Something just seems missing in your relationship but you can’t put your finger on it.
You spend time connecting the dots between you last text, last interaction and your partner who is “missing in action.” You feel there must be something you can do to fix this. You think it will just take time and require more effort on your part to make him open up.
In the meantime, you are getting more desperate, your self-esteem is suffering and you’re spending more energy wondering and worrying what’s wrong in your relationship and neglecting other things. Sound familiar?
Often this is a sign of a relationship that doesn’t have an essential component to survive called emotional intimacy. Often this is a sign that you are with a person that is emotionally unavailable.
Emotional intimacy is the closeness and connection partners feel by sharing their emotions and feelings without criticism or judgment, along with showing care, validation and understanding for one another.
An emotionally available partner will provide safety both emotionally and physically for the other person to show who they really are, and likewise, allow themselves to be vulnerable too by the sharing of deeper emotions.
Being involved with someone who is emotionally unavailable can be confusing. The clients I have worked with will say that they feel helpless, alone, and unhappy and wonder if they are doing something (or not doing something for that matter) to cause their partner to not open up and connect with them. They blame themselves for the frequent arguments, mistrust and lack of intimacy.
If you are in a relationship with a partner who is emotional unavailable there are ways to empower yourself and feel more secure.
1. Recognize the signs
An emotionally unavailable partner is someone who has difficulty sharing their emotions or feelings.
- They may have “wounds” from their childhood or past relationships, or have an addiction that cause them to “wall up” and remain guarded.
- They may justify their behaviors and not take responsibility for their inability to open up.
- They may give reasons why they cannot make time to spend together or talk, and say that it will happen soon but you don’t ever see anything come from it.
- They may become angry at you for expressing your feelings or project their emotions onto you.
- They may say you’re being too “needy.”
You may have attraction or sexual chemistry, but very little else.
As the other partner, you may rationalize why you stay in the relationship.
You say to yourself, “Sometimes he’s nice,” and “he does care.” You justify the relationship and tell your friends, “We do talk, and “he tells me I’m important in his life.” You feel sorry for him and feel the need to take care of him and tell others, “He must be going through something,” and “he’s not ready for a commitment.” All these are examples of how you may be convincing yourself that the relationship is healthy when it’s not.
2. Stop blaming yourself
One thing woman do in this situation is blame themselves. They feel if they were more loving, caring, thoughtful or patient that their partner will open up.
First of all, it’s not your fault.
Don’t assume responsibility for another person’s behavior. If you are open to the relationship, have healthy boundaries, and are coming from a place of caring and positive intent, you are relatively healthy.
You don’t have to fix him or the relationship.
When you stop blaming yourself you will gain clarity to know what to do next.
3. Stop fantasizing the relationship
Often women who are in relationships with partners who are emotionally unavailable struggle with codependency or even love addiction.
Love addiction is when the love addict is focused primarily on the other person to meet all their needs, and obsesses and fantasizes about the other person.
How this plays into emotionally unavailability is the focus of the love addict is their partner who isn’t emotionally available and it reinforces to the love addict to keep trying harder for love and approval.
Codependency is what underlies love addiction.
When in a codependent relationship, you may tend to neglect your emotional, physical, and financial needs and hope your partner will fulfill them. You may struggle with boundaries and neglect other parts of your life; your job, family, friendships for the sole purpose of receiving love and acceptance from another.
If you feel you are struggling with love addiction or codependency, seek professional help. There are 12-step support groups and numerous books on the topic that can get you on the road to recovery.
4. Identify your needs
Begin to identify what makes you happy and what your individual needs are. This might be a difficult exercise especially if your focus of attention has been on fixing the relationship or changing for someone else.
If you have been consumed and frustrated that your partner isn’t emotionally available you may have abandoned yourself too.
Make a list of your emotional, physical and spiritual needs. Make a commitment to yourself about when and how you will meet your needs.
5. Reconnect with yourself
If you’ve been in a relationship or in a relationship where your needs are not being met, you may have lost your identity.
Try to reconnect with yourself.
This will involve connecting with your needs and feelings about the relationship (past or present), what you feel sad and angry about, what is unmet in the relationship, what you would like in a healthy relationship, and especially, how you can get back to you.
It is impossible for any one person to meet all your needs, but being in a relationship where your needs are not being met can be painful and lonely.
Don’t keep suffering. Stop and take control of your life. Make yourself a priority. Remember, no one can truly abandon you if you don’t abandon yourself.