Does Emotional Unavailability Count As Cheating?


You need to remind yourself that your self-respect, self-love and time is more important than your partner’s, advises Sybil Shiddell, country manager-India for Gleeden, a discreet extra marital dating Web site.

Kindly note the image — a scene from the Web series Little Things that streams on Netflix — has been posted only for representational purposes.

Navigating relationships can become quite challenging and especially so when a partner is emotionally unavailable.

There could be many underlying reasons for their lack of emotional attachment and their behaviour in general.

However, being emotionally unavailable in no way accounts for cheating.

People who are emotionally unavailable tend to be distant and avoid serious conversations and issues.

Unlike cheating, this is because the person is already emotionally drained out because of a past event or relationship which makes it difficult for them to fully open up.

With cheating, the person voluntarily opts to be involved with more than one partner and does not come clean about it to the other.

We have all grown up in different environments observing different people.

Naturally, that and life circumstances together have a direct effect on how we respond and react within our romantic relationships.

For some, it is extremely easy to connect intimately with a partner while for others it is a big challenge.

Hence, it is necessary to give your partner the time and space to open up and shed off their insecurities.

But, at the same time, one should know the difference between being patient and waiting endlessly with no scope.

With so much pressure in the professional world and all the emotional baggage everyone deals with on a daily basis, it is common for people to develop a guard.

Amidst all this, partners with emotional unavailability tend to:

  • Have fear of opening up and feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings;
  • Are usually defensive and have difficulty acknowledging the areas where they lack;
  • Have an inconsistent style of communication;
  • Tend to self-sabotage;
  • Are more reactive than active in the relationship dynamic.

If you’ve been noticing this in your partner or even yourself, know that there are ways where you can help either one of you to overcome their emotional attachment issues and completely heal your traumas.

This will allow space for a healthy and mature relationship and one where both partners feel secure, loved and emotionally appreciated.

1. Focus on the core feelings

As mentioned earlier, a lot of life circumstances combined lead to certain behaviour patterns and traits.

When we date a person, it is unfair to expect either partner to be completely ready or healed so both can have a stable relationship.

All humans are flawed at some level and it is only when we come together, we truly get to learn and change certain parts of ourselves.

Encourage your partner to do some self-work and introspect on how they feel and why.

If they are overwhelmed by commitment or feel unloved or underappreciated, focusing on the feeling is the first step in starting to overcome emotional unavailability.


2. Don’t manage your partner

While you encourage your partner to identify their feelings, know that you just need to motivate them, not control them.

It is okay if your partner is not ready for it initially or ever at all.

Changing them or how they act is not your responsibility.

The maximum we can do is encourage them to explore their best potential — in this case — their best emotional self. But whether or not they want to do this, is entirely their call.


3. Give them space to open up and try things differently

Once your partner is ready to accept or change their behaviour and work on themselves, it is crucial to allow them some space to do that.

Emotional healing is the most difficult and it takes a lot of courage or a person to break their patterns and overcome their fears, no matter how insignificant they may seem to others.

While your partner works on inner healing, offer to do things their way and go slow.

Let them fully flourish into their true personalities and then see how to take things forward.


4. Encourage a counselling session

Whether it is for an individual or for a couple, therapy or counselling sessions are a great way to understand yourself better.

If it helps, go ahead and participate in couples counselling so both you and your partner can be fully aware of how to take things further and in the right direction.


5. Be cautious about how much of this is acceptable to you

When we really like a person, we tend to overlook their flaws and hope to be able to bring out their best ‘potential’ as a partner.

This may or may not always work.

While it is normal, to some extent, to wait for a partner to open up, it is not normal or even acceptable to waste your time on a person who is inconsistent or not ready to give you the same effort, if not more, back.

You need to remind yourself that your self-respect, self-love and time is more important than your partner’s.

If you do feel that despite all the space, all the efforts and all the emotional investment, your partner is still distant, ignorant and emotionally unavailable, it is time to gracefully move on.

Their lack of emotional unavailability is their personal issue to resolve, not yours.

Focus on finding a partner that truly understands you and is willing to give you the emotional intimacy that you require in a relationship.

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