Is your partner feeling more distanced than ever?
When dynamics shift, this is how an emotionally unavailable person reacts.
Building a life with an emotionally unavailable person is no simple thing to do. When we want to get closer, they put up walls. If we look for something deeper, they pull away. The worst part of it all, though, is how poorly they react when the relationship is challenged by the difficulties of life.
The last thing you want to do is navigate life’s rough patches with someone who can’t emotionally connect with themselves or with you. Once the dynamics change (and they always do) we can stand beside partners who are vacant, volatile, and worst of all untrustworthy.
How can you face up to the world’s challenges when your partner is shut down, villainizing you, or building defenses you can’t see over? It’s not a trick question. You can’t. But that’s exactly what happens when your relationship shifts with an emotionally unavailable person.
These trials change our dynamics (even if only for a little while) and that can send the emotionally unavailable person into a tailspin of wild reactions that cause even more harm to ourselves and the relationship.
For many emotionally unavailable people, the only thing to do is shut down when things change. Assuming all change is bad (either from experience or from a pessimistic personality) they will react in the way they think can most protect them from heartbreak and upset.
The theme here is more akin to “push them overboard before they jump”. It’s not an easy way to live, and it doesn’t make for a happy relationship. Look out for the person who begins reacting in a volatile way.
They might pick petty fights, criticize you all the time, or even engage in weaponized incompetence in order to make you think less of them. It’s all in an effort to force you away from them. Rather than getting hurt by the shifting dynamics, they don’t understand, they push you out with poor behaviors.
It really gets interesting when misunderstandings come from their partners. They can’t just sit down and talk things out. So what’s to be done? For many, the only option is to villainize the things they don’t understand. As dynamics shift, someone has to become the enemy.
That usually falls to the other partner, who shoulders the blame and becomes the target for all the upset and the conflict. Over time, resentment builds. The more confusion there is, the more upset and chaos becomes rooted in the partnership.
That’s why some emotionally unavailable people take shifting dynamics as a sign it’s time to run. To prepare for that run, some will use a rebound. They will literally set up the person they’re going to fall back on in case you ditch them or force them to break up the relationship.
Unpleasant and hurtful, these rebounds can be the last cracks in an already struggling connection. At the heart of this move is insecurity. The desire not to be hurt, or to limit the hurt by ensuring there’s a distraction to fall back on. Of course, in all cases — this is the worst decision to make. A new partner will not fix the issues that are already facing your relationship-building skills.
That makes communication difficult because they’re incredibly defensive and unwilling to take accountability (because that requires facing emotions and creating discomfort for themselves). So when you want to talk, they’ll deflect. They may also adopt several other toxic coping mechanisms that mask their true feelings or their ability to connect.
Give yourself the emotional space you need to focus. Take a broader look at your relationship and what’s happening. You can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved, and you can’t rescue a relationship they’re already exiting. Talk to people you can trust. Meditate and ask yourself the tough questions.