Emotional availability is a prerequisite for emotional intimacy and the cornerstone for any healthy and loving relationship.
Emotional availability is the seed that allows deep love and affection to blossom and maintains a relationship’s health when partners have left the honeymoon stage and are now in a long-term committed relationship.
Without emotional availability, a relationship is doomed to fail. When partners close off because of their availability, there is not much of a relationship left to salvage.
This article will take a deep dive into the importance of emotional availability, what happens to people and relationships when one or both partners are emotionally unavailable, and how to be emotionally available by doing some conscious inner work and being deeply unreservedly honest with yourself.
What Is Emotional Availability?
Emotional availability is one’s ability to be present, honest, and open with another person on an emotional level. The term applies to personal relationships, romantic or otherwise.
When both partners are emotionally available, they establish a strong emotional connection that elicits deep bonding and strengthens the relationship.
The relationship is prepared to handle stress and challenges effectively with such a strong connection. Even when things get tough, you and your partner understand that your connection can transcend whatever struggle you are going through.Researchpublished in Frontiers in Psychology defines emotional availability (EA) as:
‘The ability of two people to share a healthy emotional connection, and it thus elucidates the emotional and dyadic quality of relationships.’
When you recognize emotional unavailability and you look at how your behaviors affect your partner, it shows that you are invested in the relationship.
As mentioned, relationships are a space of marked emotional vulnerability. If one partner perceives that the other is unavailable, they are likely to close off. This is a means of protecting oneself from unrequited love and emotional vulnerability.
As a partner, being emotionally available with your partner is offering them a space to be themselves.
You let them know that you are present, you are listening, and that you care. It does not mean that you agree with them all the time or do not have any conflict.
Healthy disagreement and conflict demonstrate emotional availability because it shows that you are emotionally invested in the relationship.
Why Are Some People Emotionally Unavailable?
Emotionally unavailable people tend to disregard their partner’s and their own emotional experience. As a result, a healthy relationship cannot prosper. In many cases, the emotional availability of a person is connected to their early childhood experiences.
Emotional unavailability often has its roots in one’s attachment style.
There are two main types of attachment styles: secure and insecure.
A secure attachment style is when one feels safe to be themselves without fear of abandonment or rejection from their partner. A person with this attachment style learned from a young age that they are inherently worthy through consistent care and affection from a present and emotionally available caregiver.
The other style is insecure, and this style stems from most cases of emotional unavailability.
Typically, a person with an insecure attachment style does not feel safe to be their authentic self in a relationship.
Fear keeps them in survival mode, where they apply learned coping methods to prevent others from hurting them physically and emotionally through rejection, abandonment, or neglect. Inconsistent parenting in childhood creates this attachment style and leads to adults who find it hard to trust and be vulnerable with others.
Consequences of Emotional Unavailability
1. Failed Relationships
If you have realized that you are an emotionally unavailable partner, you may have a series of failed short term or long term relationships that ended for that very reason.
Some of us take relationships lightly and do not assign much meaning to them. But most of us care an awful lot about our relationship dynamics, and as such, we want to be with someone we believe in who truly and deeply cares about us
Our past relationships may have hurt us or we may have failed to spend time and effort in recognizing our partner’s vulnerabilities because we focused too much on our own feelings.
You may have genuinely cared for your romantic partner, but the past relationship still came to an end. That may be because even though you cared in your relationship, your partner felt you were emotionally distant.
Not that we need to, or even should, constantly prove our love and affection, but we do need to be available to our partners on an emotional level. That means letting them in on our vulnerabilities, opinions, and even aspects of their behavior that we do not like.
If we do not, we will achieve short-term relief from the fear of vulnerability and closeness but ultimately increase our own feelings of isolation and loneliness.
3. Low Self-Esteem
When we are emotionally unavailable, we do not show our true selves. It may stem from fear, and as such, it may be challenging to overcome.
Still, the fact is that emotional unavailability demonstrates to a partner that you are probably not a viable partner in the long term. The result is failed relationships, confusion, and low self-esteem.
The excellent news for emotionally unavailable partners everywhere is that you do not have to continue the cycle.
It takes some conscious and committed inner work to overcome your fear of emotional openness, and it is by no means easy. But the work you put in is more than worth it.
By practicing availability, transparency, openness, honesty, and genuine emotional investment in those you love, you can create happier relationships and live a more fulfilled and satisfying life.
Best Practices on How to Be Emotionally Available
1. Practice Self-Awareness
You possibly cannot share your emotional depths with your partner if you do not know them yourself.
The best relationships are those in which partners possess deep and insightful self-awareness and understanding and relate to each other from that place. Equally, the worst, or unhealthiest, is when that deep emotional connection is not there, and in its place is expectation and disrespect.
The more aware of yourself, your feelings and emotions, your joys and fears, and your world outlook, the more likely you are to be able to cultivate a deep emotional connection with your partner. Practicing self-awareness, which brings an abundance of blessings into your life, also improves your relationships.
You can become a more self-aware person by taking an honest look at your motivation and desires.
Get in touch with how you feel by journaling, reaching out to a trusted friend, or speaking to a therapist or counselor. Find some outlet in which you feel safe enough to explore yourself.
Keep a Journal
Journaling is a popular, effective, and therapeutic approach to self-exploration. In a journal, you have the freedom to write whatever comes to mind. Nobody will read it, so you can use this space to put your weirdest, deepest, most fantastical thoughts down on paper and reflect on them.
However you choose to approach your self-exploration, be prepared to meet resistance along the way. If you find or have been told that you are an emotionally unavailable person today, there may already be a lot of resistance to authentic self-expression.
Still, stay motivated on your path to understanding yourself by reminding yourself why you want to become more emotionally available in the first place.
Would you rather remain isolated and unavailable and lose many more relationships in the process, or would you instead look within and face some potential discomfort now but reap the rewards of a conscious and authentic relationship later?
2. Evaluate the Importance of the Relationship
If you find it hard to be emotionally available to your partner, you may want to change your behavior to save the relationship.
Relationships can offer profound insight into our deepest fears, insecurities, and coping mechanisms. If you are willing to do the inner work, you can heal many early wounds and maladaptive coping methods that you have been using to navigate life.
Not every relationship will be a healing one.
If you struggle to be emotionally available with your partner, maybe you feel like that partner is not suitable for you. Do not jump to that conclusion too quickly because avoidance is a common coping mechanism—you do not want to enable continuous relationship neglect just because you are not prepared to dive into your emotions.
Sometimes the person we are with is not the right person, and we cannot ignore our gut intuition.
If, deep down, you believe that your current partner is not worth the emotional investment, take the mature approach and leave the relationship. Just make sure you speak to your partner about how you feel and let them know what you have decided to do, rather than avoiding or completely ghosting them and creating guilt for yourself and confusion for them.
If you feel that this person is the one for you and that you can have a wonderful, profoundly insightful, lovingly intimate, and affectionate relationship, if you could open up and be more available, then dive in.
Set the intention to work on your availability and be as radically honest and authentic with yourself as possible.
Many people resist emotional depth and availability in a relationship because they fear that they will have wasted time and energy if the relationship does not work in the end. But this is a deeply insightful journey to take, so if the relationship ends, you will still have gained an awful lot more than you lost.
3. Be a Responsible Partner
As mentioned earlier, you need to evaluate how important a relationship is to you if you want it to succeed.
Make concrete steps to create happier relationships.
Spending time with your partner, tuning into your partner’s feelings, being physically intimate, and reciprocating your partner’s affection, build emotional bonds and take your relationship to a deeper level.
If you find relationships unimportant, willingly live some secret life, and view interaction and time spent with your partner as a chore, then making that relationship work for the sake of company or physical intimacy is unfair and emotionally immature.
An emotionally unavailable partner can cause a lot of distress, so if you do not see a future for the relationship, then that must be made known, at least out of the kindness of your heart.
4. Allow for Healthy Interdependence
A relationship requires interdependence.
However, an emotionally unavailable partner’s fear for closeness, makes is difficult for them to allow healthy interdependence in their relationships. If you’re fighting the same internal battles, you may want to connect emotionally, but your fear of intimacy and the potential loss and rejection can keep you stuck.
It is not easy, but you can begin to let go of your fear through some light and gradual self-administered exposure therapy.
You can start by practicing interdependence, a relationship dynamic in which you and your partner agree to meet each other’s needs while also respecting each other’s boundaries. That means no attempts to demand or control, but compassionate love and support when possible, and trust and understanding that the other person cannot always meet one’s needs.
There is a lot of emphasis on independence these days, which is excellent.
The more self-sufficient, self-loving, and self-aware we become, the better.
Still, it is important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As humans, we are hardwired to live in communities and support each other.
Allowing for interdependence in your relationship extends your compassion beyond yourself and lets you cultivate deep, heartfelt connections with others that feel amazing and can be incredibly life-affirming. The trick is to create this interdependence without losing yourself in it.
5. Transform Fear into Love
This interdependence is often where the fear lies for the emotionally unavailable, but you can get better at it by gentle and self-compassionate practice.
Eventually, interdependence, shared love, and mutually meeting each other’s needs feel natural. When you and your partner meet each other’s needs, both of you develop self-esteem and self-love, two essential tools that will help you stay afloat if the relationship does eventually come to an end.
Being emotionally unavailable does not mean you are a terrible person or unworthy of love.
You live your own life and need not compare your level of emotional availability to others. Still, it is important to take an honest look at your relationship approach and see if your unwillingness to be open and vulnerable serves you.
It may feel like it does because it protects you from being hurt, but it may lead to more isolation and loneliness than it is worth in the long term.
The best relationship advice you can hear is that it will always be hard to have that with another person until you develop a deeply loving relationship with yourself. So, do not be afraid to try out some more vulnerability moving forward.
It may sting, you may feel frightened, and you may want to close off again, but when you finally experience the joy of a natural and deep emotional connection, it will all be worth it.
- Be strategically vulnerable to earn their trust. ...
- Give your partner daily affirmations and compliments. ...
- Prioritize sexual satisfaction. ...
- Make an effort to break out of your day-to-day routine.
- They avoid intimacy. Someone who's emotionally unavailable may fear intimacy — sharing their innermost feelings and thoughts with you. ...
- They avoid commitment. ...
- They get defensive easily. ...
- They aren't available… ...
- They might not empathize with your feelings.
Remember, emotional unavailability often stems from a deeper fear of intimacy or rejection — fears that can complicate someone's experiences with love. If falling in love feels scary or threatening, it's only natural that they might want to try and avoid it entirely.Why am I emotionally unavailable to my partner? ›
Emotional unavailability can stem from poor parenting, childhood trauma, depression or anxiety, or a lack of trust due to previous relationship issues. Emotional unavailability can be permanent or temporary in nature and can be difficult to resolve depending on the underlying cause.What are the 4 types of intimacy? ›
Intimacy refers to a level of closeness where you feel validated and safe. In relationships, four types of intimacy are key: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.What causes lack of emotional intimacy? ›
Relationships lose emotional intimacy for simple reasons like busy schedules or difficulty finding quality time together. Or there can be more emotionally-nuanced and complex reasons, from a lack of emotional safety, fear of vulnerability, or underlying tensions in the relationship.What makes a man feel connected to a woman? ›
In plain language: Men often feel most loved by the women in their lives when their partners hug them, kiss them, smile at them, and explicitly offer gratitude, praise, and words of affection. Men also feel loved and connected through sexuality, often to a greater degree than women do.What makes a woman emotionally unavailable? ›
What Causes Emotional Unavailability? While there is no one explanation for emotional unavailability, it can be caused by a number (or combination) of factors. These include attachment styles developed in childhood, history in relationships, trauma, mental health conditions, and one's circumstances and priorities.How do you love someone who is emotionally unavailable? ›
Be Patient. Give your partner time and space if he or she needs it to process their emotions or the events that took place; don't let your anxiety and desire for certainty drive you to push your partner, husband, or wife to open up or share. Respect that each person has a way they processes, and so do you.How do you deal with an emotionally distant partner? ›
- Accept differences. Your partner may simply be more private than you by nature. ...
- Don't demand connection. ...
- Give them some space. ...
- Try not to criticize. ...
- Focus on your own goals.
Being emotionally unavailable describes someone who is not open to discussing or sharing their feelings. They can be evasive, flaky, or hard to read. "They're scared of intimacy," explains licensed couples therapist Brooke Sprowl, LCSW, CNTS.What does emotionally available look like? ›
Emotionally available people tend to be able to do the following: Experience your own feelings to the fullest extent. Share these feelings with another person and allow them to witness your internal experience so you can connect deeply with them. Open your heart even when there is a chance of disappointment.How do you know you're not mentally ready for a relationship? ›
- Define the dynamic upfront.
- Express The Situation In Terms Of Your Feelings And Needs.
- Explain Your Perspective—To A Point.
- Be Kind And Unapologetic.
- Notice The Signs Early On. ...
- Get Honest With Yourself About Why You Keep Going After The Same Type. ...
- Cut The Tethering. ...
- Insist On Identifying The Relationship After Some Time. ...
- Recognize That You're Not Meant To Be Their Savior. ...
- Develop Your Sense Of Self.
Of course, an emotionally unavailable person can change, but like any personal overhaul, they have to want to do it themselves. “The trick is for you not to try and change them. If they feel that they want to be more involved in your feelings, then they will,” Masini says.What does emotional intimacy look like? ›
Emotional intimacy involves candid, authentic sharing of thoughts and feelings. It involves being able to tell each other your deepest fears, dreams, disappointments, and most complicated emotions, as well as feeling seen and understood when you do.What is the most intimate act? ›
To feel unity with your partner, you can make sex a sacred act of love. Moreover, there are other loving acts on a physical level. e.g. kissing, cuddling, or holding hands. Holding hands especially can become the most intimate act of love.What is intimacy to a man? ›
Broadly speaking, intimacy means deeply knowing someone, while also feeling deeply known yourself. It is something humans crave, and though at times, it may seem more difficult for men to express it, that doesn't mean they don't need or want it.What lack of intimacy does to a man? ›
Anxiety, stress, and depression are also common sexless marriage effects on the husband. When a husband is denied sex at home for a long time, his mental health is likely to deteriorate from stress, overthinking, and inability to release the feel-good hormone from sex.What keeps a man in a relationship? ›
Respect is one thing that men value very highly. If you demean him in public or do not respect him in private, your relationship may suffer. Men value women who are respectful toward their partners as well as their dreams and aspirations. Learn to respect your man for who he is and appreciate his good qualities.
- Date him for who he is, not for his potential. ...
- Create emotional safety for him. ...
- Keep things light and playful. ...
- Be vulnerable. ...
- Give him space to chase you.
- 1 Create a list of interesting topics.
- 2 Discuss movies after watching them.
- 3 Play mentally stimulating games.
- 4 Pick a topic for a story.
- 5 Try out each other's hobbies.
- 6 Help each other with projects.
- 7 Choose new things to do together.
Lack of trust may lead to feeling distant from your partner, especially if you previously had trust for them and lost confidence in them. Losing trust could come from not abiding by agreed rules for the relationship, such as infidelity, or it could be that your partner has suddenly been less open than you.How do you know if a woman is emotionally unavailable? ›
One of the common traits of an emotionally distant woman is avoiding all sorts of conversations. When you try, she might appear irritated or might ghost you. She will often make excuses to avoid getting together, connecting, or catching up. Another common trait is, you find her secretive.How do you step back emotionally? ›
- R-recognize what is going on. Recognizing involves consciously acknowledging your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. ...
- A-allow the experience to be there. Just as it is. ...
- I-investigate with interest and care. ...
- N-nurture with self-compassion.
' If not managed with enough care and awareness, being with an emotionally unavailable partner can be damaging, and it leads not only to feelings of loneliness and isolation but can even erode your self-esteem. Therefore, as much as possible, we should learn how to notice when a partner is emotionally unavailable.What to do when you realize your partner is emotionally unavailable? ›
- Seek social support / Be a part of a community or a support group. ...
- See an individual and/or couples Therapist. ...
- Approach the issue with compassion and curiosity. ...
- Identify your needs. ...
- Schedule time for connection.
Signs of Emotional Connection
You are both willing to give each other peeks into childhood dreams and adult aspirations. The conversation flows easily from one to the other. Even in silence, a couple creating a strong emotional bond will feel at ease.
- You care about each other's needs and desires. ...
- You share openly. ...
- You don't just hear each other; you really listen. ...
- You know each other deeply. ...
- You're interested in each other's hobbies, even if you don't "get" it. ...
- It's all about the little details. ...
- It's a judgment-free zone.
Men take an average of 88 days (about three months) to tell their partner they love them, whereas women take an average of 134 days (four and a half months), according to a 2013 survey conducted by YouGov and eHarmony.
- Work on yourself first. ...
- Spend time together. ...
- Take a break from electronics. ...
- Do something fun together. ...
- Value what you have. ...
- Validation is key. ...
- Practice being vulnerable. ...
- Be more romantic.
- Ask Open-ended Questions. Having a deeper conversation would mean allowing your partner to express themselves more freely. ...
- Be A Good Listener; Empathise With Your Partner Without Judging. ...
- Prioritise These Conversations.
- Practice non-judgmental listening. ...
- Express gratitude for the little things. ...
- Indulge each other's passions. ...
- Try something new together. ...
- Change your scenery. ...
- Address intimacy issues in couples counseling or individual therapy.
What Is Emotional Intimacy? Emotional intimacy is generally defined as a closeness in which both partners feel secure and loved and in which trust and communication abounds.What is emotional attraction for a man? ›
Emotional attraction involves not just your partner's body, but also to their hearts, minds, and dreams. It means valuing them for who they are and what they stand for.Do I love him or am I just attached? ›
Love evokes fond feelings and actions toward the other person, particularly. Attachment is driven by how you feel about yourself with the degree of permanence and safety someone gives you, based on your past relationships.How do you make a man crave you? ›
- Call him by cute names often:
- Keep him guessing:
- Touch him unexpectedly:
- Small changes do make a big difference:
- Compliment him often:
- Take him down the memory lane:
- Give him ample space:
- Smell good at all times:
To make your man happy emotionally, you have to be attentive to his needs and to know when to give him space. To make your man happy sexually, you have to want to try new things and to be bold and adventurous. But the most important part is that you are feeling happy while you're pleasing your man.What triggers love in a man? ›
Physical attraction, sexual compatibility, empathy, and emotional connection are key to making a man fall in love with a woman.Do I love her or am I just lonely? ›
Another way to determine your true feelings is to get some space from the person and spend your time doing other things like hanging out with friends, pursuing your hobbies, or volunteering. If you don't find yourself missing the person when you're busy with these other things, then you may have just been a bit lonely.