An emotionally unavailable person has closed the door on staying connected and loved. It is a simple defence mechanism, but one which can have devastating consequences in relationships. Closing that door may be due to a lack of confidence, fear of intimacy, or perfectionism, just to name a few explanations. Finding the key to opening that door is the real challenge.
Here are 8 signs of emotionally unavailable people and some suggestions to help open the door again or to leave. Ask yourself if you have any of these traits, because it might help you to have fuller and more intimate relationships.
1. They do not like compromises
You meet lots of people who are married to their routine rather than to another person. A typical reaction is when they hate changing their schedules and they show themselves to be very inflexible. Ask them to make a compromise on the timing of a date and they will always say that they cannot be inconvenienced.
Examine your own flexibility or lack of it and reflect on whether this is a sign of emotional maturity. How flexible (or inflexible) you both are is usually a sign of how likely it is that a relationship will move to the next level. Being able to compromise on minor issues is a mark of emotional maturity. Look out for signs of reciprocity here. There can be no compromises on major issues.
“When it comes to human dignity, we cannot make compromises.” – Angela Merkel
2. They are perfectionists
A typical scenario is where they find one fatal flaw in their new partner. They are perfectionists, so they want everything to be just right. When they find the defect, it is usually the perfect ploy for them to get out, because in reality they are scared of intimacy.
Look at your own standards and what makes a perfect partner. Think about your own defects and try to talk about them. If your partner brushes them aside, it is a sign that there may be no future at all for you as a committed couple.
3. They play the blame game when they talk about past relationships
Listen to how they talk about their past relationships. They almost never talk about their own defects, weaknesses, or fears. They usually play the blame game — it was always the partner’s fault. They are not being open at all.
Any emotionally available person will recognize and take responsibility for their shortcomings and failures in past relationships. Can you recognize your own? Ask them to reflect on what they could have done to save the relationship. Ask a few probing questions about the issues that were involved. If they are emotionally unavailable, the answer is likely to refer to their incapacity to form relationships or that they always fail. If they are more receptive, it may be a sign that they recognize their need for intimacy and they are prepared to open up a little.
4. They display signs of being emotionally abusive
Watch how they treat wait staff and other people you meet when you are with them. If you notice a lot of angry outbursts, it may mean that they are very demanding, have zero emotional intelligence, or that they are totally lacking in self-awareness. They are very unlikely to be empathetic. The worst consequence is that this could turn into emotional abuse if the relationship is a long-term one. Their judging, criticizing, and humiliating may well have roots in an unhappy childhood. They have no place in a harmonious relationship.
These signs should not be ignored because they may mean your relationship may turn toxic and become abusive. You have invested emotional funds here and you want to see a return on them. If there are no signs of any of these being reciprocated, then it may be time to back off before it is too late.
5. They are inconsiderate
Look out for the signs. Always being late may be a red flag that this person is inconsiderate and emotionally unavailable. They may do it deliberately just to avoid getting too involved.
Think about how you can be kind, affectionate, and caring. Talk about your feelings and expect the same from your partner as the relationship evolves. If this does not happen, it could be that you are being used as a temporary filler until someone better comes along.
6. They are too secretive or too nosey too soon
When they are very evasive with questions regarding sex or money, it may be a sign that they are emotionally unavailable. If they are very curious, it may signal a hidden agenda. In either case, these are signs that these may be obstacles to getting close. You can almost see the emotionally unavailable sign on the half-closed door!
Think about each other’s emotional capacity. You may be prepared to give, grow, and be totally committed. You need to look out for signs that you are both on the same page as to what a really committed relationship looks like. If either is emotionally unavailable, there will be obstacles along the way — it is important to discover these early on.
7. They can be very seductive
Seduction is usually about conquest and a certain appetite for power. If these happen very quickly in the relationship, you may wonder what else there is to make it an authentic relationship. Is there openness, generosity, empathy, complicity, and confidence? If these are totally lacking or steadfastly avoided, it could mean that the person is simply not available for any of those commitments and wants the thrill of seduction and little else.
8. They are not ready to commit
Beware of the people you meet on vacation because distance is a perfect excuse for not committing or getting too involved. You both get great benefits when you do manage to meet, but there can never be the daily grind of putting up with all the tics and obsessions which can erode a relationship.
Another warning sign of a lack of commitment is when the partner talks about living in the present and not worrying too much about the future. That is all very well, but plans have to be made at some point.
The most alarming sign of emotional unavailability is when the partner has great difficulty in saying they love you. A simple “I love you” will be almost as good as a written promise. It is when they say “I love you, but…” that alarm bells will start ringing. That “but” can mean there is a time limit, there is terrible uncertainty, and above all betrays that they are not sure what this will entail in the long term.
Above all, when you are confronted with a lack of commitment, never try to rationalize it or make excuses for your partner, who may have problems in expressing their feelings. You will never change them either, so now is the time for closure to save yourself a whole lot of misery later on.
Featured photo credit: Yellow Bow-Broken heart…. The Break Up/ Norman Tanner via flickr.com