What Does It Mean To Be Emotionally Unavailable?

Some people always seem to hold back a part of themselves from others. Emotional unavailability can take many forms, and can range from temporary to chronic, but it usually culminates in the same problem…an obstacle to fully connect and commit to another person emotionally.

There are certain telltale signs of emotional unavailability you can watch out for. One notable sign is feeling like a person is challenging to get to know—emotionally unavailable people usually obscure parts of themselves as a self-defense mechanism. Another couple of signs are that they don’t seem to be interested in your life, or they use criticism or anger to create distance between you. At the heart of emotional unavailability is usually a fear of being hurt. The individual chooses not to make themselves too vulnerable to others, creating an inherent sense of emotional distance that people often perceive and struggle with when dealing with an emotionally unavailable person.

Emotionally unavailable people often invest themselves in other parts of their lives that don’t require emotional closeness. Choosing work over relationships is another sign that a person is avoiding emotional connection out of self-defense.

Ultimately, emotional unavailability can best be understood as another person’s attempt to protect themselves from what they perceive to be risks that could hurt them. Our family has a significant impact on our emotional development and the relationships we have later on in life. It’s possible that the emotionally unavailable person didn’t receive the emotional support from their parents that taught them feeling stronger emotions was natural and safe. Understanding an emotionally unavailable person means understanding the childhood that brought them to this pattern of behavior.

For an emotionally unavailable person to move closer towards healthier connections, it’s integral they feel secure and able to trust. The best way for an emotionally unavailable person to regain some of their emotional life is to slowly allow more and more connections in their life, only in ways that feel safe enough to withstand. Healing emotional unavailability is an uncomfortable process, as it will require the individual to tolerate what feels like intense discomfort and emotional claustrophobia at times. Emotional unavailability is not set in stone and can be improved, but the person struggling with this must be prepared to put in the time and effort.

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