Emotionally Unavailable

Updated: May 11

I'm a very emotional and deep person. I've noticed over the years my pendulum in relationships has gone from the middle to the far right, trust, to the far left of suspicion. Through my own self-discovery searching for love, or what I have come to understand as intimate connections, has left me with a variety of disappointments, and - well, a sort of investigator of other people's intentions, moods, or matching up words with action.

There's no doubt that I've had several personal and professional relationships where I am the "safe person." I've heard more stories off the cuff than I cared to know. I struggle to process this information as a highly sensitive, and emotional individual. But, what I've learned is that processing is not what I need to focus on; its people, who are to some extent telling you who they are, whether it's a mask they wear or simply their humanness.

I've also been on the opposite side of "safe person." I believe getting involved in particular relationships where someone else has exposed their own vulnerabilities, past history, and experiences had left me powerless. I've lost myself, my sanity at times, finances, and another disappointing experience lowering my ability to trust people.


I'm always curious about why people state, "I'm affectionate," remember, people tell us who they are, but we are poor judges of ourselves, right? They may very well be. But are they capable of deep diving, or have no scuba gear.


Looking for genuine connection, emotional availability, and intimacy, I've found some cues of an emotionally unavailable person (from my experience) to help avoid another painful experience:

  • Something seems a little "off"

  • They shy away from conversations about emotional experiences, talk about their life, experiences, and interests, but never ask about your hobbies or your own experiences

  • There is a "lack" of investment, "Do they even like me?"

  • They can make you "feel" fantastic, gifts, talking about future plans, or trips, but it's surface, just words, there is no action

  • They don't like making plans, "Who knows what the future holds."

  • They choose the activity, receptive when you make suggestions, but ultimately, you need to go along with "their" plan

  • You do all the relationship "work." Because you haven't figured out "yet" that it's not going to work (sometimes it takes time)

  • Trying to get close, creating intimacy, involves circling around friends, family, and acquaintances that have a priority over what they say they want, "a healthy relationship"

  • Codependent, and addictions

They will eventually get honest enough to say, "I can't give you what you need." And that's ok. That's a door opening.


I have also noticed the mirroring that takes place. Responses never seem their own; it's a mirror of something previously said, or it's an adaption of something they learned, but not deep, sincere, intimate feelings.


When I left a four-year, off-and-on relationship, I packed up everything, and when I did that, it had never occurred to me that everything I had ever been given was a reflection of what someone else wanted me to be. Although I appreciated the gifts, very few items reflected what I liked or who I was, it was a sad aha moment. It spoke volumes to what I initially said to this person when we first started dating, "Why don't you ever ask me about myself?" "Do you really want a relationship?" I did ask those very questions. I ignored the red flags because I saw potential, the light shining inside.


And there's nothing wrong with these individuals; they just haven't been for me. What's more frustrating for both parties is that we are performing exactly what we have learned. For myself, it's taken a variety of tumultuous experiences, emotional heartaches, and financial loss to know I had to find what was happening in me to see what I was bringing towards me.


Resources:

On Healing and Forgiveness

The Emotionally Absent Mother

When to Walk Away

Overcoming Rejection, When People Hurt You & Life Isn't Fair (one of my favorites)