Being emotionally available is essential for building strong relationships.
Learning to spot who is willing to let you in, and whose heart is a closed door can save you a lot of precious time, energy and heartache.
Here are the 10 positive signs someone is emotionally available.
How do I know if someone is emotionally available?
1) They tell you how they feel and what they want
In its essence, emotional availability is about the extent to which someone can show up and share a healthy emotional connection with another person.
It’s been defined by researchers as:
“an individual’s emotional responsiveness and ‘attunement’ to another’s needs and goals; key is the acceptance of a wide range of emotions rather than responsiveness solely to distress”.
Put simply, someone can open up all sorts of emotions to you (both the good and the bad), and are happy for you to do the same.
That is why telling you how they feel and what they need from you is a really strong sign of emotional availability.
They know how to express themselves, and they aren’t afraid to do so. They tell you how they feel. And they let you know their needs and wants.
This shows you that they know how to communicate maturely and are open to emotional intimacy.
2) They don’t run at the first sign of conflict
Sharing emotional intimacy with another person and having healthy communication also means sticking around when the going gets tough.
An emotionally available person doesn’t cut and run at the very first sign of trouble.
There is no denying that conflict can be really uncomfortable for all of us.
But an emotionally available person is more capable of sitting with that discomfort and handling it, rather than running from it.
It’s not that they like it, but they can deal with it.
Disagreements are not only inevitable between people, but they can even strengthen a bond according to Positive Psychology:
“Challenge and disagreement within a relationship (romantic or otherwise) can encourage growth, deeper understanding, improved communication, and progress toward a goal (Overall & McNulty, 2017; Tatkin, 2012).”
An emotionally available person has the tools to deal with arguments, conflict, and disagreement without resorting to completely shutting down or totally pulling away.
3) They’re willing to take risks
Being emotionally available is a courageous thing.
As part of that bravery, emotionally available people are more prepared to take a risk.
Love is a gamble for all of us. But for emotionally unavailable people it’s not a bet they are willing to make. The stakes are too high.
On the other hand, an emotionally available person might still feel nervous, apprehensive, or even doubtful when it comes to certain aspects of a close relationship.
But they are prepared to put those fears aside and take a risk, as they have an open heart that actively wants connection.
So they are willing to fall in love again, even if they have been hurt in the past.
They are prepared to ask you out, even if it means facing potential rejection.
They will expose themselves to you, knowing full well that there is always a chance their heart will be delivered back to them in pieces.
4) They make an effort
Emotionally unavailable men and women are only ever halfway in. They linger in the doorway rather than stepping inside.
And that likely shows in the level of effort they make in the relationship.
In contrast, because emotionally available people are capable of putting themselves on the line they show up differently. They are fully present.
They make the effort. Not only because they want things to progress, but because they have the emotional awareness to recognize that relationships take work.
One of the protective defenses of someone who is not emotionally available is keeping themselves intentionally on the peripheral. That way they can make a quick exit whenever they feel the need.
With an emotionally available person you won’t feel like they are only investing the bare minimum.
You’ll notice that they are trying to form a bond with you. Which, importantly, is reflected in both their words and their actions.
And that leads me to our next point…
5) They’re consistent in what they say and do
Emotionally available people tend to be way more reliable than the emotionally unavailable.
There isn’t any:
- Yo-yoing of their attention or affection
- Wondering where the hell you stand
- Love bombing that is swiftly followed by disappearance or withdrawal
In short: it’s stable.
Emotionally unavailable people are only in it for the high. They love the rush of something new. They are simply chasing excitement.
But when reality kicks in, they’re gone. Because deep down they’re not open emotionally for anything more.
The truth is that real love and relationships can be far more boring than in the movies. But it runs a lot deeper than the shallow and fickle feelings that tend to be more common early on in a connection.
That’s why it’s a strong sign that someone is emotionally available when they recognize that building a real connection involves consistency, in both what they say and what they do.
6) They’re authentic and let you see the real them
I do think that to a certain extent we’re all on our best behavior when we first meet someone.
It’s natural that we want to make a good impression. Which usually involves highlighting our best qualities and perhaps keeping our less desirable traits a little bit under wraps.
We also wear masks in order to try and protect ourselves. Or as vulnerability researcher Brene Brown calls it, “armor”:
“We wake up in the morning. We armor up. We go out into the world with this, ‘Hey, take no prisoners. You’re not going to see me. You’re not going to hurt me. We come home, and we don’t take that armor off.”
It’s perfectly normal to wait for trust to build before we reveal all to someone and start to let those defenses come down.
But especially as time goes on and we get to know someone, emotionally available people will begin to reveal themselves.
They don’t keep you at arm’s length by only showing a carefully curated image.
They are willing to express themselves fully, and that involves the bad as well as the good. Their flaws and fears along with their dreams and goals.
They are willing to share their thoughts and opinions with you, even if they suspect you won’t agree.
Being genuine about who we are with someone is vital in creating a sincere connection with someone else. Which is why it’s a really positive sign that someone is emotionally available.
7) They can be vulnerable with you
Vulnerability is a big part of how we relate to each other. It’s also a key component of intimacy.
So if someone is unwilling to show vulnerability with you, then chances are they aren’t ready to commit to a relationship.
Because being vulnerable means exposing your innermost self. And that takes courage. It isn’t something emotionally unavailable people are usually willing to do.
That’s why it’s such a positive sign if someone is willing to be vulnerable with you.
They tell you scary things, open up about uncomfortable emotions, and show you their internal processes — knowing that it may leave them exposed.
They are able to admit mistakes and failures. They are honest about their struggles. They are willing to tell you things they wouldn’t tell just anyone. And this includes things they might find embarrassing or shameful.
This shows that they are not trying to hide from you. That they are comfortable enough to allow you into their world.
And that makes them an emotionally available person.
8) They’re more comfortable with emotion
Feelings can be overwhelming for all of us at times. They are intense.
A lot of us have also grown up within societies where emotions are repressed to a certain extent and displays of emotion are discouraged.
But despite that, an emotionally available person is more willing to run with their emotions, rather than from them.
They are prepared to feel them to the fullest extent, rather than try to shut them down or close off certain feelings that are daunting.
They don’t go out of their way to avoid emotions or find it impossible to relax in an emotionally charged situation.
Essentially emotionally available people are often better at feeling their feelings. That doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable, but they can handle it.
And they are also more willing to accept those emotions from others too. Which helps them connect better with other people.
9) They have other close connections
A really good sign that someone is emotionally available and capable of having intimate relationships is how they already relate to others.
If they have close friendships, family relationships, or past romantic relationships, it tells you that they are capable of letting someone truly in.
A lot of our ability to connect on a deeper level with others can come down to our attachment style, which starts to form early in life.
Emotionally available people tend to have a more secure attachment style. And so, they generally feel quite confident in their connections.
As Psychologist Jade Wu Savvy explains:
“They feel connected, trusting, and comfortable with having independence and letting their partner have independence even as they openly express love. They reach out for support when they need it and offer support when their partner is distressed.”
In contrast, someone who is emotionally unavailable may lean towards a more insecure attachment style, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized.
This can prevent them from forming close connections in not just their romantic life, but also friendships and family.
10) They aren’t totally freaked out by future commitment
Again, I think it’s worth saying that even emotionally available people might be prone to a little freak out about the future.
Commitment can be daunting. But emotionally available people do not flee at the prospect of it.
An emotionally available person is open to discussing the future together and entertaining all the many possibilities it might hold.
They won’t try to change the conversation when you bring up something about your future together. They feel comfortable making short or even long-term plans in advance.
Emotionally available people aren’t afraid of being “trapped” or getting “stuck” like emotionally unavailable people are.
So they don’t get freaked out about the idea of commitment.
Being able to look to the future is important. Research has even shown how thinking about the future can lead to more generous and fulfilled lives.
Considering the future is a process known as ‘prospection’, and studies have shown it encourages us to achieve goals, make better decisions, makes us kinder, and improves our psychological well-being.
Being willing and able to envisage a life together is an important part of being emotionally available.
To conclude: A final (and important) word on an emotionally available person
I hope this article has helped you to better understand the behaviors and actions of an emotionally available person.
But as a final point, it might be worth highlighting what emotionally available people not.
Because someone who is emotionally available isn’t always going to be easygoing. They’re not always going to handle everything in a relationship impeccably. They don’t always know the right thing to say or do.
They’re still likely to struggle with their emotions from time to time. They may shut down or freak out. They might get overwhelmed and scared.
In short: they’re still human.
But their willingness to try, to put themselves out there, and to grow through any discomfort is what ultimately makes someone emotionally available.
After all, it’s not about finding the perfect person, it’s all about being able to connect with and accept all of the inevitable imperfections too.
Because, in the words of philosopher Alain de Botton:
“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone – and finding that that’s ok with them.”