Does he expect attention but never gives it? Does he get irritated easily, make excuses, or blame you for every issue?
Are you, perhaps, dating the guy your grandmother warned you about?
“Be careful, darlin’. Those boys are only after one thing.” – Granny
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be looking for tips and advice on how to deal with an emotionally unavailable man. You might be wondering how to make him open up, if it’s worth your continued heartache, or if it’s time to move on.
If any of this is true, look no further. Here at the Relationship Blackbook we’ve put together four steps to help you identify emotionally unavailable men characteristics as well as the best tips on what to do when your partner is emotionally unavailable.
Step one: Know Your Needs
The best time to implement this step is before you begin a relationship, be it with an emotionally unavailable man or with a man who is more in touch with his feelings than you are. But don’t despair! Whether you’ve just begun dating or you’ve been married for twenty years, it’s never too late to clearly identify what your needs are in the relationship.
I mean, think about it. You probably know what he needs.
You probably know what he thinks YOU should need.
But have you ever admitted to yourself (or to anyone else) what you really need?
Take a moment to pull out a pen and paper – or, more realistically, open the memo app on your phone – and begin a list of things that you want and need in a relationship.
- I need to feel safe sharing my thoughts and feelings with my partner.
- I need to know my partner is committed to our relationship.
- I need to be with someone who clearly enjoys my company.
Your list might be similar to the examples above, or it might be completely different. The important thing is that’s an honest representation of how you feel and what you need in a relationship. Any relationship in which one person ignores, denies, or represses the needs of their heart is doomed to heartbreak and unhappiness, period.
Step two: Know the Signs of an Emotionally Unavailable Man
When a man is emotionally unavailable in a relationship, the female half of that couple will generally respond in one way: she blames herself. When he doesn’t call or text for days, she wonders what she did wrong. When he rolls over after lovemaking and immediately falls asleep, she wonders if she’s just a means to an end for him.
But here’s a very important thing about men who are emotionally unavailable that every woman should know:
It’s not you.
So, before you decide that you’re the problem in your relationship, take a look at this list of traits of an emotionally unavailable man and see if your partner fits.
- He rarely (if ever) expresses his true thoughts and feelings.
Are you always wondering what is happening behind those enigmatic eyes? It’s true that many men find it difficult to express their feelings, but an emotionally unavailable man would have the world believe that he doesn’t have feelings at all. He might joke around, or make sly or sarcastic comments, but he won’t have a conversation that gives insight into his deeper thoughts. He might get angry or irritated if you press him, even blaming you or accusing you of being “too needy” or “too clingy”.
- He’s all sex and no cuddle.
Figuratively speaking, that is. Is he more interested in having sex with you than getting to know you? Does he prefer a hook up to an actual date? Does he express genuine affection toward you through non-sexual means? Emotionally unavailable men tend to see sexual intimacy as the goal, while emotional intimacy is an intrusion they’re not willing to put up with.
- He’s never understood the term “self-aware.”
Have you ever gotten into bed only to find a spider on your pillow? You know what happens. The first thing you do is screech in a most undignified and terrified manner as you run away, probably crying. Your heart threatens to pound out of your chest as you yell to everyone within five miles that you will NEVER sleep in that bed again and also, it’s time to burn the whole house to the ground.
(Or is that just me?)
Let’s consider the spider’s perspective. First, it had no idea it was on your pillow, and second, it didn’t care. Not in the least. It was just doing its thing – probably planning the world’s destruction or devising how best to chew off a human leg – with no thought whatsoever to how its actions would affect you or anyone else. It’s not even consciously aware of its own evil plans. It’s just being what it is: a spider.
A spider and an emotionally unavailable man have similar characteristics. While your partner is probably not planning world destruction (unless he’s a psychopath) and has likely never considered the most efficient method of chewing off your leg while you sleep, he resembles the spider in that he lacks self-awareness. He has no idea how his words and actions affect you, and chances are, he doesn’t care. If you protest, he’ll likely turn on you, fangs bared, to tell you that you’re “too sensitive,” “too needy,” or that you expect “too much.”
“This is who I am,” he says. “Like it or get the hell out.”
- He has no idea what your needs are…and he wouldn’t care if he did.
Remember that list you made for step one? In a healthy relationship, both partners know or are learning what the other’s needs are, and have a desire to meet those needs. The emotionally unavailable man, on the other hand, is more interested in his own needs (assuming he’s self-aware enough to know what they are) than he is in yours. He is the center of his universe, and expects to be the center of yours, regardless of how he acts.
Step three: Know the Causes
After all of that you might be wondering, “What cause emotionally unavailable men?” The following list is not exhaustive, but some common causes are:
- He was raised that way.
Some of the emotionally unavailable men I know were raised by emotionally unavailable parents, and they are currently raising their children to be just like them. They have not changed or matured in their twenty years of adulthood because they are completely unaware that they need to change or mature.
- He has experienced trauma.
Childhood trauma, whether through abuse or loss or anything else, can affect a person well into adulthood, and even throughout their whole life. Emotional withdrawal is a common response to trauma. In an attempt to repress or avoid the emotions that came with the traumatic event, all emotions might be repressed or avoided. Unless a man (or woman) who has experienced trauma is willing and able to face those emotions and move forward, chances are he (or she) will stay in that repressed, unavailable state forever.
- He’s a cheater.
There’s a pretty good chance that you’re emotionally unavailable man is not emotionally unavailable at all. He might just not be emotionally available to you, because he’s expending his availability elsewhere – like to his wife, fiancée, or long-time girlfriend. Though our first response to this possibility is usually an impassioned, “He would never do that!”, it might be time to consider the possibility and take steps to find out the truth.
- He’s on the rebound.
It’s also possible that he just got out of long-term relationship. He may simply not be ready for another heart-engaging, committed relationship, or he may be scared to get into another relationship if the previous one ended badly.
Step four: Be Realistic with Yourself About Your Relationship
How can you get an emotionally unavailable man to open up? Is it possible? Is it worth the effort?
Well…after scouring the internet for a definitive answer to that question, I’ve realized two things:
- The internet does not offer a definitive answer on anything. (Surprise!)
- You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Depending on what causes him to be emotionally unavailable, there might be hope that he will someday change into the loving, affectionate, engaged man you want him to be. There’s also a really good chance that he won’t. So, what should you do?
Look over that list of needs you made in step one. (Don’t you wish you had done that now? Don’t worry, it’s not too late. Do it now and then come back.) Decide which of those needs you’re willing to sacrifice for the sake of having a relationship with this particular man. Can you be happy with him long-term even though your needs aren’t being met?
If you choose to continue a relationship with a man who is emotionally unavailable to you, do it with your eyes wide open. Don’t keep holding on in the vague hope that 20 years from now you’ll wake up next to the man you always hoped he’d be. Accept him for who he is now, and decide if he – not the idea of him, not the dream of a happy relationship, but he himself, is worth your time and heartache.
You might just decide that YOU are worth more than all of that heartache and drama, and no one would blame you if you did.
Don’t believe me? Check out this helpful video called “How to Get an Unavailable Guy to Want You”:
So there you have it! Four steps to help you determine emotionally unavailable men characteristics and what you should do should you find yourself in a relationship with a man who has them.
Have you ever had a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man? How did it work out? Let us know in the comments!