Happy, healthy relationships require honesty, mutual respect, and a certain level of vulnerability. Sometimes we all struggle with these things because opening up and sharing with someone is scary. However, we all need to do these things to find lasting love.
For emotionally unavailable people, though, this openness isn’t just hard — it’s nearly impossible.
It may be hard to know if you’re in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man, though. Sometimes we ignore the signs. Other times, we try to rationalize our partner’s behavior or find ways to blame ourselves.
Suppose you feel like your relationship revolves around sex and but lacks a deeper, more emotional connection.
In that case, you just might be dealing with this type of man — a man who avoids emotional intimacy and long-term commitment.
What is an emotionally unavailable man?
Emotionally unavailable men struggle with complex emotions. They lack emotional intelligence and rarely understand their own feelings, let alone those of a romantic partner. Because of this, these men struggle to give and receive love.
These men may appear outgoing, charismatic, and even charming at first — but this illusion ends the moment you try to move beyond the surface and really connect with them.
These men put up strong walls that leave you feeling lost and disconnected, though you may not fully understand why it's happening.
A man lacking emotions may push you away or deflect when you discuss emotions, the future, or any other deep topics that make them feel threatened or uncomfortable.
However, most of these men lack any sort of awareness of their emotional shortcomings, and they rarely realize how their intimate aversions affect romantic partners.
What are the tell-tale signs?
While you may worry that any guy who doesn't instantly open up is not available emotionally, that's not the case. In fact, an article in Women's Health Magazine lists 11 key indicators of a man who's emotionally unavailable. Here are a few key highlights:
First Sign - Men who are like this often avoid showing any sort of physical affection or compliments. While they may still show an interest in sex, you may feel like the sex lacks real emotional connection.
Second Sign - These men will also seem very unavailable in general and have absolutely zero respect for your time. They may not respond to a phone call or text message for hours or even days, and they have no problem canceling on you even at the last minute.
Third Sign - They see women with healthy views on intimacy and emotional expression as "intense" or "weak." They may even invalidate your emotions, judge you, and make you feel guilty for even simple requests.
Fourth Sign - These men will quickly become defensive and pull away anytime you try to force an intimate connection. They may blame others or pick fights when you try to talk to them about their emotions or the relationship as a whole. Because of this, they rarely put equal effort into the relationship.
What causes guys to become this way?
There’s no single cause of emotional unavailability that covers all men. Some men learn to make themselves unavailable from a very young age due to childhood trauma or neglect.
Others use this emotional disconnect as a protective measure after going through an incredibly difficult breakup or discovering a cheating partner.
However, not all men lack emotions because of traumatic experiences. Sometimes guys just get too wrapped up in their career or their friendships — and maybe they aren’t quite ready for a truly intimate connection with a romantic partner.
Regardless of the causes, though, most of these men will make you feel unimportant, and you’ll constantly feel a wall between the two of you. This can feel very frustrating, especially if you have strong feelings or seek a very committed relationship.
How do you deal with them?
Although some women are ready to throw the towel in as soon as they pick up on the signs that their man is emotionally unavailable, that doesn't mean you have to.
Instead, the experts at Mind, Body, Green claim that you can prepare yourself to handle this kind of guy with a few basic tips.
For starters, you need to recognize the signs that he's unavailable and look for the root causes. Understanding his aloofness and what made him that way will help you figure out where to go next.
If he's unavailable because of past trauma or an underlying mental health condition, explore the idea of individual therapy or couples counseling to see how he feels about the idea.
However, make sure that you don't enable his emotional unavailability or use the same tactics back on him. Neither of those approaches will help, and over time they will only cause your relationship to fizzle out.
If it seems like the disconnection is by choice, don't try to control him or fix the problem — that will only make it worse.
Instead, focus on your own feelings and take time to reflect on how your partner's lack of emotional availability impacts you. You may find that the relationship is too taxing and you need some space — and that's okay!
Signs an emotionally unavailable man is in love with you
It’s hard for these men to fall in love because, well, they made it difficult by putting up all the barriers and pulling away.
No matter how disconnected he seems, though, the fact is that it’s not impossible for an this type of man to fall in love. In fact, Kiran Athar claims there are 10 distinct signs that he's falling in love with you.
- He opens up to you - Even if it’s small stuff, like some facts about his personal life or past, listen up — he’s trying really hard to build a connection.
- He shares what he’s feeling - Most of these men avoid acknowledging or expressing nearly any emotion, so if he’s sharing how he’s feeling, that’s a clear indication that he trusts you enough to get vulnerable.
- He shares difficult details about his past - These details are probably part of the reason he’s unavailable, so listen and try to understand. It will help him see that trusting you is the right thing to do.
- He starts working towards change - Whether he starts seeing a therapist or just puts in a concerted effort to be more emotionally available, realize the reasons behind these sudden changes — they’re because he wants to create a lasting relationship with you.
- He no longer avoids commitment - Although most of these men dodge commitment, your man may start discussing his future with you if he’s falling in love. Don’t press him on it, but welcome any conversations that he starts.
- He asks for your opinion - These men usually try to control everything. If he’s falling for you, though, he will start including you in decision making and ask what you think a lot more often.
- He starts keeping his promises - Although these men want to keep you around, they usually make empty promises that they have no intention of keeping. However, if he has feelings for you, he just may start cashing in on those promises and genuinely try to keep you happy.
- He lets you meet his friends - He doesn’t want to do anything that may scare you off or give you the wrong idea, so they usually avoid introducing their friends. If he starts letting you meet important people in his life, then chances are he’s falling in love.
- He protects you - When partners protect you in a healthy way, it’s a sign that they care about you. Although he doesn’t always know how to show that they care, being protective of you is a good indication that he loves you.
- Your relationship’s emotional intimacy builds - Relationships with these men almost always feel like they’re about the sex. However, if the two of you start building a deeper emotional connection, it’s probably because he’s caught feelings.
Is it worth it to try and change him or will he always have a wall up?
Even the most of emotionally unavailable man is still a man. He’s not a child, and he’s not just going to change overnight.
According to dating and life coach Gregg Michaelsen, these men don’t just struggle with talking about their feelings — they shy away from emotions altogether.
It may be tempting to try to change him or rescue him. You may want to feel that rush that comes with making someone a better person. However, you can’t save a person who doesn’t want to be saved.
Chances are, he will continue to be unavailable emotionally until he makes the conscious decision to seek help on his own. Nothing you say or do will help him take down those walls or change him.
Instead, you need to decide if you can handle the toll that being in this type of relationship takes. If he chooses to change, then you need to be patient and meet him where he is. You need to show him compassion, understanding, and support.
However, if he isn’t willing to see the issues or work on them, then you need to decide how long you’re willing to stay. Emotional unavailability can kill a relationship, but until you decide to walk away, the relationship can hurt you in many, many ways.
Whether you’ve been together for a matter of weeks or over a year, if you just read this and see the writing on the wall, it’s time you recognize that you’re dating a man like this.
You likely didn’t cause his emotional unavailability, and no matter how much you love this man, it’s important to remember the truth — he has issues that nobody can fix overnight.
These relationships can feel very stressful and isolating, and pressing him towards change won’t help bring the two of you closer together. In fact, it just might push him away.
Don’t give up entirely your man just yet, though. If you think he’s willing and able to change, then there are options. You can seek couples counseling or encourage your man to seek out therapy on his own.
If you don’t think he’s ready to seek help yet, then you need to decide how long you’re willing to stay. Things will only change if he is ready to change, but that doesn’t mean you have to hang onto someone who isn’t willing to give you what you need.
At the end of the day, you deserve a happy, healthy relationship — everyone does.
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