Discover how to open up in relationships (or deal with others who dont open up).
Researchers define emotional availability as “an individual’s emotional responsiveness and
attunement to another’s needs and goals” (pp. 80, Emde, 1980). Based on this, emotional
availability involves not only negative emotions like anger or sadness but also positive emotions
like happiness or excitement. One of the most important ingredients in a secure and healthy
relationship is this ability to ‘show up’ emotionally for the other person (Saunders et al., 2015)
which is why emotional unavailability can be so problematic.
Emotional availability involves:
● Showing empathy during difficult or challenging times
● Providing emotional support or encouragement
● Demonstrating genuine care and affection
● Encouraging and listening to emotional responses
● Intimacy and commitment to the relationship
● A sense of meaningful connection at a deeper level
When someone is emotionally unavailable, they may be unable to connect with their feelings or
their partner’s feelings. This person may have trouble opening up emotionally, shy away from
discussing their feelings, and fear intimacy. As a result, emotional unavailability can prevent a
relationship from reaching its fullest potential.
10 Signs regarding emotional unavailability.
Signs that you may be emotionally unavailable:
- You are afraid of commitment
- You don’t trust people easily
- You avoid “deep” conversations
- You want to keep your options “open”
- You are defensive Signs that your partner may be emotionally unavailable:
- They minimize your feelings
- They are uncomfortable talking about anything emotional
- They get defensive easily
- They are inconsistent in their communication
- They avoid labeling the relationship
How to Be More Emotionally Available
● Focus on strengthening your current relationships. Try opening up to the people in
your most long-standing and stable relationships (e.g., an old friend or family member).
People who are more familiar with you will be easier to open up to than complete
● Take a break from new relationships to work on yourself. Put a pause on forming
relationships and focus on the relationship you have with yourself. Reflect on your fears
and insecurities, and what holds you back in relationships.
● Learn how to cope with your emotions in a healthy way. If you don’t allow yourself to
feel your emotions, it will be difficult for you to have an emotionally healthy relationship.
● Seek help from an unbiased professional. It can be easy to live in your head, but
sometimes you need to open up to a real person. Sometimes seeking out a therapist or
coach can help you build the skills you need.
Being emotionally unavailable simply means that you may have to work on thought patterns and
behaviors that are currently serving as a barrier to emotional intimacy. This can be an
opportunity to look inward and then move forward with building more rewarding relationships.
● Emde, R. N. (1980). Emotional availability: A reciprocal reward system for infants and
parents with implications for prevention of psychosocial disorders. P.M. Taylor (Ed.).
Parent–infant relationships. Grune & Stratton.
● Saunders, H., Kraus, A., Barone, L., & Biringen, Z. (2015). Emotional availability: theory,
research, and intervention. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1069.