Emotionally Unavailable People Share These 10 Confusing Traits

Plus, how to know if the emotionally unavailable partner in the relationship is you.

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If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone you thought might be emotionally unavailable, you know the pain of not being able to get close to the one you love.

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable?

Emotionally unavailable people are often evasive (or simply inept) when it comes to talking about their feelings or your relationship. Some might use manipulative behaviors like anger, criticism, or avoidance to create emotional distance between you. Because of this, you end up feeling alone, depressed, unimportant, or rejected.


Usually, women complain about emotionally unavailable men, but women are perfectly capable of being emotionally unavailable, too.

RELATED: Men With These 5 Traits Are The Most Likely To Be Emotionally Unavailable

Like an emotionally unavailable man, an emotionally unavailable woman is someone who has a fear of being vulnerable in their relationships. But to hide her fear of commitment or intimacy, she may pass herself off as a highly independent person who has no interest in forming an emotional connection to last.


Unfortunately, a habit of getting hooked on men (or women) who are unavailable (think: Mr. Big and Carrie Bradshaw) can be a way to disguise a problem even from yourself, allowing you to remain in denial of your own emotional unavailability.

When a man says he’s emotionally unavailable, it can mean a few things. For one, it can mean he’s not interested in a commitment of any kind or starting a new relationship, and might prefer something more casual, or nothing at all.

A guy admitting he’s emotionally unavailable can also mean that he’s guarded, and has no intent to open himself up to anyone who wants to get to know him on a deeper level. This may stem from a fear of being vulnerable, or even a bad experience with relationships from his past.

If you are interested in a guy, but have either been told by him or figured out that he’s emotionally unavailable, you may wonder if he will ever come back into your life. While, after some time, it’s completely possible that he has changed and is open to a romantic relationship, it’s something he has to want for himself; you alone cannot convince him to come back.


So, while emotionally unavailable men can come back, more than likely, he hasn’t actually changed, especially if it hasn’t been too long since you realized what he’s like. If a guy like this comes to you, he’s trying to control you or use you, so it’s important to be careful.

Types of Emotional Unavailability

There are several types of emotional unavailability — both temporary and chronic.

Some people have always been unavailable due to factors like mental health or illness and/or a troubled childhood. Others may temporarily see other aspects of their life — such as family obligations, education, work project, or health concerns — as higher priority than a romantic relationship for a time.

Similarly, people who are recently divorced or widowed may temporarily not be ready to get involved with someone new. Then, there are those who are too afraid to risk falling in love because they’ve been hurt in the past, which may include being hurt by a parent when they were a child.


Often, these different reasons for being emotionally unavailable overlap, and it’s difficult to ascertain whether the problem is chronic or will pass.

If you’re looking for a close, committed relationship, a person living in another state or who is married or still in love with someone else is not likely to be there for you in the long-run. Similarly, people with active addictions are likely to remain emotionally unavailable because their addiction still controls them.

Of course, there are some people who give the appearance of emotional availability because they do speak openly about their feelings and their past. You won’t realize until you’re already in a relationship that they’re unable to fully connect emotionally or make a meaningful commitment.

Here are 10 subtle red flags that may signal unavailability, especially when several add up, followed by a list of questions to ask yourself to find out if you are ready for a committed relationship.


10 Traits of Emotionally Unavailable People

1. Flattering

Like snake charmers, these wooers may also be adept listeners and communicators. Often good at short-term intimacy, some allure with self-disclosure and vulnerability, but they prefer the chase to the catch.

2. Controlling

Someone like this won’t allow themselves to be inconvenienced or expected to modify their routine to accommodate you. Typically, people with a fear of commitment are inflexible and loathe compromises, expecting their relationships revolve around them.

3. Openly uncomfortable with the idea of being in a relationship

Your date may hint or even admit that they aren't good at relationships or that they don't believe in or aren't ready for marriage. Listen to these statements and believe them.

4. Prone to serial monogamy

Find out if the emotionally unavailable person has had prior long-term relationships and why they ended. You may learn that most ended at the stage when deeper intimacy normally develops.


5. Perfection seeking

These people look for and find a fatal flaw, and then quickly move on when they find it. The problem here is a fear of intimacy. When they can’t find imperfection, their anxiety rises. Given time, they will find an excuse to end the relationship. Don’t be tempted to believe you’ll fare better than their past partners.

6. Prone to irrational and/or misplaced outbursts of anger

Notice rudeness to waiters and others, revealing pent-up rage. This type of person is likely to be demanding and potentially emotionally abusive.

7. Arrogant

Avoid someone who brags and acts cocky, signaling low self-esteem. It takes authentic confidence to be intimate and committed.

8. Frequently late

Chronic lateness is inconsiderate, and can also indicate the person is avoiding a relationship. That said, don’t assume that punctuality means someone is automatically a catch.


9. Invasive or evasive

Secrecy, evasiveness, or asking inappropriate questions too soon may indicate a hidden agenda and unwillingness to allow a relationship to unfold naturally. Conversely, someone may conceal their past due to shame, which may create an obstacle to getting close.

10. Hyper-seductive

Seducers avoid authenticity because they don’t believe they’re enough to keep a partner. Once the relationship gets real, they’ll sabotage it. Seduction is a power-play and about conquest.

Most people reveal their emotional availability early on. Pay attention to the facts, especially if there’s mutual attraction. Even if the person seems to be Mr. or Mrs. Right, yet is emotionally unavailable, you’ll be left with nothing but pain.

If you overlook, deny, or rationalize to avoid short-term disappointment, you run the risk of enduring long-term misery. It's important that you be as honest with yourself as you expect others to be with you when it comes to your own level of emotional availability.


RELATED: 6 Signs Your Partner's Not Invested In The Relationship

11 Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out if You Are Emotionally Available and Ready For a Relationship

1. Are you angry at men or women in particular? Do you like jokes made at their expense? If so, you may need to heal from past wounds before you’re comfortable getting close to someone.

2. Do you make excuses to avoid getting together?

3. Do you think you’re so independent that you don’t need anyone for anything?

4. Do you fear falling in love because you may get hurt?

5. Are you always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Although people complain about their problems, many have even more difficulty accepting the good.


6. Are you distrustful? Maybe you’ve been betrayed or lied to in the past and now look for it in everyone.

7. Do you avoid intimacy by filling quiet times with distractions?

8. Are you uncomfortable talking about yourself and your feelings?


9. Do you have secrets you’re ashamed of that make you feel undesirable or unlovable?

10. Do you usually like to keep your options open in case someone better comes along?

11. Do you fear a relationship may place too many expectations and limitations on you, such as that you give up your independence or lose your autonomy?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, counseling can help you heal so you'll be able to take the risk of getting close to someone. Note that if you’re involved with someone who is emotionally unavailable, pressuring them to be more intimate will be counterproductive.

There’s also a chance you may be involved with a narcissist, particularly if you spot arrogance, entitlement, or rudeness. Typically narcissists avoid emotional vulnerability. However, marriage or couples counseling can change the relationship dynamics and help you to have a more fulfilling intimate, healthy relationship.


RELATED: How To Tell If A Guy Is Emotionally Unavailable — Or Seriously Manipulative & Dangerous

Darlene Lancer is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and expert author on relationships and codependency. Her books are available on Amazon and her website.