I’ve written about how to deal with emotionally unavailable partners and friends but what happens when you are the emotionally unavailable one? Is there a way to become more emotionally available?
Readers and clients often ask me, “how can I find a partner who is emotionally available? I can never get anyone I’m dating to open up.”
No one can reverse unavailability other than the person suffering from it. Becoming emotionally available is not contingent upon your partner being “better” or trying harder to crack your impossible codes.
The unavailable person has to have a genuine desire to want to be better for themselves.
As much as you may want to mow your neighbor’s overgrown lawn, there’s no point in telling them how badly they need it or how willing you are to do it if *they* do not see a need to keep their side of the street clean.
If you want an emotionally available, mutual relationship, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you are emotionally available yourself.
Emotional unavailability is when a person (either consciously or subconsciously) puts up walls and creates barriers that prevent them from being intimate with others. The root of this is undealt with trauma.
This can originate in childhood. You may come from a family of professional under-the-rug brushers and it became habitual for you. You may have experienced an isolated traumatic event or repeated trauma and as a child, the only way your emotional body could cope was by shutting down.
I became more emotionally unavailable when I started dating (with very low self-esteem). After my first big heartbreak, I didn’t want to feel the pain or have to grieve the loss of my relationship. I also didn’t want to face my part in how things fell apart. It was all too much; more pain than my heart could handle. So, I would jump into another relationship as soon as possible. This created a ripple effect of avoidance, denial, and massive unavailability. No matter how much I claimed to want real intimacy and connection, I could never seem to attract it.
If you find that you attract/are attracted to people who are emotionally (and sometimes physically, morally, and spiritually) unavailable…
If you tend to excuse disrespectful behavior, try harder instead of walk away from red flags, and blame yourself for other people’s emotional limitations…
It is your own unavailability that you need to address; your own proverbial lawn that you need to mow.
We attract what we exude.
Don’t you want to attract someone who can maintain their own property? If you’re emotionally unavailable, you will claim to want that but secretly, only feel satisfied if you can turn weeds into a rose garden; horsesh*t into a bar of gold.
Even the most emotionally available people experience times of emotional unavailability. This could be after a death, diagnosis, or during a time of intense stress. These things are situational and eventually pass.
But for people who are habitually unavailable, it is their lifestyle of choice; the only way that they can cope and operate.
If you find yourself consistently involved with people like this, the only way you will attract true love and a mutual, intimate relationship is to work on becoming emotionally available. Right now (instead of continuing to make your evolution be contingent upon being “good enough” for others to do what they don’t see a need to do).
What is emotional availability?
Emotional availability is being able to consistently feel your way through difficult, undesirable, or painful emotions – both in yourself and in others. Not only can you sit with and not react to/irrationally act on these feelings, but you don’t avoid, dismiss, or run away from these them either.
The ability to be vulnerable is what prevents delusion and denial.
What does being emotionally available mean?
Here are some characteristics of emotionally available people…
- They are self-aware and able to self-reflect.
- They have fears, feel shame, and insecure at times but they do not live their lives through the filter of fear, shame, and insecurity.
- They don’t need others to right the wrongs of their past or be to their sources of confidence and identity. If they’re with someone, it’s because they want to be.
- They are vulnerable. These people can admit that they’re scared, uncomfortable, unsure, insecure, and sad. However, they don’t let these emotions define them nor do they sprint away from them. They feel their way through every feeling (and reap the benefits of the vulnerability that this creates).
- They are kind and patient with themselves. These people have a level of self-compassion and unconditional self-love that allows them to be vulnerable – even in the presence of fear.
- They are consistent in their emotional availability. They have a willingness, desire, and need to feel emotion; to genuinely connect and not run from feeling.
- They aren’t selective in what they feel; they don’t just gravitate toward the good. They are aware that growth happens through pain as well. Emotionally unavailable people will have intense flashes of connectivity but they can never maintain it. (If you have low self-esteem, you will mistake their intensity for connection, true love and intimacy).
- They don’t sabotage their relationships, create drama or incite jealousy.
- They aren’t attracted to emotionally unavailable people because they feel no compatibility (nor are they turned on by having to “unlock” basic things like communication, connection, and honesty).
How to be more emotionally available
This post could lead you to all the answers, but it can’t dictate your level of hunger to apply them.
You have to be hungry. You have to want to turn inward and have an honest (uncomfortable) conversation with yourself.
You have to self-reflect – acknowledge what you are insecure about, what you’re scared of, and take inventory of everything you’ve been avoiding.
It is scary, but you what’s even scarier?
- A wasted life.
- Surface-level relationships.
- An existence that you never get to experience the joy of because you were too scared to get up from the sidelines of your own life.
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a chance (just like you’ve given too many to people who were never worthy of one).
Be patient with yourself (just as you would be with a child, an animal or the elderly).
Have some self-compassion.
Think about how many times you’ve empathized with toxic people (to the point that it took down your mental health).
It’s time you directed that same level of attention, empathy, and kindness to YOU. If you feel scared or like you’ve already wasted your life, I suggest that you start now. Don’t give up on yourself.
Get uncomfortable, write down everything that’s holding you back, and really feel your feelings so that you can finally, be comfortable in the most powerful position you could ever reside in: that of vulnerability.
No one can do this for you but you.
Take a hard look at your life. Think of all the times you’ve tried to make toxic people feel loved and comfortable being vulnerable. How did that work out for you? It worked out terribly for me.
The path to emotional availability isn’t through trying to reverse the unavailability of others. It starts and ends with you. Only then will you attract people who are just as compassionate, just as vulnerable, and although they may be fearful of many things… connection will never be one of them.
You’ve got this. And we’ve got each other.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.