When you give your all in a relationship, you naturally expect your partner to do the same. Relationships require effort and commitment in order to work. But an emotionally unavailable partner will see a relationship quite differently. Emotionally unavailable people either have relationships with multiple people at a time to avoid serious commitment, or tend to steer clear of relationships altogether, usually due to childhood trauma or fear of emotional intimacy.

Also, emotionally unavailable people normally share an unhealthy upbringing, raised in a controlling or abusive environment. A lifelong study of people in England, Scotland, and Wales found that people who perceived their parents as overly controlling or encouraged dependence had lower levels of happiness and overall mental well-being later on in life. So, if you have an emotionally unavailable partner, this behavior likely stems from problems they faced during childhood that have stuck with them ever since.

However, even if you have an emotionally unavailable partner, the signs might not always jump out at you.

Here are 10 signs you have an emotionally unavailable partner:

Read on to discover some common red flags.

emotionally unavailable partner

1. An emotionally unavailable partner sends you mixed messages.

An emotionally unavailable partner will tell you they want a relationship one second, only to change their mind shortly after. They can’t ever seem to make up their mind, and you can’t wrap your head around their cryptic messages and confusing behavior. An emotionally available person will tell you their intentions up front, and stick to them. If you notice that the person you have an interest in comes on very strongly, only to back away and keep leading you on, you probably have an emotionally unavailable partner.

2. They are already in a relationship with someone else.

This one should definitely raise some red flags – people already in a relationship obviously are emotionally unavailable, but they may not even tell you about their relationship. You will probably have to find out on your own, as this type of person clearly doesn’t care to disclose important information like this from the get-go. In today’s world, many people have open relationships, and as long as everyone involved feels comfortable, then that’s fine.

What we’re talking about here is someone who hides their relationships from others so they don’t have to commit to just one person. An emotionally unavailable partner will keep many aspects of their life from you, as they don’t want to become too emotionally attached or invested in you.

3. An emotionally unavailable partner will only consider their own feelings.

People who aren’t in touch with their emotions will appear very selfish and narcissistic. They don’t ever ask about your own feelings or bother with making sure you feel secure and happy in the relationship. Every action and decision they make in life only serves to fuel their own egotistical desires, and they will always put themselves before you. If this sounds like your relationship, you likely have an emotionally unavailable partner.

4. They only seem interested in the physical side of your relationship.

An emotionally unavailable partner will only seem interested in the sexual part of your relationship, and nothing more. A person out of touch with their emotions can’t offer much else, and they won’t even try. They have decided that shallow, base-level relationships will satisfy them, and they have committed to living a life without true emotional intimacy. An emotionally unavailable partner will avoid deep conversations with you, but won’t reveal their true intentions in the relationship. They will leave that to you to figure out.

5. An emotionally unavailable partner won’t commit fully to you.

They won’t ever offer their full selves to you because they don’t know how. They have only known distant, superficial relationships and keep everyone they know at arm’s length. An emotionally unavailable partner will give you every excuse in the world for why they can’t commit to you.

6. They prefer talking through text and emails rather than on the phone or in person.

An emotionally unavailable partner will avoid talking in an intimate setting the majority of the time. They give you excuses as to why they can’t meet up with you in person or talk on the phone, and prefer texting and emailing instead. If you have a partner like this, it definitely points to emotional insecurity and fear of intimacy because face-to-face interactions require much more vulnerability than they feel comfortable with.

7. You never feel like you can read them.

An emotionally unavailable partner will seem difficult to understand, and dealing with them will often feel like solving a jigsaw puzzle. You try to combine all the pieces, but they don’t seem to fit. Once you feel like you have a handle on them, they will throw you a curve ball and expect you to catch it. They probably aren’t aware of their mixed signals and difficult demeanor, which makes it all the more frustrating to deal with an emotionally unavailable partner.

8. An emotionally unavailable partner will seem cold and distant.

Being in a relationship with them probably feels like having a relationship with just yourself. You might feel alone most of the time because they will show no signs of compassion or care when you need them the most. An emotionally unavailable partner can’t give themselves fully to another, because they have been taught from an early age unhealthy practices. They will distance themselves from you to protect themselves from getting hurt.

9. They give you the green light, only to retreat and take back what they said.

Your partner might say they want a committed relationship one day, only to retract what they said the next day. They don’t seem to know what they truly want, or can’t fully give themselves to the relationship because of their fear of emotional intimacy. An emotionally unavailable partner will take you on a rollercoaster ride, but you will feel like getting off at the next available exit instead of sticking around for more of their games.

emotionally unavailable partner

10. They don’t want to introduce you to friends or family.

An emotionally unavailable partner will avoid encounters where you would have to meet their loved ones. That’s because they don’t want it to seem too serious between you two. They would prefer to lead you on. In fact, they may even give you hope for meeting their family and friends in the future. But beware, it will probably never happen. They wouldn’t want to get in too deep. That’s because they fear of not being able to make it out with their emotions intact.