“Someone out there is looking for exactly what you’ve got…and will never try and undercut your value or question your worth. Some things in life just can’t be bartered over or placed on the sale rack – and your self-worth is at the top of the list."
~ Mandy Hale
Everything needs to start with you!
First, be honest with yourself. Are you just looking for something fun and light? Are you not ready to invest yourself emotionally? That’s totally ok, just be safe and have fun!
But, remember that people that are ready for a relationship, both men and women, really look and feel differently than the ones that are only looking for fun. We all know the cliché that the men that are emotionally available are labeled “the nice guys”. They are patient, stable, and genuinely care and listen to us, thus they may appear as boring, not exciting enough, and even clingy.
SO, are you ready to give the “nice guys” a chance?
If the answer is YES, then you also have to figure out what emotional intimacy looks like for you and what your needs are. We all have different needs and unfortunately, we are not always good at articulating them very well. However, we expect a complete stranger to figure it out, just because that’s a sign of true romance……No, no, no!
What does emotional availability mean to you?
Is it just commitment?
Is it the ability to listen to you without trying to resolve every issue?
Is it the desire to spend time together and opening up about your and his darkest fears and wishes?
Some people don’t rely on their partners fully for emotional support, because they also have friends and family that fulfill that role. Others expect a lot of emotional disclosure, reassurance, and validation from their intimate partner.
Know yourself first before you have expectations of your partner! Self-awareness is truly a big piece in the foundation of a good relationship.
Then, you can focus on the other person. As you assess whether he is relationship material or not, you’ll have to learn how to get those answers without sounding like an FBI agent on a date.
It’s important to determine if he is currently emotionally unavailable due to having been hurt in a previous relationship, being focused on his career, or maybe he is just getting out of an unhealthy marriage and he’s currently focused on his kids.
He has an avoidant-dismissive style of attachment, which means his ability to be emotionally intimate and responsive is compromised.
Avoidant - dismissive partners were generally raised by parents who were indifferent towards their emotions, thoughts, and concerns. These parents typically viewed exploring negative emotions as adding gas on fire. They equated anger with out of control aggression, sadness with weakness and self-pity, and fear with childish exaggeration. While this type of dismissive approach most likely led to action-orientated people with increased independence and problem-solving skills, it also created a ton of invalidation, a lack of emotional awareness, and lack of empathy for self or others.
Thus, avoidant & dismissive individuals grow up to be adults that avoid close relationships and intimacy out of a continuous fear of invalidation and rejection. They are protecting themselves against the disappointment, criticism, and negativity. What they don’t realize is that they are treating people the same way they were treated as children.
Here is the big risk.
These individuals are generally extremely charming, have a great sense of humor, are independent, and extremely appealing to pursue. They give plenty of attention and are fun during the dating phase which is generally superficial and based on hormones but they usually avoid anything that’s deeper and emotionally charged.
Here are some signs of an avoidant-dismissive person
- Think showing emotion is a sign of weakness
- They don’t like to disclose much, thus they only choose to disclose superficial, irrelevant details (for example, they’ll tell you what they had for dinner but they will not say anything about someone hurting their feelings)
- They are almost incapable of asking for help or relying on others
- Show a need to be in control of their environment and the relationship to avoid getting hurt
- They are uncomfortable with emotional closeness
- Intimacy is aimed at orgasm; no foreplay, no kissing, no cuddling
- They often separate sex from love, and love is very difficult to define
How can you tell the difference?
Honestly, you never really know for sure because most people are able to bring their best during the first few months of dating but if you really clarify your answers to all the questions I’ve mentioned and you don’t fall in the trap of “I can feel something is off, but I am pretty sure I can change him and he will come around”, I think you’ll be ok and you’ll be able to make the best decision for yourself.
Ruxandra LeMay, PsyD – www.ruxandralemay.com
Emotionally unavailable men are hard to reach and hard to connect to.
Your first sign that a man is emotionally unavailable is tuning in to your own experience.
If you are often feeling disconnected from him and can’t reach him for closeness and comfort, chances are, he is emotionally unavailable.
In order to be intimately and emotionally connected in our relationships, we first have to be in tune with our own internal world. We then have to be willing to be vulnerable enough with another to share that internal world. And we also have to be curious and interested in our partners world.
Emotionally unavailable men can have difficulties in each of these areas.
If they are not in tune with their own emotions, they will have a very difficult time expressing themselves effectively.
They will tend to be more reactive since they are unaware of their own emotional state.
They will also have difficulty empathizing with your emotional experiences because we need to be in tune with our own experiences to understand someone elses.
Then there are the men who may know what they are feeling, but are unwilling to let someone in. They either struggle with shame, fears of being seen as weak, and they are afraid of truly being vulnerable and letting their softer side be seen. These men will not be open about their feelings.
Here are some signs that can be indicators of an emotionally unavailable man:
- The only emotion he is able to express is anger.
- He is reactive and isn’t able to talk about his feelings.
- When you cry or get emotionally expressive, he shuts down.
- He never cries.
- He gets upset with you when you show emotion. (This is usually because he is overwhelmed by emotions and doesn’t know how to respond).
- He is unavailable to you when you seek comfort or support.
- He tells you that you are needy.
- He tells you that you are overly sensitive.
- He pulls away when you start to get close.
- He avoids deeper intimacy.
- Sex with him feels sealed off. As if he is not “with” you.
- He checks out and compulsively uses his phone, the computer, porn, alcohol or other escaping behaviors that block human connection.
- He doesn’t make eye contact with you very often.
- He doesn’t show affection very often.
- If you try to talk to him about something that is bothering you, he gets defensive or turns it around and makes you feel like it is your fault for being upset.
- He avoids difficult conversations.
- He avoids conflict at all costs.
If you try to address any of these things with him he tells you that you are just too hard to please.
Most of all, listen to and trust your intuition.
Dana Vince, LPC-MHSP – www.marriagecounselingknoxville.com
Before offering up some signs of emotional unavailability in a male partner, I would like to highlight two important truths.
The first is that appearances are often deceiving and the second is that the people with whom we find ourselves involved are a reflection, in one way or another, of us and the issues we need to address in ourselves.
Often, when we first meet someone we are attracted to, we tend to focus on all the things we like about him and to not see his flaws. Of course, when we eventually do notice his flaws, we may feel tricked or duped but truly, it may not be that he was deceiving us as much as his flaws did not fit with the story we were telling ourselves about him and our relationship.
We can also throw ourselves off by being the one to “carry” the relationship and expecting very little in return while letting him be the recipient of our good works. This may be a patterned way we have of being in relationships triggered by the perception that, as women, the relationship is our responsibility. When we play the role of the enthusiastic “overfunctioner”, we may unwittingly be attracting emotionally unavailable partners. Likewise, if we, ourselves, are uncomfortable with intimacy (i.e.: showing our own vulnerabilities and imperfections to our partner), we may also attract to us someone who reflects our own emotional unavailability.
That being said, here are some signs of emotional unavailability in a partner:
· Indecisiveness and an inability to choose, come up with, or get excited about shared activities
· Perfectionism or a tendency to be very critical of others, including you
· Not demonstrating an interest in hearing or knowing about the things that interest you
· Not supporting your passions or interests
· Not helping you with the little and big things in your life
· Not hearing, listening, or responding appropriately to you
· Tuning others, including you, out with compulsive behaviors such as television watching, computer activities, drinking, working and/or partying
· Not apologizing or validating your feelings or the feelings of others
· Not being honest and/or getting defensive or angry when you share your observation that something seems to be bothering him
· Passive aggressive behaviors
And here are some ways we might feel when we are with someone who is emotionally unavailable:
· Left Out
· Unexcited about life
When reading the above lists, honestly ask yourself if any of these describe aspects of you. If they do, your task is to compassionately work at understanding and healing yourself. It might just be that the person you are with is reflecting back to you, where your own inner work lies.
Margot McClellan, LCSW – www.margotmcclellan.com
From the outside everything seems to be going well in your relationship.
He does not say anything too out of line or do anything that is blatantly ‘wrong’, yet you find yourself feeling emotionally alone more times than not and wanting more. You start to notice your thoughts always revolve around ‘ifs’.
You project, “if only he would say or do this” or take it on yourself to fix the ambiguity by thinking “if I could do this or If I looked like that” then everything would be better.
You find yourself fixating on the potential, instead of recognizing the reality of the situation.
Sometimes we want to be in a relationship so strongly that we dwell on the potential of our partner and relationship, who we think they are capable of being, not who they actually are at the moment.
He is so incredible, he is such a great catch, he is so handsome, yet things are not so perfect, with our perfect man because there is always some type of obstacle in the way. Whether it is his job, friends, family or some other type of passion it is directed on something other than you. It is frustrating and takes a toll on your self-esteem.
The danger is in getting caught up in trying to fix the relationship and focus on a goal, let’s say engagement, to the detriment of everything else.
So you may finally get him to offer the ring, but at what cost?
What did you have to give up on to make your world fit into the perception of what you wanted this relationship to be?
Too often, we are quick to give up on ourselves and decide ‘this is the one’, when maybe you would better serve yourself by being open to exploring other relationships.
Sure people are capable of change but it is an inside job. There are no guarantees and often a great deal of resentment is generated when a relationship has an uneven start with one partner sacrificing everything to simply make it work.
Allow better for yourself. Make a list. Visualize the perfect relationship. What do you need from your partner, how you will feel in this relationship and what it will look like? Then accept no less.
Stacey Shumway Johnson, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, BCC - www.2xlcoach.com
It pays to be psychologically aware that a potential partner is emotionally unavailable. Unfortunately, sometimes we need to learn by unhappy experiences and are surprised when we get dumped or the relationship doesn’t go as well as we’d hoped. Here are some warning signs (think, code red alert) that your man may not be very open to intimacy:
#1. He’s unreliable
If someone new in your life is unreliable, this may be his way of showing you that he can’t or won’t be there for you. Maybe he says he’ll call and doesn’t or you make plans for dinner and he breaks them at the last minute. If these things rarely happen, cut him some slack. If they happen often, you’ve got a pattern going on which may indicate emotional unavailability.
#2. He refuses to share his history or his feelings
Some people are shy, introverted or cautious, but a major way to deepen a romantic relationship is through sharing our histories, our dreams, and our emotions. If you’ve opened up your heart, and he’s still keeping his personal life a secret, he may be uncomfortable with intimacy. It may be that he’s afraid of rejection or abandonment, or he may have been brought up in a family that never shared feelings and he’s comfortable not sharing his. Either way, he may not be as open to you as you are to him.
#3. You sense his detachment
If you can’t put your finger on it, but you sense someone is emotionally closed, pay attention. It may take a while to figure out what is making you wary. That’s okay. Take your time and trust your gut. Do a reality check and talk over your wariness with intimates. If they validate your sense of anxiety, go with it.
#4. Trusted friends tell you he’s trouble
When friends are honest with you and try to steer you away from someone, they are doing it for a reason and it’s usually in your best interest to take what they say seriously. Sometimes we’re so blinded by infatuation or attraction that we can’t see the truth of what’s going on. Certainly, follow your feelings, but don’t do it to the extent that you deny the truth.
#5. He tells you that he’s emotionally unavailable
Honestly, so often a man will say, “I’m not the marrying type” or “I’m a really private person and am not looking for a close relationship.” If someone comes out and says this directly, especially if he says it more than once, listen up. He’s telling you who he is and what you can expect from dating him. Many men are not seeking intimacy (sometimes it’s just a case of bad timing) and that’s their prerogative.
Keep your eyes, ears and mind open and you’ll be able to spot the signs of emotional unavailability more quickly.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
Engaging with emotionally unavailable men can be one of the most painful experiences in our dating lives.
It’s not just a straight forward “I’m not interested” that might leave you feeling low for a minute, but at least clears you up to move on to someone who is truly interested. No, emotionally unavailable men often are interested in aspects of relating such as the physicality, the sex, the flirting and hanging out, but they have no desire to relate on any deeper level, be vulnerable or share any of their emotions with you or listen to yours.
This should not be confused with a partner who is simply confident, not dependent on the relationship or your feelings, which can be confused with an emotionally unavailable partner.
The major difference is, the confident partner will state their intentions with relating from the beginning, they won’t be afraid to speak on or share their feelings when asked, or when there is reason to do so. Where as an emotionally unavailable partner will not be willing to express their intentions, won’t really be open to hearing or responding to your feelings, and will constantly leave you feeling very unclear about where you stand with them.
Here are some signs that can indicate an emotionally unavailable partner;
· Unable to commit to future dates or plans
· Non expressive in their emotions for you and where you / the ‘relationship’ stand
· Avoid intimate conversations and moments
· Seeing more than one person at a time
· Take an unusually long time to respond to texts and emails, if they respond at all
· Cancel plans often, undependable
· Have trauma in their past they haven’t yet worked through
· Constantly focus or bring up other women in order to make themselves feel secure / push you away
· Engage in a push pull behavior backing out when you get to close, and then coming back, only to back out again
· After sex they make an excuse to quickly leave
· The relationship focuses more on the physical than anything else
· Does not want to be connected on any social media sites
· Unwilling to take on any titles such as “Girlfriend” “Boyfriend” etc.
· Their whole focus is on themselves disregarding others thoughts, feelings, etc.
· They back off when you become interested
Those are some pretty clear signs that you are probably engaging with someone who is emotionally unavailable, in which case my advice is to run… these relationships always leave us chasing, coming up empty, and feeling unsatisfied. When you come to a place where you truly know who you are and what you desire in a relationship… when you have a strong base of self love you will not only recognize these signs, but not accept anything less than a great partner totally available to commit. So, don’t stand for anything less than pure love, you are worth it.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor - www.ashleydavene.com
The signs of emotional unavailability are pretty clear - these men can’t relate on an emotional level which makes intimate relationships and healthy communication a challenge. Anything related to expressing or handling emotions is often difficult or avoided.
Recognizing the signs of emotional unavailability isn't difficult. It is letting go of that emotionally unavailable person is the real struggle.
When you are in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man it feels lonely, like he is never really "with you.”
You end up chasing him for love rather than experiencing it. You want to be in a healthy, loving relationship - but if you can’t end one that isn’t working, you stay stuck.
People who struggle with self-esteem hold on tight to a relationship because they don’t trust that another one is possible. You think this is your only chance.
If you struggle with feeling hopeful and confident in relationships, this insecurity contributes to attracting emotionally unavailable people. When you don't believe enough in yourself, your choices reflects that.
You have to be willing to go through alone periods trusting that you will be okay alone. Ironically, that self-acceptance is attractive and many people say they found someone only after learning to enjoy their own company.
Having the hope of creating a happier life with or without a significant other is the start of emotional healthy relationships. It start with you!
Changing this pattern takes time but eventually the pain of staying becomes the catalyst for leaving. People show up as they really are from the start. You just have to be willing to see it.
The hardest part is letting go of the relationship once you finally admit that it no longer serves you. Attracting emotionally available people takes effort but in the long run creating a relationship that meets your needs is worth it!
Michelle Farris, LMFT – www.counselingrecovery.com
“I keep finding emotionally unavailable men.”
This is a statement that can be heard often when you are listening to women in the dating world.
There are two very crucial statements being left out of this conversation.
I am currently guarded and emotionally unavailable and therefore keep attracting the same in men. And I saw all the signs from the beginning but thought I could change him and open him up. If we kept these two facts in the conversation, we could start changing who we are dating and start finding emotionally available men.
The first part is not noticing that we ourselves as women can be very guarded which attracts emotionally unavailable men as we are not able to truly be open and vulnerable ourselves.
When we work on us and become truly available emotionally in a healthy way we will start to attract men that see that as a plus. Often we have been hurt, or just beat up by life and have built a wall so tall no one is getting around it but it is blind to us. We think we are open. We think we are emotionally available but yet we keep traveling down the same path and wondering why. We must do work to heal and face our hurts so we can be open and okay with the fact that when we are emotionally available sometimes things still won’t work out but we will be just fine.
The second is reading the signs as we date.
I learned, after much work on myself that I was dating the same emotionally unavailable men and blaming them. I then started to really listen on the first phone call, first date and every time they talked. The signs were all there but I had very carefully ignored them before. Now when I would hear things like I have to be tough in my line of work. I have always seemed to date women that just want to talk about their feelings and other comments along this line, I would finish the date and wish them well. I did not need further dates to try and fix this person. I knew I was better off with myself then someone that would never emotionally open up.
My waiting and reading signs paid off. When I met my current significant other, he was open from the start not sappy and too emotional but open. He stated his feelings and has ever sense. He was open about needing to trust. I weeded out the ones I would need to change to get to the one ready for me.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
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