Emotional Unavailability

To anyone living with a partner who is not emotionally available, the experience can be extremely difficult and even painful.

As a therapist, I have heard many wives and husbands express their frustrations over not feeling emotionally connected to their partner. When it comes to intimate relationships ‘feeling connected or close’ is often a make-it or break-it situation.

When we speak of not being emotionally available, we are referring to individuals who have learned to emotionally detach from their own emotional world or cut off from others around them. Often emotional cut-offs can seem as cold and isolating as the Great Wall of China. Frequently these walls have been unconsciously created by past losses or trauma . . . emotionally, relationally, or spiritually.

We are complex creatures. As humans our emotions play a huge role in how we attach, bond and love. On first blush maintaining emotional closeness with someone we love might seem like a breeze; however, practicing emotional connectedness and availability is hard, vulnerable work.

Perhaps you had a distant father or a non-nurturing mother who did not equip you with the ability to attach and be available to others. When you are emotionally available, you in essence provide others the use of your emotions to reflect to help acknowledge, affirm and process their emotions of empathy and concern. In contrast, when you are not available or are cut off from yourself and others, another person might feel they alone, isolated and left blowing in the wind. It is often a surprise for the detached individual to hear that their partner is feeling cut off and lonely and perhaps even unloved.

It is important developmental work for each of us to pay attention to our emotional world as well as others. If you are in a relationship with a partner who is emotionally unavailable, please know that there is much that can be done. There are skills that can be learned that can evolve into wonderful, extravagant exchanges of our emotional selves. This is what ‘soulmates’ experience. This is definitely worth your time! The safe and confidential relationship of trust with your therapist will allow you to explore your emotional self at your own pace.

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