An emotionally unavailable person is someone who doesn’t respond to other people’s emotional needs and cues.
You’re not like this at all but for some reason, people assume you’re one! They tell you you’re aloof or distant or emotionless.
And that’s just not fair because you’re actually one of the most emotionally-aware people to walk on Earth.
Well then, it’s time to examine yourself.
Ask yourself (or your friends) if you display these 10 behaviors that give people the impression you’re not emotionally available.
1) You care for your privacy
You have no problems connecting with people emotionally—you’re compassionate, empathetic, and you pay attention to how they feel.
But you also like to keep your secrets, and would rather not share everything about you just ‘cause.
Unfortunately, most people have the belief that being an open book is part of what it means to be emotionally available.
It’s bollocks, but many people think that just because you want to keep things to yourself, that you’re “secretive” and emotionally unavailable.
What to do:
I’ll start with what you should NOT do, and that is to spill your secrets just so that they’ll like you. Doing that can easily ruin your life.
If you feel like people are upset about your secrecy, try to tell them something like “sorry, I’d rather not share this with anyone if you don’t mind.”
Make it clear that it’s not about them, and that nobody is entitled to your secrets.
2) You don’t react much to sentimental stuff
You’d be watching a heart-wrenching movie with your friends. But while they’re drowning in their own tears, you just… sit there, eating your popcorn.
Perhaps they tease you for having a “heart of iron”, or maybe they’ll get upset at you and see this as a “red flag.”
But what are you supposed to do if the tears just ain’t coming?
You likely have your reasons for being this way—maybe you’re just reserved and prefer to keep your feelings to yourself, or maybe you just don’t cry easily.
Either way, when you don’t give much of a reaction to sentimental moments (both in media and in real life), people will automatically assume that you’re emotionally unavailable.
What to do:
Nothing. We all process and show emotions differently from one another.
It’s the people around you who need to learn how to respect and appreciate your differences more than anything else.
3) You don’t get attached to people too fast
While you might keep your friends close to you, people have to first win your trust before you let them in and consider them your friends.
You know your boundaries, and you take great care to enforce them.
So if someone tries to get all cozy and friendly with you way too fast, you immediately back off and try to get them to slow down.
There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. But people will unfortunately get upset at this and think that you’re just being “closed off” and “standoffish” for no real reason.
But while they might try to talk about how you’re pushing them away, that’s not quite what’s going on—you simply need time to build trust, and they’re trying to skip ahead.
What to do:
Don’t try to force yourself to trust someone just because they’re upset that you didn’t instantly trust them.
In fact, more people need to do things the way you do.
4) You don’t openly share your goals and dreams
It’s quite normal for people to share their goals and dreams in casual conversation.
Maybe a friend of yours would gush about how they want to get married in 5 years and then find work as a radio host.
But you simply can’t bring yourself to just share your goals and dreams like that.
Maybe you simply want to work in silence, or maybe you genuinely have no goals at the moment.
It doesn’t matter either way.
Not sharing your future goals will make people think that you’re secretive and emotionally unavailable.
What to do:
You don’t have to share things you truly don’t want to share.
Perhaps instead of your dreams, you can instead share your PASSIONS (as in your hobbies and interests).
Try saying something like “Oh, I still don’t know what the future brings. But right now, I’m into _____ and _____.”
5) You’re a bit too independent
Not that independence is a bad thing, of course. But sadly there’s such a thing as being TOO independent.
For example, you might be so used to doing things all by yourself that you simply don’t talk about them to the people around you, not even to get help.
Maybe you don’t trust others to do the job properly, or maybe you simply don’t want to be a bother.
Whatever the reasons may be, you simply prefer to do things alone.
This, of course, makes people think that you’re being distant and hostile.
What to do:
Try to explain to your co-workers and friends that this is just how you operate, and it’s nothing personal.
And of course, it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to share your tasks too.
If it’s clear that you’re barely getting by, ask for help even if you know you can do it all by yourself.
6) You’re not consistently available
You might think that it’s unreasonable for people to expect you to be consistently available.
Maybe you have a job that keeps you from being there all the time, or some kind of chronic illness that keeps on sapping your energies.
A lot of people will understand you, of course. Unfortunately, it’s not a guarantee that MOST of the people you know will.
There are people who will get sour at the fact that you’re not always around when they want you to be.
And they’ll take your lack of consistency as you being too focused on yourself and thus being emotionally unavailable.
What to do:
Help them understand you better by giving a clear reason why you can’t be there and that you’ll try to be there next time.
And if someone needs you for support, tell them you can have a phone call instead.
7) You use your head
You’re someone who prefers being logical and practical whenever you can. You make it a point to use your head rather than your heart, even in relationships.
It’s not like you’re cold and unfeeling, even if sometimes you might seem that way.
You’re the kind of person who would protest against a big, fancy wedding because you’d rather spend the money on buying a house or you know—just to save the money for a rainy day!
And you’re the kind of person who will keep saying “no” no matter how hard someone tries to tug at your heartstrings for some poker money, even if that person is your best friend.
This gives people the impression you’re tough as nails and assume you’re emotionally unavailable.
What to do:
Sometimes, it’s about how you say it. Try to use gentler language when expressing your logical opinions.
8) You don’t match their reactions
People expect you to match their emotions to some degree—it’s how they can tell that you’re emotionally present, and through that assume whether you’re emotionally available or not.
The problem is that you simply don’t mirror their reactions.
For example, if your friend found out that their boyfriend is cheating and started freaking out, you won’t freak out with them and instead stay calm.
This failure to match will make them wonder if you’re even present and empathizing with them, and eventually they’ll just assume that you’re not emotionally available.
What to do:
If you really can’t mirror their emotions (and this can often be a good thing), then you can try finding another way to show that you empathize with them.
What they want to know is that there’s someone who sympathizes with them, and so long as they know you understand them, you don’t need to match their reactions one to one.
9) You don’t take life seriously
Or at least, that’s what people might think of the way you live your life.
You’re the kind of person who can bounce back from problems relatively quickly instead of holding on to frustrations for days on end.
You have no problem going out for a drink or playing games almost immediately after having a fight with someone important—like your partner or best friend.
Why be sad or worried or angry when life is short?
They will likely think that you getting back on your feet so quickly means you’re not invested in them at all—after all, how come you’re not distraught?
What to do:
Whatever your reasons may be, it would be a good idea for you to at least make an attempt to reassure the people around you that you care about them.
Perhaps explaining yourself might be a good start—nothing better for smoothing conflicts over than communication after all.
10) You’re an introvert
As an introvert, you likely have a habit of retiring to somewhere private after spending enough time around other people.
Now other introverts are going to understand your need to disappear every so often, or why you simply don’t like hanging around for too long.
But a lot of extroverts will misunderstand why you do the things you do and assume that you’re closed off, a loner, and generally not in any way emotionally available.
What to do:
People will make assumptions about you and there’s nothing you can really do about that. At the same time, it’s not exactly a good idea to try to “change” yourself into an extrovert just to fit in.
Best you can do is that when someone bothers to ask, you explain to them that you’re an introvert but if they really need someone to talk to, you’re there.
There are four main criteria for whether people will judge you as emotionally available or not.
Are you cold and standoffish? Do you have a hard time being open and vulnerable? Do you want space and get touchy around your personal boundaries? Do you focus on doing your own thing?
None of these are particularly bad, whether alone or together.
There are certainly valid reasons why you might be cold, reserved, and touchy with your boundaries after all.
But if you want to connect to people better—if you don’t want to give the impression that you’re emotionally unavailable—then start by telling them about it.
Say “Hey, I know I might seem distant but I’m totally here when you want to talk.”.
This acknowledgment alone can do wonders on how people see you (without you bending over backwards to change yourself to seem more emotionally available).