My Partner Is Emotionally Unavailable

Emotional availability from both partners in a relationship is crucial to its success. It can be frustrating, tiring, and heartbreaking when you are in a relationship where you give everything and your partner is not. Why are some people like this, and can they change?

Emotionally unavailable people were often raised by such parents. They never learned how to express their emotional needs or meet others’ needs. It is, however, possible for them to change. Emotion-focused therapy can help your partner learn how to understand and express their emotions.

In the sections below, we will examine how a child’s upbringing impacts their ability to express their feelings as adults in their romantic relationships. We will also discuss what we can do to get our partners to give more of themselves emotionally in the relationship and what to do if our partner is unwilling to change.

Partner emotionally unavailable in kitchen eating

What Causes Our Partner To Be Emotionally Unavailable?

Our partner is likely emotionally unavailable because such parents raised them. Children with emotionally neglectful parents who do not give them affection or emotional support cause them to develop avoidant attachment styles. Thus, children raised by emotionally unavailable parents become such adults themselves.  

Children growing up in such households learn to foster the belief that their emotional needs are unimportant. Having their parents invalidate their feelings creates the expectation that others will do the same. Every time their parents invalidated their feelings or emotional needs, it led to heartache and disappointment. Emotional unavailability is, therefore, a way for them to protect themselves.

According to verywellmind, certain cultures consider a person weak if they show their feelings. Children who grow up in these households are often scolded by their parents if they express their emotions and must learn how to suppress them.

Consequently, these children never learn how to deal with their feelings. They also do not know how to express it since their parents never allowed them to do so or invalidated these feelings. Also, since their parents did not meet their emotional needs, they never had an example of how to meet other people’s emotional needs and thus never learned how to.

What Can We Do If Our Partner Is Emotionally Unavailable?

You cannot sustain a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner. Therefore, it is vital to speak directly to your partner about the issue and ask them to be more emotionally available. You can express to them how difficult it is for you and how it affects you and your relationship.

The lack of emotional vulnerability is also detrimental to your partner. Point out to them that it is not good for their well-being either. You can assure them that you will not invalidate their feelings and that they are safe to be vulnerable in your relationship.

Angry father sitting and looking into the distance while wife holding baby star from a distance

It would also be good to suggest that they try emotion-focused therapy. Emotion-focused therapy can help your partner learn how to identify, understand, deal with, and express their feelings. Therefore, this treatment can help them learn to be more emotionally available.

If your partner is unwilling to change, it may be time to think about ending the relationship as someone who truly loves you will be willing to work on it. It is unhealthy to stay in a relationship where your emotional needs are unmet.


A relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner can be really difficult and heartbreaking. They are often that way because such parents raised them. It is important to ask your partner to give more of themselves emotionally, and emotion-focused therapy can help them learn how.

If they are unwilling to change, it may be in your best interest to end the relationship.

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