“Most people in the psychology field believe that if we do not get a child to bond at a deep level with someone by age eight, we have lost them. We can never recover them and teach them empathy. Never.” ~Patti Henry, Author of The Emotionally Unavailable Man

Emotionally unavailable people in relationships can often be appealing to people – especially those of us who like to help “fix” people’s problems, those of us who enjoy solving a good mystery, and those of us who may have experienced an overly emotional person in a toxic relationship. In some cases, you can potentially take steps to connect with an emotionally unavailable person and actually create some positive change in both of your lives. But in the case of the emotional unavailability being a side effect of NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) or otherwise on the cluster B spectrum – or even with someone who just has strong narcissistic tendencies but who hasn’t been officially diagnosed with the personality disorder – you’re going to be fighting a losing battle if you try to create genuine connection.

What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable?

Someone who is emotionally unavailable refuses to let his or her guard down. People who have been hurt or rejected often in their past may take this position without realizing it. They may find it difficult to trust new people or anyone at all if there has been significant trauma in their lives. In many cases, these people can be helped with counseling, coaching or even simple discussions with their loved ones. Toxic people, such as narcissists, who are emotionally unavailable might also be helped through counseling or therapy, but usually refuse to get or accept help as they don’t see anything wrong with their behavior.

How does it feel to be in a relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable?

Whether the emotionally available person is your partner, your parent or your best friend, you might find yourself feeling very lonely and even rejected by this person. You might feel unloved, and you might feel like their repeated rejection of your attempts to connect are related to a big wall this person puts up around him or herself. You feel like this person isn’t there for you in the way that a normal parent, partner or best friend would be. It’s a one-sided kind of relationship.

If this person is a narcissist or other kind of toxic person, it gets even more complicated. This video playlist offers a powerful compilation of red flags to look for in toxic relationships. 

Can an emotionally unavailable person change or heal so they can become more emotionally available?

This depends on whether you’re dealing with a toxic narcissist or a “regular” person. In both cases, the behavior is most likely a subconscious way to self-protect themselves. They refuse to allow themselves to be vulnerable to you in order to reduce the chances that they might be hurt or rejected again – or to manage their own emotional response if it (inevitably, in their minds) happens to them again.

However, with narcissists, we need to consider the fact that they have impaired empathy, which could also appear to be emotional unavailability. And we must remember that while it’s theoretically possible that a narcissist could create true change in their lives, it’s also highly unlikely that they will. That’s because most narcissists are unable or unwilling to take any sort of responsibility for things that go wrong in their lives and their relationships – so they generally look to blame someone else (with deflection and projection) and see themselves as victims or at least innocent bystanders.

How do you deal with an emotionally unavailable person?

If you’re dealing with someone who is capable of change, it could just take some time and some talking to work the situation out. You could sit down and have a conversation with this person and ask thoughtful questions about how they feel and why. Do your best to make that person feel safe and comfortable with you and like they can trust you, and then show them this in your own actions and behavior.

If you’re dealing with a narcissist or another kind of toxic person, the game changes. In this case, it’s unlikely that the person will change at all, nor will they be willing to admit they have a problem, to begin with.

That means the first step to dealing with an emotionally unavailable person is to determine whether they are a toxic person, or not. Take this quiz to find out if you’re dealing with a toxic narcissist. 

Once you submit your answers, you’ll be given resources to help in your situation.

Is your relationship toxic?

Are you in a toxic relationship with a narcissist? Take this quick assessment and find out today.

Does this person use your fears against you in order to elicit a certain kind of behavior from you? Do you feel like this person is out to feel “better” than you? For Example: If you told this person you felt insecure about your weight, he/she might later make discreet pokes at it, or in a romantic relationship, make comments about others who are thinner than you are.

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

I’m not sure.

Does this person claim to know what you (or others) are thinking? If you deny that your mind’s working the way he/she believes it is, are you accused of lying, or does the person make gestures or noises that indicate that?

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

It’s hard to say.

Are you being told that things are normal when, deep down, you know for sure they are not? For example: Your boss asks you to blatantly lie to a client about the safety of an item. When you refuse, you might be told that ALL employees lie on behalf of their employers and that if you don’t want to be a team player, maybe you should find another position.

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

I’m not really sure.

Are you being accused of being “crazy” or called paranoid, stressed out—too sensitive or even hormonal? Do you get told that you need therapy or meds (or something similar)? Examples: “God, you need help!” or “You’re just like your crazy mother (brother, father, etc.)!” or “You really should consider getting some therapy – you’ve got some serious issues!”

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

I’m not sure.

Are you sometimes told that what you know to be true is not real? For example, if your mother says your significant other is a loser and that you need to dump him, after awhile, you might start to believe it and might even end up sabotaging the relationship because you begin to question your own judgment, thanks to regular conditioning during visits, phone calls and emails with her.

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

I’m not sure.

Does this person have selective memory? Does he/she deny that he said something that upset you if you confront him/her on it, will promise to do something and later tell you that it never happened? Hint: He/she might also use creative language to downplay his behavior and act as though your reaction is totally out of line.

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

It’s hard to say.

Do you lie to this person to “keep the peace” or avoid getting him/her all upset or anxious? Do find yourself at least bending the truth a little in order to avoid the verbal/physical abuse that is sure to follow any discussion or situation that is against the person’s “rules” or “standards” sometimes?

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never

I don’t know.

Have you stopped talking about yourself around the person? True or false: Depending on the depth of your relationship with him or her; you might even stop talking about yourself altogether. Then one day, when someone asks you a question about yourself, you’re stumped. You might even forget HOW to talk about you.

True. At least some of the time.

False. This isn’t an issue for me.

Unsure. This is a little confusing for me.

Are you depressed, angry, anxious or otherwise “unsettled” in ways that don’t feel “normal” to you as a result of this relationship? Do you often feel that you’re just not good enough for this person?

Yes, at least some of the time.

No, never.

It’s hard to say.

 

 

 

https://queenbeeing.com/identifying-emotionally-unavailable-people-in-relationships/ By Angela Atkinson