There is no standard for people who are emotionally unavailable. They could be outwardly happy, depressed, anxious or apathetic. Knowing a person for a long period of time is the best way to tell if they cannot engage in emotional situations. Knowing their typical behavior will define what abnormal behavior is. A well-adjusted person is able to experience a variety of emotions that are typical to the everyday human experience, such as happiness, sadness, nervousness or fear.
After a Recent Break Up
Relationships require an immense amount of energy, time, resources and compromise. The longer the relationship, the more a person comes to define herself as her partner's other half, the more emotionally invested she becomes. When a relationship ends, the person is not ready to expend vulnerable emotions right away. For example, she may need time to develop trust, a sense of who she is as a single person, mourn her loss and prepare herself to date again. She will likely spend an amount of time alone, with close friends, become focused on a new task or lean on family members for support in a tough time. All of these actions take time and energy. A person is likely emotionally unavailable if she is fresh out of a relationship.
After Job Loss
People usually spend at least 40 hours a week at their places of work. Whether a professional career or an hourly service job, people become close with their coworkers, clients and customers. If a person is fired from her job, she might feel inadequate as a worker, that she has chosen the wrong career or there is something wrong with her ability to be productive. Anger, sadness, humiliation, embarrassment and frustration are characteristics of a person who has lost her job. She might be emotionally unavailable to handle other situations at that time. For example, if her mother needs to be cared for, she might not be the best person for the job at that moment.
After the Loss of Loved One
Death, grief and mourning are characteristics of a person who has recently lost a loved one. He might also be in denial, angry, shocked or depressed. His mind is likely consumed with thoughts of his loved one, funeral arrangements, caring for other family members and planning for a life without this person. He is emotionally unavailable to handle any other substantial events, such as becoming involved in a new relationship. Friends and family can offer support, resources, help, time and space to mourn.
In Transition Periods
When people move across the country, begin academic programs, become promoted at work, take on an additional responsibility or other stressful life events, they might be emotionally unavailable. Time in transition requires preparations for the next step and extra effort to complete a task that others might have mastered. For example, if you recently graduated from an academic program and relocated to another state with no job, you will be stressed, excited, nervous and hopeful. It will be hard to add any additional responsibilities, such as beginning new friendships or volunteering your extra time. You likely will not have the emotional space to adequately transition your life and start other actions.