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My girlfriend is Emotionally Unavailable. Tips to deal with this...


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Over 3 months ago, I began a deep loving relationship with a woman. I think she is a beautiful and wonderful woman and enjoy being with her. She's had some troubles through her life, but then who hasn't. The last month or so, the relationship has become difficult. She is withdrawn at times, she shuts down when we are talking about the relationship. She has always had trouble showing affection or expressing love or feelings. This is something that I have found over the years I need in a relationship, to know that my partner loves and cares for me. It makes me feel special to her. I didn't enter the relationship to feel happy, but having been in relationships before, you get happiness from being with someone that loves you anyway. But without these things I feel unloved, not special and like the relationship is one sided.


In the last couple of days, I have determined that she is emotionally unavailable. The descriptions I have read from many sources draw pretty good pictures of my girlfriend. The good thing is that she is willing to talk to someone - a pschologist (at her own suggestion) - to see what is going on. At least it's a beginning in understanding and a willingness to open up more. Yet, it is going to be a long and sometimes lonely trip for me as she makes changes in herself.


Has anyone been involved in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person and how did you deal with it?

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Hey Keyman -

There are plenty of posts on this forum regarding the "emotionally unavailable" ...

Just from your post, you stated that Affection and expressing love is something you need in a relationship... If she has issues with this, as you say, then you will never fully get what you need no matter how much you push/try. In fact, pushing/urging will make her distance herself further, IMO...


I have a couple of suggestions - 1. Check out Al Turtle's website and learn - there is a ton about pursuers/distancers but in different terminology. 2. Check out The Love Languages... -- Everyone shows love and affection in different ways. Hers obviously is different than yours, but she still may be showing her care in a "different language" 3. just let the relationship progress and see if she is really right for you.. If you are only 3 months in, and you are already finding a HUGE incompatibility, isn't that a red flag for you?

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I agree with reading The Five Love Languages. You might find that its not all about "being hurt from the past. You might find a) she expresses love in a different way than you or is wired to feel it in a different way. You obviously need to have someone express their love verbally or with hugs, etc to feel loved. Maybe her love language is that she needs someone to spend quality time with her, or do small things (help her put up a bookshelf, etc), to feel loved. b) if you can discover what makes her feel loved, she will feeel more loved by you and might express her feelings more OR you will learn to recognize what her "language" is and not miss that when she takes off the afternoon to be with you, or says encouraging words, or runs an errand for you, that that's her way of showing love.


She may ultimately not match you, but it is worth a fair shake to figure out how to better communicate with eachother.


Also, if she is withdrawing just for the past month, then something is wrong. Something is bothering her that is going on with life in general or maybe you are pushing her, etc, and she is pulling away. I think if it is a sudden change or a gradual change in a short time, its worth exploring. If that is true, don't write her off just yet.

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by the way - just because someone doesn't express themselves well emotionally does not mean they are emotionally unavailable. What does "expressing emotion" mean to you. Does that mean not having emotionally difficult conversations or does that mean lovey dovey stuff like "i love you honey buns." Sometimes conversations about heavy topics are difficult, even if you are emotionally "available."

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I own the 5 love languages book and introduced it to her. I feel love via physical touch and words of affirmation. She feels love through acts of service. We both understand what these needs are. I do plentiful things for her, help her do things, spend time with her and try to be there as best as I can.


I think I have withdrawn from the relationship over the last month also. I am not as happy as I was before and it is getting me down. I don't want to writer her off as she seems willing to explore what is going on with her, but I feel emotionally battered by it all. I am nearly at the stage of walking away, but there is a lot that this relationship does well for both of us. I just wish taht we could connect more emotively. Maybe it's time to leave.

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If she recognizes a problem and is willing to get to the root of the problem, there is a chance. But, this could take a very long time and she has to do it on her own.


i too, was with an EU, it was one of the most painful, confusing times of my life. He knew he had issues, but didn't see a need to address. Now, when I recognize an EU, I run for the hills, as it is too much drama.

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You guys did the right thing. Look at my prior started posts if you want to see what it's like after a year and a half. It doesn't change and you would have both put yourselves through a lot of fustration. She doesn't speak the same language as you. I had the same issue in that my girlfriend was completely dead when it came to physical intimacy and even being able to speak about anything "heavy".


As you said you find love from someone who wants to give you physical affection and words of confirmation. These things are (almost certainly) not within this girls ability to give you. Find someone else who can. People generally do not change no matter how desperately they want to.

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Ya man down the road you'll realize you did the right thing for yourself. I was with an emotionally unavailable girl in my last relationship. She has issues with feeling close and being hurt and withdraws when things get close. She has daddy issues as well as a bad ex bf past that I believe has really ruined her. I could feel when she was withdrawing and knew it was over. She never was good at letting herself open up and feel vulnerable and close to me. Everything was great in the beginning when everything was on the surface but once it got deep she booted mentally.


It was a hard last month for me feeling her withdraw and it hurt like hell to no be with her. But I know in the end that I need someone who's there emotionally and all lovey dovey which she wasn't. So while it sucks in the end I know for me it was the best thing and you'll realize that too. It's all experience and you now know what you want and need out of a SO and will look for that in the next girl.

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My ex-husband came from a family that was very physically demonstrative as far as affection expressions went. I came from the opposite, a very reserved background that held "little touches" (a brush of the hand on the arm, a quick hug-on-the-fly) as being the most that would be done except in particularly emotional circumstances. Our "way" was more the "little things" like picking up a favorite snack, or other "thinking of you" expressions that were non-physical. And he couldn't even remember things like anniversaries and birthdays, much less the little things.


We tried. We really did. In the end though, he couldn't help feeling neglected and unloved, and I felt unappreciated and pressured - and forgotten. I strongly believe his one indiscretion (which, things went way downhill from there) was at least encouraged by our basic differences in affection.


So while I think it's possible to overcome small differences with effort and work - the basic deep down differences shine through. You're both probably better off finding someone who is more attuned to the way you express yourselves.


My second marriage, he's a little more physically affectionate than I am, but it's not such a big difference, so the little touches he finds satisfying, and he also does and appreciates those "little things." For example, he works from home, so when he's tied up on calls, I try to make sure his coffee is filled, or tea is made, and dinner is cooked and waiting. And I wait and eat with him after he's off shift, pick up little things here and there, etc.


It makes a MUCH bigger difference in day to day interaction than I'd have ever thought without experiencing both sides of it.

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