written by Alyssa Girdwain of Women’s Health Magazine
Think back to when you were involved with someone who threw you into the emotional wringer. A friend probably called the guy as “emotionally unavailable,” to which you nodded enthusiastically as you triple-checked your phone. (Nope, still no response to your text from seven hours ago.)
It’d be nice if the term was just a throwaway label to help you deal with people who just aren’t interested in committing to you. But sadly, the breed does in fact exist. If they didn’t, it’s safe to say that no one would have watched all six seasons of Sex and the City—without all the emotionally unavailable men (**cough, Mr. Big**), how else could you relate to Carrie and her closet of Manolos?
And as anyone with a pulse knows, feelings can be scary. But that goes tenfold for the emotionally unavailable, who use excuses and aloofness to hide from authentic connection. As if dating today weren’t hard enough, plucking out the emotionally unavailable from an already shrinking pool of available partners is just one more thing you have to deal with. Can’t a sister catch a break?
Hear hear! But what does being “emotionally unavailable” actually mean?
Feelings are overwhelming as is, but for the emotionally unavailable, it’s a task and a half to even acknowledge what’s happening in their heads. They shrink away from vulnerable moments that would otherwise create a real connection.
“Someone who is emotionally unavailable has a hard time receiving love and other deep emotions from others,” says therapist Alyson Cohen, LCSW. It’s tough to understand “the feelings of others, because they can hardly understand their own.” They’re not self-aware about how their aversion to intimacy affects the other person, either.
“Oftentimes, they can appear quite socially advanced, but more complex emotions that go beyond niceties are often lacking,” Cohen says. It’s easy for them to push people away who tiptoe toward their emotional boundaries—which, btw, can be extreme. Meanwhile, on your side, it feels like something in the relationship is off, and you can’t quite find your footing.