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Emotionally Unavailable: What It Means, Signs to Look For

Amber Murphy

Do you feel that people find it complicated to know you? Maybe you want people in your life, but something is preventing you from getting deeper. How many times have you left someone on read? Indeed, something prevents you from getting the emotional closeness that you desire. Being emotionally unavailable.

You may have heard the term emotionally unavailable a few times. But what does that mean? Being emotionally unavailable is a problematic pattern when coming close to others or having a committed relationship. Also, it involves emotional vulnerability when connecting with a person on an intimate level.

These people will keep their loved ones or partners at arm’s length. They would rarely open up or share their emotional experience. As such, they often leave relationships even before getting serious. So here’s what you need to know about being emotionally unavailable and how to spot a person.

What does emotional unavailability mean?

Typically, being emotionally unavailable means someone is unwilling to share or discuss their feelings. They can be hard to read, evasive, or flaky. Besides, they stay away from intimacy of any kind. It involves difficulty in handling and expressing emotions. Also, they find it hard to get close to others.

Moreover, they are in constant fear of intimacy or commitment. A person who is emotionally unavailable tends to share their desires, hopes, wishes, regrets, or goals. They label themselves as being private. Often, the term refers to romantic contexts. But people can exhibit these qualities with other people in their lives.

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No wonder emotional availability is crucial in sustaining and building healthy relationships. Whereas emotionally unavailable refers to unhealthy and toxic relationships. When developing and nurturing meaningful relationships, taking risks with emotions becomes necessary.

Besides, the degree of being emotionally unavailable varies. Some people may only open up to specific people. But may hold back their own emotions even from people who are close to them. Some people may be aware of their condition, while others do not even recognize their state.

An emotionally unavailable person will find receiving love or other deep emotions challenging. The person doesn’t understand others’ feelings because they don’t understand their own own feelings. Hence, they won’t make attempts to develop intimacy. Instead, they struggle to communicate and are unaware of their emotional boundaries.

There’s also a big difference between someone who’s fiercely independent and someone who’s emotionally unavailable. Fiercely independent people won’t have all the signs that we’ll cover later in this post. They have their own space but they’re always willing to share it with their partners and leave the other person feeling connected at an emotional level.

Emotional unavailability signs to look for

Several signs indicate an emotionally unavailable person. They will generally avoid commitment, struggle to interact about their needs, and stay away from emotional intimacy. Additionally, they are hard to spot sometimes. Below listed are some signs that indicate a person might be emotionally unavailable.

1. They avoid deep conversations

If the person you are seeing doesn’t like getting deep into conversations, that’s a sign they’re an emotionally unavailable person. To make a relationship last long and healthy, deep conversations are necessary. They will refrain from getting into discussions or communication surrounding commitment, creating relationship anxiety.

Also, they won’t speak anything to make the relationship closer. These are the signs you should be aware of. For example, if a person wants to avoid sharing something that can have an impact, it means they aren’t ready for a serious relationship.

2. They communicate less

Not everyone is always present to address your queries, which is normal. However, if that happens constantly, you may have a situation. This is when you should evaluate certain aspects of the person responsible for the act.

You need to know when your partner will talk with you to be emotionally available to connect. Or they make you feel unheard. If someone is there for you, they will speak to you when you need them. In short, they will make every effort to keep things balanced. Open communication is about sharing deeper feelings and providing emotional support when it’s needed.

3. They will avoid labels or commitment

For an emotionally unavailable person, labels and commitment lead to fear and anxiety. For example, it is not a good sign if a person pretends not to be in a relationship but is in a relationship right now.

If you date someone who doesn’t want to label the relationship, things aren’t developing the organic way. But, of course, it won’t lead to a healthy relationship in the future as well.

There is no denying that relationships will take several forms. It won’t progress if someone doesn’t talk about or even recognize the relationship. When a person doesn’t discuss the benefits they can have with their partner, they aren’t ready yet. Instead, they need much time to prepare for their available partner.

4. They seek perfection from everyone

No person is always attractive, sexy, chill, and perfect. Especially when they are with their partners. So, if you feel that you must always remain vibrant around your partner, you are not having issues. Instead, it is your partner who is ab emotionally unavailable partner.

Emotionally unavailable people are hard to appease because they always look for something negative to hold onto it. All they need is to justify their terrible behavior that causes emotional pain. They seek perfection from people who may have flaws. And they will highlight the shortcomings of ending a relationship with their partner.

5. They feel overwhelmed

Most of the time, a person who is emotionally unavailable or someone who is emotionally alone will consider themselves self-sufficient and independent. It is normal to have a little bit of space in a relationship. But when there is a need for excessive alone time, it reflects a discomfort in intimacy.

These people will try to be independent while fearing engulfment in a relationship. They fear losing themselves to the other person. They need solitude and space to regulate their anxiety levels. This becomes evident during conflicts, but certain types of healing can reduce these insecurities.

6. They won’t compromise their time

An emotionally unavailable person’s behavior is unaware of the feelings of people around them. They have a similar attitude toward their partner, physical and mental health as well. Unfortunately, these people won’t compromise and tend to control situations.

If a person you see wants you to become flexible around their schedule, they are emotionally unavailable. They expect that the relationship should revolve around them. Also, they fail to understand the depth of a healthy relationship, which is a two-way street.

7. They don’t know what they want from the relationship

Have you noticed that your partner doesn’t give you clear answers about what they need from the relationship? Besides, how they talk indicates that they are constantly second-guessing. In both cases, they are undoubtedly an emotionally unavailable partner.

More badly, you tend to constantly fear worrying about when the person will stop calling you. As such, it doesn’t make for a productive relationship. People who are emotionally available will tell their partner what they want. So even if the topic is complicated, they won’t hesitate to discuss it with their partner.

8. Their behavior is inconsistent

People who are emotionally unavailable will confuse their partners with inconsistent behavior. They will show that they are in the relationship with efforts only to disappear for some time afterward. Now, that’s scary and uncomfortable.

If someone makes you feel comfortable and safe one day but disappear for another week, the person isn’t available to you emotionally. You may feel great when someone comes out of the rough after some time. But it could damage you in your self esteem in the long run. It isn’t a good feeling that someone treated you like trash.

9. They didn’t have serious relationships earlier

A person who is emotionally unavailable won’t have a history of severe relationships in the past. Although relationship history could become handy in some instances, not having any history of a long-term relationship is a red flag.

It means the person is emotionally unavailable and leaves the relationship before it gets serious. No doubt, every relationship will have ups and downs. But leaving them without resolving issues indicates that a person is emotionally unavailable.

10. They won’t introduce you to other people

An emotionally unavailable person won’t introduce you to their family or friends even after dating for some time. It is a sure sign that you are in the wrong relationship. A person who keeps you from building intimacy won’t allow you to meet their loved ones.

Getting to know someone’s family members is only the first sign of someone who’s emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable. It usually starts with them not introducing you to their friends, as well. One of the most common signs of someone who’s emotionally unavailable is their reluctance to introduce you to their friends since that’s often the first step of getting to know someone better.

What can you do for your partner who is emotionally unavailable?

If your partner’s behavior concerns you, seeing a therapist or support group might positively impact your relationship. However, your partner should be willing to support your cause. The purpose is to bring your partner out of the shell developed over time.

Identifying the potential cause of the behavior and finding ways to deal with it will set your partner free. Apart from that, it will take time before the healing brings positivity to your relationship. So, have patience and work things out through constructive procedures.


A healthy relationship isn’t possible if your partner is emotionally unavailable. But with compassion and little hard work, you can overcome the tricky situation for you and your partner. That way, you can explore emotions and build a satisfying relationship.

Real relationships require real commitment, being open about true feelings, sharing your own needs, and seeing the same effort for connection from both people.

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