Often, when we have trouble in our relationships, it's tempting to blame the other person. Of course, sometimes issues are indeed the fault of the other party — sometimes, though, the fault lies with us, and it's important to realize when we ourselves might be the problem. If you've ever wondered if you are emotionally unavailable, or what the signs of being emotionally unavailable are, that's OK! Not having emotional availability for others (be it romantic, platonic, or otherwise) does not make you a bad person. However, if you're interested in developing a serious relationship with another person, having emotional availability can be key to the relationship feeling balanced and healthy.
If some of these traits hit you right in the stomach and you find yourself relating, it may be a good time to self-reflect. Again: It is OK to be emotionally unavailable at points in our lives. It is also OK, for example, to want to casually date without the emotional investment, or to casually hook up without laying your heart on your sleeve. And it's OK to just focus on yourself, and prioritize your free time getting to know yourself and your needs.
My personal suggestion, however, if these traits speak to you, or if you desire the above things, is to be upfront and honest about your mindset when you get involved with people. No one is entitled to a place in your heart just because they want to be there, and you aren't obligated to open up to everyone you connect with. But, in general, it's a good idea to treat people with respect and be upfront about where you're at and what you're looking for.
Think you might be emotionally unavailable? Here are some common traits that might speak to you:
1. You Don't Get Close to People
Okay, I know this seems like a huge and obvious statement, but bear with me. If you're emotionally unavailable, it's possible you are social, do make friends, and do go on date. But in moments of self-reflection, ask yourself this: Do you develop bonds with the people you'd call your closest friends and peers? Do you develop emotional ties to them? Do you invest your own emotions in them, or are more of a listening ear or frequent acquaintance? If you don't have emotional availability, the answer is likely to be no. Hanging out is one thing, but opening up is quite another.
2. You Cut People Out of Your Life
Now, don't get me wrong: Sometimes cutting toxic people from our lives is a really smart, good decision. But if you're emotionally unavailable, you may be quicker to cut people out of your life than you'd be if you formed emotional bonds or attachments with them. After all, it feels much more worthwhile to invest time in working through a problem or misunderstanding if you're invested in the person, right? But if you don't allow the investment to happen emotionally, it's much easier to drop people from your life when the first signs of trouble emerge.
3. You Struggle to Love Yourself
This one can feel like a hit right in the gut. Self-care and self-love are so important and integral to the way we view ourselves and the way we interact with others. If you're emotionally unavailable, it may come down to the way you love yourself; or rather, the way you don't love yourself. When we don't love ourselves, we often become skeptical of people who do. How can they see these good things in me, when I can't see them in myself? This self-doubt and self-criticism can be crippling to your ability to be open with other people, romantic or otherwise.
4. You've Just Gotten Out of a Relationship
Now, it's no one's business but your own how you deal with break-ups. If a relationship was serious or long-term (and truly, even if it wasn't "official," for that matter), it can have major impacts on your life. But if you've just gotten out of a serious relationship, you may be emotionally unavailable to the new people you're interested in. This situation is tricky, but the best bet (if you are interested in casual dating, for example) is to be upfront about your situation with the person you're interested in. You aren't obligated to give someone your emotions and that space in your heart, but you also don't want to lead someone on.
5. You Are a Perfectionist
Perfectionism often comes with positive associations: You are successful, you strive to do your best, and you have high standards. All great traits! However, if you're emotionally unavailable, you may use your perfectionism as a way to cut people out of your life too quickly, or to dismiss people as serious relationships at the smallest upset. Yes, having standards is valid and important, but it's always good to really sit down and consider what truly matters to you in a partner (or friend, or so forth). If you're emotionally unavailable, you may use your position as a "perfectionist" to pick people and situations apart because you're looking for ways to cut and run before you get invested.
6. You're Elusive
First things first: You don't owe anyone your time, even if they are a person you like and value. You should take care of yourself first and prioritize your own needs. However, if you're emotionally unavailable, you may take this mindset to the extreme. Do you often cancel plans at the last minute? Are you dodgy about when you're actually available to plan dinner or drinks? Do you keep your friends guessing as to whether or not you're going to show up to the group plans? Sure, people get busy, and some people are more organized than others, but if you're frequently enigmatic when it comes to making plans, it may be a sign you don't want to openly invest in others.
In short, if you feel like you are emotionally unavailable, or some of the above traits ring true for you, it's worth sitting down with yourself and doing some self-exploration. It's OK to prioritize yourself and focus on your own well-being and emotional health. On the flip side, it's important to consider how you interact with others — because sometimes, building relationships is one of the best ways we can take care of ourselves and each other.
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