Dr Jozelle Miller
August 9, 2016
Spotting emotional unavailability – Part 1

1. Self-denial: Being in constant denial about your feelings by saying, “I’m fine.” This is a classic statement of misrepresentation that breeds mistrust. It will be difficult to trust him/her, especially when the evidence suggests that there is much more going on. Most often the denying behaviour looks like defensiveness. For example, if you tell a guy that he seems shut down or is emotionally unavailable, he will declare that he isn’t. He may insist that there is no problem, that you have a great relationship, or as most guys may say, you are making “mountains out of molehills.”{{more}}

I know for myself that I have, at one time or another, said I was “fine” when I wasn’t. I also denied that I had any issues that needed to be worked on. This may be a reaction of most persons, but if this is a continual habit, it may be more of a stabilizing personality feature, which suggests emotional unavailability.

2. Incongruence: Being incongruent always triggers mistrust in a relationship. Saying one thing and then contradicting later in actions or words. So, in a new relationship, it is difficult for your partner to figure out the intention and direction of the relationship.

3. You wear a ‘mask’; you manage your image so that people get what you think is the ‘correct’ version of you. You hide certain aspects or interests so that you fit in, or to put people off, so they won’t try to relate to you. Anyone who sees through that mask feels like a threat, especially if that person is trying to pursue a relationship with you. Relationships make you feel vulnerable.

4. You cut and run easily, not only in romantic situations, in friendships as well. Things could be going great for a while, like a friendship honeymoon period, but as soon as some kind of difficulty presents itself, you leave. It’s easier to avoid them than to talk out your feelings. This means that you don’t often have very many close friends. The ones you do have are so used to your closed off nature that they tease you about it.

5. You can’t deal with the emotions of others; if someone breaks down in front of you, you honestly have no clue how to deal with the situation. You half-heartedly pat their back and say ‘ok, it’s going to be ok’ and look around desperately for someone to rescue you. It makes you feel unbelievably uncomfortable. You can’t understand why someone would break down in such a manner, so you judge them harshly thinking, don’t they know all the other crap that’s going on in the world?


Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.