Signs of an Emotionally Unavailable Partner

What does emotional unavailability mean? A person is said to be emotionally unavailable when they are unwilling or unable to be vulnerable or hurt in any way. 

They can’t show up for you in the way in which you want a potential partner to show up because the person (consciously or subconsciously) creates a wall that prevents them from doing so.

Since happy and healthy relationships are based on openness, honesty, mutual respect, and trust, it can be hard to understand and deal with emotionally unavailable people—and even harder to learn how to spot them.

Here are a few signs that could help you understand better if your partner is emotionally unavailable to you.

They don’t open up to you.

One of the most common signs that someone is emotionally unavailable is that they don’t reveal or show their actual feelings around you. And while you may encourage them to open up and be able to express their emotions, they never let their guard down around you to say what’s really on their mind.

They’d rather choose to keep their feelings bottled up inside than express to you what they’re actually thinking.

They don’t validate your emotions.

An emotionally unavailable person is not receptive or supportive when you express your feelings

If you don’t bring it up yourself, they might not ever ask about your feelings. And you will be ignored, or criticized if you do express your needs to have more or a deeper connection with them.

If your partner becomes uncomfortable, put off, frustrated, or withdrawn when you choose to open up and be vulnerable, this is an indicator that they’re not good at handling emotions.

They send mixed signals.

Does your partner seem to be hot and cold all the time? One moment everything could feel really amazing, and the immediate next everything would seem like it’s falling apart. 

This is a sign of an emotionally unavailable partner, and it can leave you completely confused.

Emotionally unavailable individuals act this way because they themselves are very confused. They behave in this way unconsciously and not on purpose, because they lack insight into their own behavior. 

They want to be with you and have that intimacy and connection but when they have it, they also feel suffocated and they get the urge to run or create distance.

A confused girl shakes her head

They’re unavailable…literally.

If you’re not sure whether you’re going to hear back from your partner that day, a day later, a week later, or at all, that’s actually communicating a pretty clear message.

Someone who is emotionally unavailable can be hard to get in contact with, and communication even via text can be spotty. And it’s completely intentional, because let’s be real – we aren’t 24×7 busy. We can spare a few minutes for the person we love.

Not keeping commitments or consistently showing up late is another subtle way to keep someone at a distance. Your partner might still care and even apologize with sincerity, but they’re not ready to prioritize relationship needs over their own needs.

Understand that your partner is putting physical distance between the two of you. If they ghost you and then reappear again out of the blue, take forever to respond to texts, or puts long gaps in between dates, they might be emotionally unavailable.

They avoid commitment.

Emotional unavailability can involve commitment and intimacy fears. They just don’t want to talk about having an official relationship. As long as you keep dating casually, things go pretty well. But when you try to build a deeper commitment, they draw back.

Partners who are emotionally unavailable will often jump from fling to fling because they don’t have to fully invest more than what they’re willing to or comfortable with. 

If you’d like to take your relationship with someone to the next level but they want to remain unattached, friends with benefits, or keep their options open, this can be a clear sign that they are emotionally unavailable.

They avoid conflict.

Conflict is a part of any healthy relationship. It’s totally necessary to work through disagreements and issues to grow. But a person who is emotionally unavailable avoids friction or conflict of any sort.

Emotionally unavailable people will do everything possible to avoid conflicts. They also shut down during conflicts and might even leave the scene, making you feel alone and abandoned.

They can get very defensive.

People who are emotionally unavailable can be defensive and blame others for their problems. They automatically go into a defensive mode when they’re exposed.

Even when you try to address your emotional needs/wants, an emotionally unavailable partner comes back with comments such as, “You are just too sensitive,” “It’s all in your head,” “You are too needy,” “You are crazy,” or “You are too emotional.” 

They are gaslighting you, telling you that everything is your fault and there is nothing wrong with what they are doing.

They never make an effort.

Relationships are meant to be an equal partnership, with give and take and a lot of compromise. Someone who’s emotionally unavailable, though, doesn’t think the same way.

They anticipate being let down, so they don’t make any effort at all. If you notice you’re always the one planning dates and following up after a date, you might be dating someone emotionally unavailable.


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