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What Does It Mean to Be Emotionally Unavailable? 19 Signs & Fixes

So, what does it mean to be emotionally unavailable? Is it really a thing, or it is just an excuse to avoid talking about how you feel?what does it mean to be emotionally unavailable

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable in reality? Do you often find yourself dating someone who just won’t tell you how they feel? They hold everything inside and you’re left guessing? It’s frustrating, right?

You try to have a conversation and get them to open up, but even that brings zero results your way.

The truth is that not everyone is openly emotional, and some people are a little more held back. This can be for a variety of different reasons; it can be because of a bad experience in a past relationship, a negative upbringing, shyness, low confidence, or it can just be that they don’t really like to share how they feel verbally and prefer to use actions instead. Remember, we all have a different love language!

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable?

If you’re looking for some psychological definition, you’re going to struggle to find one.

Emotional unavailability isn’t a standard psychological term, rather it’s a description of how a particular person acts or reacts. 

Someone who is emotionally unavailable is extremely difficult to read. They’re a closed book, they don’t give anything away. In addition, they can be a bit flakey, passive, and they don’t want to engage in conversations that are related to feelings. If this type of conversation crops up, they’ll change the subject or close it down and walk away. 

Why are people emotionally distant in a relationship?

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable in a relationship and why do they behave this way? This can be for two reasons.

Firstly, it can be that someone isn’t normally emotionally closed off, but for some reason, they’ve started acting in that way. Perhaps they’re struggling with stress, something has happened at work that has preoccupied their mind, or they’re feeling hurt, and hiding their emotions is the only way they know how to deal with it. It might also be that they feel that you won’t pay attention to them, so what is the point in sharing how they feel?

The other reason is that this is someone who has never been great at explaining how they feel. They prefer to show you through actions, such as cooking you a meal or checking you got home safely, but they aren’t comfortable with putting those feelings into words. 

Of course, a person who is emotionally unavailable is often someone who doesn’t want to commit or someone who finds commitment difficult. In this case, a past bad experience is often at the heart of it. 

The most frustrating signs of emotional unavailability 

If you feel like you’re emotionally unavailable, or have a partner who seems closed off completely and doesn’t try to emotionally connect with you, ask yourself if you see these signs in your partner or in the relationship.

If you want to know what it means to be emotionally unavailable, chances are, you’ll see a lot of these signs.

1. They don’t communicate well

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable? To have a huge dislike for communication! A person who is emotionally unavailable is always wary that a conversation will turn towards something emotionally-linked.

They don’t like revealing too many details about themselves, and they prefer to keep everything lighthearted and easy to pass off as a joke. 

2. Deep conversations end in a change of subject

If you try to have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone who is emotionally unavailable, you’re just going to end up extremely annoyed and frustrated.

They will change the subject often, and the more you try to steer it back on track, they’ll just cut the conversation dead and walk away. 

3. They often need space and feel smothered

Emotionally unavailable people aren’t going to spend long weekends in bed with you, talking about the past and planning the future. They will feel smothered and suffocated by such a situation.

Instead, they will flit in and out of your life.

One minute they’ll be there, and the next you won’t see them for a few days. They need space, and they don’t enjoy being around other people for too long at a time, even those they care about deep down. 

4. They don’t want to put a label on a relationship

Many emotionally unavailable people are very hard to pin down and don’t like to commit. As a result, they avoid putting any type of relationship label in place because that pins them down.

They prefer casual relationships that they can move in and out of, and that may not be what you’re looking for. Learning what does it mean to be emotionally unavailable will help you to avoid becoming stuck in love with someone who doesn’t want the same deep connection that you crave. 

5. They’re emotionally flakey

One minute they’re blowing hot and the next they’re on freezer mode. Emotionally unavailable people are extremely flakey and you’ll never know what to expect from them next.

As a result, the relationship can often feel like a rollercoaster of emotions for you; when they show you love and attention, you adore it, but when they blow cold, you feel lost. Many people become hooked on those who are emotionally unavailable because of the high when they do show attention. 

6. You never feel like you know what they want from you or where you stand

You’re never going to be 100% sure where you stand with someone who is emotionally closed off.

They’re not going to sit down and tell you how they feel about you, and you’re going to have to piece the puzzle together by yourself. Of course, that could lead you to incorrect assumptions.

You won’t know what they want from you and whether they’re on the same page. They’re simply very evasive when it comes to communication and emotional chats in particular. 

7. They rarely drop everything for you

Emotionally unavailable people aren’t cold or hurtful people and underneath it all, of course, they have feelings. It’s simply that they don’t like to let them show.

This can lead to them not really being on the same emotional wavelength as you, which could mean that their actions are sometimes a little, shall we say, cold?

They’re not going to drop everything for you because that may lead you to believe that they care more than they want you to believe. 

8. They don’t talk about feelings

We mentioned that deep and meaningful conversations are likely to be shut down quickly, but you’ll find that those who are emotionally unavailable don’t like to talk about feelings at all, even those that aren’t connected with your relationship.

They’re not going to sit down with you and tell you how stressed they felt at work today and how they felt like their colleague was trying to steal their idea, etc. They will talk about facts and nothing else. 

9. They may prefer to keep the relationship ‘open’ 

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable in a relationship? It means not really wanting a committed relationship or not feeling capable of having one.

As such, it’s likely that this type of person will want to have a casual or even ‘open’ relationship which allows them the freedom they crave. Again, this might not be what you want. 

10. They have no problem with cutting people out of their life

Being emotionally distant in this way means that this type of person doesn’t mind cutting people out of their lives if it makes things easier. Of course, this could lead to cutting the wrong person out and then regretting it. 

Sometimes, they may even ghost people because it’s easier to run away instead of talking about bad feelings.

11. Being around them makes you feel frustrated

Probably the biggest sign that you’re dealing with someone who is emotionally unavailable is that you’ll feel extremely frustrated when you’re around them. You’ll never know where you stand and you’ll always be second guessing everything. 

How can someone become more emotionally available?

There is some good news amidst all this gloom. What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable has been covered, but how can someone become more emotionally available? With time and effort, it’s entirely possible. However, it’s important to know that you can’t force someone to open up emotionally, it has to come from them. 

If you’re someone who is a little emotionally closed off, let’s look at a few ways you can start to be more available and perhaps look towards more rewarding relationships in the future.

If you’re with someone who is emotionally unavailable, these steps will help you to support your lover’s efforts to open up more. 

1. Focus on communicating your needs

What is it that stops you from opening up? Is it a past experience or a belief you have about yourself? Having a strong and supportive partner will help you to voice your needs and beliefs.

As long as they’re able to sit and listen to you without judgment, you may feel that a weight has been lifted. 

2. See things from your partner’s point of view

Your partner isn’t trying to push you into something you’re not ready for, they simply want to know where they stand. Try to see things from their side and make their needs a priority in your life. 

3. Agree to take things slowly

Work at a pace that suits you and explain your boundaries to your partner. If they’re loving and keen to work with you on this, they’ll respect your timeline and your boundaries, and they won’t push you beyond your limits. 

4. Don’t be secretive if you want to be emotionally available

When you don’t open up about what’s going on in your life, it’s very easy for your partner to assume that you’re keeping secrets and up to no good.

The chances are that you’re not doing anything negative at all, but it doesn’t look that way. If you want to breed closeness and trust in your relationship, work on being more open and stop being secretive. Transparency is key. 

5. Have regular date nights and make time for one another

Set date nights and don’t cancel them. Always show up and be present in the moment. By making time for one another, you’ll become closer and feel you can trust your partner more. 

6. Be responsible for your emotional reactions

Your emotions are your own but when you don’t want to share them, it’s easy to become manipulative or explode with anger.

Remember that any actions you take as a result of your emotions are yours and yours alone. Take responsibility for these. Work on communicating rather than hiding things and letting them blow out of proportion. 

7. What does it mean to be emotionally available, it means taking a leap of faith

Perhaps the best thing to do is the most obvious. However, this is also the hardest step. Take a leap of faith and see where it goes. Use the other steps we’ve talked about to give you that comfort blanket for extra reassurance, and commit to just giving this whole thing a go. It might turn out to be the best thing you ever do. 

8. Seek assistance if you need it

If you have something in your past that is causing you to be emotionally unavailable in the here and now, seek help and perhaps think about therapy. This is a great way to unlock the past, deal with it, and move forwards to a brighter future. 

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable? Many different things depending upon the situation and the person! That’s why this subject is so confusing and frustrating to deal with. A deeper understanding is required, but it also needs a lot of effort on both parts too. 

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