Four Signs The Person You Love Is Emotionally Unavailable

“Nim handed me a mug of tea. I took a sip and it was just how I like it, strong and sweet. If you added psychotic and emotionally unavailable to that, it would also cover my taste in women,” wrote Alexis Hall in Shadows & Dreams.

Do you too often find yourself drawn to the emotionally unattainable?

There’s something dangerous and mysterious about this type that sucks us in firmly and won’t let us go. Unavailability is sexy. It’s challenging. It can be intoxicating. It isn’t hard to get addicted, and quickly.

Unfortunately, these extreme highs only set us up for a miserable low. We are too often left grasping for something we thought was our own, only to realize it never was – and, maybe, that it was never even real in the first place.

If you find yourself attracted to someone who is emotionally unavailable, I would urge you to get out while you still can.

The deeper you fall, the harder it is to recover.

Here are four reliable ways to tell:

1. They always leave you wanting more.

Isn’t this the root of the problem? An emotionally unavailable person will shut you out instinctively whenever you start to feel close. Without emotional availability, your partner is not able to fulfill a healthy need for love, validation, and emotional companionship. As such, every time they leave, you will find yourself wishing they wouldn’t. This sense of frustration can easily turn to infatuation. Think of the way food tastes better when you’re only offered a small sample. This tactic will leave you overestimating your partner’s quality, but it will never fill you up in a significant way.

2. Your feelings rarely impact their actions.

In a healthy relationship, each partner considers how their actions will make the other person feel. When a person is emotionally unavailable, however, this is difficult for them to do. Because they struggle to manage their own emotions, they can not take those of others into consideration effectively. It is truly too much for them simply to navigate their own desires. For this reason, they often exhibit bizarrely selfish behavior. Cheating, ghosting, and casual verbal abuse are common signs of emotional unavailability.

3. You feel lonely when you’re with them.

Even when the two of you are physically close, something is off – distant. As David Levithan wrote, “It would be too easy to say that I feel invisible. Instead, I feel painfully visible, and entirely ignored.” There’s something about an emotionally unavailable person that makes us increase our own sense of openness and vulnerability. It’s a cruel irony, because it too often leaves us feeling naked, exposed, and wholly rejected. In the saddest of cases, we may learn to put up walls ourselves.

4. They play hot and cold.

One night they ask you to be their prom date. The next day at school, they act as though they hardly know you. They tell you they don’t want to be in a relationship, but become furiously jealous when you start paying attention to someone else. They give you just enough to keep the hope alive – and not a drop more. You often feel you have them figured out, only to be proven wrong again. You may even start to wonder if you are crazy. Don’t worry. You’re not. It’s impossible to decipher what your partner wants when they don’t know themselves.

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other,” mused John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men. Maybe we are. Find the courage to connect. Find a partner who can do the same. It isn’t easy, but it might be the very best thing that humanity has to offer.

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