How do you spot an emotionally unavailable guy? If only they wore signs around the neck, that would certainly make things a lot easier!
An emotionally unavailable guy isn’t the same as an emotionally abusive guy. He isn’t a bad guy, he doesn’t do things to intentionally hurt you. He just is the way he is, and his closed-off demeanor can make you crazy sometimes because you don’t quite know where he stands. He never seems to be fully in it, there always seems to be a distance between the two of you, even during the most intimate moments.
Essentially, it feels like he has a wall that you just can’t break through.
A guy can be emotionally unavailable for many different reasons. Maybe his parents had a nasty divorce when he was a kid, maybe he just went through a nasty divorce himself, maybe he’s focused solely on work right now, maybe he has deeply rooted emotional issues that never got dealt with, maybe he’s been hurt one too many times before.
No matter what the issue, you can’t fix it for him. That’s just not possible. He can’t be your little pet project and you are not his therapist. It’s not up to you to save him. You might think if you just stick it out and love him hard enough he’ll come around and change his mind. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t (most likely won’t).
Every situation is different and it’s up to you to assess the situation and decide what the best move is. But first, you need to identify exactly what you’re dealing with.
So here are the signs that you’re dating an emotionally unavailable man.
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
The Top Signs He’s Emotionally Unavailable:
1. He’s always “fine”
You ask him what’s wrong and he says, “I’m fine,” even when you know he’s not fine. He won’t talk about his problems and instead insists there is no problem.
It’s not just about his personal life. When you try to bring up issues in the relationship he again says everything is “fine” and he doesn’t know what you’re talking about.
You basically come against a brick wall anytime you try to have a real discussion with him about issues, whether it’s his personal issues or relationship issues. He either shuts you down or changes the subject or flat out refuses to acknowledge there is anything wrong.
2. He’s inconsistent
Sometimes seems like he’s all in … other times it seems like he doesn’t care. He runs hot and cold and you never quite know where you stand with him.
Sometimes it feels like everything is great, like he’s committed to you, other times you wonder if you’re even in a relationship anymore because he’s barely there. One day he’s super into you, can’t keep his hands off you, the next he’s annoyed by everything you do.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s emotionally unavailable, it could also mean he’s just not that into you, so look at this in the context of everything else.
3. He shuts you out
Sometimes men withdraw or take space, this is normal and can be healthy. What’s not normal is if he is in withdrawal mode more than he’s in the relationship.
What does it look like to be in withdrawal mode? He doesn’t make eye contact, he takes forever to respond to your texts and his answers are short and cold, he cancels on plans, when he’s with you he seems detached and distracted and spends most of the time checking his phone or zoning out in front of the TV, he seems disinterested and unengaged with anything you have to say.
But like I said, men sometimes withdraw and this can be for various reasons: job stress, emotional issues, issues he’s having with the relationship. If you give him the space to recharge during these times, then most often he’ll come back and be better than ever. If he withdraws for no known reason, and if you give him space and then you basically never see him, then he may have some serious walls up.
4.He’s a perfectionist
He criticizes everything both big and small. It might be significant things like your job, or small minor things like the way you pronounce certain words, the way you chew, or the way you dress. Basically, nothing is ever good enough.
Being a perfectionist is a way to keep himself at an emotional distance. Him finding things wrong with you can be the “excuse” as to why he isn’t taking things to the next level with you. It is essentially a way of him creating a barrier. He makes you “not good enough” so that excuses him from opening up and being a real partner to you.
5. He dismisses your feelings
He doesn’t try to see where you’re coming from and instead dismisses you as being too emotional, too sensitive, too dramatic, and says you make mountains out molehills.
Anytime you bring up an emotional issue, he turns it around to make it your problem and something you need to deal with, it has nothing to do with him.
This makes sense … someone who is emotionally unavailable won’t want to engage in emotionally-laden conversations. And so he avoids…
6. He’s me-centered
He focuses on himself and his needs and sees the relationship as something to serve him.
The relationship runs on his time, it’s all about what’s most convenient for him.
He doesn’t factor you in and maybe does things without even telling you. A classic example of this is that famous episode of Sex and the City when Mr. Big accepts a job offer in Paris without even telling Carrie about it, and then acts like it’s no big deal and thinks she’s being dramatic about the whole thing.
Love is other-oriented, it’s about stepping outside of yourself and your needs and seeing how you can give to someone else. This is what causes us to grow and is the reason relationships can be such transformative experiences. An emotionally unavailable person won’t experience that growth though because he’s stuck in his own world and in his own experience of the relationship, and he is unable or unwilling to see beyond that.
7. He basically tells you
An emotionally unavailable man might say he’s scared of commitment or he’s “bad at relationships.” If he does, believe him!
He may even tell you he’s damaged, that his ex-girlfriend really screwed him up and now he can never love or trust again.
He basically is telling you he has issues and he can’t give you what you want, and he’s not doing anything about it. It’s one thing to say, “I have hang-ups when it comes to relationships, but I’m really trying to get past it so we can make this work.” In that case, he is sharing and letting you in. It’s another thing to just say “I’m not good at relationships,” and leave it at that.
8. He’s unreliable
When he says he’ll be there … it means he might be there if it’s convenient for him.
Again, this goes back to focusing on his needs and his experience of being in the relationship. When someone is emotionally unavailable, they lack empathy for their partner. It’s not the same as being a narcissist or a sociopath. He just keeps himself at an emotional distance and doesn’t let himself think too deeply about the implications of his behavior.
You don’t fully trust him because he has flaked on you and broken promises one too many times before.
MORE: Why Do Men Pull Away?
9. He doesn’t want to talk about the relationship
Yes, most men don’t love having “relationship talks,” but when a guy is committed, he accepts that sometimes it’s necessary to have a relationship “touch base.”
And also, talking about issues is usually the only way to solve them!
A guy who is emotionally unavailable will squirm and do whatever he can to avoid such conversations at all costs. He’ll use any and every avoidance tactic: making jokes, deflecting, saying he can’t do this right now, turning it around on you and saying everything is fine, you’re the one with issues.
10. He’s dishonest
You catch him in little white lies- like what he was up to last night or if he took his online dating profile down.
He may feel it’s easier to just omit information, or tell a little white lie, than deal with the emotional impact of you getting upset and him having to deal with it. Basically, an emotionally unavailable guy will try to avoid emotional situations at all costs.
11. Anger is the only emotion he can express
His emotional spectrum basically consists of “fine” and angry, and he doesn’t show you much of anything in between. Anger can manifest from an inner world of hurt and pain that never got dealt with. It resides deep down in the subconscious where it festers.
Feelings don’t just go away because you ignore them. They stay firmly in place until they are dealt with, but unfortunately, the emotionally unavailable person can’t, or won’t do that. So instead, any emotion that gets activated comes across as anger. Anger can also serve as a way to mask the pain and vulnerability that lurk beneath the surface.
12. There’s no stability in the relationship
It’s an emotional rollercoaster, up and down, every day is a different story. This isn’t the same as the explosive dynamic that defines toxic relationships. Being with an emotionally unavailable guy usually isn’t as in-your-face unhealthy as being in a toxic relationship.
Instead, you’re always on edge, feeling anxious, and you can’t just relax and enjoy the relationship. You’re always waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under you, waiting for him to just pick up and leave because you know he’s capable of it.
What to do:
You can’t force someone to change and be what you want. So you need to ask yourself: Can you accept a lack of emotional intimacy in your relationship or is this necessary for you? Be honest here.
It’s possible he’s just not ready for a relationship right now, but he might be someday. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t invest too heavily in the situation. If you want to stay that’s fine, but keep your options open and don’t invest in a fantasy where things magically work out. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, you can’t know and waiting around for him is a bad move.
Being emotionally unavailable doesn’t make someone a bad person. The way they are is usually a defense mechanism to cope with pain and fear- fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, fear of vulnerability. It doesn’t make him bad, just flawed. And you’re flawed too, we all are. It’s just a matter of determining if being in this relationship is healthy for you and if he can give you what you need.
If you need an emotionally open man, then you’re in the wrong relationship. If you can accept that he has his limits, really accept it, then things might stand a chance. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking you can accept things when deep down you know it’s not what you want. Ask youself: would I be happy in this relationship if things stayed exactly as they are? If the answer is truly yes, then by all means, stick it out. If you’re secretly hoping things will change, then you might need a reality check, and hopefully, this article gave it to you.
If a guy is emotionally unavailable, it means he has a big wall up and is holding back from showing you his true self. If a guy doesn’t open up, he won’t invest and this will cause him to lose interest in the relationship. You may notice he starts to pull away and withdraw emotionally. To find out exactly what to do in this situation to create safe intimacy and get things back on track, read this next: The #1 Things Men Desire in a Woman
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
These Are The Signs He’s Emotionally Unavailable:
- He’s always “fine”
- He’s inconsistent
- He shuts you out
- He’s a perfectionist
- He dismisses your feelings
- He’s me-centered
- He basically tells you
- He’s unreliable
- He doesn’t want to talk about the relationship
- He’s dishonest
- Anger is the only emotion he can express
- There’s no stability in the relationship