Houdini Syndrome: Not Being Emotionally Available

July 19, 2019
Some people aren’t emotionally available in a relationship. In fact, the bigger the commitment, the bigger their need to escape from it. Read on to learn more!

Houdini syndrome refers to the escapism acts from the mythical Hungarian-born American escapist, Harry Houdini. However, in this article, you’ll read about the psychological escapism triggered by avoidance. This is when people escape from family gatherings, jobs, and daily duties.

War of egos, indulgences, and even how difficult it is to express yourself without harming your partner are common in interpersonal relationships. However, the fact that many people escape from these relationships is a deeper symptom of the lack of commitment of modern societies.

In many cases, there’s a direct connection. The bigger the commitment, the bigger the need to escape. It comes naturally to many people, but what really causes this behavior? Why is it so complicated for these people to truly get emotionally involved?

Emotional detachment is part of the Houdini syndrome.

Emotional involvement and Houdini syndrome

Being emotionally involved has never been as questioned as it is today. Social ties have always been a very active part of our species’ evolution.

Involvement can also mean the opposite: detachment. Feelings and the ability to show them are essential to empathize with others.

Even Houdini would be surprised

The concepts of family and herd mentality have been distorted. You’re part of an individualistic society, where youth movements have become even more dispersed. This isn’t seen just in romantic relationships, but also in friendships, which can evolve into utilitarianism.

Stages of Houdini syndrome

Usually, Houdini syndrome has several stages. These stages are part of a process that begins with an emotional commitment to total rejection. Let’s see what the main characteristics of these stages are:

  • Implications. This is the stage of the sentimental boom. Here, strategies of persuasion come to play a role to get something from the other person. It seems there are no boundaries for love or friendship.
  • Doubts. The very loose grounds where emotional ties were made make people doubt their emotions. Here is when things start to fall apart. It happens slowly.
  • Escape. In this final stage, there’s no contact. The other person’s gone from your life and there’s no communication.
Houdini Syndrome can split relationships.

A society that doesn’t want to help

You’re living in an individualist society that doesn’t necessarily undertake relationships. Technology has given society a complete grasp of communication.

Nowadays, you don’t need to be next to someone to actively relate to them. This makes it easier to break relationships off because you don’t have to justify yourself face to face. Bonds now go beyond those who are physically around you.

Social networks

In this context, nowadays there are many devices that facilitate social relations. For example, Tinder or Facebook, where you can contact people from all other the world or find a partner in no time. People aren’t vitally needed anymore. There’s a people bank with many other people on hold.

Feelings’ supply and demand

Fast change social bonds make love’s ecstasy and friendships last too little. Once that bond’s finished, you go back to the social market to find the novelty’s ecstasy. This is how there’s now a sort of feelings’ supply and demand with novelty as a common denominator. In this market, superficiality reigns supreme. A striking social media profile is essential.

Teenage love

Houdini syndrome can stem from your youth. Many relationship experts believe that one possible cause is little to no emotional education in your teenage years. Teenagers are constantly bombarded with stereotypes of how relationships should be.

Flight reaction

Even if there are certain people that identify with this syndrome, its effects and characteristics are a product of social phenomena. The syndrome can be shown in many ways, and depends on many factors, such as the person’s personality.

How can you detect Houdini syndrome?

To analyze Houdini syndrome, you need to analyze yourself. Many times, people find themselves complaining of this, but they see other people as a plan B.

The emotional involvement leads to selfishness. So, how can you detect an escape artist? By their inability to commit beyond their own interests.

Emotional weakness

Here’s the dilemma. Can you really involve yourself completely? If you commit yourself in a shallow manner, you can expect to form strong and everlasting bonds, if you see them as a risk. So, using people and running away from them repetitively is a clear symptom of emotional weakness. Weakness can be expressed in many ways.

  • Avoidance behavior. People who can’t commit but can’t directly break ties. This is how they’re progressively avoiding contact with people, by making up excuses.
  • Denial. These people can show a kind of emotional blockage. They tend to have problems expressing their feelings sincerely.
  • Selfishness. These people find it difficult to plan activities outside of their interests.
Two people camping.

All isn’t lost

People don’t have to be an escape artist to fit into the profile defined in this article. Analyze your behavior, and if you notice a characteristic similar to this, stop it before it turns systematic. Some cues for this are:

  • Face your fears. It’s true that you may take a risk whenever you commit emotionally. Trust, empathy, and feelings seem to be at play here. Don’t be afraid if you act on what you think.
  • Self-esteem. You don’t have to sell yourself as something you’re not. The people that want to be with you, will stay for the real you.
  • Take care of others. Committing is important and playing with other people’s feelings is something an escape artist would do. Being honest is a way to protect others.

The saying “There’s a thin line between love and hate,” became “Love and hate are only a text away”. Although you might identify a sufferer of the Houdini syndrome in people from your past, you need to be objective. Individualism and the speed at what everything’s changing now is also a part of modern relationships. In a way, they’re more demanding of better social qualities.