7 Signs You're The Emotionally Unavailable One In Your Relationship — And How To Work On It
It can be a weird feeling when you realize your relationship isn't working. But it happens — even in a long-term relationship — that, despite spending months or years together, you can realize that something is just missing. Sometimes that thing that's missing is a fundamental compatibility issue, sometimes, you and your partner are just growing apart, but, sometimes, you're the person holding your relationship back. If you're emotionally unavailable, the relationship can only ever go so far. Being emotionally unavailable is not something to feel awful about, it's just something to know and understand, so you can work on it.
"Having a better understanding of yourself will help you navigate your relationship," NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson tells Bustle. "You will learn your triggers and how best to avoid them or deal with them. This will lead to less arguing in your relationship and more understanding of differences."
So how do you know if you're emotionally unavailable? Well, it may be that your partner has said it. But if not, there are signs based off how you treat your partner — and how you feel about the relationship as a whole — that can show you're not being open. Or at least, not open to a relationship with this partner. Here's what you need to look out for, according to experts.
1. You're Really Critical Of Your Partner
It's normal to feel frustrated at some point with your partner, but do you nit-pick your partner? Or just outright criticize them? Practicing psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, PhD, author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, tells Bustle that criticizing your partner — especially over small things — is a way of pushing them away, and a sign that you're emotionally unavailable.
2. You Want To Break Up Whenever You Hit A Rough Patch
If you have the itch to run whenever you have a fight or a disagreement, it may be a sign that you're emotionally unavailable.
What can you do? Well, just sticking around after a disagreement and working through it can make the difference. "The best way to become more emotionally available is to stay put when things get tough," professional astrologer Rachel Lang tells Bustle.
3. You Don't Want To Talk About The Future
Your long-term plan doesn't need to involve a wedding and babies — it can involve traveling around the world or quitting your job. But, at some point in a long-term relationship, your partner will probably want to discuss the long-term plan. If you can't talk about a future with them, it's time to ask yourself why.
4. Your Partner Isn't Emotionally Available, Either
If you feel like your partner isn't emotionally invested or emotionally open in the relationship, that can be a sign that you're not, either. “One of the key points I discuss with my clients is we often attract people who are in a similar emotional place as we are. So it's important to honestly assess how emotionally available you are first,” Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner tells Bustle. It may be that you're with this person because neither of you are willing to really invest in someone, so you're both acting as placeholders.
5. You Can Never Understand Where Your Partner Is Coming From
You might not always agree with your partner but, it's important to see their point of view. If you have the urge to dismiss your partner's feelings because they make no sense to you more often than not, then you may not be opening up emotionally.
Try to take a breath and imagine what it would be like to be in their position. And, if that doesn't work, ask them to talk about how they feel... and really listen.
6. You Don't Involve Your Partner In Your Life
Even though some couples are more independent than others, psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle that there's a time when your lives will naturally start to interact, at least a bit. They'll spend time with your friends and family and your lives will start to overlap. If you are holding back on letting your partner spend time with the people who are important to you — or being involved in your life — you may want to think about why that is. It may be that you're not sure about your partner.
7. You Don't Have The Energy To Fight With Them
Sometimes an issue just doesn't feel worth fighting about, so you'll ignore big problems, try to dodge your partner's attempts to connect, or just walk out of a room. If you don't want to fight, it may be that you're just not that invested in your partner, because fighting is actually a really important part of a relationship . "Believe it or not, relationship disagreements are not a bad thing," psychologist and relationship expert Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S tells Bustle. "Arguments with your partner can evolve into deeper relationship intimacy. In fact, the desire to occasionally argue is a strong indication that you and your partner care about each other and your life together. The trick, of course, is learning to resolve your conflicts healthfully, in ways that strengthen rather than diminish your relationship."
If you can't even be bothered to engage in a disagreement, you may not really care about fixing the problem. If that's the case, you'll want to think about why you're in this relationship.
Often we view our partners as the emotionally unavailable one — but sometimes we're the one holding back. If you feel yourself holding back, then the best thing to do is be honest with yourself and think about why you're not being open: is it because you have some emotional maturing you need to do in general or is something about this particular relationship holding you back? At the end of the day, only you will know.