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.
This is relevant to the people who are impacted by emotionally unavailable men as well as the emotionally available men themselves.
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’ll then share nine undeniable signs of emotionally unavailable men to look out for.
Why am I an emotionally unavailable man?
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.
I don’t share this to provide an excuse for being emotionally unavailable. That’s not what this story is about. Rather, I’m sharing this as an exercise to deeply introspect and share my experience in the hope that it helps anyone who has an emotionally unavailable man in their life.
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.
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. In fact, the exercises in Out of the Box are what enabled me to arrive at this level of self-understanding.
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.
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 know that the best thing a woman can do in this situation is to stop chasing the emotionally unavailable man.
In fact, women in this situation are often extraordinarily self-aware, strong and independent. They continued to pursue me for very good reasons.
Yet at some point, you need to learn how to stand up for yourself and keep your power with you. You need to work on finding the love you’re looking for deep within.
It’s easier said than done, which is why I put together a free masterclass with the shaman Rudá Iandê on how to embrace your inner beast. It’s something I’m working on in my own ways in my efforts to become more emotionally available. I urge you to do the same and embrace the power you have deep within.
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.
9 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 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.
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 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?
(Are you starting to get angry about emotionally unavailable men? There’s something you need to do if you’re feeling angry. You need to embrace your inner beast. Find out how in this free masterclass.)
4) 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.
(If you want to explore the topic of taking responsibility, check out our eBook: Why Taking Responsibility is Key to Being the Best You.)
5) 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?
6) 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.
7) 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.
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?
He may not know the reason, but it’s an important conversation to have.
9) 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.
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