Want to go down the Emotionally Unavailable rabbit hole? Check out:
Emotionally unavailable people can be difficult to spot if we don’t know the signs we are looking for.
Someone who is EU (emotionally unavailable) may still desire all the attractions of a casual or even committed relationship, however, they will not be willing or capable of connecting emotionally.
Basically, being emotionally unavailable means that the person is not interested in love or exchanging emotions on a deeper level.
The physical side of the relationship, along with the intellectual and affectionate side, may all be perfectly aligned, however the emotional aspect of the relationship will be almost non-significant.
An EU will very likely be unwilling to commit; not just to the emotional side, they will unlikely commit to any other aspect of the relationship either. They will be very reluctant to move the relationship on to the next level, even if it is just in the very beginning stages.
Simplified, an EU will not be in a position to allow themselves to fall in love and they will struggle to “show up” and be accountable in the relationship.
Despite all of the above, a relationship with an EU can still be amazing—as long as both people in the relationship are not looking for anything serious.
The good thing about someone who is EU is that very often they will be aware of this, and make it very clear from the outset. And if they don’t speak it verbally, their actions will do the talking.
The trouble often happens when one person sees that as a challenge, and they think they can be the one who can change their mind and charm them into a deeper relationship.
All too often the signs are all there, but people choose to ignore them, turning a blind-eye and thinking that the person is just playing hard-to-get and can be easily swayed.
Here is a tip: If someone is playing hard to get—it’s usually because they are hard to get. There will often be deeper underlying issues such as trust or fear that will be preventing them from moving closer to the relationship.
It may just be that the person is at a stage where they are not ready for anything serious and want to play the field for a while and be involved in something light-hearted. If this is the case and they make their agenda clear to the other person, the EU person cannot be held responsible if heart-break ensues when the one wanting a relationship realises they meant what they said.
The tricky bit is defining the difference between someone who is emotionally unavailable and someone who is secure and confident.
At first glance both can seem one and the same. A secure and confident person will not be dependent on the relationship for emotional needs. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t want to be involved emotionally.
The main difference between the two is the secure and confident person will be willing to be honest from the beginning about what their intentions are. This doesn’t mean that they will pour their heart and soul out about what it is they want from the relationship, it just means they will not be game-playing and will be willing to communicate openly when asked about their intentions.
Very often an EU person is demonized and called childish or a game-player when it isn’t always true. This may be due to the fact that many who are not ready for emotional connections send out mixed messages. One minute they can appear loving and attentive while the next cold and distant. We mustn’t forget that just because someone doesn’t want the emotional side, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in all the other perks of a relationship.
They may be the perfect company, amazing in bed and pay all the compliments under the sun. However, when it comes to feelings and emotions, the one-way valve closes. They won’t really be interested in receiving them and they definitely won’t be interested in giving them out.
There is also the case of “he/she’s just not that into you.” Which can be a painful pill to swallow. It may be nothing to do with the person’s stage in life, but more to do with the person they are in a relationship with when it comes to opening and closing emotional barriers. Again, the proof is always, always in the words and actions. With an open eye and mind it will be very easy to pinpoint exactly what someone’s intentions are. We sometimes just need to take off the rose tints to be able to see it.
When a relationship has one or more person who is EU all expectations that may normally be in place should be dropped. Whoever chooses to continue a relationship like this has a very high chance of being hurt and left feeling used, dazzled and confused. Sometimes, the most difficult part of this will be the rejection and the effect it has on self-esteem and self-worth. However, it is pointless feeling personally slighted in any way. Either the EU person is just not ready for a relationship, or just does not feel that the relationship is right for them.
Either way, we shouldn’t feel rejected if we are not “the one” anyone else is looking out for. Everyone is different and each person has their own triggers as to what they find attractive about a person. We should never take it as a personal injury when someone does not want an emotional relationship as there are so many variables that go into creating a match, it makes sense that we aren’t going to be suited and make connections with everyone.
If we feel our self-esteem is affected in any way, it is not the other person’s responsibility or fault, it is just a sign that we need to take care of it and do a little more work on loving ourselves. Then, we really won’t be caring if someone is or isn’t seeing us as a “perfect partner” as we will already have enough love for ourselves, without requiring it from someone else. Anyone else’s love should be a bonus—not a necessity.
Here is a list of signs that someone could be emotionally unavailable:
They are already in a relationship or very recently separated.
They’ve had a very traumatic past relationship or bitter divorce.
They have a preference for long distance relationships.
Avoids intimate questions about the relationship.
Secretive about their personal life.
Does not like to be questioned or to have confrontation in any way.
Backs away when the relationship starts to develop, then will bounce back and then back away again.
The relationship appears to suit the EU needs far more than the other person.
They are seeing more than one person at a time.
They rarely commit to future dates or future arrangements.
Not willing to meet their partner’s family and friends or makes excuses at the last minute.
Regularly takes a long time to respond to texts or phone calls (if at all).
Does not want to commit to changing the status of the relationship, i.e., boyfriend-girlfriend, steady, engaged, etc.
Always wants to text or email over phone calls.
Unreliable and will often cancel at the last minute.
The relationship seems to focus more on the physical side than anything else.
They are still struggling to move on from, and let go of, their ex.
After sex they quickly make excuses to leave or back off for a short while afterwards
May just disappear from time-to-time with no prior warning or explanation.
May be misleading with words and actions, e.g., says one thing but then does the complete opposite.
They use their past as reasons for keeping their distance.
Does not want to be connected on any social media sites.
Really keen one minute and keeps things at an arms length the next.
Always seems to be a million miles away, struggles to remain focused and in the present moment.
Their whole focus is on themselves, they rarely have regard for anyone else’s thoughts, feelings or emotions.
Enjoys being chased and pursued but is very rarely the chaser.
The relationship is all on their terms, when dates are planned, phone calls are answered and how fast or slow the relationship moves.
The relationship feels more like “friends with benefits.”
Appears complex and difficult to read—constantly keeps their partner questioning things.
They back right off if someone appears too keen or comes on too strong.
It’s also important to remember that just because someone isn’t available emotionally for a relationship, it does not mean that they are the bad boy/girl. It often simply means they’ve had emotionally exhausting experiences and they just want to keep things light for a while…at the very least at the beginning of the relationship.
It is possible for someone to move from EU to a committed relationship, however, they will not want to be pushed. The progression will happen in their own time as they process whatever it is that is holding them back.
Trying to manipulate or pressure someone into committing before they are ready will very likely have an adverse reaction. They may back off completely or stay, but be very unhappy—and emotionally unavailable.
It is far better to remove all expectation and judgements away from the person and either give them the space needed to breathe so that they can go through the motions, or to allow them to find the space on their own, or with someone else who may be willing to accept a relationship with someone who is closed emotionally.
An EU can be charming, fun to be around, interesting, physically/sexually compatible and so much more. While it can be frustrating that everything else seems in place and the emotional side is not openly available, we always have a choice as to whether to stay or remain in this type of relationship. We should not put down, blame or force someone out from their cave before they are ready and willing to take the steps. In doing so we will push them further in and possibly even have the door slammed in our face.
The ironic thing here is that often two emotionally unavailable people attract without even realising. It is always worthwhile to look at why we are attracting this type of relationship in the first place—unless, without even realising it we find out that we are also emotionally available ourselves.
We cannot change someone else; they will change for themselves when they are ready. The best thing we can do is keep an eye out for the signs of an EU, recognise what it is we are getting into and if we need more than what we are being offered we have the choice to break off the relationship and walk away—at least until they are ready to open up (which may or may not ever happen). More importantly than trying to change anything about anyone else, we should be focusing on ourselves and what it is that we are, or aren’t, looking for and discovering why we attract to people who are not willing to emotionally exchange.
These types of relationships suit many people, and that’s great, however, if they cause discomfort, upset and trauma then it’s time to look at, not what they are doing, but what we are doing by staying with someone we aren’t compatible with. When we are constantly focusing outwards we start to believe that other people are responsible for our pain. It is our choice who we have around us and if we attract someone who is not able or willing to emotionally invest in a relationship we need to look at why we are also allowing the interaction to continue and affect our self-worth.
No one else is responsible for our self-esteem, happiness or worth and if any of these things are low, all these relationships will do is validate the foolish things we’ve been feeding ourselves so we continue to believe we have no value and are not capable of receiving love.
Basically, the relationship with an EU is like a mirror—we attract whatever it is we are reflecting out. It is up to us to hold up our own mirror so we can take a look at why we feel undervalued in the first place and then we can do the work required to heal, soothe and seal any wounds. We will then have less focus on what it is someone else is offering as we will have enough peace and love within ourselves to see us through. We can choose to either accept a person as they are, or attract a relationship where we give and receive love in a fairly equal and constant flow.
There’s always that little notion of wanting what we can’t have. However, we must always remember that often what we want isn’t actually what we need. Especially when it comes to relationships.
We should accept what is meant for us and let go of what isn’t. Then, we can either move on, or let the other person move on too so that we can discover what is waiting for us.
The one simple thing you can always do that works every time if things are tough in your relationship:
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Chris Marchant