What’s Wrong With Being Emotionally Unavailable?
The short answer is nothing, if you don’t want to have close relationships. There are people who really are content to live as an island. But most people aren’t built this way. The usual scenario I see is the person who spends their young adulthood (20′s and 30′s) charging forward with their career, with limited intimate relationships (usually because they don’t have time) and then at 45 or late thirties for women, decide they are tired of being alone now want to settle down.
There is nothing wrong with choosing to delay marriage or a serious relationship because of other priorities. In fact, it’s better to be honest up front about your focus rather than string someone along feigning interest just to keep them around. However, it can be very difficult to connect with someone quickly if you’ve spent 10 – 20 years being self-centered and avoiding closeness. Once you decide you want a companion, you have to learn how to be a companion who can meet other’s needs.
What does emotional unavailability look like? I think another term that could be used is psychological independence. They don’t need anyone. This person usually feels threatened and uncomfortable when people ask too many questions. Rather than see this positively as someone taking interest in them, they see it as prying or being nosey. They may be easily suspicious of other’s motives; having difficulty trusting others. They may feel smothered by their partner’s attention or desire to spend time together. This often comes from needing to feel in control. When they start to fall in love, they feel less in control and prefer to push the other person away to regain some control. Staying too busy is a passive way of avoiding closeness. In your mind, you have a legitimate excuse for not “wasting” time building relationships.
There are other ways a person can demonstrate emotional unavailability; these are just a few. As you can see these behaviors are not conducive to building intimacy and connectedness in a relationship. The person, who is emotionally unavailable and wants to have a serious relationship some day, should expect to need a running head start to learn how to be close to others. Don’t expect it to all come together just because you’ve met your financial or career goals. You’ll still have some work to do to break old habits so you can be a better partner for the person you choose.
The other side of this coin is emotional neediness. I’ll discuss this in a future post.