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Emotionally unavailable men: 9 undeniable signs

“Emotionally unavailable.”

What does that even mean?

Isn’t it just another term for “it’s not you, it’s me?”

Or another lame excuse why someone can’t commit to a relationship?

Either way, it’s a thing. And we have all dated our fair share of emotionally unavailable people.

Dating an emotionally unavailable man can be like beating your head against a wall. A tall, dark, and handsome wall.

But a wall, nonetheless.

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Why do women fall for emotionally unavailable men?

Women all over the world have found themselves victims of emotionally unavailable men in relationships. It’s not a pattern a lot of women will admit to, but it is happening.

In his book Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome, author and psychologist Seth Meyers, explores the reason.

According to Meyers:

“Women who fall for unavailable men have some profound insecurities and self-esteem issues, and they invest so much in pursuing unavailable men with the following unconscious motive: If the unavailable man finally comes around and commits, they’ll—at long last—have proof that they are worthy.

“Sadly, without such proof, their self-worth is left hanging in the wind. In addition, these women feel that they’ve invested so much and waited so long for the unavailable man to come around that the thought of leaving without any payoff is almost unthinkable.”

And it can take some women longer than others to smarten up and realize that this isn’t going to work unless your guy gets a grip on his emotions.

There’s a number of reasons for emotionally unavailable men

For starters, men just aren’t built the way women are built and don’t have access to their emotions on the same level that women have.

It can cause a great deal of frustration for women, but instead of thinking your guy needs to change, sometimes it’s better to just acknowledge and accept that he is the way he is and decide if that’s enough for you.

Another reason why men are emotionally unavailable could be that they were burned in a previous relationship and are guarding their heart.

And yes, even the toughest guys can have their heart broken.

Finally, some men just don’t realize that they aren’t giving you everything you need and sometimes you just have to bring it up in a way that doesn’t make you out to be the bad guy by expression your need and desire for more emotion in the relationship.

If it’s important to you, it’s not a waste of time, so don’t fool yourself into thinking he can read you mind. Tell him what you want.

But how can you know that you are dating an emotionally unavailable man?

Here are 9 signs to help you figure it out.

1) They are neither hot nor cold.

Emotionally unavailable men don’t sweat the small stuff, or freak out about the big stuff.

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Which, in theory, seems great, but it can leave an emotionally charged woman wondering what the hell is going on in a relationship.

According to relationship therapist Elisabeth Mandel, emotionally unavailable people can seem okay on the surface.

But there’s a sure sign to recognize if they are one. She says,

“If you can tell they are resisting changing emotional states, or they don’t have a lot of range, then there’s something threatening to them about emotions.”

Emotionally available men are willing to put themselves out there. They’re not afraid to be vulnerable and that are comfortable expressing themselves.

If you noticed his passive-aggressive behavior, it may be a sign that he’s emotionally unavailable.

2) They seem to only think of themselves.

Because he’s not tuned into your emotions, or his own, it can seem like his actions and behaviors are self-serving.

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Is it easy for him to cancel your social commitments? Even little things like remembering your birthday, or taking the time to give you something thoughtful.

His inability to think of you is a sign he’s not really someone who wants to deal with an emotional connection. Right now, or maybe ever.

And you aren’t wrong, but he just might not realize that he’s keeping you at bay.

3) They don’t always treat other people well.

If he seems to be nice to you, but rude to others in his circle of friends or family, he might have cut them off emotionally.

This might not actually impact you, but it looks bad and might leave you wondering what’s in store for you down the road.

Honestly, though would you date someone who doesn’t treat people well? Because if he can treat others that way, what will stop him from treating you the same way in the future?

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4) They don’t take responsibility for their actions.

Emotionally unavailable men don’t think they need to say they are sorry or own up to something that might have offended or hurt you, or someone else for that matter.

Furthermore, they’re good at emotionally manipulating people. They tend to always play the victim card. Maybe it’s not obvious, but do they like to blame others and never really admit they’ve done something wrong?


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Because they are pretty self-serving, they will not take the time to see the error of their ways.

5) They don’t talk to their family.

Guys who are not tuned into their emotions tend to have an estranged relationship with other family members.

Perhaps he doesn’t talk to his father, despite living around the corner. You might see this as a sign that he’s been hurt by members of his family. Or he has experienced some sort of trauma with them.

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That might be the case. And he might have his own reasons for estranging himself from his family. But if he is not at all entertaining the idea of fixing the problem, or at least acknowledging it, then he’s really emotionally unavailable.

He might not see the benefit of investing in a relationship like that so why would he be any different with you?

6) They want the sex but not the things that go with it.

Guys who are emotionally unavailable tend to have high sex drives but don’t want to put the work into building the relationship.

They’ll do just enough to lure a girl in to have sex with her, but never gives any sort of intimacy to the act. Be careful, this will only give you pain.

So if a guy ignores you for the better part of the day but then wants to fool around, you might have an emotionally-stunted man on your hands.

7) They don’t think they have a problem.

And they might be right in other circumstances, but if you think he is emotionally unavailable and is showing all the signs, you are probably right.

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There’s nothing stronger than a woman’s intuition. Women’s brains are literally wired to be emotionally observant. And he might not be aware of his unavailability yet, but it’s time you let him know.

He will definitely think he is giving you what you want and need, but won’t bother putting in the rest of the effort required to take your relationship to the next level.

8) They don’t stay in relationships long.

If you have your eye on the future, but your guy hasn’t been in a relationship longer than a few months, there might be a reason for that.

Does he talk about his past? Do you know if he’s been to at least one serious, long-term relationship? Or has he always been a serial-dater?

Have you ever talked about why he can’t commit?

It might be that he doesn’t actually give up his heart to those that want it most. Maybe he’s not ready to be emotionally available.

9) They are haunted by the past.

For a myriad of reasons, guys who are emotionally unavailable have some kind of scattered past.

Either a heartbreak that has proven impossible to get over, or strained relationships in his family.

If he is stuck in the past and won’t focus on what is happening right now, it might be time to talk or move on.

But that’s not the only way he could be affected by the past. He could also manifest his trauma by form of avoidance.

Regardless of the reasons why your guy isn’t tapped into his emotions, you can help him figure out what he needs to be able to express himself in a more robust way.

And if you can’t wait around, that’s okay, too.

Here’s how to stop dating emotionally unavailable men

Dating is hard enough. You don’t need to waste your time with men who are emotionally unavailable.

But what does that look like? How can you know if you have a waste-of-your-time guy on your hands or if he’s really worth investing your energy into a little longer?

Emotionally unavailable men come in all shapes and sizes, and you should know that some men don’t start out that way. Men can disengage from a relationship at any time for a number of reasons.

So if you suspect that your guy just isn’t with it lately, you might be right. Here’s how you can stop dating emotionally unavailable men.

1) Avoid Mr. Roboto

Some guys might as well be robots. Seriously, it can hard to tell the difference sometimes. These men have no idea how to convey their thoughts, let alone their emotions and in many cases, they can’t articulate them, or they just don’t want to. Conversations are painful and you always walk away feeling like you did all the work whenever you encounter a man like this. If your guy could win a robot look-alike content, it’s time to move on.

2) Avoid Mr. Self-centred

Sometimes, guys just have no idea how they appear to the outside world. This is usually brought on by the fact that they are surrounded by other guys who have no concept of how they are coming across.

A lot of guys, when you find them in groups with other guys, are self-centred because they don’t need to worry about how they act when the ladies aren’t around.

This might become a problem for you if you are already in a relationship with one of these fellas because they will not be able to see what the problem is: their self-centred nature doesn’t allow them to see how their actions are impacting you.

3) Avoid Mr. Not Nice to Other People

If a guy is nice to you but not nice to anyone else, it will only be a matter of time before he is not nice to you. If he is mean or rude to people of service, like waiters or cleaners, he’s not a nice person.

He could be the greatest guy in the world to you, but if he is lacking basic human decency to others, he’s not worth hanging on to. Avoid getting involved with someone you need to keep a leash on when you take him out in public.

4) Avoid Mr. Not My Fault

Guys who are emotionally unavailable tend to not be able to take responsibility for their actions. They’ll be the first to blame their upbringing, their experiences, their bosses, their mothers, their neighbours.

They blame everyone except themselves for their emotional intolerance. Before you get involved with someone like this, ask yourself (and maybe him) what he learned from his last relationship so that you can gauge how he interprets blame.

5) Avoid Mr. Tells a lot of Lies

We’re saying “a lot” of lies here, but really, one lie is enough to go running in the other direction. Not only do you have a liar on your hands, but your liar is also an emotionally unavailable liar because he can’t process the truth and that usually comes from the fact that he has no concept of how to connect with what he really knows and believes.

This will spill over into your relationship in a number of ways, but keep an eye out for how he lies, makes things up, or exaggerates to make things seem better than they are: it’s a distraction tactic so you won’t notice he’s not showing up in a meaningful or emotional way.

Keep your eyes peeled for this and other signs that your man is not really invested in your relationship because if he starts out like that, he’ll never get on board with sharing his emotions with you or anyone else.

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Written by Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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