Emotionally Unavailable Men – 7 Signs In Your Relationship
One of the most common problems a woman runs into within a relationship is emotionally unavailable men. These are guys that just don’t seem to BE THERE emotionally like she is.
Before we get started on the hot topic of unavailable guys, I have to point out something shocking that you might not know…
Women are often more emotionally open than men, sure. This much we know.
But women are also just as afraid of commitment on many levels as men are…!
Let me explain:
- Guys are naturally hard-wired to contain and hide emotions.
- A boy’s life is much more difficult if he’s overly expressive and sensitive
(I’m not saying this is right or wrong, it simply IS.) Boys are almost always rewarded by their peers for being more emotionally “unavailable.”
Meaning that for all the most important years he was growing up and developing his emotional IQ, he was given more positive reinforcement for hiding his feelings. Human beings instinctively pull back from men who express too many “gooey” emotions.
Think about it yourself: How happy are you in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t have at least a solid base of calmness and emotional control?
If you’re honest, you’ll admit that men who are too emotional are very unattractive.
As we discuss this, also keep in mind that women can be emotionally unavailable in many ways, too.
Carlos Cavallo, Dating and Attraction Adviser
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For Example: Most women do not have a good relationship to their own anger. This is something you may have experienced yourself.
So while men are often viewed as being unavailable more often, it’s something that happens with women as well.
Yes, actually, there is a scientific reason for this. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, if a man was to survive in the hostile environment of fighting off predators, avoiding starvation, and ensuring the survival of his children, he couldn’t go mammoth hunting and cry on Groknak’s shoulder.
He had to:
- Deal with his feelings and manage them…
- Which usually means stuffing them deep down and out of the way…
- Pay attention to the present-moment challenges of survival…
- Ignore his feelings for his family to focus on the immediate needs of his tribe…
- And he really didn’t have a lot of TIME to dwell on his feelings. Every day was a fight to survive in harsh conditions. His relationships were from necessity…
We are fortunate now to live in a time where we have the luxury of exploring our inner emotional experience in a relationship much more than our friendly caveman Groknak could.
Your experience of emotions also benefits you much more than a guy:
- Women are naturally wired to express their emotions openly…
- Women also experience a more varied emotional range than most men do. You have more emotional ups and downs than a guy typically does…
- Women will use their emotional conversations as a way to bond and share information with each other (sometimes referred to inaccurately as “gossip”)
So there are a lot of historical reasons for a man’s behavior. Fortunately for us, things are starting to change. Men are becoming more emotionally communicative on the whole.
DID YOU KNOW: Men also have “emotional cycles” – similar to a woman’s cycle…?
You need to know what the signs are for emotionally unavailable men – and be able to spot them. I’m going to explain a little about each signal as we go through them, and give you more detail.
Keep in mind that being an emotionally unavailable man is not always the same as being a commitment phobe. There are a lot of pop psychology sites out there that have misled us as to what’s really happening when a man is avoiding commitment, for whatever reason.
- A commitment phobe is a guy who doesn’t want a long-term relationship that feels constricting…
- Emotionally unavailable men can (and sometimes will) jump right into a long-term relationship, but he will not be capable of expressing a lot of emotions…
- Unavailable men can often spend years in a relationship this way simply because the woman he was with had some commitment issues, or she was insecure and held on to the relationship even if she wasn’t fulfilled emotionally…
So it’s perfectly possible that you’ve been in a relationship with a guy who wasn’t very emotionally available and you didn’t realize it until you tried to get more vulnerable and deeper with your connection.
- What we’re really talking about with emotionally unavailable men is – Is he vulnerable to you?
- And are you able to be vulnerable in your relationship – in a safe way?
Make sure you also notice the PATTERN of his behavior…
- Is it all the time?
- Or is it just when emotions get close to something in him that he’s avoiding?
One thing you should look out for is whether or not he’s gone through a difficult relationship recently. Watch out for men who are fresh out of a marriage, recently separated, widowed, or even a really painful breakup. They may be perfectly healthy guys, but his circumstances make him “unavailable” to you.
The same thing goes for a series of relationships that may have damaged his trust. He’ll need to find some professional help to overcome these issues.
Remember as we go through this list of signs that unavailable guys are not trying to hurt you or cause you pain. They genuinely desire the attachment and love you have to offer. But they are simply not capable of letting it inside his heart.
And no matter how many clever sayings you hear about “love conquering all,” it’s not going to change that.
Date responsibly by knowing that most guys out there you are not able to save. I know, you want to be that magical person to him, but that’s not your job.
Emotionally unavailable men are a challenge to most women. He almost feels like a “puzzle” for you to figure out. You hope that if you can solve him and fix him that he’ll:
- Owe his heart to you…
- See what you’ve done for him and love you…
- Never leave you or the relationship…
But you have to realize that you’re ultimately chasing an image of self-worth for yourself that has NOTHING to do with your actual value as a person. And if you get caught up in validating yourself through chasing these guys, you can wind up with a lot of heartbreak.
When you set yourself up to try to get a payoff from a guy who is emotionally broke, you never win.
Now we’ll go through some of these warning signs that a guy is not there for you.
Sign #1: He’s a ME-monkey…
Emotionally unavailable guys are very often compensating for a very shallow sense of self. He has probably never had his emotional tank filled up, so he becomes very selfish in his lifestyle.
This is the first sign of emotionally unavailable men, and it’s also a big indication of his inability to really feel whole in himself. He’s not a whole, healthy person.
If he’s focused on pleasing himself, that’s a good sign he’s feeling empty and he’s only working on HIS self-image.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room for him to meet YOUR needs.
Sign #2: He’s Ducking Things…
Avoiding responsibility for things in the relationship – especially where we make errors of judgement with our partner – is a top sign of an unavailable man.
- Guys who are not cut out for emotional intimacy will try to get by on the least amount of effort and investment in the relationship…
- Deep down inside, he knows he’s on the hook for a whole lot more than just showing up for sex every Friday night…
- He’s going to try to duck out on a lot of his responsibilities…
- He’ll be evasive and make excuses along the way…
Some of his evasions are dead giveaways that he’s not a complete partner for you. So don’t get sucked into trying to “rehab” him or sculpt him into your perfect man.
I coach women over the age of 35 about this stuff, and it always surprises me how many women think they can change their guy. Please hear me when I tell you –
Another way he will deflect these responsibilities is by actively using EMOTIONAL tactics on you. He will use anger and criticism to keep you pushed back on the defense, thus keeping him in a space where he doesn’t have to deal with the reality of his avoidance.
If you find yourself alone and sad about your relationship a large part of the time, there’s a good chance he’s doing this to you. Not intentionally, but it’s real.
Sign #3: He’s NOT Close With The Fam…
Most people who are unavailable also have very strained relations with their family. This makes sense, because it was probably that same family that caused this situation back in his childhood.
You’ll see that he’s probably not all that close with them because they have a way of bringing up a lot of negative emotional loops. Sometimes he stays away from his family because he’s finally managed to conquer some of the stuff they did in the past.
But you should watch out for a guy who is avoiding his family because of the emotional ties to him.
Sign #4: He’ll Take The Physical Intimacy, But Hold The Emotions…
People with emotional intimacy issues will always try to keep that part as far away as possible. Most often, they’ll simulate emotional intimacy with physical intimacy.
So you’ll find that the sex is the way this guy avoids the emotions of the relationship.
You may even find that he’s a passionate lover. But you can never quite taste that passion anywhere else in the relationship.
Sign #5: He’s a Short-Term Intimacy Guy…
Guys with intimacy issues tend to avoid the relationship part of relationships. He’s very likely to be much more seductive. Deep down inside, a seducer is focused only on the sexual side of the relationship because they know they’re “not enough” inside.
Once the relationship has progressed beyond sex, it’s very likely that he will start something to sabotage it or end it.
A lot of unavailable men have some deep childhood attachment issues that they need to resolve. This could mean years of therapy, or some other form of healing.
Sign #6: No Real Emotional Range – Mr. Flatline…
Guys are generally not going to appear as emotionally expressive as women. Unless, of course, he’s watching a Big Game on ESPN.
And yet, you should definitely be concerned if he seems to stick to a very limited range of emotional expression.
- Watch dramatic shows with him. Does he react at all?
- Does he get invested or emotional over the characters?
- Ask him what his favorite movies and books are. Is there a thread of emotional attachment there?
- Does he ever describe feelings in very basic terms? Like: “I was angry. I could feel myself ready to explode.”
- Have you ever witnessed him expressing an emotional spike or outburst?
You want to watch for his behavior to tell you whether or not you see a pattern.
Keep in mind that guys are ALWAYS going to appear less emotional than women whenever you compare men to women.
But if you compare your man to ALL MEN in general, you’ll notice that emotionality is not a masculine trait. In the same way that women do not typically escalate to anger/rage in their day to day experience.
Guys simply don’t feel an intense pull into emotional experience the way women do. So by that comparison, ALL men are going to appear more unavailable than women do.
The key is to understand more about HIM:
- What makes him tick emotionally?
- What’s his history and his background?
- Does he have emotional trauma?
- Does he have any patterns he learned from his family? (Especially his parents)
- What’s his pattern of emotional expression?
- Does he behave more emotionally around other people?
Sign #7: “Who? Me? Emotionally Shut Down…? Nah.”
Yeah, there’s a lot of denial when it comes to this kind of partner in a relationship.
Emotionally unavailable men are usually not prepared to face his shortcomings in intimate relationships. So he will deny any problem and avoid discussing it with you.
And it can make for some really painful arguments as you try to get closer and he does everything possible to push you away from this sensitive area.
Now, if you read my other article on Narcissistic guys (premiering soon), you’ll know that the list of signs of an emotionally unavailable man bears a lot of resemblance to the narcissist.
One of the traits of a narcissist is that he/she is likely to have a lot of “emotional disconnects” in their personality. Emotions of other people are even more difficult for them to handle.
However, just because he’s got these signs of being unavailable, that doesn’t mean he’s a narcissist.
BUT – he might also be totally fine!
If you have a more emotionally vibrant life, you may find most guys feeling a bit “flat” when compared to your experience. Many women even find that they really appreciate a well grounded man emotionally, as he lends her some stability as well.
Now – I have to warn you about –
THE BIG MISTAKE IN RELATIONSHIPS: Wanting Him To Be Your Girlfriend And Your Boyfriend…
There’s a lot of love quotes and sayings out there that your soulmate should be your best friend, too. And this is true…
You see, you should have that kind of “share everything” relationship with your man.
HOWEVER – you should not expect guys to want to hear everything you talk about with your girlfriends.
Men are easily flooded when it comes to emotions.
What this means is that he’s not capable of handling a lot of intense emotional conversation at one time. (This is for ALL guys, by the way!)
You have to respect that a guy will simply not be able to hash through a complete recounting of how Amy said this, and you said that, and then she looked away when she said it, so does that mean…
Guys do not enjoy or willingly participate in this kind of conversation, so keep that in mind. By pushing a guy to talk about this stuff, you’re making big withdrawals from the Relationship Goodwill account.
Now, he should talk with you about relationship stuff, from time to time. But he still won’t be able to do it for hours on end. It’s always been this way, and it will likely stay this way.
Men make great MALE best friends. And you may want to make sure you still have a FEMALE best friend for your “girl talk.”
Is He Emotionally Shut Down? – Or Is He Just A Guy?
Look, guys are probably never going to match your ability to talk and work through relationship conversation. However, he should be willing to explore and talk about your experience and your troubles… from time to time. (Just watch out for that “Big Mistake” I explained above.)
And I’d urge you to be careful not to let yourself get caught up in a relationship with a guy who is really into emotionally heavy conversations. There are some men who haven’t fully developed or connected to their healthy masculinity and are among the “walking wounded” in relationships.
- What do you really want in a guy?
- How much emotional stuff is good versus bad?
- Do you know what really works for you in a healthy, connected relationship?
And – wait a second –
What about… YOU?
WAIT – Are You Emotionally Available?
Here are a few questions to see if you’re actually as open to love as you might THINK you are:
- Are you frequently angry at the opposite sex? Do you like making or hearing jokes at their expense?
- Do you make excuses to avoid dates or getting together with them? (Especially if you know this person is a good relationship opportunity.)
- Do you think you’re so self-reliant you “don’t need anyone?” You can do it on your own, you think…
- Do you fear falling in love, because you might get hurt? Are you MORE afraid of losing someone than you are of the chance of a solid relationship?
- Are you always waiting for something bad to happen in your relationships? Do you expect to be betrayed or let down?
- Are you distrustful? Are you feeling the collected negative impact of the relationships you’ve been in?
- Do you avoid intimacy by trying to find distractions? Do you find yourself going on dates that focus on the activity and not the relating?
- Are you uncomfortable talking about yourself and your feelings? Do you have inner feelings of shame? Do you feel undesirable or unlovable?
- Do you find yourself trying to keep your options open in case someone better comes along? Or so that you can jump to something new and fresh?
If you find yourself answering more than one or two of these questions “YES,” you might want to take some time to really confront your feelings about relationships.
There are many women who jump into relationships with emotionally unavailable men to avoid facing their own unavailability. They use HIM as a smoke screen for her issues.
Ultimately, you have to remember that no matter how great someone seems in the present, you have to be able to deepen your emotional connection to them if you want a lasting relationship.
If you don’t you could wind up with a marriage that never goes beyond small talk.
When you can create a real connection with a guy, you can even manage to pull an unavailable man into opening up and expressing his feelings.
Some men just need the right woman who knows how to connect with him. Sometimes that’s what he’s waiting to see to open up to her!
If you want to learn more about how to connect with men on a deep and meaningful level, I have a short video presentation that will help you get this guy out of his stalling and into your relationship.