How to be Emotionally Available in a Relationship


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Written by Emmy Stephens

Masters in Psychology

10 Jul, 2021

Do you struggle to build deeper connections in your relationships? Do you feel as though you are terrified of opening up to new people? Has someone recently accused you of being "emotionally unavailable?" Being emotionally unavailable is a more common experience than you may believe. It is often the events that occur in your life that can lead to your emotional unavailability. The reasoning behind this is because your emotional availability is typically directly correlated to the incidents that have occurred in your lifetime. 

There are many reasons you may feel emotionally unavailable. Maybe you have dealt with a heartbreak that has been difficult to get over. Perhaps you grew up in a home situation that has followed you into your adult relationships. Or, maybe you have done something to hurt someone you love in the past and fear doing it again. 

What Does it Mean to Be Emotionally Unavailable?

Whether or not you are emotionally unavailable can be glaringly obvious to you, or it can be so subtle you don't even notice it yourself. Those who are emotionally unavailable tend to find their relationships lacking in intimacy and depth. They struggle to open up about themselves and commit to something as simple as a coffee date planned a week in advance. This is because emotionally unavailable people tend to fear commitment, struggle to trust others and find themselves unable to open up about their feelings, thoughts, and opinions.

Signs That You Are Emotionally Unavailable

 People who are emotionally unavailable will struggle in their romantic life, friendships, and familial relationships. They may feel like they are alone or like nobody truly understands them. Sometimes, they may not even realise that they are emotionally unavailable- shutting out others and avoiding committing to plans. If you have found yourself questioning whether or not you are emotionally unavailable, there are some signs you can watch out for. They include:

Hating to Make Plans

Those who are emotionally unavailable tend to struggle with commitments. Do you find yourself hesitating when your friends try to make plans for a game night a week in advance? Or, does the thought of planning a vacation for next summer with your significant other leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious? If you are dealing with being emotionally unavailable, you may find yourself avoiding committing too much of anything. 

You Don't Put Effort into Your Relationships

People who struggle with emotional unavailability don't tend to be the first person to text, the one planning dates, or the one reaching out to hang. You may have had romantic partners and even friends complain that they feel like they always have to call or text you. You may even take days or weeks to respond to a simple text message.

You Avoid Labelling Things

Are you strictly a casual dater? Emotionally unavailable people will feel fearful of committing to a romantic partner, taking their relationship to the next level. This can often lead to them unable to date one person for long because many of their relationships will lack intimacy and depth.

You Lack Deep and Intimate Relationships

People who are dealing with emotional unavailability tend to struggle opening up to other people. You may find yourself wondering why all of your relationships seem to be so shallow or why it seems like nobody knows the real you. This is because you likely struggle to talk about your own life, feelings, or opinions. When you don't open up to others, it makes it hard to build a deeper connection with them.

You Struggle with Trust

A lot of the time, people who are emotionally unavailable have dealt with a betrayal of their trust in the past. This lack of trust can lead to many issues with trusting others in future relationships. 

How to Work on it

Now that you have determined if you are emotionally unavailable, you may be ready to open yourself up and begin to connect with other people on a deeper, more meaningful level. We are here to provide you with some tips to get you back on track.

Figure Out the Why

Why are you emotionally unavailable? Did your ex-best friend betray your trust? Have you just gone through a bad breakup? If you are dealing with this issue, you may just need time to heal before putting yourself back out there. However, if the reason behind your emotional unavailability is more serious, like abuse or trauma, you may need to seek the help of a therapist. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

People who struggle with emotional unavailability tend to struggle with a fear of opening themselves up to being hurt. In psychology, a common approach to helping people face their fears is through exposure therapy. You can slowly practice opening up by practicing methods like keeping a journal and opening up to people you trust.

Be Kind to Yourself

You cannot expect yourself to suddenly begin showing your vulnerable side to everyone you meet tomorrow. This process will take time and practice. Be kind and patient with yourself as you learn and grow. 

Develop an Understanding of Toxic Thinking Patterns

From telling yourself that you do not deserve to be loved, to believing that everybody is going to betray your trust; toxic thinking patterns will be just the thing that keeps you emotionally unavailable. Work to be more mindful of your thoughts. If you find negative self-talk thoughts swirling around your head, work to replace them with compassionate thoughts.

Talk to a Therapist

Sometimes, you may need assistance in getting through being emotionally unavailable. A therapist can help you pinpoint the reason behind your emotional unavailability, find negative thought patterns affecting how you think about your relationships, and develop a method to help yourself open up to the people you love. 

Final Thoughts

If you are dealing with being emotionally unavailable, you may be ready for a change. From losing friendships or relationships over your fear of commitment to feeling fear when it comes to trusting others, emotional unavailability can be challenging and lonely. We are here to help you through this. If you are in need of help, our compassionate and experienced therapists are here to help you.

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Emmy Stephens

Masters in Psychology

Emmy Stephens has her Master's degree in psychology and has been writing mental health articles for more than 6 years. Earning her degree did more than furthering her education in psychology but also gave her a passion for researching complex subjects and writing reliable and helpful information.

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