Signs Of An Emotionally Unavailable Partner—And WTH To Do About It

What is the definition of being “emotionally unavailable”?

An emotionally unavailable person has a hard time receiving love and other deep emotions from others,” says New York-based therapist Alyson Cohen, LCSW. It’s tough to understand “the feelings of others, because they can hardly understand their own.” They’re not self-aware about how their aversion to intimacy affects a potential partner, either.

“Oftentimes, they can appear quite socially advanced, but more complex emotions that go beyond niceties are often lacking,” Cohen says. It’s easy for them to push people away who tiptoe toward their emotional boundaries—which, btw, can be extreme. Meanwhile, on your side, it feels like something in the relationship is off, and you can’t quite find your footing.

But, an aversion to opening up isn’t always a bad sign. So if you hear “Let’s take things slow,” that’s not necessarily a relationship death wish

They have not had long-term romantic relationships.

It’s important to recognize that a person’s relationship history is not the be-all and end-all, but it can provide some insight into what their future may hold. If a person has a history of being involved in many short-lived “situationships” or flings rather than meaningful relationships, it’s possible that they may not be interested in committing to a more serious partnership. As relationship expert Cohen notes, “These partners will exit relationships before they are able to get more serious.”

They don’t like talking about real sh*t.

As in, less talk about their latest Netflix obsession and more “Let’s talk about the work crisis ruining my life.” An emotionally unavailable partner won’t seem engaged during these chats, even when you want their ear the most. If you can’t bond over the real conflicts in your life, you won’t be able to form an intimate connection.

3. Affectionate is at least not consistently.

“If your partner is emotionally distant, it may affect your intimacy and physical connection. Emotional intimacy often leads to physical intimacy through affection, compliments, and sex. However, an emotionally unavailable partner may avoid or discourage these behaviors. This can cause a disconnect in the relationship, leading to feelings of friendship or roommates rather than a romantic partnership. Even small gestures of thoughtfulness and care, such as bringing home a favorite meal, may not be fully appreciated or understood by an emotionally distant partner.”

They are not available because they are literally not present or unable to be reached.

“It seems that your partner is difficult to get in touch with and unreliable in their communication, even through text messages. This may be a sign that they are emotionally unavailable and are intentionally creating distance between the two of you.

If they frequently claim to be too busy to communicate, it may be a tactic to avoid intimacy and emotional engagement in the relationship. Keep in mind that everyone has busy periods in their lives, but if this is a constant excuse, it may be worth considering whether your partner is truly committed to maintaining an open and honest relationship with you.”

There emotions are weak.

“Those who are emotionally unavailable may be critical and judgmental of others who express their emotions openly. This may be due to their avoidant attachment style, which causes them to feel uncomfortable with emotional intimacy. They may try to deflect or minimize important conversations by poking fun at you or attempting to lighten the mood. This behavior demonstrates their discomfort with vulnerability and may indicate a lack of interest in truly connecting with you on an emotional level.”

They have misunderstood

“The emotionally unavailable partner may inadvertently make their partner feel bad or ashamed for having normal, healthy emotional needs. They may not even be aware that they are causing this harm, as they may struggle with understanding and reading emotions. This can lead to feelings of misunderstanding and rejection, which can be both frustrating and hurtful. It is important to remember that a healthy relationship should not make you feel unsupported or dismissed when expressing your needs.”

13. There effort was very less into the relationship.

Equal partnership, who? The emotionally unavailable partner just can’t seem to get to the same place as you. “They anticipate being let down, so they don’t make the effort,” Feuerman says. When that person stops putting energy into the relationship, the end is nigh, she adds.