Originally posted on Bustle
Being in a relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable can be incredibly draining. But often, we convince ourselves that if we can just break through, if we can just get to know them enough or make them feel comfortable enough, that things will change. But the truth is, someone can be emotionally unavailable even in a long-term relationships. You can keep trying and trying, and never really connect.
“Someone who is emotionally unavailable and seems unwilling or unable to be present with you during difficult times is unlikely to be the right one for you,” Esther Boykin, licensed psychotherapist and CEO of Group Therapy Associatestells Bustle. “A healthy relationship requires you both to be able to show up emotionally for each other, especially when things are hard.”
If you realize you’re in a relationship with someone who can’t emotionally connect with you — or who refuses to be a support network for you — there’s a good chance the relationship won’t last, or at least, it shouldn’t last. But the longer you’re with someone, the more you really want it to work, so you start to convince yourself that things are on track.
If you’re in a long-term relationship, you need to be honest with yourself about whether or not this is the right person for you. Here are the signs that your partner is emotionally unavailable, even if you’re in a long-term relationship with them.
1. They Shut Down During Conflict
The longer you know each other, the easier it should be to communicate. Sometimes, no matter how long you’ve been together, a person will just not be able to deal with conflict. “The trick is to seek partners who are capable of a range of emotions from the outset,” Boykin says. “They can get frustrated but still talk to you about it or become quiet without shutting you out. If you notice the signs early you can avoid the heartache and emotional complications down the road.”
But if you’re already down that road, you’ll be familiar with the signs. Maybe your partner gives you the silent treatment, maybe they can’t say how they feel, or maybe they just dismiss your feelings — but not meeting you in the middle or dealing with conflict is not a good sign.
2. You Make Excuses For Bad Behavior
If you’ve been with someone for a while and they refuse to be there for you emotionally, you’ve probably started making excuses — it’s the only way you could last in an unsupportive relationship for that long. “Studies show that many individuals who report frequently getting hurt in relationships report that they experience a sense of false-hope,” Denise Limongello, licensed Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert based in Manhattan tells Bustle.
You may constantly convince yourself it’s going to be better or tell yourself they’re just stressed with work or overtired, but if you’re making excuses for why they’re not there emotionally there for you, even after all this time, it could be a big problem.
3. You Get A Kick Out Of Being A Rescuer
Some people have a bit of a carer complex in their relationships — and I get it, I did that for a long time. It’s a great way to focus on other people’s problems and not deal with your own. “Some people date the emotionally unavailable to rescue them,” New York–based relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, April Masini, tells Bustle. “… Sometimes you need someone who is ‘damaged’ to make you feel less so. Being able to articulate this reason for dating the emotionally unavailable may make you realize this isn’t really in your best interest.”
If you find that being the more emotionally intelligent or “stronger” one gives you a sense of purpose, you might want to question the relationship.
4. They’re *Still* Vague About The Future
It’s amazing how some people can still act like they’re not sure about a relationship, even years into one. “Someone who doesn’t take you into consideration for the long-term wants to take each day as it comes rather than focus on a future with you, which is signaled by not following through on plans that are made,” Danielle Sepulveres, sex educator and author of Losing It: The Semi-Scandalous Story of an Ex-Virgin, tells Bustle. If you’ve been together a long time but they still won’t make plans or talk about their future like you’re part of it, they’re not being available to you.
5. You’re Emotionally Unavailable
Sometimes, emotionally unavailability isn’t one-sided. “One of the key points I discuss with my clients is we often attract people who are in a similar emotional place as we are. So it’s important to honestly assess how emotionally available you are first,” Dating and Relationship Coach, Christine Baumgartner tells Bustle.
Look at the relationship as a whole, and if both of you are holding back emotionally or not connecting, you need to consider why that is.
6. They’re Lazy With The Relationship
It’s easy to fall into a rut but, no matter how long you’ve been together, your partner should still be putting some thought and effort into the relationship too.”Relationships should progress, not stay stagnant,” zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. When they’re taking you for granted, and letting you do carry all of the emotional energy, it’s not easy to move forward.
7. They Keep Your Lives Separate
Some couples are more independent than others — and that’s totally OK. But at some point in a long-term relationship, there has to be some crossover with your lives. And an emotionally unavailable person might avoid integrating their partner into their lives for as long as they can.
“They will not introduce you to people that are important in their life like friends and family, even though you have been together for some time,” psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. “They will have all different reasons for this, but when it comes down to it, there comes a point in a relationship when these worlds should cross, and you should know the people in each other’s lives if the relationship is serious or has a future.” If they refuse to let that happen, it me be time to ask why.
When a partner is emotionally unavailable, it can feel like the kind of thing you can change — and a lot of people take it on themselves to “break down those walls”. But truthfully, you can’t make someone open up and connect with you if they don’t want to. So you need to be honest about whether your partner is emotionally unavailable, no matter how long you’ve been together. After all, you deserve a partner and a relationship where you’re there for each other.