in: Dating & Relationships

6 Signs You’re in an Emotionally Unavailable Relationship

The signs can be blatant, they can be subtle, but they’re always there. If you suspect you’re involved in an emotionally unavailable relationship, read on.

Ok, so you met someone who knocks your socks off. The relationship may seem headed in the right direction, but suddenly, something doesn’t feel right. Maybe you feel its time to become exclusive, or maybe you’ve been together for awhile and you’re ready to move your relationship to the next level. But…your partner doesn’t seem to be jumping at the opportunity to be your one and only. In fact, the closer you become, the more he or she seems to pull away.

In the beginning of any relationship that makes it past a few dates, it’s easy to feel infatuated with someone. We get a rush of chemicals in our brains that make us feel like we’re living in a fairy tale. Then reality sets in and we start to find out if a relationship is going to last. It takes two emotionally available partners to keep a relationship going. If you want a committed relationship, it’s good to know how to spot an unavailable partner so you can prevent future heartbreak.

Here are some tell-tale signs of an unavailable partner:

States the obvious (but you ignore it).

Many unavailable partners make it very simple to detect them. Most people just decide not to listen; or because you feel so infatuated, you think it will be different with you. This is a big red flag. This partner will openly make statements about their dislike for marriage, commitment, or calling each other “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” If you try to have the “commitment discussion” (which you will probably have to bring up because they won’t), he or she will tell you that they don’t want to be exclusive/move in together/get married.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can change someone over time. If you hear comments like this, accept them as reality and move on if you want someone who is available.

Gives mixed signals.

Be weary of a partner who frequently gives confusing signals, such as texting or seeing you regularly, then disappearing or becoming distant with contact. This may happen after a great date, when you may have felt connected and intimate in some way. An emotionally unavailable partner will struggle with moments of intimacy, and will demonstrate this by distancing from you for periods of time.

You may also feel confused because the relationship starts off on a great note, and your partner seems to be very committed and attracted to you. Then you start to sense subtle changes and distancing. Emotionally unavailable people can be skilled at giving you just enough to keep you interested and holding on for more, but never quite enough to satisfy your need for connection.

If you feel confused by a partner in this way, ask yourself if you feel anxious and hungry for connection more than you feel connected and secure with this person. If so, it’s likely this partner is unavailable.

Can’t handle your emotions.

A partner who struggles with being emotionally available may have a difficult time expressing emotion, or with handling your emotions. Often, people who are dating emotionally unavailable people are people who are highly sensitive and crave intimacy. They may express their emotions more easily, and may feel a lot of anxiety when dating an unavailable partner.

If you are feeling anxious and that you’re needing more connection with your partner, and your partner meets you with criticism, a lack of support or understanding, or distances even more, take it as a sign this is not a good connection for you.

Struggles with addiction.

If your partner struggles with any kind of untreated addiction to drugs, work, sex, porn, etc., then it is highly unlikely that they will be able to make you a priority. The addiction will usually overrule their ability or desire to be available in a healthy way. No matter how much you love someone, if they are struggling with an untreated addiction, think twice about whether you can be supported by this partner.

Hung up on an ex (or still with one).

If your partner is recently divorced, separated, coming out of a breakup, or still in a relationship, this is an obvious danger zone. Everyone heals from a breakup at their own pace, so time is not always a good indication of whether someone is available. However, pay attention to whether your conversations always seem to focus on the ex. Your partner might frequently ask for advice, complain about the ex, or might just give you obvious signals that indicate they are still in love with an ex.

While this person might be available in the future, be cautious of falling in love with someone who isn’t fully ready to participate in a new relationship. You run the risk of them returning to an ex, or to having a nice rebound fling with you until they heal and get clear on the fact that they actually don’t want a relationship. Ouch.

Talks poorly about past relationships.

If your partner blames every ex for problems in past relationships and can’t take responsibility for their part, be wary. This type of person lacks the insight and awareness necessary for a relationship to thrive, even through difficult times. The failure of any relationship takes two, even if one person might be more at fault. Someone who can’t acknowledge their piece in these relationships struggles with intimacy.

If you have an ultimate goal of having a partner who is emotionally available and open to some type of commitment in your future, but your partner shows several of these signs, it might be time to re-evaluate whether this relationship is a good match for you.

If you are dating someone who is comfortable with intimacy and relationships, it’s possible to discuss where the relationship is going without emotional distancing or fear.

Do yourself, your heart, and your future a favor by having an honest conversation and asking for what you want. If your partner is still not willing to commit, put your chin up, respect your needs for commitment, and move on.


About the Author:

Chelli Pumphrey

Chelli Pumphrey, MA, LPC is a love & dating coach and a Licensed Professional Counselor from Denver, CO. More importantly, she’s a human being who strives to live an authentic life, by being real, raw, and unafraid to express her truth. She is devoted to helping others live and love passionately by gaining the confidence to be authentic in their own lives. She works with clients through her relationship coaching practice and as a therapist and founder of Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, where she offers retreats, dating and relationship coaching and therapy. If you’re looking to boost your dating confidence, self-esteem, and become a dating warrior, you can visit Chelli at, Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, follow on Instagram, Twitter, or like her on Facebook.


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