Some people find it more challenging than others to emotionally connect with another person or feel vulnerable. And that’s ok! We all have some kind of emotional baggage. But it can often make maintaining a happy relationship tricky.
Both men and women can be an emotionally unavailable partner, and it can happen for many reasons. Often it’s to do with a past relationship or experience. For others, emotional unavailability can be a situational factor, such as career problems, financial stress, or their health.
Whatever is causing it, it’s important to know the signs of emotional unavailability so you can check-in with your partner and manage your expectations. So here’s our advice when you feel your other half is struggling…
Signs of an Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Spotting the signs of emotional unavailability early in a dating relationship can be really helpful. While each person is different, these issues cropping up can be relationship red flags to look out for.
- Need for control
Your partner wants to control the relationship. They don’t compromise or show any flexibility in adjusting to your schedule or your priorities. They rarely ask for your input when planning a group dinner party or a romantic holiday, and they make you feel like you’ll mess up their plans if you have a say.
- Lack of compassion
A lack of compassion for other people can be a danger sign. Maybe they use teasing and bullying behavior or become demanding when interacting with others they see as inferior. Or perhaps you notice that they struggle to show empathy.
- Secretive behaviors
If your crush is secretive about their past and other relationships it could also be a cause for concern. Sure, hearing someone’s whole life-story probably isn’t a dream date. But if you feel after a few dates that you don’t actually know much about them, then maybe they’re hiding something.
How to approach an emotionally unavailable partner
In cases of situational emotional unavailability, such as a health issue or a problem at work, communicating with your partner is key.
Let them know that you’re feeling worried, but also disconnected from the relationship and them. Make sure to do this calmly so they don’t feel attacked. Rehearsing what you want to say can be helpful when you’re feeling nervous.
If talking to the person doesn’t trigger a change or willingness to have an honest discussion, their emotional unavailability may be a sign of a deeper issue. In these situations, maybe suggest seeking professional help.
Remember, for most people fearing vulnerability isn’t something they do intentionally to hurt those around them. It’s usually a coping mechanism that they’ve learned to survive. And working through it alone can feel daunting.
Advising them to visit a counselor means they’re with an experienced professional who has the tools needed for them to heal past wounds. It also takes some of the pressure away from you and your relationship. This will likely be a relief for both of you.
Partners in these situations often don’t realize the discomfort and emotional pain they’re causing. Remember the aim here is to give perspective and let them know how you’re feeling too.
Make sure that they know that you’re not blaming them for going through something difficult, but rather are offering a helping hand. Patience is important.
And if they don’t respond to your efforts?
Over time, if your emotionally unavailable partner refuses to accept the issue, change, or seek help, then it could be time to reassess the relationship. Being in a relationship with someone who is always emotionally distant can become extremely draining if they’re not willing to work on it.
Of course, it’s natural to want to support your partner if they’re going through something tough. But making them better isn’t your responsibility. It also isn’t always effective.
After communicating your worries and recommendations, if they aren’t taking your concerns seriously, it could be time to say goodbye.
It’s essential to consider your own mental health and well-being. Putting yourself first doesn’t mean that you don’t love your partner. It just means you love and respect yourself too. And loving yourself is the recipe for a happy, fulfilled life!
Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. If you need support, join her Breaking Free from Obsessive Love online course here. Or take her quiz to find out if you’re struggling with co-dependency, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break-up. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books Love Smacked: How to Break the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to find Everlasting Love or Infinite Recovery