Being in a relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable is painful and disheartening. You spend a lot of energy trying to get your needs met, only to be disappointed. After awhile, it feels like they are never really “with you.”
This article shows you how to stop this destructive pattern and choose a healthier way of picking partners!
Step #1: How to Spot Emotional Unavailability
Knowing what to look for is half the battle. If you are reading this, you are looking for a solution and it starts with recognizing the signs.
Here are some characteristics of emotionally unavailable people. These people often:
- Have trouble being aware of and expressing emotions
- Are uncomfortable with feelings in general
- Shy away from emotional or meaningful conversation
- Have difficulty handling conflict directly
- May use substances to avoid painful emotions
- Think that sex is love
Step #2: Know How It Starts
Attracting emotionally unavailable people starts early. Growing up, children need consistent love and attention. They will seek out that attention anyway they can – even if it’s negative. Every child needs emotional connection in order to learn to trust themselves and experience others as safe.
Growing up in a family that doesn’t connect emotionally you learn to:
- Please others to get approval
- Put your needs on the back burner
- Distrust your own emotions or intuition
- Turn to alcohol, drugs or excess food to cope
- Rush into relationships to avoid being alone
People tend to seek out the familiar in relationships, even if it’s negative.
If you fought for attention as a child, that desire to “win people over” doesn’t change over time. It becomes ingrained in how you do relationships. You learn to chase people rather than seek an emotionally supportive connection.
You don’t recognize people who are emotionally open because they are unfamiliar. You may even think that they are boring. This is why it is such a challenging pattern to break. It is easier to stay in the comfort zone of what you know rather than risk something deeper.
Step #3: How to Move Past Emotionally Unavailable People
You have to want more out of your relationships. Otherwise, you will keep doing the same thing expecting different results.
Here are some practical steps to help you change the pattern:
- Take time to get to know the person before committing.
- Pay attention to how they do or don’t do emotions.
- Avoid jumping into a relationship too quickly because it feels good.
- Watch how they handle stress or a potential conflict.
- If something feels off, trust that it probably is!
- Do their words and their actions match up?
- Are they able to have a range of emotions?
- Can they cope with life without using substances?
- Are they relatively open about their life?
- Are there subjects that they refuse to talk about?
Changing this pattern takes time but eventually the answer will become clear to you. People show up as they are from day one. You just have to be willing to see it.
The hardest part is letting go of the relationships that no longer serve you. Admitting that certain relationships aren’t healthy is part of the process. Try building on the relationships that do show up for you emotionally.
This requires a willingness to do something different. Attracting emotionally available people does take more effort, but in the long run creating a relationship that meets your needs is its own reward!