How To Spot An Emotionally Unavailable Partner

Imagine this.

You need a new outfit for an event you’re going to. You are in the fitting room, trying on things and you come across this one item that looks absolutely amazing BUT it’s too long, too short and it doesn’t exactly fit in the waist area. ‘ If only, it was…’ ‘ I don’t like…’. I think we have all found ourselves in this particular situation. It doesn’t matter what we say or do, something just isn’t quite right. That’s emotional unavailability  from an analogical perspective.

An emotionally unavailable partner will never bring you inner or spiritual peace. Emotional unavailability is a term that I was introduced to when I read Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl by Baggage Reclaim’s Natalie Lue. An emotionally unavailable person is someone who creates barriers between themselves and others in an effort to avoid emotional intimacy. Before I read this book, I always thought emotional unavailability was deliberate but anybody can display the traits of an emotionally unavailable individual. Some subconsciously, while others are fully aware of their actions and enjoy the destructive merry-go-round they put their partners on.

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The good thing about detecting emotional unavailability in others is that there are always signs. You just need to be attentive enough to watch out for them. It is challenging, especially when you’ve met someone new, they seem absolutely amazing and you’ve already convinced yourself that you’ve caught a good egg.

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Here are some signs that you have an emotionally unavailable partner:

They are in a relationship with someone else – If a man is in a relationship with someone else, he won’t have any time for you. The same goes for men who are separated or waiting for a divorce to come through. They are still emotionally unavailable. The barrier that’s stopping them from fully committing to you is their current circumstance. Don’t fool yourself – you will always come second. Also, avoid the guy who is still hung up on his ex. If he’s talking about her constantly (whether it’s positive or not) and it’s obvious that he hasn’t quite let go yet, run for the hills.

Their words, actions and character do a complete 360 – In the early stages of a relationship or dating, consistency is one of the things you need to look out for. If the guy you are dating is wishy-washy, this is a major red flag. If he blows hot and cold, do not go above and beyond to keep his interest. The chances are that he enjoys playing games with your heart and your mind. Some men aren’t aware but remember that it’s not your place to fix, heal or protect anybody. Acknowledge why there is an issue, be at peace with knowing that there’s nothing you could possibly do to change it and just walk away. This may sound cliched but the right guy will do the right things. Through their actions (not WORDS), you will feel a certain sense of security. Nobody wants to constantly have to tell someone how to treat them, so don’t be that woman.

They can’t deal with conflict – This has got to be one of the biggest dealbreakers and you know what? Half the time, we don’t even realise it’s happening. I had my first serious boyfriend (now ex) in 2012 and I remember how he used to hate arguing. Unaware, I thought it was the sweetest thing. I didn’t even think there was a possibility he could be emotionally distant. He dumped me in my home a week after I graduated in July of that year. I’m sharing this (old) experience because I want you all to understand how good conflict runners can be.

Avoiding conflict is dangerous because you just never know how the other person is feeling. If a guy tells you he hates arguing, be VERY concerned. These are the types of men who will put on a glorious facade, making you believe your relationship is perfect. He may even ask to meet your family or friends and then disappear soon after. Sounds terrible but these kinds of men do exist. Expressing ourselves is something we do every single day (whether it’s out loud or in our minds). It’s a human right. Arguments, debates, doubts. We all have them. We should ALL have them. Don’t settle for anyone who lacks such traits and most importantly, don’t let them back into your life!

They only want you for sex – Unless you have both agreed that’s what you’re doing, there is no reason why someone who genuinely wants to get to know you should be rushing you into bed. If it’s clear that’s all he wants and your desire is to have a meaningful relationship, just bid him farewell. Once a guy has programmed his mind to believe that you will ‘give it up’, there is no way he will transition from seeing you as some sort of sex toy to seeing you as a potential girlfriend or even wife. It’s nice to always see the good in people but once a guy has made his intentions clear, that’s it. You can’t change him and you can’t change his thought process. Some people have been able to make the move from a physical to a meaningful relationship but this is very rare and very difficult – probably twice as harder as other relationships.

They are throwing you crumbs – Again, this is another term I learned from Baggage Reclaim. You’ve met a great guy who calls you on a Monday and you don’t hear from him until Sunday. When he calls you on Sunday, he tells you some sweet nothings and then he goes cold turkey on you until the following Thursday. A crumb thrower will entice you with hints of their potential to be loving or whatever you desire them to be. I’m the biggest advocate for women NOT telling men what they look for in a partner. If a man knows exactly what you are looking for, he will use it to his advantage. It’s only a sauceless man who will have the chest to ask ‘wHaT iS It YoU’rE LoOkInG fOr In A PaRtNeR?’. If this question rears its deplorable head, start planning your exit. An authentic individual will NEVER ask you who they want you to be. That’s like starting a new job and asking your boss who they want you to be! It’s crazy. That question is a red flag and I wish more relationship writers would talk about it!

Their words and behaviour don’t match – One of the Four Agreements is ‘Be impeccable with your word’. This agreement has always stayed with me. If you say you are going to do something, do it! Having been brought up in a single parent home, I know all about failed promises, disappointments and the toll that they can take on a child and young adult. In a dating or relationship situation, always pay attention to your (potential) partner, they should be starter-finishers. Things as simple as promising to meet you at a certain time or making plans and cancelling them at the last minute. If these things happen consistently, have a conversation but if they continue to happen even once you’ve let them know how you feel, it’s time to think about walking away. Nothing irks me like a failed promise. I had made an agreement with a previous partner about something, and on the day, I delivered and he didn’t. This definitely made me weary, even though it wasn’t the reason the relationship ended.

Emotional unavailability isn’t tough to understand, although some signs are more obvious than others. We all show our best selves in the first stages of a relationship. This is why it’s eye opening to observe what you see and examine how you feel. Be attentive to the traits and characteristics the special person in your life possesses. Get involved with someone who reciprocates your actions. Learn to withdraw even if your passion is strong. What you truly want will find its way to you.

This post has been a lengthy one, however, I hope you enjoyed it. Do feel free to leave a comment or question below. It’s always great to hear from you all. Also, don’t forget to like and subscribe to my space xo

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  • Dolce Speaks
    January 27, 2019

    wowwwww this post was way to accurate!!!! I don’t even know where to start! GREAT post sis! Sharing everywhereeeee

  • I tend to think of myself as an “emotionally unavailable person” – but it’s by choice and hence why I’m not exactly rushing to get into any relationships either. I know that I can’t (or maybe don’t want to be) emotionally open to other people very much and so I do the responsible thing by being up front about it and understanding if others are not just not here for that.

    • Its Kelle's Space
      January 28, 2019

      I think we all are emotionally unavailable in some way, which is why it’s important to check in with ourselves once in a while.
      I can relate to what you are saying completely.

  • Sunshine with Savannah
    January 29, 2019

    Great post! I agree wholeheartedly with all of these. Sometimes we grow out of these traits, and other times we settle into them. I used to be a person that liked to avoid confrontation, and it completely changed my perspective when I realized that conflict is a healthy part of life. It always bugs me to hear of couples who “have never had a real fight,” because it honestly does not seem like a true and deep relationship, and one that lacks the intimacy that comes with conflict.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Its Kelle's Space
      January 29, 2019

      Thank you Savannah! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post. I couldn’t agree more – I also am bugged by people who seem to avoid confrontation at all costs because it’s a huge part of daily life. We all encounter things we aren’t crazy about so it’s important to be vocal about wants/needs/expectations etc.
      Thanks for your comment.
      P.S: I will check out your latest post.

  • rapdoubleohbaby
    January 30, 2019

    Where were you 6 years ago with this post!! You could’ve saved me from a lot of heartbreak! You are so on the money and I can attest to all that you say! Luckily I’m over that hill but a really great post!

  • officialosi
    January 30, 2019

    This post is 💯

  • Ashley Sugimoto
    February 1, 2019

    This was an interesting read because I had once been pretty emotionally unavailable, and have transitioned into someone who is. Made me reflect!

    • Its Kelle's Space
      February 1, 2019

      Thank you Ashley! I’m glad you liked the post.
      Well done for making that change.
      A lot of people don’t realise that emotional unavailability can happen to anyone – most of the time the term is always linked to guys who aren’t serious but women can be emotionally unavailable as well.
      Thanks for reading!

  • V T
    February 2, 2019

    It’s so tough in life already. These people make it tougher.