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Independent or Emotionally Unavailable. What Is The Difference?

Emotionally unavailable people want to remain needless and wantless. It's uncomfortable and scary asking for help, so why not do everything yourself? They don't know how to connect on a deeper level, past the superficial. They can manage your money, parent your kids, maintain a home, make you laugh, and have a great career. But when it comes to their feelings and needs, they struggle getting in touch with them. So how the heck can they be sensitive and responsive to your emotional needs when they can't get in touch with their own?


Being independent or emotional unavailable are not the same thing. I've come across people that have told me in defending why they didn't communicate with their partner for over a week, "I'm independent and need my space." Really what they are saying is, "I'm not available and need distance" which is tied to being emotionally unavailable. Independence is about being in control of your life and knowing that you are in control your emotions, not other people. On the other hand, emotional availability is about being able to understand your needs, feelings, and articulate them. Emotionally available people have a high sense of self, so deep down they know who they are and what they want in life. They have a purpose and values that align with their goals in life.


1. Distance versus closeness. Emotionally unavailable people like to have a certain amount of physical and emotional distance between you and them. Emotionally available partners are okay being alone, but would rather be in your company and have meaningful conversations. Emotionally available people may want physical touch, but they really need to connect on that deeper level to feel the intimacy.

2. Relationship unclear versus clear Emotionally unavailable people like to keep relationship status unclear. They may not tell anyone about you or that they are in a relationship. They struggle committing and may want to be with you for a little while and then move on.

3. Low versus high sense of self. Emotionally unavailable struggle expressing their needs and feelings. They aren't sure where in their body they feel the needs and would rather stay in their head most of the time. It's more comfortable being analytical than in feelings.

4. Low to high emotional intelligence. Emotionally unavailable people are shut off from their feelings, which makes it hard to pick up their partners signals. However, emotionally available can perceive distress or read another person's feelings and respond to them.

From my experience, it's easy to be attracted to an emotionally unavailable person. They are good listeners, friendly, and may seem to be open in the beginning. As the relationship deepens, you'll notice that the conversations get to a certain point and that's all you will get. If you are emotionally unavailable, there is hope for you. You can get better if you are willing and honest with yourself. In the past I attracted emotionally unavailable partners because I was emotionally unavailable. Through tools and lots of work I was able to get to at place where I need meaningful conversations and I'm not afraid to share myself with the right people. The journey is worth it!

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