Deciding to enter in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person – whether intentional or not – is a decision that many come to regret. But falling for an unavailable person is remarkably easy, as traditional signs that may indicate an underlying problem don’t often surface. Indeed, even the keenest judge of character could potentially make a life-altering relationship choice that will adversely affect them, sometimes irreparably.

Individuals in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person are often confused. This is especially true when the overall chemistry of the relationship is strongly felt. Eventually, the very-human act of falling in love with a person comes to fruition. At this level – one of commitment, adoration, and love – the real pain begins…and hopefully, after a period of time, the pain ends.

When we place emotional stake into someone else, it’s serious business. We are sharing our souls, our hearts, our life with a person from whom we naturally seek reciprocation of those same sacrifices; when that reciprocation never comes, people get hurt.

It is important, then, that we all understand the signs of emotionally unavailable people. While this article focuses mainly on intimacy, the same underlying premise also applies to friendships.

A soul mate must be willing and available to have a relationship with you. If he or she is unavailable, this is not your soul mate at the present time. – Dr. Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and author

Here are 9 befuddling behaviors of emotionally unavailable people:

emotionally unavailable people

1. Emotionally unavailable people play with emotions

“So close, yet so far away” describes an emotionally unavailable person using just six words. You could skip the hypothetical course on emotional unavailability, and pass the exam with this phrase alone.

All smart-alecky comments aside, unavailable people often provoke all of the delightful feelings that surface during a relationship. Of course, such feelings are short-lived, as you’ll be yanking at your hair in frustration and confusion shortly afterward.

2. They’re not respectful of your time

Even if an unavailable person is time-conscious in nearly every regard, they always seem to be late when picking you up…or seeing you somewhere…or pretty much anything that requires them to allocate time to you.

This type of irresponsible behavior is egregiously disrespectful. Odds are that you also have work and other responsibilities; places to go, people to see. Yet, they view your time as negligible.

3. Emotionally unavailable people personify ambiguity

Good luck trying to get a definitive answer to that relationship question.

Are we exclusive? “Uh, I’ve gotta work early tomorrow.”

Time to meet the folks? “I want to, but now isn’t right.” Ok…when is “right?” What does “right” mean? The word “right” in the context of a relationship can be translated into a hundred different meanings.

Right. That’s the point.

4. They always seem to apologize

Sorry they didn’t get your message. And sorry they were late (again). Sorry about yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.

It goes without saying, but if someone you love/care for always seems to begin conversation with “sorry,” there is a serious problem. The fact that they’re really not sorry for anything is the real problem.

emotionally unavailable partner

5. They’ll make last-ditch “efforts”

It’s been a month since you decided to take a break. After all, things weren’t looking so good for a while. You’ve settled back into your routine…maybe even considered texting that one guy/gal for a coffee date.

Then a text, or call, or unexpected visit. Weird timing.

6. Emotionally unavailable people are poor communicators

On one side of the communication spectrum, folks freak out if a reply isn’t received within 5 seconds. On the other, we’ve got the unavailable type. Their communication habits tend to resemble how one would interact with their second cousin; not their love interest.

When you do receive a timely response – or any type of communication, really – you would need to be a cryptologist to construct the almost non-existent detail. Awesome.

7. They always “forgot”

Quite similar to “sorry,” an emotionally unavailable person will say the word “forgot” more in a week than most will their entire life. A thorough and rational explanation of this really isn’t necessary.

“I forgot” is a poor excuse – a copout. Just as “I’m sorry” or “I’ll do it later” or (insert commonly-used excuse phrase) is.

8. They always leave you flummoxed

Ask any person that has been involved, in any way, with an emotionally unavailable person to describe their experience. In all likelihood, one or more of the following words or variety of these words will follow: confused, unsure, anxious, insecure, perplexed, unknowing, hesitant…etc.

The word “flummoxed” is a good one. Or baffled.

Baffled someone would blatantly treat them with such disrespect. Flummoxed that someone could be so inconsiderate; to never contemplate the magnitude to which they’ve inflicted undeserved pain.

emotionally attached

9. They’re always “confused”

As terrible as that last one sounded, rest assured you’re not the only confused one. They are confused too, or at least they say so.

It doesn’t matter if they have a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, some emotionally unavailable people will still proclaim ignorance to anything having to do with relationships; specifically, how one is to act in a relationship.

Simply put, either that person is (1) ethically handicapped, (2) emotionally unavailable, or (3) all of the above. Regardless, it behooves us to realize them for what they are and move on.