What is the meaning of being emotionally unavailable?

This article will describe what it means to be emotionally unavailable. It will also show what are the most common signs of being emotionally unavailable, and what are the most common causes of it.

What is the meaning of being emotionally unavailable? 

Being emotionally unavailable means that you are a person that is not aware, or is not responsible for emotional expressions people may show you, or even ones that you may feel. This may cause the person to have trouble expressing their emotions, or even embracing the ones people around them manifest.

That is not something that happens because the person desires it. When you are emotionally unavailable it may be because you feel extremely uncomfortable with your emotions, sharing them with others, and being present when people are sharing theirs.

Being emotionally unavailable can make the person seem distant. They can avoid being in situations that involve dealing with emotions and they have difficulty talking about their feelings even when they are asked about them. 

Differently from that, an emotionally available person is often comfortable expressing their emotions, and embracing the emotions of other people. 

It is more common to see men that are more emotionally distant because men are often raised with the belief that dealing with emotions is a sign of weakness. But it is important to not generalize since that can change from one culture to the next. 

What are signs of being emotionally unavailable? 

When a person is emotionally unavailable, there are some signs through which they will show that.

They never get intimate

When a person is emotionally unavailable they can be afraid of intimacy. This will prevent them from opening themselves fully to you. It can be that they don’t feel comfortable showing their most vulnerable side, which makes it difficult for them to experience depth in a relationship.

An emotionally unavailable person may also manifest this difficulty in being intimate even by the way they show affection physically or the way they look at other people being that they can have trouble looking people in the eye.

Being in a relationship with someone that has trouble being intimate can feel like they avoid having difficult conversations, and this is not necessarily personal, it is a difficulty they have in dealing with everything that brings up a lot of emotions.

They don’t want to commit 

An emotionally unavailable person can also have trouble committing. They can be people that will delay as much as they can labeling the relationship, or even think about what the next step may be.

They can be afraid of the commitment, or simply of getting too close, which relates to the fear of intimacy. Because of that, they may prefer to have more casual relationships and can go as far as ending a relationship when it feels that it is going too far.

In other relationships, rather than a romantic one, this person may be the one that is constantly canceling and feels uncomfortable expressing affection.

They can be defensive 

Because they have trouble sharing how they feel, they are likely people that will never initiate a conversation about a serious matter such as discussing the dynamics of the relationship, or if someone is feeling hurt.

And when their partner brings this conversation up, they likely become defensive. It can go as far as blaming others for their behavior. 

They are never available 

An emotionally unavailable person will never be available when you need them, simple as that. You may tell them that it is important to you, but they will always find a way to run away from being there for you.

And if at any point they find themselves a way to be present, they will likely invalidate how you are feeling, change the subject, or just distance themselves from the conversation. 

They may lack empathy

An emotionally unavailable person will likely be emotionally disconnected from how they feel, but also from how others can be feeling. This can lead them to have low empathy, and because of that, they are not able to relate to whatever you share with them.

It is important to highlight that they may care about how you are feeling. But it is that they are not able to consider your needs when making a decision. They are unable to explore their own emotions, which leads to a limited ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes.

What are the causes of being emotionally unavailable? 

People may be emotionally unavailable for various reasons. But most of all it seems to be related to the way the person was raised, and the attachment style they had with their parents in their formative years.

From then on the ability to connect to your emotions, and others will most likely replicate that first relationship. If the child doesn’t feel that the parent gave them enough support, and cared for their emotional needs, they will likely learn that this is the way they should behave with other people in their lives, so they develop an unhealthy attachment style.

This means that they can either be more independent, and try to work things out for themselves, or that when they have someone closer to them they will do everything they can to make the person stay, even putting the person’s needs before theirs.

In some situations of abuse and neglect, the person can become emotionally unavailable as a way to protect themselves from the terrible situations they are in. But being emotionally unavailable can also happen when a person goes through a traumatic experience later in their lives, or it can be related to gender or the culture the person is in.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What is the meaning of being emotionally unavailable? 

How do I decide if I should stay in a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable?

There is no sure way of helping decide if you should stay in a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable. What you may want to consider is if it is worth it for you to keep trying to have a relationship with someone that is like that.

You may start to think that you can change the person, or that maybe it is not that bad. But you should try to see things as they are, and if they show you they are emotionally unavailable, it is because that is how they behave. Don’t try to interpret reality differently from what it is.

Keep in mind that it is not your responsibility, or even in your power to change the person, they may have been like that long before they met you. What can maybe make investing in this relationship a little easier is seeing that they have been looking for professional help to deal with this.

When that is the case, talking about how their emotional state impacts you, and your relationship can make it a lot easier to deal with. In these cases, if the person is looking for help to deal with their emotional experiences, it may be a lot easier to stay in the relationship.

Why am I always attracted to emotionally unavailable people?

Some people may see a pattern of always being in a relationship with emotionally unavailable people. There are a lot of reasons why this may happen. First of all, it can be that you are emotionally unavailable as well, so being with someone that is also like that, keeps you safe.

Or you may be choosing to have people in your life that are as emotionally immature as you are. You may also be looking for people that are only there to highlight all your negative traits. That is because staying in a negative relationship can prevent us from having to truly open ourselves.

You may not be aware that your relationship patterns have been putting you to have relationships with emotionally unavailable people. It can be a defensive mechanism, but still, you should know that you can have a healthy relationship, but it can take a lot of emotional work, and in that, therapy may be key.

What are the signs of an emotionally abusive partner?

There are many signs of an emotionally abusive partner. First of all, you may realize that they constantly belittle you, and when they talk to you about things, you may notice that they are often giving you criticism, and invalidating your emotions.

They can be extremely manipulative, and often use guilt, or even the silent treatment to get you to do what they want. An abusive partner can also be extremely emotionally unavailable, and when you stand firm with your boundaries, they will not respect them. 

Finally, an emotionally abusive partner is likely one that will not take responsibility for their actions, and will often blame you for whatever they have done wrong.

How can I stop dating emotionally unavailable people?

To stop dating emotionally unavailable people first you should be alert to the signs they are showing you. Aside from that, you should try to understand why you are still opening yourself up to a relationship that always happens in this pattern.

Aside from that, you may want to stop wasting your time constantly virtually talking to people that will never open themselves up for a real-life encounter. You can also stop going out with someone emotionally unavailable as soon as you realize that you are the only one that is working towards defining the relationship.

Being aware that you won’t save, or change anyone is also a key thing in stopping dating emotionally unavailable people. You should also work towards having a better sense of self, and learning if you are ready for an intimate relationship.

Can being emotionally unavailable be used as an excuse?

Yes, unfortunately, some people can use being emotionally unavailable as an excuse to avoid having a difficult conversation that they are not that romantically interested in the person they are going out with.

And when someone tells you they are emotionally unavailable, and because of that, they won’t be in a relationship with you, it is not something one can argue with. Making it impossible for you to question the person, and leaving you just to accept it.


This article explained what it means to be emotionally unavailable. It also showed the most common signs of it, and what causes people to be like that.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.



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