"People who struggle with emotional unavailability are emotionally hibernating, and it is possible to wake up...those who want change can change."

For years Smith has skillfully led her audiences into learning how to evaluate whether a romantic relationship is worth continuing or is destined to fail based on the disruptive emotional patterns of its partner(s). She labels this unhealthy pattern emotional unavailability, a distancing mechanism/strategy which is used to reject others before they are rejected. One aspect of Smith’s self-help book makes it stand out from those similar in today’s market: her claim that emotional unavailability can be exhibited by both men and women.

The first section of this book outlines behaviors of those who deliberately choose to be emotionally unavailable in their relationships. The affected partner may make excuses and blame others for any negative actions or results. Chapters 3 and 4 in the book provide indicators that may be observed while dating and even after making a commitment such as marriage. Because either gender might withdraw from a relationship, Smith leads the reader to determine which partner, if any, is indeed emotionally unavailable. The second section of this book offers hope that change is possible. Smith gives the reader four areas to concentrate on: question behavior and actions; show self-compassion; deal with defense mechanisms; stop thoughts from controlling you. For example, the author explains how the use of self-compassion to avoid triggering defense mechanisms can awaken both partners to the possibility of change.

The book is a simple read rather than dry research. With skill, the author presents complex material by breaking it down into simple concepts and observations. Especially well done are Smith’s eye-opener lists. One list in the first section of the book offers explanations of why a person might behave as emotionally unavailable. Two of the reasons mentioned are that boys may have experienced rejection by peers at school, and girls may have witnessed or experienced abuse at home. Every reader who has been in a relationship, past or present, will see a few points where they personally fail to communicate well while dating or living together. Surprisingly, great sex is not one of the indicators. Smith’s lists are especially meant to reveal trends that help indicate which partner’s negative behavior may be causing problems.

Smith has five certifications as a life coach. She is also certified in public speaking, training, and facilitating meetings. People who get involved in the coaching business typically want to make a difference. This motivation is clearly demonstrated within the book by the author’s thorough research of the subject and the use of a calm, teacher-like tone of voice. With many years of experience in her field, the author makes sure the reader doesn't receive criticism, only encouragement. Short case studies scattered through the text help illustrate Smith’s points and let the reader realize that he/she is not alone in the struggle. Reading this eye-opening book almost feels like you are attending one of Smith’s counseling sessions. It can help answer questions about relationships that somewhere, somehow have gone awry. In its short, yet informative, 140 pages, one can learn a healthier path to thriving relationships.

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