“Emotional unavailability is only attractive to people who are emotionally unavailable themselves.W hen we are truly ready for love, we don’t tolerate people who aren’t ready to meet us there” – Mark Groves
Awareness of what constitutes an emotionally inhibited person may save you a lot of grief in the future. Dating problems often stem from not knowing how to deal with emotionally-unavailable people. We often make the mistake of thinking we have what it takes to turn an emotionally unavailable person into someone who would return our love and affection wholeheartedly. Emotionally unavailable people are ‘wired’ that way and rarely change. It’s a fundamental personality characteristic, not a behavioral one.
In contrast, a person who’s emotionally unavailable is different from one who’s simply unavailable. An unavailable person is not interested in getting into a serious relationship, and keeps off the dating playing field entirely. The emotionally unavailable person, on the other hand, plays the field but acts as though they don’t belong to a team. This is sometimes referred to as stable ambiguity – wanting the interest and attention from others but not wanting any of the commitment that goes with it. You’ll know an emotionally unavailable person when they fall in and out of relationships often, sometimes even keeping vague but tangible relationships with two or more people at the same time.
Over time you feel compelled to confront the fact that the other person really isn’t letting you in. Despite all your attempts to nurture an emotional connection, to make it more mutual and heartfelt, he or she seems to prefer that it remain as it began–uncommitted, relatively superficial, and impersonal. Any natural progression toward greater intimacy (at least emotional intimacy) simply isn’t happening.
Emotionally unavailable people usually don’t know what they want, and often take the people they get into relationships with for granted. It’s prudent not to pursue relationships with people who are unable to express their own emotions and are often unable to pick up on other people’s emotions. Even if they leave other casual relationships to be with you, what’s the guarantee they won’t do the same thing to you down the line?
It’s incorrect to think that you have what it takes to change them, either. The more you pay attention to them, the more they’ll think nothing is wrong. Finding yourself strongly attached to an emotionally unavailable person will only set you up for a world of pain and disappointment.
Signs of an emotionally unavailable person
- aloof and distant
- impersonal, disengaged, uninvolved; closed, shut-down
- detached, remote (these traits, like so many others on this list, actually characterize a schizoid personality disorder, which–at their extreme–cold people can sometimes be)
- haughty, or projecting superiority (though, if these narcissistic features are present, they could reflect the individual’s outward demeanour)
- self-absorbed; insulated, passively withdrawn
- emotionally unavailable, inaccessible, unresponsive, indifferent, uninvested
- unfeeling, unemotional, affectionless; unsmiling
- lacking in empathy and compassion
- untrusting, wary, guarded;
- angry, hostile; critical
- excessively independent and self-reliant
So how do you deal with an emotionally unavailable person?
First of all, and perhaps most importantly, put some distance between the two of you. You can take your mind off of him/her by putting your attention into another, perhaps neglected, aspect of your life. Think you’ve put on a little weight? Spend time in the gym or learn Yoga. Feeling dumb? Read a book. Bored? Reconnect with old friends and make new ones. In short, do whatever it takes to convince yourself that trying to get him/her back is not going to work.
Ironically, it’s this distance that will knock some sense into the emotionally unavailable person. When they feel the void in their life that you used to fill, they’ll be forced out of their comfort zone. This will get them thinking, and it may even get them to reconsider their relationship with you. But don’t get your hopes up – at this point, the ball’s in their court. Where he/she shoots it next is up to him/her.
In the end, it’s often best to pick up the signals that the emotionally unavailable person gives off as early as possible. If they’re dating other people at the same time, take the hint – it means they are not happy with having only one companion in their life. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that changing him/her will be a walk in the park – instead, remember that it’ll be your absence, not your presence, that will affect them the most.