How to spot the signs somebody is emotionally unavailable

When you first start dating somebody who is emotionally unavailable, it can be hard to spot the signs and deal with their behaviour. Texts can go unanswered, and they seem close-lipped about so many elements of their life while blowing hot and cold about what you have together. Their approach to the relationship can leave you feeling like there is a barrier to really getting to know them and they can appear distant and uninterested. Because you like this person you end up making excuses for their behaviour, desperately hoping they’ll change in the future.

Emotional unavailability refers to an aversion to developing an authentic, intimate connection in a relationship. An emotional unavailable person will struggle to engage in the emotional bonds needed for a successful relationship, finding it hard to show their emotions. They won’t open up and prefer the safety of discussing surface-level topics, so you don’t get to learn much about their past or the people in their life. They keep you at arm’s length from their personal life, so their friends and family don’t get to know you well and expect you to be around in the future. Life with this person can be extremely confusing, leaving your head spinning as they blow hot and cold.

What are the signs that somebody is emotionally unavailable?

As this sort of behaviour will have an undoubtedly huge impact on a blossoming relationship, it pays to look out for the signs somebody is emotionally unavailable in the dating world. We’ve outlined some top tips for interpreting and recognising their behaviour if you suspect somebody is emotionally unavailable.

Look at their relationship history

It can be a red flag if their relationship history suggests they are incapable of having a successful, long-term committed relationship. They may have a string of short-term relationships or flings behind them because they are uninterested in things getting more serious. It may even be tough to prise the information out of them because they prefer to talk about superficial subjects.

They refuse to open up

No matter how much you try to encourage them, this person will never let their guard down. They won’t want to share anything deep or meaningful, nor will they open up about challenges they are experiencing in their own lives. They also refuse to engage when you raise your own concerns or issues, even if you make it clear you want their input. You feel attempts to share your personal thoughts and feelings are rebuffed and they are far from a shoulder to cry on.

Everything feels inconsistent

It can feel like an emotional rollercoaster dating somebody who is emotionally unavailable. Their communication may be erratic, and they may never try to instigate plans, or they may cancel them altogether at short notice. It’s all about keeping you at arm’s length because of they want to create distance and find excuses not to spend quality time together.  The more you attempt to forge a connection, the more they pull away.

They are reluctant to commit

The relationship may feel like one long episode of game playing, where they become more interested in things when you are unavailable. There’s no settling down into a regular pattern of seeing each other or taking the next step into a committed partnership. It will feel like they are never really invested in the relationship, and they are actively pulling away.

While it can be challenging to handle, dating somebody who is emotional unavailable doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed for disaster. If you think the relationship has potential, you could tackle the issue head on, having a conversation about what you need from the relationship which gives them the opportunity to try and adapt to meet your needs. If they are receptive, it might imply they are happy to do some deeper work into the route of their issues. Remember the onus is on them to change, rather than taking on this responsibility yourself. If the relationship is leaving you feeling drained, needy, and desperate, and the person is appearing unwilling to change, then it is probably time to move on to avoid prolonging a painful situation. If you doubt that this person can ever meet your emotional needs, then it’s a sign that they aren’t right for you. It’s never a good sign if a relationship is making you unhappy so don’t be afraid to call time on it to protect your feelings and happiness.

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