Do you keep finding yourself attracting emotionally unavailable partners? Maybe it’s a history of relationships in which you never really felt as though you would get out as much as you put in. Perhaps it’s one recent date where it just sort of clicked and you realized they weren’t into it the same way you were. And, dear friend, if you think you might, this very second, be into someone who seems emotionally unavailable, I urge you to consider my advice and read down to the very last sentence.
To be emotionally unavailable means to maintain a barrier, a distance, between your self and others. Sometimes this can be a physical barrier - they never let you get too close, hug too tightly or spend all that much time with others in a one-on-one settting. It can also be mental and emotional, and show in the way that someone avoids serious or meaningful conversation, speaks in non-committal language or appear to be evasive. This type of behaviour, particularly in a romantic relationship, can be incredibly frustrating and even detrimental.
First, I want to let you know that you are totally, 100%, absolutely not alone in this. Emotional unavailability is a growing cause of dating and relationship difficulties and can be seen in both male and female partners. In this post, we’ll refer to the partner as “he,” but trust me when I say that men often face this same difficulty and the “what to do” portion of today’s post easily speaks to both genders. Ready? Here we go.
1. Acknowledge the Unavailability
One of the hardest situations to deal with for many daters and partners is having to face the reality that the person you like (or even love) isn’t emotionally available. However, in order to live your most authentic, fulfilling life, it’s got to happen. Your first step, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is to fully and completely acknowledge the person you’re interested in is simply not emotionally available - and that it’s truly beyond your control.
No matter how invested a partner you may be, or want to be, it’s highly unlikely to have a new found effect on the other person’s ability to engage especially if they have been this way right from the beginning. People can go through the bulk of their lives avoiding emotional engagement, whether they realize it or not, and others can develop this unavailability over time and through past experiences. Know, my friend, that you deserve deep, engaged and full love in your life and that emotional unavailability will not offer any of those things.
2. Understand Why the Attraction is there
This may be your first experience with an emotionally unavailable person, but it may also be your second or third. If you’ve noticed a pattern in your love life like this, there isn’t a better time than now to step back, take a breath and allow your mind and heart to understand why it’s happening.
There are many reasons why you may find yourself attracted to someone who isn’t truly available, but the most common three reasons are these: you may not have fully healed from a past hurtful experience, you yourself may not truly be ready for a real relationship or you could even be carrying parent-child dynamics through to adulthood. Think back to your past - to how often you vied for your parents’ attention or affection, to your first love and your last breakup. Be real and be honest with yourself about these memories. Ask yourself, “What past experiences or feelings keep pushing me in this direction?” You are naturally going to be attracted to people who you think or hope will change and as ironic as it is, you may actually find comfort in re-creating your childhood experience even if it's not what you wanted. Once you have the answer, it’s time to take action.
3. Take an Active Approach to Avoiding Unavailability
A key approach to finding someone who can authentically return your feelings comes down to knowing how to recognize traits of unavailable partners. Luckily, there are key, easy-to-spot traits that you can begin watching for straight away. Whether you recognize these traits within an online dating profile, during a first date or early on into a relationship, knowing how to spot them and what they mean will allow you to take control over finding a worthy and fulfilling partner.
Look out for people who criticize the emotions of you and others. Perhaps they feel you often overreact or you can see that emotions make them uncomfortable. Another telling sign is when it’s clear someone isn’t interested in working on their own development in a meaningful, lasting way. They may have a very laissez-faire attitude towards life and may not put effort into developing meaningful connections throughout their world - romantic, professional, family and otherwise. At the same time, these same people may seek to surround themselves with people. They might not feel totally comfortable spending time alone. This can be a signal that someone wants to keep themselves occupied and avoid certain emotions, issues or areas of life.
The power to take control of your love life and your path to finding a meaningful, fulfilling partnership is in your hands. Emotional unavailability is something that must be worked on and overcome as an individual - it can be extremely difficult and even damaging (not only to the other person, but to your own self-esteem and expectations of love) to try and force it within a relationship.
To your authenticity,