Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2007 / 12 / 09 / why-emotional-unavailability-does-not-matter

December 09, 2007

Why Emotional Unavailability Does Not Matter

Though my (perceived) emotional unavailability is likely the most often cited reason for the (necessarily catastrophic) end of nearly all my relationships over the years, I must admit that I have never truly understood what that phrase meant, nor, for that matter, been particularly concerned by my ignorance.1 First, I have noticed that simply using the mention of the phrase as a cue to stop listening is generally a good idea, and why disrupt a system that works, right? Second, and perhaps more importantly, when it is generally brought up, i.e., at the end of one failed entanglement or another, I am generally well passed the point of interest, and any reason the other party raises is accepted with a nod of the head, and a sympathetic look;2 comprehension is hardly required. Two recent discussions of emotional unavailability (both my own, and that of others), however, encouraged me to publish about it today. In this article, I will argue, first, that emotional availability as it is generally understood, is completely unnecessary for relationships, successful or otherwise; and second, even assuming that it is important for a relationship, that it is certainly not as fundamental a barrier as self-described hopeless romantics (i.e., idiots) make it out to be.

Before commencing analysis, I would note first that the concept of emotional availability has the not-so-faint stench of the utter bullshit often used by the delusional defenders of love and romance to glorify situations that, at best, could be considered sound economic investments (see, e.g., criteria for tying the noose; discussion of happiness in marriage), and at worst, the baseless combination of sexual attraction and complacence (not that there is anything wrong with that). Despite my heroic efforts over the past five-plus years of this blog's existence to disabuse foolish readers and the public at-large of these idiotic notions, it seems I have failed entirely. People continue unabated in their hopeless and helpless beliefs of eventually finding happiness. I count this as yet another personal failure in a lifetime that promises to be wrought with nothing but the hollow wreckage of unmet potential.

Emotional Availability as Irrelevant

Anyway, to discuss the relevance of emotional (un)availability to (romantic) relationships, it is first necessary to understand what that nebulous phrase actually means. Now, I am by no means an expert (that much, at least, should be clear), but having thought about it, I would loosely define this phrase as referring to a person's ability (or inability) to understand and appreciate both her own emotions, and those of her partner. Some rudimentary research confirms this contention, and it should be sufficient for our purposes here.

Based on this definition, it is far from clear why such a quality is of any importance in a relationship. While most people might blindly believe that a so-called emotional connection adds something to a relationship, does it really? Has anyone actually substantiated this notion, besides the charlatans behind romantic comedies? Does such a connection actually add any real value beyond what one might gain through rigorous application of crucial criteria (i.e., dual income, brand management) and a well-crafted pre-nup? I am skeptical. The only defense staunch believers offer is to cryptically suggest that I will magically know when I meet the (oh-so-elusive) right one, which is hardly helpful. Waiting for Godot might be more productive than waiting for me to find the right one so that I may test this most dubious of assertions.

Moreover, isn't emotion (in general, and in relationships in particular) a bad thing? Emotion, by definition, causes irrational behavior. Irrational behavior makes people do stupid shit. Why would we want to encourage people to do stupid shit? It makes no sense. If anything, I would say emotional unavailability is a good thing. Suppressing one's emotions entirely is a goal to be striven for, not a result to be belittled. Talking about feelings is nothing more than a mechanism for wallowing in self-pity, and why wallow in self-pity when we can wallow in existential angst? What's more important: contemplating how your feelings were hurt because you're a sensitive idiot, or how you are probably consuming resources while adding nothing to society, and should seriously consider ending your life? Clearly the latter.

Compensating for Emotional Unavailability

Even assuming that emotional availability is necessary for (successful) relationships (for sake of argument only, mind you), it is still by no means clear why it can be considered so fundamental as to be an underlying reason for the termination of any romantic relationship. (Unfortunately, this does not absolve me of much guilt for causing relationships to end; see footnote 1 below.) An emotional connection is only one, likely trivial, part of a relationship; other concerns such as level of income, quality of offspring, and diversification of skill sets, are far more important in the grand scheme. If anything, emotional availability should be considered part of the package when one seeks a partner, i.e., simply one more point in the valuation model. So, for instance, if I am perceived as emotionally unavailable by any future acquisition target—I mean partner—I should be able to compensate for this so-called shortcoming by providing additional value in a different regard (e.g., income potential, ability to cook or do laundry, skill to fix computer problems, etc.). How this petty quality (or lack thereof) leaps from being a somewhat low-weighted aspect of the relationship valuation model to a non-negotiable criterion is anyone's guess. Perhaps this explains why most marriages end in divorce: in their irrational hunt for emotional availability, people forget to look for what actually matters: wealth and intelligence.

So, the next time someone tries to break up with you over your so-called emotional unavailability, do not let them get away with it. Just because you are breaking up with someone does not give you the right to be lazy about it. Make them come up with a real reason. (Note, if anyone stupid enough to have entered a relationship with me is in the future looking for reasons to end it, the list below is simply a start; there are an infinite number of reasons really, as this article and website should make clear.)

^ 1 In case you were wondering, other often cited reasons include my (perceived) commitment phobia, indifference, elitism, nihilism, cynicism, depression, suicidal tendencies, antipathy towards the concept of love, complacence, assholish behavior, lack of affection, and the strong possibility that I am more interested in a book I am reading than [the person I am with]. Don't you want to grow up to be just like me?
^ 2 Intrepid readers might be wondering why, if I am already past the point of interest, I would not have initiated a break up earlier? The answer is quite simple: (1) I am much too nice to break up with anyone; and (2) complacence is a virtue in my book.


The way you casually question the intelligence of anyone who may be interested in you is particularly charming...

I saw this comic and thought of you. Quit the act: everyone knows you're a softie on the inside. How are your stuffed animals doing?

Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much. I'm not as up on my 'realm as I used to be, but whenever I do check in it's always something trashing relationships and defending your (perceived) cynicism and aloofness. And while I could join the legions of RR apologists crooning about how you're really so sweet and loving etc etc, I'd much rather admit that I didn't even read past the first paragraph of this post because WHO CARES? Oh right, I forgot - YOU DO. You are so totally smitten by the snarky and unattainable Rohit shell that you've encouraged others to create that I am basically already picking out the hand towels that I will be obliged to buy for you when you finally take the plunge and admit that you're already engaged to your Proustian alter-self that has taken up residence in the shared ethos of your friends and family, and for whose nuptuals you have registered at Williams & Sonoma. Nothing but the best for your one true love, ya know? Let me be the first to congratulate you on finding a perfect match!

PS - I got your holiday update so I thought I'd stop by and say hello. I miss you even though you suck so bad!

PPS - even though it's totally gross that you're so in love with your weird fake self, I don't even mind because me and Omeed would have the best time EVER at that wedding.

Add Comment





* required field

E-mail addresses will never be displayed. The following HTML tags are allowed:
a abbr acronym address big blockquote br cite del em li ol p pre q small strong sub sup ul