Few times in life feel quite as bad as handling heartbreak. Integrative psychotherapist Hilda Burke shares her best advice for those facing the unknown.
Attraction can be a potent drug, convincing us to accept all sorts of crummy behaviour, just so long as we get to go on seeing our crush. It’s why people date the man who promises the moon (but takes days to call back) or the woman who seems amazing but never has time to meet her date’s friends and family.
Here’s the thing though; as attractive and seductive as these people might seem, trying to have a meaningful partnership with them can be emotionally exhausting. It doesn’t matter how much you are prepared to give – if they are unwilling (or unable) to give back, then long-term relationship fulfillment will be tough to find.
So, how can you know if a potential partner is open to love or not? And what can you do about it? We’re here to help. We’ve identified five of the key warning signs that your crush is emotionally unavailable – and asked our in-house psychologist, Salama Marine, for her advice on finding the great relationship and reciprocal love that you really are worthy of.
5 signs that your crush is emotionally unavailable
1. They want your relationship to be a secret
Emotionally available people want a prospective partner to be a part of their life. They’ll be proud to introduce you to their friends and happy for you to meet their family. Now, this process may take some time (if, for instance, they’re a single parent introducing their kids), but it will happen, just as they will want to meet the people important to you.1
If, however, there’s always an excuse as to why you can’t meet their buddies, or if they won’t let you tell people about your dates because of complicated reasons (e.g. ‘my crazy ex might cause trouble’) then be wary. You might have an emotionally unavailable person on your hands.
2. They bombard you with texts – then it all goes quiet.
At first, it’s great. They text you all the time; your message apps pinging with alerts late into the night. Then, suddenly, nada. You go a weekend without hearing from them, then a full week. Or two! When they finally get back to you they’re all apologies – work has been crazy, their friends demanding. If this happens once, the excuse might be valid. But, if you see a pattern emerging, it’s a clear sign that this person is emotionally unavailable.
The truth is, if someone wants to really be with you, and you’re clearly open to the idea, they won’t forget to get in touch for weeks, even if they’re busy. They’ll want to hear your voice and arrange your next date – and they’ll make the effort to be available.2
3. All your plans are made last minute
Saturday night, and you’re waiting by the phone for them to make good on those ‘let’s do something this weekend’ plans. Again. Or you’ve got a friend’s birthday, or a wedding and you’re nervous about asking them to be your plus one as, every time you try and plan these things, you’re made to feel ‘needy.’ If this sounds familiar, it’s probably time for warning bells.3
More harsh truth: if someone is truly interested in being your partner, they won’t leave you hanging until the last minute or make you feel guilty for wanting to plan time with them. The fact is, if you are a priority on someone’s emotional radar, you’ll be a priority in their schedule.
4. Everything is on their terms
Another classic sign of an emotionally unavailable person is that any relationship is always on their terms. If you try to talk about feelings or simply need their support, then they act like they are stressed, pressured, and smothered. However, when they want something – sex, companionship, a sympathetic ear – suddenly they are charm itself and can’t wait to see you.4
This charm can be seductive, flattering, and extremely hard to resist –and, when it goes cold, it can tempting to blame oneself for not giving enough. But, most likely, it’s not about you. If they insist on calling all the shots, chances are they just aren’t ready for emotional equality.
5. They use their past as a way to avoid intimacy
Be very wary of the guy or gal that comes with a full carousel of self-confessed ‘baggage’ that makes them avoid even the smallest commitment. While it’s perfectly normal to have had past relationships that affect how you approach new love, all too often the emotionally unavailable man or woman will proudly wear their past like a type of intimacy-repelling armour that prevents anyone getting closer – even those they’ve been seeing for a while.5
Without this closeness and vulnerability, there can be no emotional intimacy – which means your relationship will have trouble becoming anything other than casual. And, while that’s fine if it’s what you both want,6 don’t expect it to suddenly blossom into happy commitment.
They’re emotionally unavailable – now what?
So, what happens if your crush sets off the ‘emotionally unavailable’ alarm bells? EliteSingles psychologist Salama Marine says that, if it’s making you unhappy, there’s one simple way forward: ”if you start to feel that it’s too much for you, and that you give more than you receive, it’s probably time for you to end this relationship and to look for a better situation.”
Indeed, if someone is insistent on keeping your budding relationship a secret, if they will never commit to plans or offer support when you need them, move on. They aren’t necessarily a bad person but they won’t be able to give you the relationship you want and you can’t change that. What you can do – and will do – is do better.
How to find the love you deserve
So, what’s the best way to find an emotionally available partner? If you want real love and a true partnership, then the first step is to stop seeking validation via a relationship you feel you have to ‘save.’ Instead, know that you are worthy of someone who gives as well as getting.
As Salama says, ”understand that you deserve someone who is 200% with you in the relationship, nothing less.” In other words, when you know your own worth, you know you don’t have to settle for anything other than mutal joy about your shared, cherished future.
Want to meet someone who is relationship-ready? At EliteSingles our members are looking for committed, lasting love. Join them here.
EliteSingles editorial, June 2016
1 Logan Hill, writing for Cosmopolitan, 2014. ‘My Boyfriend Won’t Introduce Me to His Family or Friends.’ Found at http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/advice/a30437/ask-logan-boyfriend-family-friends/
2 Dating Coach Monica Parikh, writing for MindBodyGreen, December 2015. ‘5 Signs The Person You’re Dating Is Emotionally Unavailable.’ Found at http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-22814/5-signs-the-person-youre-dating-is-emotionally-unavailable.html
3 Ravid Yosef, writing for Your Tango, 2014. ‘6 Signs You’re In Love With An Emotionally Unavailable Man’ Found at http://www.yourtango.com/experts/ravid-yosef/6-signs-your-dating-someone-who-unavailable#.VHYcizHF98E
4 Brandon Parks, writing for All Women’s Talk. ’15 signs that he’s emotionally unavailable.’ Found at http://love.allwomenstalk.com/signs-hes-emotionally-unavailable
5 Hal Shorey, PhD, writing for Psychology Today, April 2015. ‘Fear of Intimacy and Closeness in Relationships.’ Found at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-freedom-change/201504/fear-intimacy-and-closeness-in-relationships
6 This point and all following Salama Marine quotes from an exclusive 2016 EliteSingles interview