Symptoms of Being Emotionally Unavailable

An emotionally unavailable person is a man or a woman who is unable to form a deep, loving attachment with a partner. Ironically, the emotionally unavailable person may come across as charming and glib. As the relationship progresses and deepens, though, he or she becomes evasive and begins to make excuses to avoid commitment. It can be difficult to identify an emotionally unavailable person, especially in the early days of the relationship, but there are some warning signs to keep an eye out for.

The first warning sign may lie in your potential mate's dating history. It's an old truism in mental health that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In this case, look for a past littered with short-term relationships that ended on an unfriendly note. The person you're interested in may be vague about the cause of past disappointments, or he or she may try to blame the other person. Common complaints from the emotionally unavailable person include, "She wanted too much too fast" or "He was too clingy."

Another warning sign of emotional unavailability is the person's own self report. He or she may openly make statements like, "I'm not good at relationships" or even state outright, "I don't want to be in a relationship." Many people, especially women, see these words as a challenge. You may think that you will be the one to win this person over and help him or her to change. In real life, it seldom works out that way. Going into a relationship expecting the other person to change is a risky proposition at best. Avoid romantic relationships with the person who insists that he or she does not want one.

A third warning sign of an emotionally unavailable person is addiction. This can be an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling or it might be an addiction to something less obvious such as work, shopping or social media. This problem is that an addicted person loves his or her addiction first, last and always. There is no room for another person and certainly no room for a meaningful relationship. It is also best to avoid relationships with a person who is newly recovering from an addiction. He or she needs to learn to develop a relationship with self before even beginning to build a relationship with another.

Being in love with a person who is emotionally unavailable can be a painful and humiliating experience. You can spare yourself this heartache by keeping an eye out for the warning signs of an emotionally unavailable partner.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "Symptoms of Being Emotionally Unavailable," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 10, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/symptoms-of-being-emotionally-unavailable/ (accessed December 11, 2019).
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