How can you tell if someone is emotionally available?
To answer the question of how you can tell if someone is emotionally available, let’s first come up with a definition. This definition might not be the most accurate or comprehensive, but for the sake of writing this piece, I’ll posit my definition, and base my advice on that
Emotionally availability is an openness and willingness to share in emotional intimacy.
I like this definition because it doesn’t imply that being in a relationship with someone who is emotional available automatically makes the relationship work. An openness and willingness to share in emotional intimacy is a critical part of a relationship, but it doesn’t guarantee a long-lasting relationship. It helps, but it isn’t everything. You can be in a terrible relationship with someone who has an open heart.
I think that your first and safest bet is to just ask someone if they’re emotionally available. It might be a little tricky to do, because the definition of emotional availability varies from person to person. Instead, ask in an indirect way, like the examples below:
- Do you believe in love?
- Have you ever been in love?
- Would you say that you’re guarded emotionally?
- Are you comfortable talking about your feelings?
If the language of those questions seems too aggressive, soften it to your liking.
Besides asking, you should also rely on observation. Even if you do get the right answers when you ask the questions above, you should tell make observations that either back up your beliefs, or disprove them. Take people at their word, until they show you otherwise.
Here are some basic signs to look out for if you’re trying to figure out if someone is emotionally available:
Can they talk about how they feel about you?
Sharing how you feel with someone can be an awkward, fear-inducing experience. At first, at least. The longer you’re with someone, the more comfortable you both should become with expressing how you feel. If you’ve dated someone for a year, and they still can’t tell you how they feel about you beyond “I think you’re cool”, that’s a bad sign.
Do they invite or reject conversations about feelings?
Is this a person who can share how they feel and listen to you talk about how you feel? Can they have conversations that cover feelings, or do shy away from these conversations? The important thing here is that they can be active participants, and not just someone who listens to you talk about your feelings. If someone can’t talk about feelings, yours and theirs, that’s a bad sign.
Do they stall emotional discussions?
When you want to discuss anything related to emotions, how they feel, how you feel, feelings in general, do they push things off? Do they stall, do they suggest waiting to discuss things at a later date that never comes? In some situations, there are right and wrong times to have emotional conversations, but if they keep pushing for an ideal time to have these conversations that never comes, consider that a bad sign.
Are you intimate not just physically, but verbally as well?
Physical affection is cool and all, but can they tell you how they feel about you? Is the extent of the intimacy you share physical? Do you feel close to them, and not just because you’ve seen each other naked? Sex is awesome, hugs are awesome, making out with someone is cool too, but if that’s the extent of your intimacy, that’s a big problem for a committed relationship. You can share a bed with anyone, but if you can’t share yourself with them beyond that, you guessed it, it’s a bad sign.
If you’re wondering what the signs are that someone is emotionally available, those are easy to spot if you’re looking for them. They’re willing to openly talk about their feelings. They’re willing to lend an ear when you want to talk about your feelings. They encourage dialogue, and they welcome emotional intimacy. They’re willing to not only be physically intimate, but share an intimate emotional connection with you.
If those things are there, you’re probably dating someone who is emotionally available. If those things are missing, they’re likely emotionally unavailable. I’ve got nothing against folks who are emotionally unavailable, but my advice to you is this. If you’re in a position where you are emotionally available, and you’re dating someone who isn’t, you should move on. If everything else in your relationship is perfect except them being able to speak openly, honestly, and candidly about how they feel, your relationship has a short shelf life.
Good Luck Out There.
Also published on Medium.