10.24.2013

What does "emotionally unavailable" mean anyway?


"My ___________ is emotionally unavailable."
 or
"I know I'm emotionally unavailable."

     What does this mean, anyway? I often hear a client report this about themselves or their partner; it seems like an honest self-disclosure, or a revealing piece of an insight into why someone is displeased with their relationship.
     But, in reality, there's very little to do with this description. Upon further exploration, what I usually find is that a spouse is experiencing the other as closed-minded or rigid to new input. 
     If our mate "shuts down," walks away, or sits there silently, we feel ignored and unheard. In relationship terminology, this is called "stonewalling," and it creates a deep sense of loneliness.
     At the heart of this accusation (which sounds and feels a lot like, "you are emotionally retarded!") is really a much more meaningful, "I want to be closer to you."

     A  better comment to your lover is "I feel unheard. Even if we don't agree, I need to see that you are present for my experience." This will be met with more love and responsiveness than "you are emotionally unavailable."
     For the gal or guy who believes they suffer from this "condition" of unavailability, here's a healthy way to frame and resolve your firewall, aka as lack of emotion. 

 "I'd like to have a wider range of emotion. I want to feel your joy. I want to feel your suffering. I want to hear you better."