Am I Emotionally Unavailable? (11 Ways To Tell If You’re Emotionally Distant)

by April Maccario

We all know about other people being emotionally unavailable, but if we’re the ones with the same issue that we see in other people? 

Maybe that string of short-term relationships is really a fear of intimacy instead of whatever we are telling ourselves. It can be hard to look in the mirror and realize that we’re the ones that are emotionally unavailable, but it can also be very rewarding. 

Once you realize the problem, you can take steps to solve it so that you can enjoy a healthy, fulfilling relationship. The more of these signs you relate to, the more likely it is that you are the emotionally unavailable person. 

Am I Emotionally Unavailable: 11 Sure-Fire Signs

1. You Avoid Being Close To People

you avoid being close to people

You might go out to lunch with friends or call to check on your sister, but that doesn’t mean that you’re emotionally available. Do you really talk to others about your feelings, or are you the one that is always listening and doling out advice to others having a hard time? Think back to your interactions and see how open you were with them. 

If you find that you aren’t sharing your thoughts and feelings, that’s a sign that you are avoiding emotional intimacy. When you never reveal your vulnerabilities, it means that you don’t let men hurt you either. You might tell them about a past hurt or something that would seem personal to other people, but you don’t tell them about the real things, like that childhood trauma. 

2. You Have Childhood Trauma

As children, we learn about attachment through how we are treated by our caregivers, whether that be parents, grandparents, or even foster parents. Unfortunately, this is not always a good thing. Some children are taught that their emotions are irrelevant, or made to feel unwanted. This results in you having an avoidant attachment style. 

An avoidant attachment style is marked by you avoiding things. You avoid conflict and drama but don’t mind watching it go on in someone else’s life. Talking about feelings and personal things is also avoided. Deeper down, you probably feel like no one will like the real you or no one will care about your feelings because that was the reaction that you got as a child. 

More traumatic experiences relating to abuse and neglect often breed being emotionally unavailable. This is because the trust that you had as a child was broken, whether it by parents, teachers, or other caregivers. It makes it harder to trust other people with literally anything, including who you really are. 

3. You Don’t Really Love Yourself

When you don’t truly love yourself, it slowly leads to you being an emotionally unavailable woman. There are several ways that low self-love can cause this. 

If you do not have self-love, it makes sense that friends or partners will not love the real you either. The end result is that you don’t let anyone get to know the real you. Instead, they get the chameleon version of yourself that you present to them because you’re scared that they will reject you. The end result is that you are emotionally unavailable to others because you don’t feel comfortable expressing your emotions. 

Other symptoms of low self-esteem include: 

  • Hard time making decisions
  • Hard time standing up for yourself
  • Profusely apologizing or feeling guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Hostility towards others (often to push them away)

4. You Love Your Independence

This is often the excuse that we give to others when we don’t want to change. We love doing what we want, when we want. While you might be a really busy person, we make time for things that we want to. It’s 2020, and everyone is doing something on their own. Sending a text message is not going to stifle your independence. Stop lying to yourself. 

Giving off the impression that you are just too independent for a relationship can be a huge sign of emotional unavailability. Those that are emotionally unavailable use this as an excuse to create distance between themselves and others without revealing their vulnerable side of causing conflict.

5. Commitments Are Not Your Thing

commitments are not your thing

When you’re not available emotionally, it can be hard to commit to plans or anything. For example, you say that you might attend things this coming weekend instead of giving a definite yes. You already have a plethora of reasons why you might not be able to go to certain events. Perhaps you’ve even self-diagnosed this as social anxiety. (Remember, mental disorders can only be diagnosed by a professional via therapy.)

Most people that are emotionally unavailable do this because they prefer to keep distance between themselves and others, which can include physical distance

6. You’re Preoccupied With Superficial Things

It’s common for people that have a hard time having a connection with other individuals to preoccupy themselves with other things. For example, if you go out to dinner, you may be more worried about what you’re wearing, and what everyone else is wearing, than you are invested in the conversation. Looks and other superficial things being of utmost importance is often a sign of not realizing how great you are, another characteristic that emotionally unavailable women often share. 

This also leads to being a perfectionist in several areas of life. For example, you might always keep an eye on your posture to ensure that you look perfect while sitting at the table. You also might feel a little OCD about your house. It is because when you have control over things, you are less likely to accidentally expose your vulnerability or due to low self-esteem. 

7. You’re Always Busy

You’re always busy, whether it be with the children, work, family obligations, or something else. This gives you a wealth of excuses so that you always have a reason to avoid everything if you would like. This makes it easy for emotionally unavailable people to keep their distance from people. 

Most of those that are emotionally unavailable do like to be social, but they fear getting too close to another person. Being busy lets them distance themselves when they are scared of someone or things start to move too quickly, yet they are still able to maintain a relationship with someone else, which is what they really crave. 

Being busy is the perfect life for someone that is emotionally unavailable and doesn’t want to change or someone that doesn’t realize they are the one who is emotionally unavailable. 

8. Executing Plans Is Not Your Strong Suit

If emotionally unavailable people do commit to plans, they are more likely to cancel. This happens for the same reason that they wind up not committing to plans or using the excuse that they are too busy: they are scared that they might be getting too close to someone. When you have a woman emotionally unavailable to other people, it will feel like making plans is hit or miss. 

It’s not just social plans, though. When a person is full of emotional unavailability, they might have problems executing their own plans for themselves as well. For example, they might come up with an exceptional business plan or future project but have a hard time executing those plans. This is because they are not in the right mindset to make things happen. 

9. You Don’t Have Genuine Conversations

you don't have genuine conversations

When you have genuine fears of intimacy, it can be hard to have genuine conversations. This often due to a fear of rejection or discomfort with opening up to someone else. It can also be due to being preoccupied with your surroundings, such as what other people are wearing or doing. It can be hard to be focused on having a quality conversation when your involvement revolves around other people. 

For example, if coworkers are attempting to discuss a problem with you, you might not fully be listening to what they are saying because you are thinking about the new eyeshadow one of them is wearing. This is often due to low self-worth or attempting to deflect things away from yourself. 

10. It’s Never Your Fault

It can be hard to admit this one, but if you are not emotionally available, you might find yourself as the victim in a lot of situations. If there was a rough breakup, you have a hard time admitting your part in the breakup. Instead, it is almost always the guy. This can apply to a lot of different areas. For example, if you accidentally burn the cookies, it was the oven or the recipe. Admitting blame makes you feel like crap, so it’s easier to avoid this altogether. 

Symptoms to watch out for if you might be guilty of this include: 

  • Not accepting responsibility
  • The feeling of being powerless
  • Holding grudges
  • Unhealthy limits
  • Hard time standing up for yourself

11. You Get Bored Easily

If you tend to get bored easily in relationships, this is a sign that you developed an insecure attachment style as a child, and it is still affecting you as an adult. Getting bored in the relationship is not just about sex, either. It often affects various areas of the relationship, from conversations to affection, and then affects the connection that you have with your partner. 

What To Do If You’re Emotionally Unavailable

If you were wondering am I emotionally unavailable, and saw a lot of the above signs in yourself, it’s time to decide if you would like to change. Some people are well aware that they have limited emotional availability, but would rather not change. If you have no desire to change, that’s your decision. 

Likewise, some people have a lot of emotional unavailabilities and would like to change so that they can have healthy relationships with other people. If you would like to take this journey, it can be very rewarding

1. Understand The Underlying Issue

While some people will be emotionally unavailable solely due to low self-worth, others may have issues that are deeply rooted from childhood. Each underlying issue requires a different approach, however. 

There is not a “one size fits all” solution for any person. If you have a difficult time admitting faults or taking that hard look in the mirror, seeking help from a therapist can help. 

2. Open Up A Little Bit At A Time

open up a little bit at a time

If you practice opening up to someone that you are already comfortable with, it will slowly help you open up to another person, such as a person that you’re dating. Begin by telling people a little about yourself or talking about your past with others. If opening up is difficult with friends or family, consider joining a support group. This typically involves sharing personal stories, which can help you heal and assist you with your emotional unavailability. 

3. Consider The Impact It Has On Your Life

If you are married, this definitely affects your marriage. It can also affect friendships, members of the family, and your work life. People may not feel comfortable talking to you because they do not feel close to you. 

You might not be included in events because you are known for canceling or being a no-show at events, which further adds to low self-worth. Remembering the negative impact that your emotional unavailability has on your life can help keep you motivated to change. 

4. Give Yourself Rules

If you know that you’re the one to cancel plans, give yourself a personal rule that you cannot cancel plans. Then, enlist the help of your partner, family, or friends to ensure that you are held accountable for your own actions. 

5. Consider Psychotherapy

This has been the go-to solution for those suffering from emotional unavailability for years. Likewise, emotional unavailability has been seen in numerous therapy studies as psychologists and researchers work together to determine the best approaches, underlying causes, and solutions. 

A professional therapist can help those with emotional unavailability see issues that they might not notice, or that others might not feel comfortable pointing out to them. They can also help:

  • Hold you accountable for your actions
  • Work with you on interpersonal communication skills
  • Provide tips and techniques to improve your personal view of yourself
  • Help you learn how to connect with others

Often, therapy involves using words to express your emotions, a safe place to discuss things, and a certain type of open relationship. This, in itself, can be very therapeutic for someone that has a hard time connecting to others. 

6. Make Small Goals

If you’ve taken a good look at those underlying issues, and it feels overwhelming, don’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, make a goal plan. This involves looking at those underlying issues and making small goals that can help you resolve them. As the days pass, continue to work on goals one at a time. Remember, this is a journey, not an overnight change. 

7. Surround Yourself With Emotionally Healthy People

surround yourself with emotionally healthy people

When you’re around someone that is available on an emotional level, it can help you open up more around that person. This is because you won’t feel awkward telling someone about yourself after they expose their vulnerable side. This can also assist you in developing better communication skills and healthy relationships. 

FAQs

How do you know if you are emotionally unavailable?

If you are, you’ll notice that you don’t have many close friends or relationships. Instead, you’ll find that most of your friends feel more like acquaintances. You may also suffer from symptoms of low self-worth, have a hard time with communication, and find yourself canceling plans. 

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable?

This means that you are closed off to other people on an emotional level. You do not have or feel comfortable with close, intimate relationships and have difficulty exposing your vulnerable side. You keep your true self hidden from the world. 

What causes emotional unavailability?

Sometimes, temporary things are the underlying cause. This could be a bad breakup, an abusive relationship, or being sucked into your career at the moment. Long-term things, such as mental illness and issues from childhood could also be the reason. 

What does emotional availability look like?

It looks superficial. When a person is emotionally unavailable, they appear cocky due to their low self-esteem, superficial due to them being focused on things other than themselves, and often lack long-term friendships and relationships. Everything always looks great on the outside though. 

Can an emotionally unavailable man fall in love?

Yes, they can. They do not love you the same way other men will, though. They love their need for you, things you do for them, etc. For this guy to truly fall in love with you, he has to slowly change and open up on his own. 

To Conclude

When you’re constantly seeing other emotionally unavailable people, realizing that you’re the emotionally unavailable one can be a tough pill to swallow. Have you ever been in this situation, even if temporary? How did you deal with it?

April Maccario
I'm a huge nerd when it comes to understanding how relationships between men and women work, and what drives a certain behavior. I spend much of my time getting into the nitty-gritty and try to share my findings on this site with the hope of making life a little easier for women that are struggling in their relationships or love life.

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