11 Common Things People Who Are Emotionally Unavailable Often Do

Men who aren’t available are drawn to me. And I’m tired of it,” Jennifer Lopez exclaims, her voice laced with annoyance and loneliness, in the movie The Wedding Planner. Even though the event is made up, the language captures the agony of falling in love with someone who is emotionally distant in a really painful way. The difficulty in identifying an emotionally unavailable spouse, especially in the early stages of a romantic relationship, contributes to this type of heartbreak. This is why being aware of the warning signs might help you avoid committing too much time or energy to someone who isn’t capable of showing you the kind of love you deserve.
Many individuals find it difficult to be vulnerable in relationships, and it’s normal to be anxious about the degree of closeness that comes with romantic partnerships. It can be frightening to put your heart out there. However, since our current understanding of relationships is shaped by all of our past experiences, there is no one specific explanation why people become emotionally unavailable. “Any past traumatic experience with love can cause emotional blocks,” matchmaker and dating coach Julia Bekker says to Romper. This includes seeing your parent’s divorce or going through a particularly difficult breakup.

This has the potential to grow into an ongoing emotional avoidance pattern over time. Licensed marital and family therapist Nicole Richardson explains to Romper that “people with avoidant attachment styles get uncomfortable when they are close and pull away because sustained intimacy is really difficult for them.” In severe situations, individuals can be exhibiting symptoms of avoidant personality disorder, which is typified by a crippling fear of being rejected and judged. Though it is uncommon, this has a major negative influence on a person’s intimate relationships and frequently necessitates professional assistance in order to feel comfortable sharing one’s emotions with others.

It’s normal to feel annoyed and powerless if you’re the one who has to deal with these actions. The good news is that you can prevent overcommitting to someone before you are emotionally ready or from becoming overly involved in a one-sided relationship by being aware of the behaviors of an emotionally closed off individual. Follow these 11 telltale indicators to see if someone is ready or willing to be emotionally exposed. Although these characteristics are not present in everyone who is emotionally distant, they can offer some broad indicators of whether your spouse is similarly prepared to take the relationship to the next level.

All They Discuss Is Themselves

Especially when they’re initially getting to know you, Bekker says, “one huge sign [of being emotionally unavailable] is if they ask you absolutely no questions about yourself.” If your significant other doesn’t appear interested in learning about your life, it may indicate that they would rather be alone than open to you.

You want your spouse to tell you everything about themselves, of course, but if it seems like they’re more interested in you than in you taking an objective look at the relationship may be in order. According to Richardson, “both parties are seeking information from each other in a healthy relationship.” As a two-way relationship, you should consider yourself to be your partner’s top priority.

They Steer Clear of Touching Conversations

Steering clear of talking about your feelings is a very clear indicator that you are emotionally unavailable. According to Richardson, “people frequently struggle to name their feelings for themselves.” Feelings are much harder to suppress once they are acknowledged. It’s possible that someone who avoids discussing their emotions with you is unable to sit with them alone.

Even worse, they could give you the impression that your troubles in the relationship are your fault rather than theirs. Gaslighting is a typical strategy used by people to avoid accepting accountability for the issues they cause, so you should be cautious of a partner who uses a disagreement as an opportunity to place the blame on you or cut off a constructive dialogue.

They Attack Everyone And Everything.

It’s acceptable to have expectations about the type of person you want to spend time with, but people who criticize everyone aspect of someone else can be doing it to avoid being bothered by others. According to Bekker, “For an emotionally unavailable person, it’s safer to remain single and emotionally aloof than to connect and bond with someone only to run the risk of getting hurt again.” It’s a protective mechanism that keeps people from approaching them too closely.

They Talk About Their Ex All the Time

Talking about former partners gives the impression that you’re still focused on that relationship and don’t have place in your heart for a new one, especially when you first meet someone. If someone “talks about their ex and their past relationship on your first date,” Bekker cautions, you should be suspicious since they can be subtly letting you know their heart is still with someone else.

While it’s necessary to discuss prior relationship failures in order to avoid making the same mistakes with a new partner, your current partnership shouldn’t be eclipsed by these discussions. It’s a clue that your spouse isn’t quite ready to commit to you if you feel like you’re in a three-person relationship with them.

They Are Not Good at Receiving Love

While there is no one right way to show someone you love and care for them, it should raise red flags if you’re giving your partner a lot of attention and they don’t seem to be able to recognize it. Richardson speculates that this may have to do with avoidant attachment or trauma. “Touch and affection can have a political connotation, especially if it has previously been taken from [your partner].” It’s possible that they are unconsciously employing this to keep their cards close to their vest. Because of this imbalance, your significant other will feel unloved and you will feel exhausted. This will make you both miserable.

If your spouse doesn’t reciprocate your efforts, there’s only so much you can give them, and you shouldn’t feel like you can never win them over. Discussing love languages with your significant other can improve your relationship because you will both feel more fulfilled when you are aware of each other’s preferred methods of receiving affection.

They Make An Effort To Stay Free

This behavior is more indicative of a general dislike of being pressured into predetermined plans or commitments than it is of any particular relevance to romantic circumstances. Your spouse may prioritize their wants over yours and only want to spend time with you when it’s convenient for them. This type of behavior suggests they aren’t prepared to balance your needs with theirs and are only thinking about themselves. It’s critical to establish and uphold boundaries if someone is expressing interest in a relationship but isn’t ready to commit, according to Richardson. You shouldn’t have to feel as though your partner’s desires come first.

They Don’t Give You Enough Time

In a similar spirit, you can probably expect that a partner who is constantly preoccupied with work won’t be able to attend to your requirements. Richardson points out that emotional avoidance might occasionally result from burnout. According to her, “Hustle culture can push people to work unsustainable hours and hold themselves to unrealistic standards.” They may become emotionally detached from themselves as a result and rely solely on numbness or autopilot to get through it all. This individual is not in a position where they are prepared to truly commit to a relationship with someone else, and you shouldn’t have to be miserable and worry whether things will ever change. The issue may simply be one of mismatched circumstances.

They Act Too Endearing

On a first date, who doesn’t fall hard for slick talkers who show them lots of attention and compliments? Their allure is irresistible, and their flirtations are effortless to fall for due to their extreme intensity. But after you get past the puppy love stage, folks like these will usually leave you high and dry because they’re only in it for the chase.

Bekker refers to this strategy as “love bombing.” Although their loving demeanor suggests they are initially interested in each other, a love bomber might “really run when things start getting real,” according to her explanation. “They only require a stopgap solution.” This is not to imply that you shouldn’t be flatteried and made to feel special by your spouse; rather, be sure that beneath all of that, there is a true connection—and frequently, the best way to tell is to give it time.

They Are Not Sure They Can Trust You

People frequently fear being harmed when they open their hearts to others, which makes them reluctant to do so. Sometimes, people who fear being harmed turn to controlling strategies with their partners in an attempt to feel less exposed. According to Bekker, “when someone is afraid of being hurt, they create subconscious walls to protect themselves,” and restricting a partner’s options helps them feel safer. However, trust is the cornerstone of healthy partnerships, and your partner ought to be adding to rather than taking away from your life.

They Inform Others That They’re Not Prepared for Commitment

It’s wise to inform the individuals you’re dating early on if you know you’re not ready for a committed relationship to avoid misleading them. People who are emotionally unavailable frequently express their goals to their partners verbally, but then pretend that they could be interested in something more serious, which confuses them. Bekker cautions against extrapolating actions in this instance. She advises believing people when they say they’re not ready or seeking a relationship. “Assume you won’t be the unique one to persuade them otherwise.”

Although it’s exciting to consider that you might be the one to make someone ready for anything serious, trying to force your will on someone would almost always result in damaged feelings.

Only Other Emotionally Unavailable People Are Dated by Them

If you’ve dated emotionally closed people before, it might just be a coincidence, but on occasion, a pattern of unavailable partners could mean that you’re not ready for a committed relationship either. “You are attracting a mirror image of yourself or people you know deep down aren’t right for you so you can avoid relationships and genuine connection,” Bekker says. “If you are drawing unavailable people into your life, then part of you is probably unavailable as well.”

You might not even be aware that you are holding yourself back, even if you have a strong desire for closeness. According to Richardson, “people with anxious or avoidant attachment styles will create distance when what they really want is closeness.” Here, speaking with a therapist could be beneficial in order to have a deeper understanding of what is preventing you from being completely vulnerable. Find solace in the knowledge that you are in control of your own behavior, and that if you want to build stronger relationships, you can actively work on becoming more extroverted.

Even while each circumstance is unique, these warning signs may suggest that the person you’re seeing isn’t prepared for a more intimate relationship. If you find yourself wanting deeper emotional closeness, it may be time to reassess your partnership. It’s worthwhile to try to have a conversation about it, Richardson says. “If your significant other tries to adjust or better, don’t give up. Wish them well if they don’t. This choice, even though it will hurt, will eventually allow you to experience a relationship that better satisfies your emotional requirements.

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