Are You Emotionally Available or Unavailable?

Emotional availability describes the ability to sustain emotional bonds in your relationships.

Having healthy relationships involves having emotional connections with others. If you don’t have these connections, you are more likely to be emotionally unavailable and find relationships challenging.

You may find that you have much in common with your partner, even a great sexual chemistry, but you seem to lack something, and things seem a little off.

Does your partner shy away from chatting about emotional experiences, talk a lot about their life experiences but never seem to ask about your interests? If so, they may care about you, but they may be emotionally unavailable.

Recognizing emotional unavailability

Not everyone likes to talk about emotions all the time, but it’s important to connect on an emotional level in relationships.

If your partner can’t open up, even when you initiate a conversation and ask direct questions, they may be emotionally unavailable.

This can be confusing, as many emotionally unavailable people make you feel great about yourself and hopeful about the future of your relationship.

Watch out for these signs…

  • They don’t like making plans.
    Emotionally unavailable people often show less inclination to make commitments, whether these commitments are minor or more significant.


  • They call the shots.
    If you do fit into their plans, they tend to choose what you do together which fits in and aligns with their typical routine.  They seldom ask what you would like to do and become irritated when you do not want to go along with their plans.


  • You do all the relationship work.
    They may enjoy spending time with you, if it works for them, but often find it difficult to initiate any plans. If you don’t make things happen, they probably won’t either. If you aren’t spending time together, you hear from them rarely. They take a long time to reply to your meaningful messages or simply ignore them.


  • They avoid the word ‘relationship’.
    Emotional unavailability can involve commitment and intimacy fears.

In the beginning of the relationship, they openly share vulnerabilities or say how much they enjoy spending time together with you, but that’s how emotional unavailability can trap you.

Unless they do some serious work on themselves, you’ll continue investing more energy into the relationship and they’ll keep avoiding reciprocation.  You’ll end up feeling drained  until you’re too emotionally exhausted to continue.

Could I be the emotionally unavailable one?

Maybe some of the above signs resonated with you as traits you’ve noticed in yourself.

Emotional unavailability doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong.

It’s important to take enough time for yourself, but if you end up canceling plans with your partner often, you may need to consider why you feel the need to avoid spending too much time together.

You may be fiercely independent.

You worry about losing your independence if you’re involved.

Maybe you like to do things your way, on your schedule, and don’t want to change your life to fit someone else’s.


Trust does not come easily to you.

If someone betrayed you in the past, you may want to avoid exposing your vulnerabilities to someone again.  So, you then shut down or change the subject when your partner urges you to open up.


If you have a pattern of relationships with emotionally distant partners, consider whether you’re getting back what you’re putting out.


Factors which contribute to emotional unavailability

  • Childhood attachments to primary caregivers who did not show much interest in your feelings or show much affection or support.
  • Emotional unavailability can also happen temporarily when living with mental health conditions, like depression.
  • Breaking up with a previous partner and experiencing relationship pain can make it tough to become vulnerable with a new partner.
  • Having experienced relationships toxicity, infidelity, unrequited feelings or abuse.
  • Experiencing low self-esteem


Emotional unavailability does not have to be permanent.

  • Identify the cause and explore the root issues.
  • Practice opening up by starting a journal.
  • Share emotional issues with someone trusted.
  • Spend time with people in healthy relationships.


Emotional unavailability, on either side, can cause a lot of frustration and distress. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your relationship.

Talking to your partner and exploring behaviors can help you start identifying possible issues and allowing you to work through them productively.

Patience, communication, and support are key!