How do I deal with someone who is close to me but emotionally unavailable?

Nov 2020
Just to give some key facts:

- I have been friends with that person for several years, we get along well and like to talk about deep things as well.
- I feel like they understand me on a level none of my other friends do, but in turn lack some of the basic "friendship like qualities" all of my other close friends have.
- said person once told me that I am the only friend that they feel they can trust, I trust them too but not completely, because I don't really know what is going on inside their head. As I am a very open person and sorround myself with people who are open as well, this can sometimes become a little frustrating.
- I know that it's not my job to change someone, and I happen to know that they have / have had some problems, many of them coming from their past. The person grew up with their mother only, their dad left when they were young and even though the person is aware that this has probably had some traumatizing effects on them, it seems to be something they are still struggling with and, to some point, stuggling to acknowledge as well
- I used to be able to distance myself emotionally from this person a lot better, and it was a lot easier to give them space when I realized that they had to spend some time on their own. Due to recent circumstances though, I am currently seeing that person very often.
- I would consider myself an empathetic person who is always there for their friends, I like to listen to their problems and feelings and like doing so as well. Sometimes, the way the people around me feel also influences the way I feel, to the point where I don't even know how I actually feel anymore.. which is honestly really exhausting.

All in all, I would like to know if there is a way to find a healthy balance between worrying and caring for said someone, and letting them go at the same time. I would like to keep them at a certain length emotionally, because I realize that it really drains my own happiness. That person once told me that they like to be alone whenever they feel down in order to protect others from their negative feelings, unfortunately that doesn't work for me. I want them to talk and open up to me, and I know that I can't force them to do so, so I try to be as patient as I can. Whenever they decide that they do want to talk to me, it makes me feel happy and relieved, but this person's mood changes so often that it totally confuses my mental state as well. I have a theory that this person never really had any real friends and always had to deal with their emotions alone, so they are not really used to being an important part of someone's life. As they have learned to get along on their own, they might feel as if I'm smothering them, which I am trying to avoid of course.

Did anyone ever had any similar experiences and gathered some ideas how one can emotionally detach oneself from someone like this without ignoring them and getting out of touch completely?
I also feel like I might be highly sensitive, especially when it comes to emotions.. so yeah, this is the reason why I'm writing this. The whole situation is really exhausting, and I know it's not the other person's fault...
Mar 2020
From my experience, it's impossible to leave someone and care about them at the same time.

It sounds like you feel guilty about ignoring this person.

Our human minds can only comprehend one focus. Your focus is either this person or something else.

You sound incredibly and loyally focused on this person. Which would be good if they accepted it.

You appear to believe that this person's lonely past is a bad thing and that you do want to change it. "show them the light," "that life is bright and colorful." Perhaps your idea of life clashes with what this person has learned his whole life.

To change who he is is called in sociology 101 "resocialization." In the cold war. "resocialization" was used on war prisoners on both sides, telling capitalists that their idea of the world was a lie and that the true world was communist, and vice versa.

You do not have to feel guilty of "resocialization" because there's basically nothing else we are humanly capable of except to be proud of our life story experience and share it unashamedly. I just wanted to tell you what resocialization was so you'd know.

The ultimate freedom is to be proud of your entire life story and share it with the world.

Both you and he are experiencing this. And unless he or you wanted to surrender your life story to date, or at least have to make believe an alliance for the purpose of accomplishing a goal together, the split would naturally occur.

Can you comply to his isolation and demeanor? Is he depressed and wants to drag you to what you consider "down?" Perhaps he doesn't trust you.

Drawing the line is something we do in order to preserve our very mental health. A person who never draws the line is considered schitzoidentic, dependent, and gets knocked down like a feather during any possible conflict, because he becomes conflicted with himself whenever any disagreement in the world occurs. So drawing the line is very important, and it seems like he did this.

Do you want to know the answer to a why question? You could explore why on your own, but he has resolved not to tell you. So ultimately you'll have to take your focus off him.

Do you feel guilty that there is a division? Was it something you did, that you do not want to repeat? There is no answer except that you will remember him possibly for the rest of your life, and sooner or later, you'll see that it was just a chain of events, and you'll find new things.

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Nov 2020
First off, thank you very much for taking the time to read this and writing an answer!

Actually, the events turned again, and he told me one day after that he sometimes gets hit by such episodes out of the blue, and he is searching for a therapist. He also considers taking anti-depressants...

But yes, you were right, I do want to make his life special and great, and colorful. But I probably can't, at least not completely. I think that most of the time, I am able to find a healthy balance between helping him and giving him time to recover.. and I think he also notices me trying to help him and appreciates it. The day after I posted my question,he explained everything to me and I didn't even ask.. I guess we are just bouncing back and forth at different times when it comes to mood swings and being overly emotional, and sometimes it just collides...

I know that he doesn't want to drag me down, he thinks that he is protecting others from his mood swings when he shuts himself away.. and I think that he truly believes that.

I will try to focus more on my own feelings in the future, as I cannot change the things he feels within anyway. But I will still try to support him and open up whenever I feel like I want to help him, but can't because he shuts everyone off.

Thank you again for answering, good luck to you on your way through life
Apr 2021

I don't understand certain things.

Why can't you help a person who you think might be missing on so many good things about life and the good life itself, since you are so close to them.

Why don't you give them a new perspective to look on?

Also, you have this idea of them having trouble in their friendships in the past and something similar which might have made them to cave in as soon as they start feeling too many emotions or feel they are getting emotionally dependable on someone (say you), why don't you tell them it is just fine and help them with it rather than maintain your distance?

I mean that's what people have been doing to the said person past so many years. If they really feel that you are the only one close to them, why would you give up?

Moreover, aren't you confident enough about your vibes? If by any chances, they can make you feel down or drain your energy (which most of the times is not deliberate), you can make them feel happy or energetic in the same lines right? You have a great life with open friends and nice people around you, you should try show them the same, shouldn't you?

These were some totally personal thoughts and doubts I have because I am relating to your situation. Only, in my case, me and the other person are on a little off terms now, I hurt her, but I am trying to fix things up. But I'd want her to see the brighter side of the world and tell her everything that happened with her was just because her luck wasn't playing well.

Make the person feel at home. I mean you are doing that already, but why give up?