If you’re dating someone who is emotionally unavailable, you’ll probably wind up feeling neglected and dissatisfied. Maybe they disappear for days at a time or fail to return your phone calls. Maybe they say they want a relationship, but they criticize you for trying to label it.
There are many different causes and symptoms related to being distant. You may even be surprised to know that the situation could have as much to do with you as with your partner, especially if it’s a pattern for you.
Emotional unavailability poses serious obstacles to love and commitment, but you may be able to work things out. Put your love life back on track with this guide to changing or leaving this kind of challenging relationship.
Emotional unavailability can be a long term or temporary condition. For example, if your potential partner was recently divorced, they may need a little time to adjust. Even if someone is a bit ambivalent by nature, they may be able to change if they really want to.
- Listen closely. If your date tells you that they’re not interested in a serious relationship right now, believe them. You may prevent a great deal of frustration for both of you.
- Focus on actions. What if someone tells you that you’re their soulmate, but they keep making other plans on Saturday nights? When their actions and their words contradict each other, pay more attention to what they really do.
- Address the issue. Are you living in denial? Being honest about your relationship is the first step towards making positive changes. You may be able to help your partner open up, but only if they want it for themselves.
- Set boundaries. Honor your needs. Be assertive about how you expect others to treat you and how you will respond if they exceed your limits.
- Risk vulnerability. If your partner has trouble sharing their feelings, you may be tempted to shut down too. On the other hand, if you remain vulnerable and authentic, you may be able to show them that there are healthier alternatives.
- Stop abuse. Emotional unavailability may sometimes lead to abuse. Contact a local hotline if you need trouble ending a relationship that is putting your safety and wellbeing at risk.
Developing intimacy is often difficult, so you might want to remove as many obstacles as you can.
- Look for patterns. Examine your track record. If you often find yourself dating someone who is married or just way too mysterious, you may be uncomfortable making a commitment too.
- Go online. Dating sites make it easy to discover new options and get lots of practice. Browse online and create your own profile.
- Pace yourself. When you’re dating someone, get to know them before you become infatuated. You’ll be able to see them more clearly.
- Pursue your interests. You might want to take a break from dating while you revise your strategy. Get engaged in activities where you can mingle with others who have similar interests. You’ll enjoy yourself, and you might meet new friends and romantic prospects.
- Seek counseling. Therapists can help individuals or couples with commitment issues. Ask family and friends for a referral or check with professional associations like the American Psychological Association.
Be honest with yourself about whether you’re satisfied with your romantic relationships or need to change your approach to dating. If you want genuine intimacy, seeking out emotionally available partners is more likely to deliver the results you want.