10 reasons people can become emotionally unavailable after divorce

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If you’re seeing someone who is emotionally unavailable and divorced, you might find it hard to understand what’s going on in their head. And they may be reluctant to open up to you about it.

Divorce can be both draining and traumatizing. Not only that, but the end of a marriage is heartbreaking. After all, you invest so much time into someone you thought you’d reached end game with, only for it not to work out.

It’s easy to see how someone might become emotionally unavailable after the divorce is all said and done.

This article will help you understand why people can become emotionally unavailable after divorce.

1) They are still processing the end of their marriage

The dust may have settled on their divorce, but they still haven’t had the time to process the end of their marriage.

Divorcing the person you once or may still love is no easy feat. That’s the person they thought they would spend the rest of their life with. Who they had once mapped out their future out with.

Now they have to live with a different future than the one they’d envisioned with their ex-spouse.

They may also be holding on to feelings of anger, resentment and sadness from the breakdown of their marriage. And a whole load of questions like how things went so wrong. Were they the ones at fault? Was it their ex? What could they have done differently?

They may not be fully ready to move on to someone else until they can face and process the emotions and questions spinning round and round in their heads.

2) They haven’t gotten over their feelings for their ex

Not only do they need time to process the end of their marriage, but the feelings they have for their ex. Feelings they may not yet have gotten over.

I’m not saying they want to get back with their ex. Of course not. They got divorced for a reason.

But there’s still those feelings of what their marriage used to be. And how happy they once were with their ex-partner.

It would be no surprise if they still loved their ex deep down, even though there was no way their marriage could work. It’s hard to switch off your feelings just like that when you’ve dedicated a whole chunk of your life to one person.

They need time to mourn the person they had once fallen deep in love with before they can even think about having feelings for anyone else.

3) They don’t know how to love again

With all that being said, they may not even know how to love again. At least, they think they don’t.

I mean, they’d put all of their love and energy into their partner, who they thought were their one true love. They never thought of the possibility of loving someone else because they married ‘til death do as part.

And it’s not just their mixed emotions and the spiral of their marriage they have to process. They may be so broken down by their marriage that it’s left them feeling vulnerable, low and beyond scared of even going down that route of finding love again.

4) They’re scared of getting hurt again

One reason they might feel this way is because they’re scared of getting hurt again.

Going through a divorce is painful enough in itself. Not only is it tough to deal with emotionally, but physically and financially as well. And this is someone that they had once put their whole heart into.

But let’s not forget their marriage, which could have left them hurt, broken and empty by the end of it.

Perhaps their ex-spouse cheated on them and had a prolonged affair they’d hid for months, even years. Or they may have had to put up with a spouse that put them down at every opportunity. Or showed little regard for their feelings. Or, they could have lied and manipulated them during the course of their marriage.

Whatever it was that caused the downfall of their marriage, it brought about a lot of pain and heartbreak that they are too scared to go through again.

This in itself can cause people to become guarded and reluctant to open up emotionally to new partners.

5) They have low self-esteem

Their self-esteem could have also taken a hit.

If someone disrespected, lied and cheated on you time and time again, then dragged you during your divorce, then it’s not surprising if you came out of that divorce with self-esteem at an all-time low.

They may have also chosen to stay in an unhappy marriage longer than they should have. Or for the sake of their kids, if they had children from their marriage.

Now they’re battling with a lot of negative self-beliefs about themselves.

I’m not good enough.

No one will ever love me.

I don’t deserve to be happy.

Perhaps they even blame themselves for their marriage going wrong, even if some things were out of their control. But they can’t help but think that something’s wrong with them, because that’s what they keep telling themselves.

Low self-esteem can cause people to self-sabotage future relationships, especially if something seems too good to be true. They do this to protect themselves, and because they don’t believe they deserve good things to happen to them.

6) They have trust issues

Along with self-esteem, the end of their marriage and divorce could have left them with trust issues.

Again, being lied, manipulated and/or cheated on can do that to a person.

Trust is one of the most important aspects of a relationship. It takes a while to build and can break just like that. Once trust is broken it can be hard to trust anyone else.

I mean, they’d blindly trusted the one person they thought they could depend on, and they’d shattered their trust.

Unfortunately, that means that even if you are trustworthy, they may have a hard time believing that because of their past experience.

7) They want to focus on themselves

With everything they’ve been through, they might want to spend some time focusing on themselves.

They have low self-esteem and trust issues they want to work on, and they want to heal from the pain and heartbreak of their divorce.

They might not have been taking care of themselves. They’d skipped out on meals or stopped exercising, so they want to practice some self-care. Or cut out on the junk food they’ve been snacking on. Go to the gym and get fit.

Give some special attention to their hobbies and interests they’d long abandoned. Spend some quality time with their friends and family.

They want to learn what it means to be happy again on their own. To be the confident, bubbly and independent person they once used to be. To love themselves once again.

They’re simply not in the mental state or frame of mind to get into another serious relationship because there’s all these other things they want to do first.

Speaking of things they want to focus on …

8) They want to focus on their kids

If they have kids from their marriage, they could want to focus on them.

Kids are also affected by divorce. Their parents are now living separately and they have to adjust to a new routine. It can be upsetting for children.

They want to make sure their kids are happy, healthy and well-taken care of.

Children are also parents’ number one priority and it’s a full-on role! It can fill up so much of their time, they might not have any time left to put into their dating lives, let alone another relationship.

Dating when you have kids is also a whole other ball game. It’s not the same as dating when you have no responsibilities.

They have to take their kids into consideration when it comes to meeting their next, potential partner. They also have to pick someone who is ok with them having kids, gets on with them, and treats their children right. That’s if they choose to bring their partner into their kids’ lives.

9) They’re scared of how their kids will react

They could also be scared of how their kids will react.

Their children need time to process their parents’ separation. Having to see one parent every other week or weekend, rather than together.

Their kids’ might not yet have accepted their parents’ divorce, and secretly hope they get back together.

So, they might be scared their children won’t accept anyone new into their lives because of this. They don’t want to hurt their kids by moving onto someone else. It’s already hard enough as it is for them.

10) They want to enjoy their freedom

Last, but not least. They could simply want to enjoy their new-found freedom after their divorce.

Now they’re back to being single, they have the freedom and independence to do what they want, without any obligations to anyone else.

That’s a major contrast to the compromise and sacrifice that is needed from a marriage.

When you’re married, you tend to put your partner first, make decisions together and spend most of your waking day with them. There’s not that much room for independence. Marriage is a commitment, after all.

Now they no longer have that commitment in their lives, they want to enjoy that freedom for a bit. Date or sleep around, without committing to anything serious. Take their heart out of the equation, until they’re ready to make a go of a relationship again.

How long does it take to move on after a divorce?

Everyone is different, so the amount of time it takes to move on after a divorce won’t be the same for everyone.

Divorce can stir a lot of negative emotions that a person has to deal with. Shock, anger, pain, guilt. They’ll face a rollercoaster of emotions that may come and go in waves.

Then there’s the time they’ll spend going over how things went so wrong in their marriage. When did the cracks start to show? Were they the problem? They’ll have many questions they have to wrap their heads around.

Once they’ve taken the time to analyze the breakdown of their marriage, the next stage of the process is acceptance. Accepting how things are and the new future that lies ahead of them. They’ll have to let the future they thought they’d had with their spouse go and move forward.

There’s adjustment too. Adjustment to their new life without their ex. Hopefully at this stage, thoughts of their marriage and divorce no longer keep them up at night, and they’re able to look at the possibility of dating again in a positive light.

But this all takes time. Studies have shown it can take around 18 months before someone is able to move on after divorce. Like I said though, everyone is different.

If someone has yet to go through all of the stages needed to move on, then it’s likely that they are emotionally unavailable.

It’s best to give someone the time and space needed to move on from their divorce before they can move onto a new relationship.

Final thoughts 

Dating someone who is emotionally unavailable after divorce can be confusing. It’s hard to know what they’ve gone through in their marriage and divorce that’s made them so emotionally unavailable.

They could still be trying to process their feelings from the end of their marriage, battle with low self-esteem or want to focus on themselves.

There’re many reasons why people can become emotionally unavailable after divorce. No matter what their reasons are, they need the time to get over their marriage and fully heal from the trauma and pain, before they’re ready to fully move onto someone else.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

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