You’ve fallen in love, but what happens when you can’t get close to the one you love? The closer you want to get, the more they pull away, holding you at arm’s length. Making you feel unwanted and unloved. Marion Rodrigue from GroundWork Counseling reveals the top five signs you’re with an emotionally unavailable partner, and why they withdraw the closer you get.
What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable?
Being emotionally unavailable means the individual is unable to connect with a partner in a close, intimate way.
Emotionally unavailable individuals typically create distance in the relationship. Distance can be obtained by being physically absent, for example, spending a great deal of time at work going out with friends, on devices (computer, phone) engaging in addictive behaviors or creating emotional distance by being critical or starting a fight.
5 Signs You’re With An Emotionally Unavailable Partner
They’re out of touch with feelings.
Emotionally unavailable individuals often have a difficult time expressing their feelings states. This emotional disconnect often leads to difficulties within the relationship as the person has a hard time explaining how and why they feel a certain way. Expressing emotions tends to make the person feel too vulnerable in the relationship.
They have difficulty receiving and giving affection
Affection is a necessary component of a satisfying relationship, yet emotionally unavailable individuals often withhold affection and have a difficult time receiving it as well. This is often because the person deeply fears rejection, so to minimize the risk of possibly being rejected, affection becomes absent in the relationship.
They have a difficult time with emotional subjects
Sharing deeply is a way we connect emotionally with others. Many emotionally unavailable individuals shy away from “deep” subjects as sharing emotionally is very frightening to them as it creates vulnerability and opens up the possibility of experiencing strong emotions.
They prefer to be alone
Emotionally unavailable individuals often prefer being alone and will create distance in the relationship. Distance can be obtained by being physically absent. For example, spending a great deal of time at work going out with friends, on devices (computer, phone) engaging in addictive behaviors or creating emotional distance by being critical or starting a fight.
They’re unable to be emotionally supportive
Because emotions are so frightening to the emotionally distant individual, validating feelings and being supportive when a partner is experiencing strong emotions is very difficult. Often, when the person was a child, their emotional displays were met with parental rejection or punishment and they never learned to give comfort and support.
Why do people hold back emotionally?
Emotionally unavailable individuals hold back emotionally because emotions and intimacy are uncomfortable. Emotionally unavailable individuals have often have attachment issues that stem from childhood.
Possibly the individual’s parent was neglectful, emotionally unavailable, or emotionally or physically abusive. This may have made the individual apprehensive and distrusting of love and they may have developed unhealthy core beliefs of being unlovable, or deficient in some way.
Keep attracting emotionally unavailable partners? Here’s why.
Individuals who continuously get into relationships with emotionally unavailable people may also have emotional intimacy issues. They may be “hooked” on the infatuation phase and become uncomfortable with deeper love and intimacy. Because of their own early attachment style and fear of abandonment, they may contribute to the push-pull of this unhealthy relationship.
Can someone who is emotionally unavailable change?
An individual who is emotionally unavailable can change by first recognizing these unhealthy behaviors and acknowledging their fear of intimacy. They can work on becoming more emotionally available by challenging their core beliefs. Learning to be vulnerable in the relationship and engaging with their partner without pulling away and distancing themselves. The individual must be willing to put in the work.
What should one do if you’re with an emotionally unavailable partner?
If you are in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person, it is important to remember that the person is extremely frightened and uncomfortable with strong emotions. They may often shut down in order to experience emotions and chasing after them rarely works. They need space to figure out what they are experiencing.
If you are the type of person who needs a great deal of intimacy and connectedness in a relationship, you may have chosen a partner who may never fully give you the emotional connection you need. Honest communication is crucial. Couple’s therapy can be very beneficial.
At GroundWork Counseling, I specialize in working with adults who are suffering from OCD and anxiety disorders (e.g. panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, health anxiety, and phobias).
My treatment approach is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) as well as Acceptance-Based Strategies.
I became certified in CBT and REBT after completing extensive training at The Albert Ellis Institute in New York City and I have received specific training for the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Academy and I am a graduate of the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation’s Behavioral Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) in Houston, Texas. Less than 1% of mental health professionals in the country have received this level of specialized training for the treatment of OCD. I am also a Diplomate of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through the Academy of Cognitive Therapists. I am a Nationally Certified Counselor, a member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, the American Counseling Association and the International OCD Foundation. To keep informed of the latest research and treatment approaches, I regularly attend National CBT and OCD conferences and seminars.
My approach to therapy includes planning evidenced-based interventions with my clients that are tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual and incorporates each client’s values. I help clients to understand and manage negative emotions, and build skills to tolerate and decrease anxiety.
I have experience working with adults who suffer from a wide variety of obsessions and compulsions related to OCD. I have worked with individuals with obsessions related to contamination (e.g. germs, toxins), fears of losing control (e.g. acting on impulse, violent images), fears related to harm (e.g. being responsible), perfectionism (e.g. evenness, exactness, losing things), and unwanted sexual thoughts (e.g. sexual molestation, same-sex, perverse thoughts).
I am LGBTQ affirming and I offer a warm, non-judgmental environment. I approach each client with determination, enthusiasm and a good sense of humor.