Why Is My Partner Not Available Emotionally

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Written By:

Counselling Psychologist - M.Sc. Clinical Psychology

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Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist - Ph.D. Relationship Psychology

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What is Emotional Unavailability? 

Emotional Unavailability refers to a person’s inability to openly express their emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Such people often find it so difficult to connect with others emotionally and find it difficult to make personal, intimate relationships. The basic tenets of emotional unavailability involve an inability to communicate about their emotions, a tendency to remain “closed off” and a difficulty empathizing with their partner. 

People who are emotionally unavailable often resemble locked doors. They are hard to open and tend to hide their primary emotions and feelings. In order to open the door you need to build a connection and trust with them and only then will they be comfortable with sharing. This locked door is like a barrier to intimacy and can make it difficult for a proper, healthy relationship to flourish. 

Signs Your Partner is Emotionally Unavailable 

If you are unsure about your partner’s emotional availability, these are some of the signs you can watch out for, 

  1. Sharing Limited Information - 

If your partner is emotionally unavailable then there are high chances that they are sharing limited information with you about their thoughts, feelings and emotions. They tend to be reserved and don’t open up so easily. They might even avoid having intense conversations about their thoughts, feelings and emotions. 

  1. Inconsistency

Emotionally unavailable people tend to be very inconsistent with their efforts and behaviours. This means that their behaviour is very erratic. They might go overboard with emotions on certain occasions and on other occasions they might not show any effort. 

  1. Afraid of Labels - 

Emotionally unavailable are often fearful of labels like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” and might want to be in casual relationships as they are sometimes scared of commitment. This could also be one of the reasons they have a history of short relationships. Because they don’t prefer committing themselves to long-term relationships. 

  1. Values Independence - 

Independence and time with oneself is important for a healthy relationship. However, those who are emotionally unavailable value independence over the relationship. They prefer doing things by themselves, and don’t include their partner in activities. 

  1. Hesitant - 

Another sign that your partner is emotionally unavailable is if they are hesitant towards building any form of emotional intimacy. Establishing physical intimacy is not a problem, but establishing emotional intimacy is difficult because of their closed off and reserved nature. 

  1. Defensiveness - 

Emotionally unavailable people are extremely defensive in relationships. This especially happens when conflict situations arise during the relationship. During conflicts, emotionally unavailable partners are those who don’t listen to their faults as constructive criticism. They get defensive or offensive and try to make excuses for their behaviour and actions. 

  1. Lack of Empathy - 

Empathy is very important for sustaining oneself in a strong, healthy relationship. Emotionally unavailable partners often exhibit a lack of empathy. This means that they are incapable of placing themselves in their partners shoes and see situations from their perspective. This causes a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings to arise. 

  1. Indiffirent - 

If you find that your partner is indifferent to you and your emotions, then there are chances that they are emotionally unavailable. Keep in mind that this has to be a frequent phenomenon for you to call your partner emotionally unavailable. Emotionally unavailable don’t put the effort to enquire about their partners thoughts, feelings or emotions. They focus only on surface-level traits and don’t prefer digging deeper. 

Why is My Partner Emotionally Unavailable? 

There are many reasons someone could become emotionally unavailable. These are some of the reasons, 

  1. Past Trauma - 

If someone has gone through a traumatic childhood experience or have experienced many emotioonal wounds, then they are likely to fear being vulnerable again. The act of trusting someone and becoming vulnerable becomes scary and so they are likely to close themselves off. 

  1. Avoidant Attachment Style - 

This is another form of past trauma that usually arises in the childhood stage. Avoidant attachment style is an attachment style that is developed during the childhood based on the way in which the parents interact with their child. When parents are neglectful towards their children and don’t encourage them to share their needs and emotions, then these children go on to develop an avoidance towards being vulnerable and intimate. This could be another reason for emotional unavailability. 

  1. Defence Mechanism - 

For most of the people emotional availability is a defence mechanism they have developed consciously or unconsciously in order to protect themself from any emotional pain. They prefer to remain emotionally aloof so that they don’t get hurt again. 

  1. Lack of Emotional Awareness - 

Often it is the case that people don’t know what exactly they are feeling and thinking. They are not aware of their emotions. And this lack of emotional awarness can also cause a person to be emotionally unavailable. Sometimes people lack emotional skills that are needed in a relationship, this could also cause them to become emotionally unavailable. 

How Can I Cope? 

If your partner has depicted majority of the signs mentioned above for emotional unavailability, then here are some ways you can help yourself and your relationship in this situation. 

  1. Communication - 

It is important that you maintain all lines of communication open and encourage your partner to do the same. When you start sharing your needs, thoughts, emotions and feelings with your partner, then your partner will most likely be motivated to do the same. If you feel that your partner hesitates to communicate, ask them questions. Perhaps they don’t know where to begin and you asking them questions is the first step. 

  1. Empathy - 

Having empathy for your partner is very crucial. It is likely that your partner’s emotional unavailability is a result of past emotional wounds and so it is important to see things from their perspective. Put yourself in their shoes and see how they would feel, what would make them feel better etc. Refrain from judgement and gradually encourage them to open up by building a trust between each other.

  1. Expectations - 

Since your partner is mostly reserved and closed off, emotionally, it is advisable for you to adjust your expectations. This doesn’t mean that you have to lower them to the bare minimum, it just means that you need to adjust them enough to have patience while your partner learns and grows. This will also build a stronger bond between you both. 

  1. Practice Self-Care - 

Remember that no matter what you must always practice self-care. You must always look after yourself. Focus on improving your well-being. While it is healthy to be supportive and patient with a partner who is emotionally unavailable, you must also learn to separate yourself from situations that are not beneficial to you. 

In conclusion, it is important to understand that having an emotionally unavailable partner can make a relationship difficult. But if you decide to make a change, then through consistent effort you can turn the direction of your relationship. We at CoupleBees are here to help you out!

Ms. Priyanka Walia
Ms. Priyanka Walia M.A. Counselling Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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Ms. Muskan Maheshwari
Ms. Muskan Maheshwari M.Sc. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 02 years of experience

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Mr. Nishant Sharma
Mr. Nishant Sharma M.Phil. Clinical Psychology Clinical Psychologist 07 years of experience

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Ms. Akshita Bakshi
Ms. Akshita Bakshi Ph.D. Relationship Psychology Counselling Psychologist 05 years of experience

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