What is Emotional Availability? (& 3 Ways to Deal with an Emotionally Unavailable Partner)

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Published Date|
July 13, 2023

What is Emotional Availability? (& 3 Ways to Deal with an Emotionally Unavailable Partner)

At the end of a long day, you want to come home to your partner and vent about what you had to deal with.

You sit down beside them, pour your heart out, and ask if their day was any better than yours.

They stare at you blanky, shrug, and say it was “fine.”

Emotionally unavailable partners can have many positive qualities, but may struggle to connect with you emotionally.

Here at KMA Therapy, we know how important emotional connection is in your relationships. Our expert team is here to help you learn how to recognize and address emotional unavailability in your relationships.

After reading this article, you’ll know five signs of emotional availability, five signs of an emotionally unavailable partner, and what to do if your partner is emotionally unavailable.

What is Emotional Availability?

Emotional availability is your ability to create and sustain meaningful emotional connections with other people.

what is emotional availability

When you’re with someone emotionally available, they’ll be able to understand and respond to your emotional cues and needs in the relationship.

Is Your Partner Emotionally Available?

When you're dating someone new, it can be hard to tell whether they're just warming up to you - or they're emotionally unavailable.

If you're dating someone emotionally available, they'll want to connect with you. They're ready to create space for you in their life and communicating about what that could look like.

Signs you're dating someone emotionally available:

  • They're honest about what they want to commit to - regardless of whether they want a long-term relationship or something more casual
  • They're comfortable expressing their emotions
  • They're open to having honest conversations
  • They don't try to hide or deny their feelings
  • They let you know how they feel about you

On the other hand, someone emotionally unavailable will be hesitant to open up. It's normal to have a few walls up at the beginning of a relationship - but someone emotionally unavailable will refuse to let these walls down.

Signs you're dating someone emotionally unavailable:

  • They avoid expressing their emotions
  • They have trouble understanding your needs
  • They brush off or avoid serious conversations
  • They make excuses to avoid spending time with you
  • They aren't comfortable when you express your emotions

3 Ways to Connect with an Emotionally Unavailable Partner

If you're dating someone emotionally unavailable, it doesn't mean that your relationship is doomed.

emotionally unavailable

Here are three ways to navigate a relationship with someone emotionally unavailable.

1. Be Patient With Your Partner

People can be emotionally unavailable for a variety of reasons, from their attachment style to trauma from previous relationships.

Your partner may struggle to connect with you emotionally, but that doesn't mean they don't want to connect with you.

Creating a safe, judgement-free environment can encourage them to express their emotions.

When they do open up to you, make sure to validate them and let them know how much you appreciate hearing what they have to say.

2. Focus on Their Positive Attributes

Your partner's emotional unavailability doesn't mean they're a bad partner.

Think about other great qualities they might have:

  • Are they great at taking care of household chores? 
  • Do they express their emotions with physical touch?
  • Do they find other ways to connect with you, like sending you songs they think you’d enjoy?

Focusing on the positive things they bring to your relationship can help you stay patient and remember their value as a partner.

3. Ensure Your Own Needs are Being Met

If you're an emotionally expressive person, it can be difficult if you feel like your partner isn't receptive of your feelings.

Make sure to have a support network of friends and family who can listen to you and validate your feelings.

Connecting with an emotionally unavailable partner can be rewarding once they open up to you - but it can feel draining if you don't have anyone else to turn to.

Ultimately, you need to decide if the relationship is right for you - if your needs are consistently not being met, it might be time to move on.

Next Steps for Dealing with Emotional Unavailability

After reading this article, you know how to recognize emotional availability and how to deal with emotionally unavailable partners.

Still, sometimes you need some extra support.

Here at KMA Therapy, we’re relationship experts. For over 14 years, we’ve helped our clients learn new communication skills to help them effectively connect with their partners.

Our talented relationship therapists are here to help you figure out new channels of communication and help your relationship thrive.

Book an appointment today or reach out to our team with any questions.

If you’re not yet ready to book an appointment, read these articles to keep learning:

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
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