Being emotionally unavailable means an inability to be honest with yourself or another person, exaggerated reactions, and inappropriately handling emotions. It’s terribly hard to admit that you might not be as open and evolved as you think you are when it comes to dealing with your feelings, but here are 10 signs you’ve got some work to do:
1. You avoid conflict like the plague.
You run out the door at the first sign of trouble. You have a disagreement in a relationship, then you proceed to fall off of the face of the earth for a few days. After all, conflict solves itself, right? Wrong. Conflict isn’t as scary as it seems, but when you’re emotionally unavailable, it feels impossible to tackle so you just avoid tackling it.
2. Anger often gets the best of you.
Anger is an emotion that just about everyone is familiar with. It’s a totally valid emotion — it’s what you do with it is what matters. If you’re emotionally unavailable, chances are you don’t have very effective coping mechanisms around anger. Maybe you explode when you feel it, you stuff it away, or you act out on it, worsening the situation.
3. Self-love is a foreign concept.
Those who are emotionally unavailable tend to have low self-esteem and confidence. Chances are, you think very little of yourself. Thinking less of yourself is incredibly harmful because it means you’ll behave in ways that are not healthy for you. You have a disregard for your own well-being and you don’t make the best choices because you don’t believe you deserve good things.
4. Talking about feelings makes you want to crawl out of your skin.
The idea of seeing a therapist or even talking to your friends about what’s really going on inside of you makes you want to crawl out of your skin or run far, far away. Perhaps you’re afraid that you won’t be able to handle what comes up or you’re afraid that people will think you’re crazy for what you’re feeling. Whatever it is, refraining from talking about your feelings can be really destructive.
5. You’re only comfortable if you think you’re in control.
Control is a big thing for you. You feel like you always need to have control over a situation, relationship, or outcome in order to be okay. This is emotional unavailability because you’re fighting against reality. The truth of the matter is that there’s so little you really have control over.
6. Perfectionism poisons your every move.
The allure of perfectionism is that you think you’re doing so great. You have an inflated sense of self and start to believe you’re better than everyone else. The problem is that there’s no such thing as perfection. You’re chasing this mirage of perfection, hoping you can finally rest when you “just get it right.” In reality, perfectionism leaves you terribly unhappy and feeling like you aren’t good enough.
7. You use sarcasm as a defense against the world.
Humor is fine and lovely, but your flavor of humor is sarcasm. You often use it at the most inopportune times. Maybe a friend is asking about how you’re feeling after you’ve just been dumped. You make a joke to deflect her question because it’s an easy way to avoid talking about how you truly feel. Sarcasm ends up being the bricks for the wall you build up around you.
8. When you like someone, your instinct is to run or sabotage.
As someone who’s emotionally unavailable, you have a terribly hard time accepting good things in your life. When you finally develop feelings for someone, your instincts are telling you to burn the relationship down or to run for the hills. There’s too much unsettled inside of you. You fear that if the other person sees you for who you truly are, they’d leave, so you want to leave first.
9. Worry floods your mind even when a relationship is fine.
Even when you do have a nice relationship with a lovely person, your mind ruins the whole thing for you. Worries flood your brain and you can’t even enjoy the experience. You have so many thoughts telling you to worry about the other shoe dropping that you can’t be present with the beauty that’s unfolding.
10. You hang onto the fact that you’re independent and don’t need anyone.
If someone dares to hurt you, you revert right back to your mantra that you don’t even need anyone anyway because you’re totally independent. You’re defensive because you’d rather feel indignant than hurt. God forbid you feel any pain. Instead, you choose to pretend it was all part of the plan anyway.
Emotional unavailability isn’t a death sentence. Despite all of these characteristics being very hard to handle, your emotional unavailability doesn’t have to be forever. There are ways that you can loosen the grip of your own mind and be free to connect with your fellow humans (and yourself). It takes bravery, courage, and vulnerability, but emotional availability is so worth it.
Ginelle Testa is a wordsmith by trade and hobby. She’s a queer gal whose passions include recovery/sobriety, social justice, body positivity, and intersectional feminism. In the rare moments she isn’t writing, you can find her holding her own in a recreational street hockey league, thrifting eclectic attire, and imperfectly practicing Buddhism. Check out her blog!