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Are You Attracted To Unavailable People? 12 Signs of An Emotionally Unavailable Partner

Signs Emotionally Unavailable Partner

At first, some of these signs may be more obvious than others. It’s tricky: we tend to show our best selves in the honeymoon stage of a romance. It can take time for a person’s unavailability to emerge. One patient lamented, “I need a crystal ball. The first few months of a courtship, a man is so attentive, caring, passionate.”

Partially, she’s right, but it’s also true that we tend to see what we want to see. That’s why it’s eye-opening to look at a partner’s relationship history. Who he or she was previously with reveals volumes about their capacity for intimacy now.

Beware of rationalizing, “I’m different. This person would never be that way with me.”

Are You Attracted To Unavailable People? 12 Signs of An Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Signs of An Emotionally Unavailable Partner

I don’t care how mightily someone blames the blood-curdling horrors of an ex for a relationship’s demise, this person played a role too. Being able to admit that or trying to understand the reasons for making such a terrible choice is a positive sign. Playing the victim is not.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many perplexed, lonely patients to uncover why they keep holding a torch for unavailable, commitment-phobic partners and how to surrender this sabotaging pattern. Most of us aren’t purposely drawn to these kinds of people–their mixed messages combined with our particular susceptibilities, conscious or unconscious, can lure us in.

Read: 10 Signs Of Emotional Numbness and Ways To Recover

Also, it helps to understand that unavailable people rarely choose to be this way. It’s an unconscious defense against trauma or some emotional wounding of the past. Research has shown that many are afraid of being clung to or smothered which stems from having had a controlling, engulfing, or abusive parent.

Commitment-phobic men, in particular, may just prefer sex without love. They are afraid of being controlled by feminine energy, though they don’t know it or couldn’t admit it. Rather, they see themselves as macho dudes who think women always need more than they can give.

Thus, they prefer to play in shallow water, not go deep. If being in a relationship with an unavailable person feels like love to you, I urge you to look closer. Commitment phobic women also fear intimacy and want to keep a distance.

To find true love, ideally, you want to avoid getting involved with anyone who can’t reciprocate your affections. If you are in a toxic, abusive, or non-reciprocal relationship, withdraw even when your passion is strong and says “stay.”

It may feel excruciating to let go when you don’t want to or if you’re still hoping against hope that the person will change, but, as my Daoist teacher once told me, “The heart knows when it’s enough.”

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s book The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People (Sounds True, 2017)

Written By: Dr. Judith Orloff
Originally Appeared On: Dr. Judith Orloff 
Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Are You Attracted To Unavailable People? 12 Signs of An Emotionally Unavailable Partner
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Are You Attracted To Unavailable People? 12 Signs of An Emotionally Unavailable Partner
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Dr. Judith Orloff

Judith Orloff, MD is the New York Times best-selling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. Her new book Thriving as an Empath offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people along with its companion The Empath’s Empowerment Journal. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating highly sensitive, empathic people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA and has a popular TEDX talk. Her other books are Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People, The Empowered Empath’s Journal, Emotional Freedom and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Explore more information about her Empath Support Online course and speaking schedule on www.drjudithorloff.com. View Author posts