Emotionally unavailable men: My epic apology to women

I have a confession to make:

I am an emotionally unavailable man.

It’s not an easy confession to make, but I want to share what I’ve learned about myself as an apology to the women I’ve hurt by being emotionally unavailable.

I also want to share some guidance about what to do when you come across emotionally unavailable men in your life.

I’ll start by explaining why I believe I’m emotionally unavailable and will then explain what I’ve learned about why women chase this type of man. I will then share specific advice for women who are chasing emotionally unavailable men. Finally, I’ll share 10 undeniable signs of emotionally unavailable men to look out for.

Let’s begin.

Why am I an emotionally unavailable man?

An emotionally unavailable man is typically someone who is unable or unwilling to emotionally commit to an intimate relationship with you. This type of man will often want to keep things casual and undefined in order to avoid dealing with the emotional commitments that characterize a typical long-term relationship.

What makes me an emotionally unavailable man? I believe being honest about this may help people who have emotionally unavailable men in their lives.

Here goes…

A few years ago I shared my experience of being still single and finally figuring out why.

At the time, I used some hypnotherapy techniques to uncover some childhood attachment issues.

In short, I feared getting emotionally attached because of the pain and suffering that would inevitably result when the relationship would end.

During my late teens, I experienced a particularly difficult breakup. She was extremely dependent on me in the relationship, and I happily played the role of being her “savior”. When I finally developed the courage to move on, she made it very difficult for me, even threatening suicide a few times. Since then, I’ve struggled to make myself emotionally available in relationships.

Even though I’ve undoubtedly caused a lot of pain for being an emotionally unavailable man, one of my core motivations—deep down—has been to stop women in my life from experiencing emotional pain. Because of my experiences in the past, I’ve believed deep down that anyone who gets close to me will end up suffering, just as my ex experienced immense suffering.

I don’t share this to provide an excuse for being emotionally unavailable. I don’t believe our past justifies how we behave in the present. But I do believe that deep introspection is important to acknowledge the reality in order to change.

For me, I needed to watch Rudá Iandê’s free masterclass on love and intimacy to be able to deeply introspect enough to understand my past. Rudá explains codependency and savior archetypes, and what to when you find these patterns emerging in your relationship. The exercise he shares in the masterclass enabled me to understand this is what happened in my past. I now feel empowered to create a new reality for myself moving forward.

Now, I can understand that being emotionally unavailable already causes immense suffering. It’s something I’m reflecting on and working on as part of my participation in our Out of the Box online workshop.

This is why I’m emotionally unavailable. But why do women fall for emotionally unavailable men?

Why do women fall for emotionally unavailable men?

I believe there’s a common pattern shared by women who fall for emotionally unavailable men.

It’s not a pattern many women will admit to, but it seems to be quite common.

Before sharing this pattern, let’s first explore what it’s like to be chasing an emotionally unavailable man.

This type of man is usually the type to already be in another relationship or someone who won’t commit or settle down. They may be—like I used to be—the type to avoid getting too attached. Situationships—those messy, undefined, and uncommitted relationships—are often the result.

What is it about women that are attracted to an emotionally unavailable man?

Women who are attracted to this type of man often feel like they don’t have much power or control in the relationship. The person without power is usually the one who has to work harder to keep their partner interested.

It’s extraordinarily frustrating to be in this situation, yet why do people continue to pursue someone who is emotionally unavailable?

The common pattern amongst people who chase emotionally unavailable men appears to be the pursuit of self-worth.

Let me break it down in a simple way.

If someone is emotionally unavailable, but you are the one who opens him up and makes him emotionally available, you prove your sense of self-worth to yourself.

Sadly, if you’ve pursued an emotionally unavailable man and haven’t managed to achieve any emotional payoff for your efforts, your sense of self-worth is left to be drifting in the wind.

As an emotionally unavailable man who has avoided intimacy for much of his adult life, I know this pattern well.

I have some advice about how to deal with having an emotionally unavailable man in your life, based on my experience.

Coping with an emotionally unavailable man

If you’ve been chasing an emotionally unavailable man, it’s very important to create a circuit-breaker in the pattern that has developed between you and him.

Emotionally unavailable men will probably want attention from you. They will want the affection that you bring.

But they are probably unavailable for very deep-seated reasons.

The truth is that I’m very lucky to have immersed myself in the love and intimacy masterclass. It helped me to explore the deeper roots of my emotional unavailability.

I don’t suggest that you try to get the man you may be chasing to attend this masterclass.

Instead, I have two suggestions that will be much more effective because they focus on the one thing you have control of:

Yourself.

1) Commit to yourself

Women who chase emotionally unavailable are usually trying to get their feelings of self-worth from others. They want to “achieve” the goal of opening up the unavailable man.

This may work at times, but patterns of codependency and savior often result.

Instead, I recommend making a commitment to yourself. This means understanding that you are in a relationship with yourself.

You must find a way to get your feelings of self-worth from how you see yourself. You need to feel like you are worthy of love with or without your emotionally unavailable man.

In the free masterclass on love and intimacy, Rudá Iandê says the following:

“If you do not respect your whole, you cannot expect to be respected as well. Don’t let your partner love a lie, an expectation. Trust yourself. Bet on yourself. If you do this, you will be opening yourself to be really loved. It’s the only way to find real, solid love in your life.”

Make the commitment to work on the relationship you have with yourself. Your relationships with others will mirror the way you see yourself.

2) Make him (and you) a hero

Committing to yourself doesn’t mean you need to give up on your emotionally unavailable man.

I’m incredibly grateful for the women in my life who have the strength to break through my unavailability, as long as these women aren’t getting their feelings of self-worth from “winning” me.

When a man truly opens up to a woman, it’s not because she gets him to talk about his feelings. Instead, a man opens up and falls in love with a woman because she has triggered something deep within him.

Something he desperately needs.

What is it?

To become emotionally available, a guy needs to feel like he’s a protector and provider. He wants to step up to the plate for the woman in his life. And she needs to let him do this without trying to control him.

In other words, he needs to feel like a “hero.”

There’s actually a psychological term for what I’m talking about here. It’s called the hero instinct. This concept is generating a lot of buzz at the moment as a way to explain why men fall in love—and who they fall in love with.

I know this might seem kind of silly. In this day and age, women don’t need someone to rescue them. They don’t need a “hero” in their lives.

But this misses the point about what the hero instinct is all about.

The hero instinct is an instinctive need that men have to step up for the woman in this life. This is deeply rooted in male biology. And embedded in their DNA.

I first came across the hero instinct in a free video by the relationship expert James Bauer. It immediately made sense to me.

Women these days don’t need a hero. But I think we all want to be the hero in someone else’s (and our own) life.

I’ve been emotionally unavailable my whole life because I’ve never truly felt like I was the rock in the relationship. My relationships have involved everything from ‘best friends with benefits’ to being “partners in crime’” In hindsight, I’ve always needed more.

So how do you trigger this instinct in your guy?

The trick is to make him feel like a hero in an authentic way. And there are things you can say, messages you can send, requests you can make to make him feel like your protector.

If you want some help doing this, check out my comprehensive review of James Bauer’s new book. He is the relationship psychologist who first introduced this concept.

Or watch this free online video where James tells you everything you need to know about the hero instinct. I don’t often recommend videos, but James Bauer is the real deal when it comes to relationship advice.

Here’s a link to his unique video again.

Some ideas in life are game-changers. And when it comes to relationships, I think this is one of them.

Let’s now turn to nine undeniable signs you need to look out for to identify emotionally unavailable men. Use these signs as early indicators for when you need to embrace your personal power, rather than continuing to chase these men.

Signs of emotionally unavailable men

1) They are neither hot nor cold

A key sign of an emotionally unavailable man is that he is neither hot nor cold.

It often leaves an emotionally charged woman wondering what’s going on in the relationship.

Relationship therapist Elisabeth Mandel says that emotionally unavailable people can seem okay on the surface. But there’s a sure sign to look out for:

“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 are comfortable expressing themselves.

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

2) They’re not given the opportunity to step up

Men are often emotionally unavailable because they feel like they are not enough, just the way they are.

You can give an emotionally unavailable man in your life an opportunity to “step up” by bringing out his hero instinct.

The hero instinct is the instinctive need men have to step up for the woman in his life. It’s deeply rooted in male biology. You can read more about the hero instinct here.

There’s also a free video training with relationship expert James Bauer on the hero instinct. This is where I first came across the concept.

Here’s a link to his unique video again.

3) They seem to only think of themselves

I wrote about manipulative people who think only of themselves. It usually comes from an inherent story about their own superiority.

Emotionally unavailable men behave in a similar way.

Key questions to ask yourself?

Is it easy for him to cancel your social commitments? Does he forget your birthday or fail to show consistent thought for whatever you’re going through in life?

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.

You may not realize that he’s keeping you emotionally at bay.

4) 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 should leave you wondering what’s in store for you down the road.

Do you really want to 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?

5) They don’t take responsibility for their actions

This is something that was very difficult for me to do.

I couldn’t take responsibility for being emotionally unavailable, and the actions that were the inevitable result.

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.

Over the last few years, taking responsibility has been one of my most important themes in life. I’m using the teachings of Out of the Box to take responsibility and deeply introspect about my actions, and the deeper emotional states they come from.

It’s a difficult journey, but it’s starting to open my emotions.

I’ve learned that avoiding responsibility is a key warning sign, particularly for emotionally unavailable men.

6) They don’t talk to their family

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

He may have very good reasons for estranging himself from his family. But if he is not entertaining the idea of fixing the problem, or at least acknowledging it, then he’s emotionally unavailable.

If he doesn’t see the benefit of investing in such an important relationship, why would he be any different with you?

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

This is where I need to make a big confession.

I wanted the sex, but I didn’t want the work that came from building a relationship.

I didn’t have the patience to wait for someone who I could build an emotional connection with. Even if I knew the person I was with wasn’t someone I wanted to build a relationship with, I would still want to have sex with them.

I prided myself on being an honest person, so I was always upfront about not wanting a relationship.

But I didn’t realize I was attracting the type of woman who was—probably unconsciously—pursuing who her own sense of self-worth from the partnership.

Now that I’m more aware of this dynamic, I need to be much more responsible for my actions.

Be careful about this key warning sign. 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.

8) They don’t think they have a problem

Becoming aware of being emotionally unavailable takes a huge amount of introspection. For me, it’s been a difficult journey.

But up until recently, I didn’t think I had a problem.

I think this is a warning sign to look out for. If someone doesn’t think they have a problem, but your intuition tells you there is a problem, you’re probably right.

9) 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?

He may not know the reason, but it’s an important conversation to have.

10) They are haunted by the past

For a myriad of reasons, guys who are emotionally unavailable often have a traumatic past.

This is certainly the case with me.

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 a 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.

How to stop dating emotionally unavailable men

Dating is hard enough. I urge you not to waste your time dating emotionally unavailable men.

Instead, embrace your personal power and work on generating your sense of self-worth without relying on someone else.

If the nine signs of an emotionally unavailable man isn’t enough, I’ve put together some common archetypes to look out for.

1) Avoid Mr. Roboto

Some guys may 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, men 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.

Takeaway

Dating an emotionally unavailable man isn’t easy. I want to genuinely apologize to the women I’ve dated for making things so difficult for them.

The simple truth is that men are wired differently to women. And we’re driven by different things when it comes to relationships.

What can be confusing is that we’re not always consciously aware of the things that drive us.

Human behavior is deeply influenced by biological instincts that lie deep within us. For men, we have a primal urge to protect women and to feel essential to them. We may not always express this, but our actions are unmistakable.

Men are biologically programmed to step up to the plate for women. It’s embedded in our DNA and we will only seek out a relationship (or stay in one) with a woman who can fulfill this need.

Understanding this can be a powerful tool for many women. Not just to forge better relationships with men, but as a way to make your guy feel better about himself.

To understand what really drives men under the surface, watch this free video by James Bauer. He will introduce you to a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that explains why men fall in love and who they fall in love with.

You can watch the video here.

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Justin Brown

Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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