How to spot an emotionally unavailable partner

best yes

You’ll know all about the agony of not being able to get close to the person you love if you’ve been with an emotionally unavailable person. Have a look through this list and see if any of these sound familiar with someone you might be seeing now or in the past.

Even ONE of these is cause for concern. This is not a list where you need all of them to be ticked off to win the prize! If you can tick even a few off then you’re with an emotionally unavailable person and really need to do some soul searching and possible come and see me so we can talk about why you’re attracted to the unavailability!

  • They’re already married or in a relationship with someone else.
    No you can’t ‘change’ or ‘convince’ them and no a partner isn’t a challenge to try and win or change.No you are not in competition with their wife/husband/partner and ‘stealing’ them away won’t prove anything about your self worth. If they will leave their partner for you then chances are they’ll leave you for someone else later down the track. Is that someone you really want to be with? I mean really??? What are you trying to prove? That you’re more attractive than their partner? You aren’t in competition with other people! Stop wanting someone because they’re off limits. It doesn’t make them more desirable it makes them a disloyal jerk!


  • They’re shut down or closed off emotionally. They’re emotionally distant or are incapable of dealing with conflict. Possibly after the initial pursuit they distance themselves, disconnect and shut down. You might feel like their primary relationship now is with their phone, ipad or computer- not you anymore! They may have compulsive or addictive behaviours with their phone, online porn or TV as a way of ‘checking out.’

    You can’t have intimacy when one person refuses to open up emotionally with you. That’s lopsided and you’d have as much luck trying to be intimate with the trunk of a tree if not more luck!

  • They have an addiction issues with substances such as drugs or alcohol.


  • They prefer long distant relationships especially ones where they never move closer. If you’re looking for a close, long term relationship then dating someone who lives in another state or country or who has a partner or is still in love with their ex will NOT lead you anywhere near your goal!
  • Their past relationships. They may have ended their long term relationships it reaches the stage when true emotional intimacy should be developing.  Instead this is the time they always leave.


  • Expect perfection from their partners. Once the honeymoon phase is over they will have higher expectations of your behaviour than their friends or family. This is because they’re just waiting for the second you make a mistake like all flawed and imperfect humans do. However instead of working it out, they’ll use this as an excuse to leave. They’re terrified of emotional intimacy so will use your imperfections as excuses to end the relationship and replace you with someone without that one ‘flaw.’
  • The relationship never matures. As the relationship progresses say a year or so later and you suggest moving in together they tell you; “I’m not the living together kind of guy/girl” despite showering you with non stop seduction and promises for the first few months.

    They will promise you that “all I want to do is to look after you” but when you actually are sick or really need help they will be absent and not there for you. They’ll be busy with their friends or doing things that they want to do and you’ll be alone.


  • You’ll find yourself quietly sobbing after sex in bed with them next to their sleeping body. You are so unhappy with how they can’t commit to you or be emotionally close to you but you love them so you stay despite the torment. You deserve someone who wants to commit to you and doesn’t just use you sexually!
  • They can come across as very elusive, hard to read or sneaky. They may also work very long hours and disappear for days at a time for strange reasons that don’t add up. They often have excuses at to why they can’t reply to your texts from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Their phone battery always goes flat on a Friday night.
  • They’re more interested in having sex with you than being emotionally open.
  • They say they can show you how they feel about you through sex more than words. YUCK!
  • Bombard you with flattery early on. It’s fake-they don’t really know you yet. This seduction is all about conquest not a long lasting relationship.


  • They won’t introduce you to their friends or family and you’ll start to wonder as the months go by why you still don’t meet their friends. You’ll notice they keep you very separate.Or if they’re fast forwarders (see below) they’ll introduce you to their friends and family way too early as a way of creating false intimacy!
  • They fast forward the dating process with you and skip important steps!
    They might declare their love for you on first meeting, make you feel like the centre of their world, the dinner date might become a three day sex session and then you never hear from them again. Or they might organise your first date as a weekend away in a hotel, declare you as their dream woman/man/perfect when they hardly know you, demand sexual and (fake) emotional intimacy too early on and talk about babies, marriage, moving in way too early.

    This  fast forwarding isn’t because they are so romantic and besotted with you!! It is because it keeps you engulfed in a huge smokescreen of intensity so you won’t spot the red flags. It’s trickery that fools you into thinking that this huge level of intensity and attention is what is on offer for you in a relationship with them. Sorry. It’s not! Intensity is not intimacy!

    You’re not in a fairy tale and you’re not Cinderella! Cinderella’s relationship probably crashed and burned with Prince Charming but we never got to read about that.  Prince Charming may have turned ‘cold’ just as soon as he turned off ‘hot.’ Cinderella probably loved the adoration but the Prince did not know her well enough to mean his attraction was sincere. Maybe the Prince acted like this to a different girl at every ball at his castle.

    Dating with the intention to have a long term relationship is meant to be about slowly and properly getting to know someone. This is what creates authentic connection not speeding through things.

    best 9

  • They are all about the CHASE and will lay the charm on thick at the beginning. They will pursue you with vigour and speed. As soon as you are ‘hooked’ into the relationship they back off , run or go cold and proceed to the next point.
  • They’re inconsistent and hot and cold and push and pull after being very hot for the first few weeks or months of the relationship.
    They’ll pull away and give you nothing but then suddenly give you something and come on strong to hook you back in.

    Hot and cold is a HUGE RED FLAG that should be hitting you in the face! You don’t want to be in a relationship with someone that blows hot and cold. You will never get intimacy or commitment from them because there will never be balance in the relationship and they will be inconsistent for you to be able to trust them.

    yes 2

  • They are super seductive to you but only with their words–their words and actions don’t meet up. They give you empty promise after empty promise. They might say one thing but their actions completely contradict that.
  • They mainly use text, instant messenger or email to communicate with you during your relationship. This is lazy communication and you deserve phone calls and direct communication. No one is too busy they can’t give you a quick call!


  • They can’t stand closeness.  S/He might walk ahead of you on the street because that distance makes her/him feel comfortable. If you’re struggling to keep up and they’re always marching off in front of you and never ever waiting for you this is a huge red flag despite whatever excuses they give you.

    This means they’ll leave you behind in the relationship, they’re not walking with you symbollically as a couple, they’re thinking mainly of themselves and will put themselves above you always, they can’t be flexible with their own walking speed to meet yours, they may have intimacy avoidance  and they’re not proud of you in public.

  • They are openly admitting that they are not over their ex. Don’t waste years of your life in a relationship with them ‘waiting for them to get over them.’ You deserve more than that!


  • They say they’re over their ex but are always talking about their ex or dropping them into conversation. For exmaple; you talk about going to Uluru and they say, “Oh that reminds me of my ex! Her sister went there and… bla bla..”
    They are not over their ex! Don’t be in denial here!
  • They are very self involved, selfish or put themselves first. Conversations with them might revolve around them. They may even be narcissists. What you see is what you get. They won’t wake up one day and decide to make you a priority.

  • You think it’s a relationship but it’s really just a booty call on repeat. You aren’t in the movie ‘Pretty Woman!’ Sexual connection doesn’t automatically lead to emotional connection! Don’t be blindsided and make assumptions or lie around hoping and waiting that ONE DAY if you’re lucky the friends with benefits thing will eventually become a relationship if you just ‘play it cool enough.’ NO! Don’t waste your life on ‘maybes’ and gambles.  Be with someone who dam well wants to be with you!

    I’ve had clients come to see me who are still in a booty call on repeat “relationship” three years later!

    Sex isn’t currency or a gambling game you have to play at! You deserve so much better!!!


  • The relationship progresses at the speed that they choose. So that might be super fast at the beginning- too fast for you – and then once they’ve got you- POW it stagnates and stops developing and goes nowhere.

    I had a client once that came to see me frustrated because she was in a 18 month relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. She only saw me once and was sure it was her fault and didn’t want to accept some of the gentle points I was making. I don’t think she was ready. She came back to see me six years later and the relationship was at exactly the same point it had been six years ago. It was still at the 18 month mark despite the fact they’d been together for seven years.
    She was ready to do the work and break patterns of only being attracted to emotionally unavailable men. Are you?

Top signs you are attracted to the emotionally unavailable

Do you find yourself in a cycle of relationships with emotionally unavailable partners again and again? Do you wonder why you keep being attracted to the same type of person again and again? 

Sadly many adults struggle with intimate relationships because as children they survived heartbreaking neglect.

Perhaps for whatever reason-your parent/s or caregiver had their hands full with mental health issues/work/addictions or romances. Growing up with an emotionally unavailable caregiver might mean that you pursue relationships with emotionally unavailable partners in your adult life.
This can happen because as a young child you internalised the parental neglect and wrongly believed, “I must deserve this bad treatment.”
When this young child (you) grows up with these unconscious beliefs in place they choose partners who confirm that sense of not being worthy of good treatment. They pick partners who in the same way may be critical or distant or detached.
It feels ‘comfortable’ because it is the love you’re used to.

If you felt easily dismissed by your parent or had to fight hard to get any recognition from them growing up, then you can easily get ‘hooked’ again by partners that you have to pursue that play hard to get.



“If only I could get that detached and distant person to love us then I must be worthy enough to love” is a common thought process.
If you have low self esteem then it would feel alien and strange to be with someone who genuinely wants you! You feel more comfortable being with someone when you are in the lower position which makes you more easily used and dismissed and thus repeating the abandonment cycle again.


Therapy can help you break those unconscious patterns of being attracted to the same type of partner again and again.


I hate it when I hear people say “trust your gut!” It’s important to be very suspicious of your gut if you’re profoundly attracted to someone. Those ‘gut feelings’ are what caused these patterns of attraction to the wrong people!


Your ‘gut’ might make you feel very attracted to those same types that are only pursuing you when you’re not available and as soon as they ‘catch’ you they lose interest in you. This can destroy your self esteem. Therapy sessions can help you change your values and your actions and stop relying on your gut (or unconscious) attractions.



Signs you are in a bad pattern of relationships with emotionally unavailable partners;

-You usually fall for partners who will never ever settle down or commit to you and will often cheat on you multiple times.

-You focus a lot on pleasing your partner and trying to appease their needs and wants whereas your needs and wants seem to fall by the wayside. This isn’t a healthy relationship by the way!

-You feel incomplete unless you are in a relationship or needed.

-You feel incomplete unless you are getting sexual validation from someone.

-You find yourself in relationships that are very one sided where you are prepared to do anything to fix things and they say you’re ‘needy.’


-You are a ‘rescuer’ and want to ‘fix’ your faulty partner rather than accept that what you see is what you get. You may get an emotional high from helping or be quite codepedent.

-You are searching more for the ‘high’ feelings of infatuation and romance rather than a trusting, mutal, mature, relationship.

-You feel like you’re the one that is always more emotionally invested in the relationship than your partners.

-You try hard to mould yourself into the person you think your partner wants.

-Perhaps you are emotionally unavailable yourself and you’re attracted what you give out.

-You aren’t attracted to calm, consistent and kind people that don’t play games because you’re not attracted to them and don’t feel any ‘spark.’

-You are always attracted to ‘bad boys’ or ‘wild girls.’

-You think the hottest sex ever is when you’re trying to seduce or convince a hard to get person to be with you.

-You assume the highs and lows of anxiety, suspense, inconsistency and games are signs of chemistry. (they aren’t)

-You’re only sexually attracted to emotionally unavailable types.

-You believe you have to work super dooper hard to keep your partner interested because they’re so much more worthy and fascinating than you and they could easily lose interest and find someone else at the click of a finger.

-Your parter has all the power and control in the relationship and everything is set by their terms never yours.

-You desire a lot of closeness in a relationship but keep being with people who push you away and want a lot of alone time.

-You get trapped in dead end relationships that aren’t going anywhere for years and fall for the appeal of where the person could be rather than who they are today.

-People tell you that you just haven’t met the ‘right person’ when the reality is probably that you already have met the right person long ago but you were turned off by them because they were too ‘available.’


Start to change your view of the definition of ‘love’ rather than a feeling that washes you away see it as actions that show consistency, kindness and caring.

When you’re dating someone ask them how they ended their past relationships and read between the lines to see if you can spot an emotionally unavailable abandoner. These abandoners cannot commit to a relationship and have all sorts of justifications for ending a relationship with someone-often blaming it on their exes ‘neediness.’  This wasn’t the reason. They broke up with their ex because they are emotionally unavailable.

In the honeymoon phase of a relationship it can be hard to see who someone truly is that’s why it’s important to look at their relationship history. Don’t try to convince yourself that you’re different and special and now that you’re here you can change them! That’s like juggling broken glass.

Don’t look at their relationship history through rose coloured glasses. Who they were in their relationships in the past reveals their present capacity for intimacy.


Please remember you can fall for someone who is totally and utterly wrong for you.

It is possible to break these patterns with the help of a therapist.

Going within is where the solutions lie. Perhaps it is time to take a break from dating and do some work on yourself with a therapist rather than continue this destructive cycle of toxic relationships with unavailable partners.  Take some downtime with me in confidential skype sessions so that you can take the power back and not keep repeating these painful and often soul destroying cycles with your relationships.

Dreams are the psyches way of expressing important things to you. Important things that may usually lie below the surface of your daily life. Imagine if you will, your daily everyday conscious life is you coasting along the surface of the river. Everything from your unconscious lies deep within the river and is where you submerge yourself at night during your dreams.

Jung said we would do well if we took each dream as if it were an unknown project, look at it from all sides, carry it around and let your imagination travel with it. Explore it with fresh and new eyes.

Dreams can bring closure to the unfinished mental and emotional goings on of the day or help work through relationship or sexual “blocks”.

Dreams can carry specific symbols and messages that can help us with problem solving, psychological evolution, artistic inspiration and spiritual development.. These stories, symbols and archetypes from our dreams spring up from our personal or the collective unconscious.

Start to be more aware of your dreams. Start to jot them down when you wake up. What messages are being brought deep from the silvery depths of your unconscious in your dreams? What are you dreams trying to show you that perhaps you are refusing to acknowledge? Both terrifying, happy, funny and recurring dreams can bring us important messages.

A dream never expresses itself to us in a neat and logical narrative type of way but in the way of a parable- this is the characteristic feature of our primitive language.

My role as a therapist that has been trained in dream work is never to “interpret” your dream but to help you explore it further through gentle amplification and clarification. The right questions can help you broaden your understanding of the dream and intersect it into the broader picture of your waking conscious life. There can be many amazing AHA moments from my clients during these processes.

A dream is an important symbolic self portrait of what is happening for you at exactly this moment.

Every element in your dream applies to your own psyche or to people in your own conscious daily life in the waking world.

Repressed desires sneak into our dreams in symbolic forms. Our dreams can also act out the conflict between our desires and the beliefs that our desires aren’t acceptable.

During our dreams men have more erections and women have more blood flow to their vagina and clitoris.

When we have dreams of a sexual nature it shines a light on our own blocks, repression’s and how in touch we are with our internal feminine and masculine qualities…

Cat O Dowd

Sex Therapist – Relationship Counsellor- Art Therapist

Your partner isn’t perfect!

Your partner isn’t perfect and you must stop expecting them to be perfect.

You may idealise them in the first stage of the relationship but it’s important to remember they’re not an angel but they’re merely human.

Putting someone up on a pedestal devalues them and can make them feel very uncomfortable. You objectify them by placing them up above the level of flawed humanity.

You’re not perfect either but by putting someone up on a pedestal you’re digging a hole for yourself to stare up at them! We diminish ourselves because we perceive them as something beyond what they really are and something that they’re not. This can lead to a very unbalanced power play of a relationship or a very codependent prickly hedge!

You might over-give of yourself and put all the work into the relationship to try to “earn” that persons affection.

There’s no true intimacy in these relationships because that pedestal creates a gap between you of inauthenticity.

Many spiritual teachings say that when we gaze into the eyes of our lover we are gazing at a reflection of ourselves, as we are all created as an image of the Divine.

Perhaps in staying grounded in our own authenticity and our own “humanness” we can try to stop seeing our partner as a vision of perfection. Rather loving them as a fellow imperfect human.

Allow your partner to just be.

Cat O Dowd

Relationship Counsellor-Sex Therapist-Art Psychotherapist


When a relationship ends

Don’t let a failed relationship define you!

It’s difficult to let go of the person you love but it’s healthy to let go of something that is irreparable. Don’t hold onto the past. Don’t obsess over the failed relationship. Reflect and ponder and learn from it but don’t dwell.

Ask yourself if it was really worth keeping?

Letting go helps you to heal from the pain of the break up and helps you to start to focus on yourself and your needs.

“No one ever gets tired of loving. They just get tired of waiting, assuming, hearing lies, saying sorry and hurting.”

Chemistry is overrated!!!

Don’t prioritise chemistry in a relationship above everything else.


Players can ooze charm. Abusers can ‘love bomb’ you with ‘chemistry.’

I hear this a lot from my single clients who come to me for dating coaching. I also hear these myths and the heavy priority placed on chemistry from many ‘contestants’ on a lot of reality, dating TV shows right now.

Yes chemistry is important but it’s not everything and chemistry can be built up slowly over time.

Prioritising chemistry above all else  is a recipe for a hot mess of a geyser of a short lived relationship which might explode in flames as fast as it started.

Think of the person you had the most chemistry with and where are they now?

Chemistry isn’t necessarily an essential building block for long term successful relationships or an accurate predictor of what the future holds.

Love addicts can mistake intensity for intimacy.

Intimacy is feeling safe enough to be vulnerable, let down your guard and fully self disclose about who you are and be accepted for that. 

Whereas intensity is about highs and lows, hots and colds, uncertainty and anxiety. This intensity is a euphoria similar to a high you can get from recreational drugs. You get an intense neurochemical shot of dopamine when you are in the ‘highs’ of this kind of  relationship and keep craving more of this when you are in the ‘lows.’

Intense chemistry or that first ‘limerance’ of a relationship isn’t meant to be an emotional coping mechanism to help you through life!

Love addicts often suffered childhood trauma and learnt that being vulnerable equals danger.  They can struggle to form healthy bonds and long term relationships often going from relationship to the next as soon as that first ‘limerance’ high of 3 to 24 months wears off.

“Love at first sight” is not a predictor of relationship success. Sure there’s always exceptions to this rule – but generally speaking long, slow and steady courtships guarantee relationship success.

The thing about chemistry is that it can attract you to the “wrong” person.

If you want a life partner but are only attracted to commitment-phobes start examining your attraction. Chemistry could be your unconscious keeping you safe from the hurt of a real relationship by only attracting you to shorter term relationships or charming player or emotionally unavailable or avoidant attachment types.

Chemistry changes depending on your mood or medication..

That’s the thing about chemistry! It’s a fickle thing! Bends and twists in the tides like a reed in a river.

Research shows when men are hungry or stressed they’re much more sexually attracted to bigger and more curvy women than when they were full because of the unconscious attraction and its associations with appetite and bigger women.

Studies show women are attracted to very different types of men when they’re on the pill than when they’re not.  So much for “chemistry.”

You might start a relationship with someone because of the high chemistry that tells you- THIS PERSON IS MY TYPE! (which is a problematic term in itself that I will leave for another blog post!)  Then after two years the chemistry is gone and the relationship fizzles out.
Your “type” could be an unhealthy unconscious pattern.

You might be attracted to a man who is similar to your father- emotionally unavailable like your Dad was.
 The huge amount of effort and work that you have to put in to get their attention can feel comforting and familiar. This must be love you say as you have to chase this emotionally unavailable new partner! He’s just so much more sexy than that emotionally available and keen man that wasn’t so cool and distant!  The chemistry might be huge but it’s an old unhealthy pattern you can get stuck in again and again and again.

Please don’t prioritise chemistry in a relationship above everything else. 

Expand your Orgasmic Capacity


How to orgasm easily and frequently whether for the first time with your partner or expand your pleasure capacity into full body, multiple orgasms that last for hours.


Love your body

If you’re worried about your tummy rolls how can you abandon yourself to ecstasy? If you don’t feel pleasure about your body you’re holding yourself back from the pleasure your body can feel.

Negative body image is linked to low sex drive, avoidance of sex, less sexual satisfaction and orgasm.

Take the focus off the appearance of your body parts and marvel at the function that body part provides. Instead of thinking, “I hate my vulva, it’s so ugly.” Try, “I’m amazed and grateful at the pleasure this organ brings me. All the thousands of nerve endings just in this area!”

Focus on sending love and gratitude to the parts of your body you harshly judge. Imagine the judgments being released from your body.


Learn to calm your mind and that inner critic before sexual interactions.

Don’t bring the business of the day into your sexual practice.

What ‘switch off’ rituals can be part of your pre sex time? Does a bath with candles help you relax? How can you invigorate all your senses? What scents, sounds and textures can help you get out of your mind? What music and lighting makes you feel more sensual and relaxed?

Write down a pleasure intention 

What do you want to experience? Meditating on the unlimited potential of your body for sensual pleasure and love can help shift the focus from everyday stress back onto self love.

Regular solo cultivation

Masturbation and understanding your sexual anatomy is the most important step in learning how to have regular satisfying orgasms.

The strange cultural idea in heterosexual couples that it’s the man’s job to pleasure the woman, sets up an impossible scenario where a woman’s orgasm is dependent on finding a man who can ‘give her’ an orgasm.

No one can ‘give you’ an orgasm! You are the expert on your sexual body.

Master your PC Muscles

Learning to isolate your PC or “sex muscle” can help with meditative practices and breath orgasms. It can also help you to strengthen or relax your PC’s in order to have stronger orgasms.

Unleash your Sexual Imagination

Write down your sexual fantasies and don’t censor them. Try to share them if you’re partnered and integrate them into your sex life. 

This can open up a whole new world of pleasure! If you struggle to have fantasies book a confidential session with me so that I can tailor you specific homework exercises to rev up your sexual imagination.

Awaken your sexual energy

Start embracing the idea that your sexuality is inherently part of your wellness and health.

If you’re stressed, overworked and fatigued- how are you expected have energy for amazing sex?

The more sexual energy we possess, the easier it is to orgasm and the more sex we want to have.

How can you support and prioritise your erotic self? What makes you feel more erotic and what sensual supporting actions can you include more of in your life?

Slow Down

Many women feel they have to hurry to intercourse and be on their partners schedule or clock. Don’t feel you have to hurry to have an orgasm. This is where sexual communication is important. If you struggle to communicate your needs in your relationship or in the bedroom please don’t hesitate to book a confidential session with me via skype or in my Sydney rooms.

Ask for the time you need and the pace you’d like. Schedule a sex date in advance.
Reconnect with your partner
Lack of intimacy and conflict can cause sexual problems in relationships.

Book a session with me to discover simple and fun exercises to rekindle intimacy in your relationship. 

I can’t wait to hear from you!