5 Ways to Tell If Someone Is Emotionally Unavailable
November 4, 2014 | By Hallie Levine
“Dating or finding someone is the last thing on my mind…I kind of run from it when it
presents itself,” Taylor Swift toldVogue UK earlier this month. But you don’t
have to be a Grammy-winning international superstar with ahot new album to flee
from commitment. Regular folks—men and women—can be just as gun shy.
Some key signals from your first few meetings or dates can reveal volumes about
whether someone’s emotionally unavailable or open and ready to go the
relationship route, says Gilda Carle, PhD, a New York City-based therapist and author of Don’t Bet On The Prince!
Here, five questions that can show someone’s dating true colors:
Why did your last relationship end?
If they badmouth their ex, be wary: it’s a sign that they’re projecting their own issues
onto their past partner, Dr. Gilda says. You should also be cautious about
vague generalities about the breakup like “I was too young” or “I didn’t know what
I was doing” or “We wanted different things.” “It’s not always the specific things
people say but the information that they leave out that’s most telling,”
Dr. Gilda explains.
How do you get along with your parents?
If he rolls his eyes and mutters something disparaging about his dad, or she
badmouths her mom, run. “A good relationship with a same-sex parent gives
someone more self confidence, which leads to them feeling more comfortable with who they are,” Dr. Gilda says. “People with poor relationships with their same-sex parent tend to be angrier and more insecure.” Ditto how they feel about the opposite
sex parent (for straight folks). “The opposite sex parent is the first role model they’ve
ever had for men or women, so if they are trashing them, it’s a good indication about
how they feel about the opposite gender in general,” Dr. Gilda says.
How would you describe yourself?
“I once was on a date with a man who kept describing his dog as a real manly dog
who was on the hunt all the time—by the time we’d finished the appetizers, it was
clear he was talking about himself,” Dr. Gilda says. But the way he or she talks
about material possessions is also key: “If she seems more concerned about a
drop of red wine that she got on her Coach clutch or a chipped fingernail than
what you’re telling her, that’s a sign that her focus is on objects, not relationships,”
Dr. Gilda says.
Do you work really long hours?
Former mayor and business mogul Michael Bloomberg raised eyebrows when
he told reporters he goes to work to avoid “staying home and talking to Diana
about feelings,” but his words about his long-term girlfriend are telling.
“One reason so many people throw themselves into work is to avoid the
intimacy of a relationship,” Dr. Gilda says. While at first it may seem exhilarating
to date a master or mistress of the universe, if they use office deadlines as an
excuse to break plans or not call, tread carefully.
So, what did you think about George Clooney getting married?
Or “What do you think about Beyonce and Jay Z renewing their wedding vows?”
Of course, your date might simply not care about celebrity romances in general.
But assuming they’ve got at least a passing familiarity with Hollywood headlines,
their reaction can hint at their views on life partners in general.
“Clooney’s the epitome of the quintessential bachelor who never appeared to want
to settle down,” Dr. Gilda explains. And Beyonce and Jay Z represent a couple
who are determined to get through alleged rough patches together, without resorting
If your date grimaces and changes the subject, or makes a joke like “I don’t know
what they were thinking,” take note. “There are these little subtle hints early on that
reveal the person you’re sitting across from isn’t truly looking for a commitment,”
Dr. Gilda says.