Ever sense something is a bit off but you cannot quite put your finger on it. However, it seems to be a theme that keeps surfacing in different ways in your relationship.
Are you both in conflict about what’s wrong? Does your partner think its “no big deal” and when you try to explain it it actually seems pointless? You may be able to cite many examples of how your partner is not quite in tune with you. Perhaps he* seems just mildly interested in what you are up to. Perhaps you just aren’t feeling important in his life. Perhaps all the effort seems to be coming from you. Perhaps sex is seeming flat and lacking depth...
Being emotionally unavailable does not just mean the inability to show or express feelings. It’s more complicated than that. People, all people, find ways to survive difficult early life experiences. Whatever those experiences were, there was some degree of discomfort, sadness, or disappointment that went along with it. A natural instinct came along to protect us against more of it which understandably could have manifested in what I call the off-switch. Its a protective survival strategy that will not allow any potential harm into the emotional arena. Highly strategic, all this manifested on the unconscious level. Its a subtle filtering out of anything that triggers that vulnerability. Guess what? Love, trust, and openness all trigger those vulnerable feelings. Not a comfortable place for many.
This is not an intentional way of being. Your partner probably has no clue he is doing this. It takes a very self-aware person to observe this defense and understand its origins. Therapy walks you through this and examines the old survival strategies that may not be needed anymore. Therapy replaces it with healthier coping skills like improved communication, formulating boundaries, and trusting oneself.
So, you don’t have to break up with your emotionally unavailable partner. If he’s worth holding on to, you just might need to point him onto the path of self-awareness…
Therapy is the opportunity to know yourself on a deep enough level to make changes
* “he” is used as a generic pronoun for either a male or female partner