they express their feelings in a unique way? Or do they mirror back what you say and add, “I feel the same way”?

You’d be surprised, but not everyone likes talking about emotions all the time. This doesn’t mean that it’s not important to actually take the time to connect on a deep, emotional level. If your partner simply can’t open up, even when you start a conversation and ask direct questions, then they might just be emotionally unavailable.

They show up late or blow off plans.

Not keeping commitments or always showing up late is another subtle way to keep someone at bay. Your partner might still care and apologize with sincerity. However, they might care way more about what they want and have issues restructuring their lives to include you. They’re not ready to prioritize relationship needs over their own.

What if I am the emotionally unavailable one?

Maybe some of the signs above somehow resonated with you as traits you might have seen in yourself or things past lovers might have pointed out to you. Emotional unavailability doesn’t actually mean you’ve done anything wrong. You might not even realize exactly how it shows up in your own partnerships.

When commitment is closer, you just want to back out.

Let’s say that last week you made plans for a date tomorrow. You were very excited then, but now sacrificing your free time is the last thing you want to do. It’s fairly important to take enough time for yourself. With that being said, if you end up canceling plans with your partner oftentimes, you should consider why you feel the need to avoid spending way too much time together.

You operate by keeping your options open.

If you want to be in a committed relationship, at some point you will have to focus on one partner. However, instead of having an honest conversation with your current partner about your relationship goals, such as commitment or exclusivity, you keep swiping, going on dates, and keeping your eyes open, thinking the grass is greener on the other side.

You worry about losing yourself in a relationship.

If you’re extremely independent, you might fear that getting closer to a romantic partner might involve losing that independence. Maybe you want to do things your own way, on your schedule and don’t want to change your life to fit someone else’s. There’s really nothing wrong with that, but it can still make you less available. In a healthy, good relationship, partners find a way to balance

Trust doesn’t come easy for you.

If someone has betrayed you in the past, you might want to avoid exposing your vulnerabilities to anyone else. You might even prefer keeping your emotions and thoughts locked down so no one can weaponize them against you. When a partner urges you to open up and discuss your feelings, you respond by closing yourself or changing the subject.

There’s much more on this subject, so we highly recommend you read “Emotional Unavailability: Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap” by Bryn Collins.

If you found this article insightful, here’s what you should read next: 10 Good Habits To Become More Attractive and Desirable To Others




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