Loving the Emotionally Unavailable March 25, 2015
Emotional unavailability in a relationship can be a sign of many things. Could mean a person needs some distance due to some other taxing concern or problem, could be that they’ve always been this way due to never being shown how or being too wounded to go there, could be that they are emotionally involved with someone else—might even be with someone you both know, could be that you too are emotionally unavailable or placing your emotional availability with someone else, lastly, could be that they are having a full blown affair—but let’s not jump to conclusions too quickly…
Being in a relationship where the other person is unavailable on an emotional level can be confusing, disheartening, and create resentments. How does one know if they are involved with someone who is emotionally unavailable? The presence of any of the following: aforementioned distance, guardedness, skirting emotional conversations, lack of eye contact, lack of intimacy, lack of affection and/or attention, a general lack of care for the relationship or presence within it. At times, the connection between the two of you may appear to be lost. The dynamics at play can become passive-aggressive building further frustration, resentment and discontent. So how does one address their vulnerability w/o losing control or saying things they don’t mean, while maintaining openness? By looking at themselves first.
People tend to want to pin the burden of responsibility on to the person who is not emotionally available to them from the beginning. Makes logical sense to do so, but it also fuels anger and increases the likelihood of being met by further shutting down or a closed system in the other partner. We cannot expect to get to an authentic place in our relationship from a position of anger. We must be able to explore our own openness and vulnerability in order to be able to give it. When we are able to address our concerns from a place of openness, we create an environment for others to be open. If they cannot return our openness and emotional availability at that point, then we must question whether we can live with that. Not everyone can be emotionally available for a variety of personal reasons but if you’re questioning someone else’s then chances are you might need to look at yourself first.
We attract to us in relationships what we most need to learn about ourselves. This could be related to a belief we hold about ourselves or a wound from the past looking for healing. Maybe we have co-dependent tendencies, maybe we grew up in an addicted family (substances or behaviors), maybe we have experienced some form of abuse, or maybe we have experience with all three of these factors among others. Anytime we have a strong emotional reaction it can be linked to learning something about ourselves. Living from this space in consciousness is where peace can exist which in the scheme of one’s life is worth exploring for our relationships and beyond. When addressing our lives from this point forward it becomes easier to accept reality, make choices, and take more meaningful actions. Authentic power resides in the calm, cool, and collected. Addressing vulnerability from here can be empowering, helpful, and corrective. The end result may or may not be what we had hoped for but we will know we gave it our all and are better for the learning.
In review, some people have not been shown how to be emotionally available yet have the capacity to open up emotionally while some have been too wounded to ever go there. So as it stands it is up to the person who is emotionally involved with them to tease out their own, as well as their partners, capacities for better or worse. Therapy and relationship counseling can help this cause.