You suspect that you are in love with an emotionally unavailable man, but you don’t want to leave him.
You love him and have invested too much in this relationship to quit now. So, what do you do? First of all, consider the list of indicators of emotional disconnect listed below. If the majority of them are true of your mate, then he is indeed emotionally unavailable to you. Then read on to discover reasons for the disconnect. In Part 2 of this blog, we’ll look at some things you can do if you choose to stay in your relationship.
Indicators that He Is Emotionally Unavailable
- He’s impossible to read. When you look at his face, there is no expression.
- When asked, “What are you feeling?” he can’t answer and/or changes the subject.
- Your feelings aren’t on his radar, and he says that you are “too emotional.”
- What you are thinking or feeling doesn’t seem important. He never asks.
- When you are upset, he withdraws and becomes cold and distant.
- He is “as cool as a cucumber” and acts as if feelings are avoidable.
- He gives you pushback and even becomes angry when you want to discuss feelings.
- Even when he is in pain, he refuses to be vulnerable.
- He is addicted to approval. He gets his self-worth from the attention and validation that he gets from others (but not from you).
- Sarcastic remarks and dismissive behavior are characteristic of him.
- Sex is more important to him than emotional intimacy.
- He avoids you when things are rocky in your relationship. He may stay longer at work, find excuses to be away from you, withhold his schedule or whereabouts and/or spend hours on his phone or computer… basically anything to avoid having to deal with you.
So, in all probability, because you are reading this blog, you are in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. It’s probably also true that you just don’t understand why he’s so out of touch with his feeling, and you are seeking what you can do about it.
First of all, there is a degree of science to his emotional shutdown.
You may have heard relationship “experts” say that the differences between the sexes are simply because society teaches them to behave that way… This viewpoint ignores neuroscience which proves that the sexes are fundamentally different. It is the “nature vs. nurture” argument.
Even though it is not the complete story, the “nurture” viewpoint does have validity. The problem of emotionally unavailable men does have its roots in how they are nurtured and taught as males. Boys are required to have problem-solving skills, strength, boldness, and achieve success among their peers. They are taught not to show vulnerability, express affection, or need others. These attributes, however, are precisely what they need to have intimate and connected relationships.
Men feel good about these characteristics, particularly if they achieve success in their work or career. This sets them to struggle in their long-term relationship. Men don’t say to themselves, “I am going to become an emotionally unavailable person.” And, by the way, not all emotionally unavailable people are men.
The problem is, when many men enter into a committed relationship,
there is a whole set of expectations imposed upon them that are new to them and for which they are poorly equipped. This is often why it is said of men about relationships, “They haven’t got a clue.”
Being in a loving and intimate relationship requires skills such as listening, expressing empathy, and discussing feelings – skills which are often contrary to what a man may have been taught about his role and place in the world. As a result, his love life suffers due to his failure to emotionally connect. This is why you may be experiencing the emotional unavailability of your mate. This is why he may tend to withdraw and shut down at the exact moment when you need him to draw closer to you and “step up.”
What you may not realize is that your mate may view himself as a failure in this area. He may have a great degree of anxiety and frustration. Indeed, he may have done all that he knows how to do. He may doubt that he is “good enough” to solve this problem. If he were the man he should be, her reasons, then this would have been solved by now.
If the timing is correct, you may want to gently suggest that the two of you do couples therapy or attend a couples’ retreat together.
Stay in touch for for specific thoughts on how to deal with an emotionally unavailable man, read “Help! My Man is Emotionally Unavailable!”- Part 2.