Over the sixteen-plus years of writing this blog, one of my most frequently asked questions is ‘How do you know if the person you’re dating is emotionally available?’ Keen to avoid being hurt and disappointed by Yet Another Person Who Isn’t Ready For Commitment or Intimacy, we want to know what to look out for so that we can ‘call it’ and relax and breathe out. In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain why we don’t know and we can’t know, but also what us expecting to know so early on reveals about our own emotional availability.

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5 key topics in this episode

  • If we’re in the early stages of dating, we can’t definitively say that someone is ‘emotionally available’ because there isn’t a relationship. We don’t know them enough yet to have the intimacy and experience to ‘call it’. When we say that they ‘seem’ emotionally available, we’re look at the surface of something and claiming we’ve seen its depths.
  • There are five stages of relationships. The early stages, so pre mutually agreeing to be in a relationship, are stages zero and one. Given that intimacy only begins at stage two where the real getting-to-know also happens, trying to confirm emotional availability beforehand is redundant.
  • Trying to assess a person’s emotional availability in the early stages of dating hints at our fear of intimacy and our guardedness. We’re attempting to define something without investing too much of ourselves. At the same time, we also want the person to reveal themslves.
  • We need to acknowledge our hypervigilance about dating and relationships. It speaks to where we were hurt before or where we felt like a fool. This lack of forgiveness of our younger self wreaks havoc in our current dating. If no matter what, we keep coming up with something else to be afraid of, that’s fear, not our inner voice.
  • It’s healthy to be aware of red flags or what I call code amber and red alerts. This is especially so if we have a frustrating and painful dating cycle. But much of our anxiety in dating and relationships actually comes from ignoring information from ourselves. Of course we’re going to be anxious if our pattern is to throw us under a bus every time we get a whiff of romantic possibility. Our body is braced for danger.

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