How to spot an emotionally unavailable partner

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?