He’s charming, attentive, and hangs on your every word. It’s a whirlwind of excitement, passion, and chemistry. Then, suddenly, he pulls away. He’s indifferent, distant, and non-committal, and your honeymoon phase crashes into a mountain. This is because…
He’s Emotionally Unavailable!
What does that mean? It means that even if he is the man of your dreams, he’s high-risk. You make excuses, rationalize, and have way too much hope that he’ll change. Cut to: It’s years later, and you’re still making excuses, rationalizing, hoping he will change… and beating yourself up for wasting precious time. Don’t. This is his problem, not yours.
Emotional unavailability is often a subconscious defense mechanism caused by painful past experiences. These men go into relationships with the best intentions, but when things start to get “real,” Boom!, they shut down their emotions to avoid getting hurt again.
How To Spot Them In the Wild
So, how do you spot an unavailable man? Consider these telltale signs before diving too deep into unavailable waters:
He’s never been in a serious relationship.
If he’s never had a loving relationship, it’s probably because he can’t.
He doesn’t open up to you.
He keeps his feelings bottled up inside.
You never know where you stand.
And if you ask, he doesn’t want to talk about it.
He’s no longer invested in the relationship.
It feels like he’s pulling away. He’s chronically late, cancels plans, and has stopped reaching out.
He’s not affectionate.
Touch, compliments, sweet gestures… sex. All the things you need don’t seem to interest him.
He’s not comfortable with your emotions.
He’s not reciprocal and never there for you when you need him.
He is a closed book.
He keeps his life and his past to himself.
You never seem to grow closer.
He’s resistant to any talk of taking things to the next level.
He chooses sex over an emotional connection.
Sex is easy and doesn’t leave him feeling vulnerable.
He tells you.
No explanation needed.
End it Immediately?
Emotional unavailability doesn’t always mean a relationship is doomed. Different relationships work for different people, and you get to decide whether a relationship is worth pursuing. If you choose to give it a shot, consider the following tips when navigating that rough, icy terrain:
Don’t take it personally.
Remember, it’s not about you.
If he wants to change, there’s a lot of yarn to be unwound.
Reassure him. He has trust issues and doesn’t want to get hurt again.
Try to get to the heart of the issue.
Broach the subject of his emotional detachment. If possible, explore past trauma or mental health issues that cause him to shut down. Be emotionally supportive, but don’t push him to reveal details he’s not ready to reveal.
Often, an emotionally unavailable man will take without giving back. Know your self-worth, and don’t put up with it. Make sure he understands your expectations rather than expecting him to read your mind.
Give him space.
Take a step back. He needs time and space to sort himself out. While it might feel contrary to common sense, pushing him to connect will only make him push you away more.
Focus on the positive.
He’s funny, financially stable, a good lover, and hot. If he has qualities that make up for the lack of emotional connection… ummm… we get it (wink).
Focus on your mental health.
When you are emotionally available, and your partner isn’t, it can be emotionally draining. The dynamic can lead to feelings of abandonment and rejection, which can be a one-two punch to your self-esteem. Don’t internalize. Talk about your feelings – if not to him, then to a trusted friend or therapist.
Focus on yourself.
Try not to focus on the lack of intimacy so much. Stop expending so much energy on him, and pour some of your love and energy into yourself. Take a spa day, buy yourself a gift, take a trip with friends… You’re drained. You’ve earned it.
Speak your mind.
Consider how his emotional unavailability affects your emotional health – then explain this to him. Be honest and clear about what you want from the relationship and how you would like him to show up for you. If he seems receptive, try to use this as a lead to a deeper discussion of his issues.
Know when to say when.
If he admits that he has a problem and wants to try to establish a greater emotional connection with you… If you can stop making excuses, rationalizing, and hoping he will change… Great! But if you discover that you are miserable and that despite his charms, he’ll probably never be capable of meeting any of your needs, then stop banging your head against a wall. You’re only hurting yourself. Instead, call family, a friend, a therapist… Find some support and do whatever you need to do to let him go so you can find a man who deserves to share his heart and his emotions with wonderful you.