Am I Emotionally Unavailable? (+How to deal with it)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the question “Am I Emotionally Unavailable?” and look at some signs of someone who is emotionally unavailable. We will also look at how to deal with someone who is emotionally unavailable.

Am I Emotionally Unavailable?

You may be emotionally unavailable if you find that you can be somewhat evasive, avoid meeting people who you think might get you to open up, or you simply don’t like to talk about your feelings or emotions with other people.

An emotionally unavailable person often has trouble sorting through their own emotions as well, and being emotionally unavailable does not mean that the person does not have emotions, simply that they are not able to understand them or share them well enough.

Here are some common traits that mean you might be emotionally unavailable:

  • You have a problem trusting people
  • You can sometimes have outbursts of anger
  • You have trouble forming and honoring commitments
  • You have trouble keeping a stable relationship going

There are of course, many other signs of someone who is emotionally unavailable, which are discussed later, but the key thing to remember is that emotional unavailability is not something that cannot be fixed or made better, and anyone who has trouble with their emotions can learn to get better at it.

Emotional unavailability can be just as bad for the person as it is for those around them, as they may always be left alone without any interpersonal relationships to offer them support and affection, which are needs that every person needs to have fulfilled.

Emotional unavailability can wreak havoc on relationships, as these individuals are not opposed to relationships and may well get into them, but because they have trouble sharing their emotions or bringing stability into the mix, they may make both themselves and their partner rather unhappy.

Most emotionally unavailable people also have a deep fear of getting attached, and they may have disruptive patterns of attachment going far back into their childhood, which we will discuss in the section about the psychological perspective on emotional unavailability.

There are no particular tests that are validated scientifically to determine if someone is emotionally unavailable, but there are some checklists online that one can look at to answer the question “Am I emotionally unavailable?”, though in most cases looking at the signs of being emotionally unavailable is enough.

If you want to figure out whether you are emotionally unavailable, it may also be wise to ask your friends or partner about it, because chances are they may have seen it before you could.

Am I Emotionally Unavailable: Test your Preferences

As mentioned before, there are no scientifically valid “Am I Emotionally unavailable” tests, but there are some basic checklists you can look at online, like this one.

However, if you don’t want to take a complete test, here are some questions you can answer that might help you determine if you are emotionally unavailable:

  • Do you find it hard to express emotions?
  • Do you find it hard to introspect and sort through your own emotions and feelings?
  • Do you find it hard to love yourself?
  • Do you find it hard to be in a relationship with someone for too long?
  • Do you find it hard to socialize with a group of people who discuss intense things?
  • Do you feel that you are made to be alone?
  • Do you prefer the high from substances like drugs and alcohol than that of being with people or mingling?
  • Do you tend to stay out of big groups or family meetings?
  • Have you ever had complaints from partners or friends that you don’t listen enough?
  • Do you find yourself not empathizing with or even cringing at sad scenes in movies or TV shows?

If you find that you agree with around 7 of these 10 statements, you might be emotionally unavailable, and you might want to try something to get a little better at dealing with emotional content of any sort.

Am I Emotionally Unavailable: Psychology behind Emotional Unavailability

The psychology behind being emotionally unavailable tends to be rooted in theories of attachment and childhood patterns of relationships, as these are the main principles that tend to underlie emotional unavailability.

It is not secret after years of psychological research that children who grow up in chaotic homes where there is huge disconnect between the parents or between the parents and their children, may often repress their emotions or emotionally shut down completely when they are adults.

Another reason childhood patterns may make a person emotionally unavailable is when they grow up in a home where the parents are also emotionally unavailable or were expressing emotions is unacceptable or viewed as a sign of weakness can equally disconnect from or repress their natural emotions. 

Another possibility that someone may be emotionally unavailable, according to psychology, may be because they experienced maladaptive patterns of attachment when they were younger.

The prominent attachment theorists Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby have given the most well-known theory of attachment that posits that people’s reactions to stress, interpersonal relationships and attachment in their adulthood are all a function of how they attached to their primary caregiver when they were younger.

Bowlby and Ainsworth did experiments with monkeys, and they also discovered that emotional and comfort were seen as bigger factors in attachment than food, which was originally thought to be the main reason we attach with our caregivers.

It was seen that people who have their needs for affection and comfort fulfilled as babies or children grow up to be more fulfilled and emotionally available people, and they are more likely to form healthy attachments with others.

Emotionally Available Signs

Here are some signs that someone is emotionally unavailable:

  • They don’t really listen
  • They cannot empathize
  • They can be somewhat crass about emotions or feelings
  • They don’t really like making long-term plans
  • They like to be by themselves
  • They have trouble relating to people around them
  • They don’t like to talk about their feelings
  • They prefer doing things that don’t have far-reaching consequences
  • They don’t like to talk about commitment or show any signs of committing

How to deal with someone who is Emotionally Unavailable?

To deal with someone who is emotionally unavailable you need a lot of patience and you need to be clear about what you want from them, and you need to figure out whether they are even capable of change, because otherwise you might be wasting your time.

Many people get into relationships with emotionally unavailable people despite knowing that they are emotionally unavailable, because we have a tendency to think that our love will change them, especially if we are emotional and deep where feelings are concerned.

This can sometimes end very badly though, because it can be hard to change someone who is emotionally unavailable, especially when they are unaware of it or happy being who they are.

When someone does not have the awareness of a problem or a will to change, it can mean misery for the other person.

If you think your partner can change, and in the meantime you want to know how to deal with someone who is emotionally unavailable, here are some things you can do:

  • Try to understand if it is emotional unavailability or something else, and recognize the signs. 
  • Try to figure out the causes behind their emotional unavailability.
  • Try to figure out if your partner acknowledges their emotional unavailability.
  • Focus on your own feelings as well and make sure you have clarity about what you need or want.
  • Reflect on how someone’s emotional unavailability changes things for you or affects you. 
  • Don’t try to force your partner’s feelings. 
  • Consider counseling. 
  • Give your partner space and opportunities to change
  • Check to see if you might be enabling this behavior.
  • Reflect on whether you emotionally unavailable too.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed the question “Am I Emotionally Unavailable?” and looked at some signs of someone who is emotionally unavailable. We also looked at how to deal with someone who is emotionally unavailable.

Being emotionally unavailable is not something that is completely unfixable or something that cannot be made better with time and effort, and if you are with someone who is emotionally unavailable, you can still try some things to get them to be more receptive and open.

Emotional unavailability can often be hidden from the person who is emotionally unavailable and most of the time other people may point it out, but if you are open to asking “Am I emotionally unavailable?” it may mean that you are at least open to the possibility of changing into a better person.

If you have any more questions like “Am I emotionally unavailable” or “How to deal with someone who is emotionally unavailable” please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Am I Emotionally Unavailable

How do you know if you are emotionally unavailable?

Here are some ways to know if you’re emotionally unavailable:
You don’t like making plans. 
You like to call the shots so that you don’t get stuck in something you are not comfortable with
You don’t really like to do a lot of emotional work in a relationship
You avoid the word ‘relationship’ 
You find it hard to grow closer with others
You find it easier to reflect the emotions of others rather than show your own
You find it hard to introspect on your own feelings.

What is an emotionally unavailable woman?

An emotionally unavailable woman may be someone who does not really want to be in a relationship or even when she is she might not be very inclined to discuss her feelings or emotions that she likes to keep private.
An emotionally unavailable woman might want to keep things casual and be involved in something fun rather than commit right away and stick to traditional relationship patterns for fear of becoming too attached.

What does emotional availability look like?

Emotional availability looks like the inability to deal with difficult, upsetting, or challenging emotions in a healthy manner, and people who are emotionally unavailable may often have difficulty opening up to others.
Someone that is emotionally unavailable may look like someone who might run at the first hint of trouble, and they may have significant issues with discussing their feelings, even with themselves.

How do I become less emotionally unavailable?

Here are some ways in which you can become less emotionally unavailable:
Recognize your fears and try to face them
Trust and love yourself
Set clear boundaries for yourself and others and be upfront about them
Communicate your fears and preferences clearly with others
Try to figure out what causes you to be distanced from others.

Citations

https://www.healthline.com/health/emotionally-unavailable#causes

https://www.bustle.com/p/am-i-emotionally-unavailable-7-ways-to-tell-if-you-can-open-up-more-18017568

https://www.allrelationshipmatters.com.au/insights-healthy-relationships/understanding-the-emotionally-unavailable#:~:text=An%20emotionally%20unavailable%20person%20is,validate%2C%20the%20feelings%20of%20others.&text=Emotionally%20unavailable%20people%20have%20emotional,critical%20of%20themselves%20and%20others.

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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