The “emotionally-unavailable” man or woman or “EU” as I like to call it, is probably the biggest issue we deal with in the dating world.
The term “emotionally unavailable” usually refers to people who create barriers between themselves and others in an effort to avoid emotional intimacy. Emotional unavailability stems from a lot of different things, but no matter where it stems from, it always poses issues in forming lasting relationships.
A relationship where both partners are “all-in” is tough enough. But when you’re dealing with someone who isn’t even “halfway in,” things are a lot harder.
You’re committed to being vulnerable, putting yourself out there, getting to know the person and possibly forming a great relationship—and they aren’t. I recently tried dating one of these and it wasn’t just frustrating on every level, but it left me with trust issues: specifically, my ability to trust my own judgement about who is worth my time and who isn’t. (He wasn’t.)
These are some tell-tale signs that you’re beating your head against the wall with an emotionally unavailable person. Heed the warning.
1. They’ve been in very few, if any, long-term relationships.
This is a red flag. If they haven’t been able to sustain anything that lasts more than a few months, it’s normally because they can’t open up or don’t want to commit to anyone long enough to form that emotional connection. If they’re in their 20s, they should have had at least one long-term relationship by now. If they’re in their 30s, a minimum of three. Anything less than that, and you may want to ask them why they think they haven’t been able to sustain a long-term relationship, especially if they date quite a bit.
2. They’re non-committal about everything, especially making plans.
You try to make plans with them, and you always get a “Maybe. Let me get back to you.” Their schedule is always “so busy.” They can’t commit to getting together with you a month from now because they just “don’t know what will be going on by then.” These people live “in the moment” and there’s nothing wrong with that. For them. For you, it will never work, especially if you’re looking for someone who actually makes you feel special enough to make plans to see you.
3. They’re physically unavailable.
They like to text more than talk. Talking would require an actual emotional connection. And when you do text them, they get back to you hours or days later (if they respond at all). It’s hard to figure out exactly what they’re doing other than, “They’ve just been soooo busy!” Emotionally available people are just that…available. We’re all busy. Using the excuse that you’re too busy to even have a phone conversation makes you EU in my book.
4. They are typically all about sex, but not much else.
They tell you how important sex is to them, but never say that “feeling emotionally connected” is important. They have no problem sleeping with you, but seem to have lots of problems talking to you or spending time with you in any other way. If you’ve gotten to #4, and haven’t run already, you’re braver than most.
5. Everything is about them.
They may come across in the beginning as if they care about you and will even go out of their way to spend time with you, but that lasts for only a short time. They love the chase, and once they know they’ve reeled you in, they lose interest. You’re no longer a challenge.
If you want to see them, it will start to be on their terms, when they want, and always when it’s convenient for them or won’t in any way disrupt their routine. We all have schedules and routines, and dating isn’t always convenient. But someone who is emotionally available puts themselves out there a little and tries to work with you.
6. They can’t go deep.
When you’re first dating, small talk is the norm as you get to know each other. But after a few dates, they should be able to delve into some deeper topics….how they feel about important life things, their core values, past loves they’ve had and how they felt when it ended, what moves and inspires them.
If you’re finding that it’s like pulling teeth to get them to open up about anything, they’re EU. They either don’t feel comfortable getting into deep intimate feelings or they simply don’t feel them. If they mention that people who know them complain about this very thing, they are for sure emotionally unavailable.
As frustrating as it is to date an EU person, it’s important to know that at the core of all emotionally unavailable people, is the belief deep down, they somehow don’t measure up and carry a real fear of intimacy.
They think eventually they’re going to disappoint the person they’re with so they don’t even try. They remain distant and disengaged so the relationship never develops into anything serious. That way they don’t get hurt and they can assure you won’t get hurt either, when in reality, everyone gets hurt.
If we can’t put ourselves out there, we don’t reap the rewards of deep connections with people or finding love. When you really care about someone, it can be tough to cut ties even when you see the signs you’re with an emotionally unavailable partner.
But there are plenty of amazing men and women out there who are emotionally available. Don’t settle for an emotionally unavailable one. Have compassion for them, let them go and move on. You deserve a whole lot better.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman