In relationships today, there are a vast number of emotionally unavailable partners. The real issue is that this is not good for these relationships’ success, well-being, or health. How do you know if your relationship is suffering emotionally?
The key to success is the emotional healthiness of your partnership. If you’re emotionally healthy, then your union will be robust. However, when one of you is emotionally unavailable, you’ll both suffer.
Ten Things an Emotionally Unavailable Partner Will Say to You (Without Realizing It)
Today, many relationships start on a sour note, as many people don’t realize that their partner is emotionally absent. What does it mean to be emotionally unavailable? According to an article published by Dr. Arasteh Gatchpazian at the Berkeley Wellbeing Institute, these people want a healthy emotional connection, but fear and past situations stand in the way.
It can be either a man or a woman who is the emotionally unavailable partner, which can happen for many reasons. It can stem from a past relationship or an experience in childhood. Sometimes, it can be a situational factor stemming from career problems. Here are ten of the most common things the emotionally unavailable partner says.
1. “I’m sorry.”
You will often hear from someone who is walled off emotionally that they’re sorry. They use this phrase to get you off their back.
They aren’t really sorry for what they said or did, but they want you to leave them alone. Using this phrase is the quickest way they can think of to accomplish peace.
2. “I forgot.”
Sometimes, the emotionally unavailable person appears to have a toddler’s memory. They seem to be unable to recall anything. Saying they forget is a way of deflecting the issue from themselves.
They are essentially making light of the situation by stating it was a slip of their mind, but the problem is that it wasn’t important enough for them to remember. When someone has been emotionally hurt, they often ruminate on their pain and regrets and don’t make time for the here and now.
3. “You’re reading too much into this.”
You can say that this is a tactic of gaslighting, as they’re trying to make it seem like you’re reading way more into the situation than it warrants. The emotionally unavailable partner makes light of your feelings on the matter, and they’re trying to make it seem like you’re the one with the problem.
4. “Why would you think that?”
With this statement, they’re trying to give you a lesson in self-awareness. Your significant other is deflecting once again but cleverly tries to make it seem like there’s something wrong with your thought patterns. The problem is that their thought processes have been warped by past situations, and the problem is not yours, as you see things at face value.
5. “Stop taking everything I say so seriously.”
Why wouldn’t you take something they say seriously? Do they want you to ignore or not put much faith in their statements? It’s true that when someone is hurt, they will lash out at others to make themselves feel better, but words can undoubtedly sting.
Remember the old saying never to bite the hand that feeds you? Dogs are notorious for getting aggressive when they’re hurt and lashing out at the ones they love. You may claim the same for someone who carries emotional scars. Until they find healing for these wounds, they’re going to be on edge and ready to snap.
6. “Don’t be so insecure!”
You’re not the emotionally unavailable partner, but they’re making it your problem. When you ask to talk about an issue or the relationship, they want to turn things back on you and make it appear that you’re the one with the problem. This is common in someone with a narcissistic personality, and NPD often stems from a broken past and unresolved trauma.
7. “Stop being so sensitive.”
You confront your partner because they blew off your plans to spend the evening with their friends. You wanted to let them know how much this hurts you, but they think you’re being too sensitive. When you have plans with your boyfriend or girlfriend, they come first.
You’re not being sensitive; you’re just stating facts and standing up for yourself. The problem is that they can’t stand to hear about their failures.
8. “I have no idea what you want me to say.”
Emotionally unavailable people have very surface relationships as it’s the only thing that feels comfortable. They want intimacy, your time, but don’t ask them for their heart. While they may pay you lip service about love and commitment, they cannot fully commit due to emotional issues.
When you confront them on a topic that feels uncomfortable, or they don’t want to answer, they may come back with a statement like they don’t know what you want them to say. It’s because they don’t want to be honest and tell what they think, so this flippant answer is what they hope will appease you.
9. “You always do this.”
There’s a fine line between someone who gaslights and an emotionally unavailable partner. While they may not purposely attempt to make you feel crazy, they don’t want the guilt or shame to come back on them. So, they will deflect as much of that guilt as possible.
When you discuss an uncomfortable topic, they can’t handle the pain. Perhaps you’re confronting them about their inability to commit, poor relationship skills, or other issues, and they don’t want to hear it. So, they come back with something like, “You always do this.” They’ve just pushed the issue into your lap so they can sidestep these hurtful things.
10. “You should have known that this was not a good time.”
Is there ever a good time to talk about hurtful things? No, there will never be a perfect time to discuss complex topics. However, telling you it’s not a good time is a way to indicate that they don’t want to talk about it.
Sure, the worst time to handle emotional issues is when someone has just come home from working a ten-hour shift. However, to combat this, you may need to schedule a time to talk about relationship stuff if they’re willing to do so.
Four Ways to Handle the Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Now that you know some common phrases used by those with emotional issues, you should know what to do to handle them. Here are a few tips.
1. Address the Elephant in the Room With Your Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Don’t let your partner hide behind their emotional issues. Call them out and bring attention to the real problem. If they don’t take care of this wound, they will never have a successful relationship.
2. Suggest Attending Counseling With Your Emotionally Unavailable Partner
You must realize that there are some things that you are not equipped to handle. If your partner was abused as a child and has emotional issues, they need professional help. Offer to go with them and be there for them as they start this journey towards wellness. If they refuse to go, realize that this could be detrimental to your relationship.
According to an article in Good Therapy, if your partner won’t go to counseling, then it may be better for you to go alone. Don’t push them, as this can make matters worse. However, a counselor can help you understand the situation.
3. Establish Boundaries That an Emotionally Unavailable Partner Must Respect
Healthy boundaries are a good thing, as they put you in the driver’s seat. You get to tell people how you expect to be treated. If they cross these proverbial lines, then you know that they don’t respect your limitations.
4. Be Honest with Yourself About Your Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Can you handle being in a relationship with someone who’s damaged? It takes a big person to confront emotional issues, especially when their past impacts you. Think long and hard about whether this is something you can do long-term.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With an Emotionally Unavailable Partner
Looking back through these phrases, you might see some that you have used a time or two. While saying these things doesn’t always mean you’re being manipulated, they are used to dodge accountability. The problem with emotionally unavailable people is that they need to distort their reality to feel safe.
There may be times when you are genuinely confused by their actions or speech, but remember, you’re not the one with the problem. For your partner, they may find it easier to play dumb or to act clueless so that you leave them alone. They feel that the best way to handle the issue is with strong defensive play.
There are underlying tones of manipulation mixed into this, but it’s not uncommon with the complete power imbalance in the relationship. It’s not that they want to manipulate and control you, but it’s an avoidance tactic to keep you off subjects that are too painful for them to deal with. Can you live with or be in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner?