What is emotional unavailability?

Have you ever felt like someone you care about can’t express themselves emotionally? It may seem as though they are distant, unaffectionate, or uninterested, even when it comes to matters they care deeply about.

If so, you're not alone. Many people have experienced this at some point in their lives. Well, what if someone is always emotionally unavailable? How can you tell?

Being in touch with your emotions means being aware of and understanding your feelings. It also means being able to express your emotions in a healthy way. In contrast, emotionally unavailable individuals struggle to engage with their feelings and convey them in a positive manner.

Signs that you are Emotionally Unavailable

When obligations loom, you usually retreat: Because commitment necessitates closeness and vulnerability, you might be terrified of it. This could show itself in a number of ways, such as not wanting to make plans with your spouse, postponing dates, or feeling uneasy about moving in together.

  • You tend to be available rather than commit to someone: You might do this out of fear of being harmed if you become close to someone. This could entail dating several individuals concurrently, remaining open to possibilities, or staying out of relationships entirely.

  • You are terrified of becoming overly intimate: It could be because you think it would cause them to feel rejected, abandoned, or in control. When you do enter into a relationship, you can discover that you are aloof from your spouse. You could refrain from engaging in physical intimacy, discussing your sentiments, or disclosing details about your personal life.

  • You struggle to put your faith in people: You may have experienced wounds in previous relationships that have left you fearful that someone may eventually betray you.

  • You decide to commit to emotionally distant people: They have a habit of doing this since they are at ease with people who are similar to them. They might also think that an emotionally healthy person is unworthy of loving them.

Signs that a Partner Might Be Emotionally Unavailable

It could be challenging for someone who is emotionally unavailable to say "I love you" or convey how much they appreciate you. Nonetheless, they are able to show their love through acts and gestures. For instance, they might surprise you with a gift or do something kind for you. Their way of expressing their concern and thoughts for you is through these actions.

  • They find it difficult to express their feelings: This could mean that they find it difficult to recognize and comprehend their feelings or that they are reluctant to talk about them.

  • Their discomfort with intimacy can manifest as a reluctance to be touched physically, a retreat from emotional connection, or a tendency to keep personal matters private.

  • They've been in toxic relationships in the past. This might involve examples of abuse, neglect, or betrayal.

  • They postpone making plans for the future or are reluctant to get married or live together because they are terrified of commitment.

  • They are always busy or unavailable: People lacking emotional availability may distance themselves from partners, avoiding quality time. Distractions like work or hobbies become common.

It is important to remember that not all individuals displaying these characteristics are emotionally inaccessible. There are many different reasons why people find it difficult to communicate their feelings or build meaningful connections. If you see several red signs, though, you should talk to your partner about your concerns.

Causes of Emotional Unavailability

  • Abuse or trauma in childhood. Individuals who have gone through abuse or trauma as children may pick up the coping mechanism of suppressing their feelings. In adulthood, this may result in emotional inaccessibility.

  • Unhealthy connections. Emotionally unavailable people may also have been in dysfunctional relationships, such as those marked by abuse, neglect, or betrayal. This could be a result of their learning that it is dangerous to be open and vulnerable with other people.

  • Illnesses related to the mind. Anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are a few mental health issues that can also lead to emotional inaccessibility.

  • Problems with personality. Emotional inaccessibility is also linked to some personality disorders, including borderline and avoidant personality disorders.

How to Overcome Emotional Unavailability

It takes time and work to overcome emotional unavailability, but it is achievable. Here are some pointers:

  • Determine your triggers: What are the things in your life that make you feel nervous or uneasy? Once you've identified your triggers, you may work on developing appropriate coping mechanisms.

  • Challenge negative thoughts: Emotionally unavailable individuals often harbor pessimistic views about themselves and their relationships. When you notice yourself having a negative idea, ask yourself if there is any evidence to back it up.

  • Learn to believe in yourself: People who are emotionally unavailable frequently struggle to trust themselves to make appropriate decisions. When faced with a decision, take some time to consider what you want and need. Believe in your ability to make the best decision for yourself.

  • Be truthful to yourself and others: Building trust and intimacy requires honesty. When you are truthful with yourself and others, you create a safe space in which to be vulnerable and open.

  • Experiment with expressing your emotions: It is acceptable to begin small. Open up to a reliable friend or family member about your emotions. When you feel more at ease, you can begin to discuss your feelings with your partner or other loved ones.

  • Seek expert assistance: For those grappling with emotional unavailability, seeking support and guidance from a counselor or therapist can be beneficial. They can offer you the encouragement and support you need to build healthy connections.

How to talk to a partner about their emotional unavailability?

It can be difficult to talk to a spouse about their emotional unavailability, but it is necessary if you want to have a healthy and satisfying relationship. Here are some pointers:

  • Choose a time and location where both of you can have a confidential and honest chat. Avoid discussing this subject when you are fatigued, upset, or irritated.
  • Begin by showing your affection and support for your relationship. Let them know you care about them and want to assist them.
  • Express your issues in detail. Instead of saying, "You're emotionally unavailable," try, "I've noticed that you have difficulty talking about your feelings," or "I feel like you're always distant and withdrawn."
  • You should avoid blaming or accusing your partner. Consider how their emotional absence affects you and the relationship.
  • Be open to hearing your partner's point of view. They may be emotionally unavailable for reasons you are unaware of.
  • Come up with solutions collaboratively. Be open to making concessions and meet your spouse halfway.

When discussing your partner's emotional unavailability, it is critical to be patient and empathetic. If your partner is not open to discussing their emotional unavailability or is unable to work on it, you may need to quit the relationship. You deserve a relationship with someone who offers unconditional love and unwavering support.

Can Therapy Help?

Yes, counseling can assist you in coping with emotional unavailability. A therapist can help you comprehend the root causes of emotional unavailability and cultivate effective coping strategies. They can also assist you in developing trust and intimacy with others. Mindtalk is an excellent choice for those trying to cope with emotional unavailability.


1. How do you know if you are emotionally unavailable?

Here are a few indicators that you might be emotionally unavailable:

  • You struggle to communicate your feelings
  • Intimacy makes you uneasy
  • You've had a string of bad relationships
  • You are afraid of making a commitment
  • You are constantly busy or inaccessible.

If you observe many red flags, you should consult with a therapist or counselor. They can assist you in identifying the fundamental causes of your emotional unavailability and developing appropriate coping techniques.

2. What causes a person to be emotionally unavailable?

There are numerous reasons for emotional unavailability, like childhood abuse, unhealthy relationships, mental health issues, or personality flaws. It is crucial to recognize that emotional unavailability can result from a variety of circumstances.

3. Do emotionally unavailable people fall in love?

People who are emotionally unavailable can fall in love. They may, however, struggle to articulate their feelings or build deep relationships. They may also be more drawn to others who are emotionally unavailable.

4. Is emotionally unavailable a red flag?

Yes, emotional unavailability in a relationship can be an early warning flag. It is critical to recognize the indicators of emotional unavailability and to discuss your concerns with your partner. If your partner is unwilling to work on their emotional unavailability, you should think about walking away from the relationship.

It's vital to recognize that everyone is distinct, and there's no universal solution for these issues. If you are experiencing emotional unavailability or are in a relationship with someone who is, it is critical that you seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide you with the help and direction you need to develop healthier relationships.

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