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Is Your Partner Emotionally Unavailable?

From the Show: HER
Summary: Does your partner seem distant and reluctant about emotional intimacy?
Air Date: 4/13/17
Duration: 32:10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD
Guest Bio: Holly Parker, PhD
Dr. Holly ParkerDr. Parker, or Dr. Holly, as she’s more playfully known, is a psychologist with a passion for walking alongside people as they invest in their future selves by cultivating a more enriching, vibrant life in the here and now. 

She obtained her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychopathology from Harvard University, where she conducted research and was a Karen Stone Fellow and Sackler Scholar. Filled with a fire in her belly to uplift people through human connection too, Dr. Parker re-specialized in Clinical Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Presently, she zestfully engages in clinical work, teaching, public education, and writing. She’s a lecturer at Harvard University, where she teaches the popular course The Psychology of Close Relationships. She’s also a practicing psychologist and an associate director of training at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. In her clinical practice, Dr. Parker has worked with people across an array of issues, including thriving relationships, self-esteem, trauma, mood, anxiety, emotion regulation, health and lifestyle, addiction, grief and loss, and those varied spaces in life that are formidable yet ultimately freeing to face.        

She is the author of two books. When Reality Bites: How Denial Helps and What to Do When It Hurts (Hazelden Press; August 30, 2016) is a guided tour through the benefits and the pitfalls of denial. If We’re Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?: How to Build Intimacy with an Emotionally Unavailable Partner (Berkley/NAL; January 3, 2017) accompanies readers hoping to mend emotional unavailability in their romantic relationship. 

She also delves into an assortment of topics on the dappled road of life in her blog and in media interviews through outlets such as SELF Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Prevention, Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Saturday Evening Post, and Medical Daily.

She lives in Boston with Guille, her extremely cool husband and kindred spirit, relishes running, studying Spanish, time travel stories, and The Walking Dead, and has no skill whatsoever in pet training.

  • Book Title: IF WE'RE TOGETHER, WHY DO I FEEL SO ALONE?: How to Build Intimacy with an Emotionally Unavailable Partner 
  • Guest Twitter Account: @DrHollyParker
Is Your Partner Emotionally Unavailable?
Relationships are incredibly powerful. Chances are, the moments you were at your most joyful and most vulnerable revolved around relationships.

Is your partner emotionally available?

Emotional availability is the willingness to participate in a healthy, mutually gratifying relationship.

Men and women have the same needs and desires. Men are just as capable of emotional availability as women. In fact, men are likely to profess love before women. Women are as likely to be emotionally unavailable as men.

Unavailable Personality Types

  • Critic: Finds fault, nitpicks and always sees the down side. You can never do anything right.
  • Sponge: Relies on the partner to fill a void. The relationship is responsible for this person’s happiness. Desperately wants the connection but can never get enough validation.
  • Iceberg: Tends to be dismissive of emotional intimacy, unlikely to be a warm source of support. It feels like this person is indifferent to you.
  • Silencer: Feels either they can’t connect or does not want to connect with their feelings. This person prefers thoughts or facts to feelings.
  • Defender: Shields real or imagined threats, including criticism. Might blame, find fault, withdraw or defend based on perceived threats.
Keep in mind, these personality types occur in shades. Humans are complex.

You may not recognize emotional unavailability when you’re dating, because you spend such small slices of time together. You might also miss challenges that are present, convincing yourself that changes will occur.

If your relationship provides you with more benefit than not, you can get a better view of what you need and want. Communicate about what causes tension.

Listen as Dr. Holly Parker joins Dr. Pamela Peeke to discuss emotional availability.

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