Susan spent much of her life in serial relationships with married men. These men were literally unavailable and therefore she didn’t have to feel bad when things went sour, as they inevitably did. Not only were the men unavailable for more intimate relationships that might include marriage, but she was emotionally unavailable, which is why the relationships didn’t last.


Being hooked on men who were unavailable allowed Susan to be in denial about her own emotional unavailability. Susan had a fear of being vulnerable in a relationship because she grew up in a household where her feelings were disregarded or worse, trampled. Her emotional needs were thwarted by a narcissistic mother who herself was unavailable to her daughter. So, Susan grew up to be risk-averse to falling in love. Because that would make her vulnerable to getting hurt.


When Susan finally began dating a great guy who wasn’t married, she continually and repeatedly was late whenever they went out. She made him wait more than just a few minutes—sometimes over an hour—until her chronic lateness drove him bonkers. He finally decided he couldn’t tolerate her inconsiderate behavior, broke up with her, and promptly married someone else.


Susan shouldn’t have been surprised. She, herself, she drove him away, if only unconsciously. He was beginning to seem like he might want a close, committed relationship, and that scared her.

Marriage Counseling, Relationships, Couples,


Here are some other signs you might be emotionally unavailable.


  • Being in control helps you feel strong. You like structure and you don’t like change. The trouble is, in any relationship, both parties need to be flexible and to accommodate their partner. But a person who needs to be in control must be the center of the relationship, expecting their partner to revolve around them.
  • Serial Relationships. Like Susan, you can be in a relationship so long as there’s no danger of becoming intimate. As soon as the relationship progresses to the level where closeness develops, you get cold feet.
  • You tell yourself your partner isn’t perfect, but the fact is, you look for flaws until you find them. That way you have an excuse to discard him and move on. You fear intimacy and expecting a perfect partner guarantees that you that you’ll find an excuse. Because nobody’s perfect.
  • Angry Outbursts. When the fear of intimacy gets too much in a relationship, you make yourself difficult. You pick a fight. You’re rude to waiters. You snap at his best friend. You snap at him. It’s a result of your pent-up anger at the unfortunate events that make you emotionally unavailable. And it’s a way to avoid intimacy.
  • Often times, people who have suffered and try to protect themselves by being emotionally unavailable, also suffer from low self-esteem. They cover that up by pretending to be better. They brag and act cocky, which has the opposite effect, sending a signal of their actual insecurity.


If you’re honest with yourself about your own emotional unavailability, you can work to understand the reasons why. It’s worth the work so you can ultimately enjoy a close and satisfying relationship. You deserve it.




Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: