Short on time? Poosh here for the summary.
Being emotionally unavailable means that you are unavailable to your own emotions, and the emotions of others. You might turn away from, avoid, or withdraw when emotions present themselves.
So what does that look like?
1. You’re conflict avoidant.
Obviously conflict isn’t fun for anyone, and there are plenty of reasons why someone might want to avoid engaging in it, especially if they associate conflict with abuse, chaos, or a lack of safety. It’s in these cases that you learn emotions are unsafe.
But repeated conflict avoidance can be a sign of emotional unavailability. Conflict can be a beautiful opportunity to become deeply connected with one another, and learn of each other’s pain and past.
2. You’re always “fine” or unbothered.
If you’re constantly saying things like “I’m fine” or “don’t worry about it” when you’re actually not fine and there is something that upset or bothered you, it’s a good indicator that you are struggling to go there. You’d rather pretend that things are fine to keep the peace instead of sharing how you really feel and trusting that there’s space for your emotions.
3. You struggle to be vulnerable.
Maybe you share high level facts about yourself, but you struggle to really open up with trusted people in your life and tell them about your fears, doubts, and insecurities.
You’d rather talk about things unrelated to you or keep the focus on someone else instead of yourself. Or maybe you’re a great storyteller but avoid connecting to the actual feelings connected to your story.
Struggling to be vulnerable is an indicator that you don’t trust yourself or the other person with the emotions that exist.
4. You’re non-committal or choose partners who are non-committal.
This is a great way to safeguard yourself from needing to be connected to your emotions. If you’re non-committal or you choose a partner who is, you don’t have to be as emotionally available for one another or yourself. Keeping it casual is a good way to avoid opening up to the deep emotions and avoid having to peel back any of the layers.
5. You have a hard time empathizing.
It’s very hard to empathize with others if you haven’t spent time connecting to your own emotional experience with compassion, curiosity, and gentleness. It’s hard to hold space for others when you don’t hold space for yourself. And it can be really confronting to connect emotionally with another when you’re not ready to feel your own emotions.
6. You feel overwhelmed or stressed when someone wants to share or go emotionally deep with you.
Maybe it’s a partner who wants to talk about something painful that’s happening in their lives. Maybe it’s a friend who’s confiding in you about a challenge they’re having with one of their parents.
You might feel emotionally disconnected in the conversation, noticing that you’re checked out, or feeling emotionally distant as you listen. You might rush the conversation, start thinking about other things, or respond in ways that attempt to change the subject.
7. You withhold how you’re feeling.
You might notice sensations in your body when you’re having an emotional experience, but instead of tuning in and getting curious, you tune out and disconnect from what’s happening. Maybe you don’t like how someone spoke to you, changed a plan last minute, or did something that hurt you, but instead of expressing it, you bury it and keep it inside.
Up next, think you’re getting involved with someone who is emotionally unavailable? Look for these telltale signs.
Emotionally unavailable people avoid confrontation, emotional conversations, and may see themselves as peacekeepers, but they aren’t diving into the intensity of life. While it seems chill, they are missing out on substance. Get out of your comfort zone and ride the waves—unbelievable closeness is a major payoff.