Do you ever feel like you’re constantly giving to your partner, but he never really seems to be there for you? If so, he may be emotionally unavailable.
Such a type can be challenging to deal with, but knowing the signs can help you take steps to either repair the relationship or move on.
If you’re worried that you might be dating or involved with an emotionally unavailable man, experts say here are the signs to look out for:
He does not let his defenses down and is not focused
Being unavailable emotionally or otherwise isn’t strictly a man thing. I’ve had the irritation of dealing with several unavailable people in my life. From intimate partners to parents to coworkers, emotional absence abounds.
First, what does it mean, or look like, to be emotionally available?
We can only know if something is unavailable when we see if it is even available in the first place. Otherwise, it is we who are the ones with false expectations.
I can’t fault you for not performing in a certain way if you can’t carry out that particular performance.
Along with that, different people express their emotions differently. So, it may, in fact, not be a case of emotional unavailability but rather a matter of emotional incompatibility.
- One side of emotional availability is the capacity to be open and vulnerable.
It is the risk that if you see this side of me or find this out about me, you may not like it and, therefore, not like me.
We cannot underestimate the fear that comes with this risk. There are degrees or layers of exposure that we need to be aware of. This is the act of letting your defenses down. It should not be taken lightly.
Instead, it is a gradual, iterative process that takes time and patience. Just as you should be cautious with what you share and who you share it with, you should expect a certain amount of hesitation from others as well.
- Another side to the equation is the act of being present and focused on the individual.
It’s more than just being there in the moment, though. It is also about dedication. With dedication, there is consistency, and consistency portends trust.
Being emotionally available, therefore, is being open to others. It is the act of being supportive. It requires knowing about, sharing with, and caring for, another person.
There is a thread that runs through and links together past bonding interactions with current potential connections. In other words, emotional availability is more than just a one-time thing. It is a repetitive act played out over multiple interactions.
He cannot make time for you
We cannot always be available. We cannot always be ready to, or able to, listen. We all experience:
- bad days,
- get preoccupied with distractions,
- or just get out of step with the events occurring around us.
So, let us begin by eliminating some false expectations.
It is acceptable to be inaccessible once in a while. It is not acceptable to be unavailable all the time. Again, being available is a long-term condition.
Do not expect others to always drop whatever they are doing to be available to and for you. Do set aside time for one another.
When you cannot be available right now, make it a point to circle back around and follow up with each other later. If you cannot make or find time for one another, then one or both of you are emotionally unavailable and or uninterested.
There may be a deficiency of reciprocation in your relationship
What do you really know about each other? If what you know about them, or what they know about you, is shallow and superficial, then the two of you are not being inclusive.
There is an exclusion of sharing taking place. You, or they, are not being open and are not expressing the vulnerable side of yourselves. In other words, the risk is too great.
There may be a lack of trust, overshadowing any desire to connect on a deeper level. There may be a deficiency of reciprocation.
- You may think: “I’ve shared as much as I’m willing to share with you without getting the same in return.”
- You may have an overt disdain and think: “I’ve gone as far as I’m willing to go with you, and you can’t have any more of me.”
Related: Trust Building Exercises for Couples
I will offer a word of caution related to what happened to me. I was open and trusting, and I shared. This caused me to feel connected.
The problem was that I lost sight of the fact that the other person was not sharing any of themselves with me. It was an entirely one-sided relationship.
I broke the rule of reciprocity: If you give a little, you get a little, and if you provide a little more, you get a little more. It is symmetrical. Likewise, if you stop giving when you stop getting in return, you have limits and boundaries.
He shows a lack of focus and interest
On those occasions when you, or they, need emotional support, is everyone attentive? A lack of focus shows a lack of interest. If you do not care enough to give this situation your undivided attention, then you are not invested.
As with any venture, if you do not have any ownership, then you do not have any responsibility. It does not matter to you what happens; it will not affect you personally.
Let’s take this time to dispel some harmful conventional wis-dumb. Simply being present is not enough. Passive listening is not a thing.
One person talking while the other sits silently and motionless does not help anyone. This is not how you, a concerned relationship partner, show support. It also is not how others offer support for you.
Stop listening to fools who would have you believe that silence is support. Know how to be supportive. Practice active listening:
- Do not criticize
- Do not find fault
- Do not offer unsolicited advice
- Do encourage
- Do be sympathetic
- Do express loyalty to the relationship
Assess your relationships periodically for emotional availability
“Is it me, or is it you?“
Take an assessment of what you know about each other. Is it them not sharing, or is it you who is not asking? If you never ask, you may never find out.
We can’t be sure that the other person doesn’t want to share with us. They may feel that you don’t want to know. Sharing is not one-sided. You should get as much as you give. However, do not wait for the other person to go first.
If you are accused of being emotionally unavailable, don’t panic. Sometimes it is a matter of projection.
The unavailable person claims that you are unavailable. They want all of you while giving none of themselves. This is a manipulation technique.
Reevaluate your relationships periodically for emotional availability—yours and theirs.
And finally, there is a difference in expression. We do not all present ourselves in the same way.
This can cause problems, and that one relationship partner may get the impression that the other partner is not dedicated to the relationship. That, in turn, will likely cause frustration to both relationship partners.
This deserves an article unto itself. It is one of those things that needs to be understood before entering a relationship, not after.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a man is emotionally available or not. In both cases, he may be very nice to you at first. He may have long conversations and seem to listen to you.
Is it possible that a man like this may be emotionally unavailable? Most men who are interested in dating you will be nice at first. There are a few telltale signs that he may not be emotionally available as he seemed at first.
They may not seem obvious at first. But over time, you realize it’s not normal.
He shows off a lot—he owns the newest flashy things
A man who owns a lot of flashy things wants to be liked, whether it’s cars, designer suits, the newest phone, or anything else.
He cares a lot about material items for a reason—to catch people’s attention. This is because he knows his personality sucks and that people don’t just like him for him. So he needs to use other shiny objects to attract them.
Related: How to Improve Your Personality
He doesn’t offer the same support or attention he expects from you
He talks about himself a lot but barely asks about or responds to what you say. He tells endless stories about himself. Yet he doesn’t seem to ask much about you.
If you talk about yourself, he doesn’t say much in response. Sometimes you wonder if he’s even listening. Or if he cares at all.
Even though you offer him a lot of support or praise, he doesn’t offer the same support or attention he expects from you.
He doesn’t want to do the work to change or fix anything
Maybe you think you’re connecting because he tells you about traumatic events in his past. But if he talks about this excessively or hasn’t done any work to resolve them, beware.
You may think it’s an invitation to open up about your past issues. You’re disappointed to find that he doesn’t seem to care or is impatient.
Over time, you find out he just wants to dump his trauma on you and complain. But he doesn’t want to do the work to change or fix anything. And he does not have enough emotional capacity to reciprocate.
He cares a lot about what strangers and acquaintances think
Whether he puts on extravagant parties, makes generous contributions he can’t afford, or excessively monitor his reputation, he is obsessed with what others think about him.
He has few to no equal friendships
He may have a few childhood friends or “friends” who come over to use his stuff. But again, his friendships are based on doing favors for others or getting favors from others. Not on spending quality time together just because they like each others’ company.
He always goes after very young women
If he always dates women many years younger than him, he may emotionally have never matured, especially if he is much older and all the women are under age 30.
He may say he connects better with people younger than him. He may even give the excuse that he doesn’t have anything in common with women his age who have kids. He may even claim he isn’t attracted to women his age.
But the fact is, women his age won’t put up with his crap. They’ve been around the block and know better. They don’t have time to pour their energy into someone who is emotionally stunted.
He offers financial incentives
A guy may also date someone who doesn’t have her own job, car, or housing. He may take her to cool restaurants or buy her things right away. He may even offer for her to live with him for free.
It is not that abnormal for a man to pay more of the bills in a long-term relationship. But if someone offers this very quickly, they are establishing this as an incentive for her to stick around.
He knows that he doesn’t have much to offer emotionally, so he buys her things instead. She would not have these nice things without him. They both know this. So it is part of the package.
Essentially, you are trading emotional availability for financial incentives.
A man may not show all these signs. But if several of them sound familiar, you may need to evaluate whether having an emotionally unavailable partner is okay with you or not.
For more information and to help evaluate your situation, it can be helpful to:
- read a book about this topic,
- speak to knowledgeable friends,
- or hire a relationship coach.
Marriage and Family Therapist
Some of the most attractive qualities are also harbingers of heartbreak. Independent, free-spirited, and fun men pull you in and help you break free from the mundane dating scene of cocktails and awkward dinners.
They make you laugh, and for a while, life feels easier and lighter around them. They can even be incredibly generous while never asking for anything in return.
After a few weeks of epic adventures and whirlwind nights, you start to believe that the next step, that deepening and emotional closeness you long for, is right around the corner. But it never comes.
He is distant and may ghost you
When someone is emotionally unavailable, they reach the precipice of a relationship, and instead of taking the plunge, they take several steps back.
This is when:
- texts stop being replied to as quickly
- nights that used to be reserved for you are now shared or even reserved for others
You bring it up, and you are blamed, gaslit, and made to feel needy.
Related: How to Respond to Gaslighting
When you call because you need even the smallest amount of emotional support, they are at their most distant. Even worse is when you are ghosted altogether.
This is when my clients ask, “Did I do something wrong?”
He lacks the empathy and support you were hoping for
Being fun is a red flag. Four dates in, and it feels like you’re getting to know and trust him. You feel words bubbling up inside, but you hold back and wonder if it’s too soon. As you say good night, he kisses you and says, “see you soon.”
The butterflies in your belly are in a frenzy. A few days later, you get some bad news, and he’s the first person you think of calling. You send a text and ask if he’s free. He is.
On the phone, you share your bad news, and his response is cold. He lacks the empathy and support you were hoping for. It’s not that he is being rude or mean, but all of a sudden, it feels like there is a wall between the two of you.
The best partnerships are built on a foundation of being able to have fun together. However, they are also built on a foundation of support and empathy.
When someone gives you one without the other, it feels hollow.
Emotional support without fun lacks spark. Fun without support lacks security. Fun nights will blur into meaninglessness if they aren’t peppered with moments of real connection.
You are probably already on the lookout for some of the more common ways men will avoid intimacy.
- Avoid conversations that are personal about the future
- Certain physical indicators like:
- avoiding eye contact
- public displays of affection
Not being introduced to friends and family is a giveaway that he is also maintaining emotional distance.
He never asks for anything
One less talked about red flag for emotional unavailability is when he never asks for anything.
When you ask for something from someone, you are building closeness. You’re letting them be there for you. You are allowing them to support you as you say, “I can’t do this on my own.”
His fear of depending on someone and the deep need to be fiercely independent stem from his upbringing. He probably had unreliable caregivers who were not present for him when he needed them, and he learned that he should not expect support from others because they are also unreliable.
Men who are emotionally unavailable often feel it’s better not to need anyone than continue to be disappointed.
Emotional unavailability is inherently gaslighting. When a man shows up for the exciting, fun, sexy parts of a relationship but takes a step back when you need a little more connection, it’s easy to blame yourself.
You might be saying things like, “It was going so well. I have no idea what changed?” Leading you to wonder if you made a mistake or went too fast or not fast enough.
For many, being with an emotionally unavailable person triggers wounds related to self-worth and desirability. Critical thoughts about what you look like or who you are can resurface.
If emotional neglect is a part of your past, it might be even harder to set boundaries with him.
Relationship Expert and Matchmaker | CEO, Exclusive Matchmaking
When it comes to emotionally unavailable men, it’s the worst. Everyone has encountered at least one of these men in their dating life, if not several.
Some people attract them on the regular and don’t even realize it. Read on for the signs that someone is emotionally unavailable:
They don’t like to make plans for important dates
They don’t like to make plans for important dates such as your birthday or the holidays. If they do make them, they blow them off regularly and act like they don’t even remember.
You just can’t count on them to show up at any given point.
They won’t discuss anything of substance about them, or you
If you need to talk to someone about the bad day you just had, it won’t be him.
Want him to divulge his hopes and dreams? That would be too difficult. He isn’t going to because he doesn’t emotionally invest in you or the relationship.
He can’t be counted on when you need him
He isn’t available, so don’t beat your head against the wall. It’s him and not you.
Don’t let him tell you he didn’t get your message or was tied up. He just didn’t answer the phone because only he matters, and he didn’t feel like being bothered.
You will feel that he isn’t emotionally available to you
When someone wants to be with you, you feel welcome in their life and home. They feel like an open book to you.
This isn’t the case with an emotionally unavailable man. You aren’t even welcome at their place when you are there and don’t pop over unannounced because you will get the cold shoulder if they do answer.
He doesn’t want to commit
He won’t even discuss it except to say he isn’t ready, but chances are he will never be prepared. You have seen this guy before at least once. He can’t even commit to an evening at the movies, so forget committing to you.
His communication is erratic
He might disappear for long periods without texting or calling. He told you that you weren’t in a committed relationship, so you will feel crazy even discussing this.
He leaves it, so you should have no expectations, but you feel this way because you are giving a lot of yourself without receiving from him.
You do a lot of giving in your relationship
Like the above statement, you do a lot of giving, but there is no give and take. Don’t fall into this trap.
He doesn’t reciprocate because he is unavailable and doesn’t care. He has already set the tone. He will tell you not to bother, but you care about him. The signs are telling you to move on and find a more balanced relationship.
Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD
Certified Psychiatrist, The Pleasant Mind
The person fails to share intimate feelings
Being emotionally unavailable means staying aloof, not keen to connect deeply with another person in your life. Anyone who shows signs of emotional unavailability fears sharing and getting into committed relationships.
The person fails to share intimate feelings. Their conversations are not deep but rather appear flaky and shallow.
You may meet someone in your life with whom you may seem to feel something going ‘off‘ or not actually in place. The feeling is difficult to explain, but something is missing in the relationship.
You may feel your partner is not in tune with your mental frame. Somehow the deep emotional bonding that should be there is not in the right place for some reason.
Maybe he is shy to share his feelings or fears getting into any emotional intimacy. There could be instances where they will lack the ability to invest their share into the relationship.
There will be no sharing of emotions between the two of you. If you are into a relationship that appears distant, you can be sure that it lacks emotional intimacy.
Your partner may appear evasive and aloof, not showing much interest in your matters, and they’re scared of intimacy and commitment.
The typical signs of an emotionally unavailable man are as follows:
- They are not keen to discuss real-life matters that hint toward a commitment or intimacy because these discussions make them feel insecure and tied down into a groove of responsibility and obligation that they are afraid of.
- There is no growing love, concern, and deep sharing of affection between the two of you. Your man appears cold and distant as if not interested in building any kind of trusted connection with you.
- They hide their true feelings and become defensive when asked about their behavior.
- Touch of romance, physical touch, and intimacy are entirely missing from his side. He chooses not to invest love and attachment into the relationship.
- You tend to question the future of the relationship. Maybe insecurity fills your heart.
- Your partner never shows love or knows the art of reciprocating love.
- He keeps an emotional distance and fails to understand your feelings towards him.
- Since he fears emotional intimacy, he is fearful and confused about whether to shower affection or not.
- The emotional blockages and past relationship failures speak loudly about their broken sense of “self.” As such, they may find it hard to connect with others in their life, always preferring a safe distance, so they don’t get hurt again.
- Your partner will never make long-term plans in relationships because of their insecure and doubtful nature.
- You may frequently find them unavailable over phone calls and text messages. Sometimes they may try to be busy intentionally.
- They can also cancel long-held plans or make excuses for not being able to make it for a get-together, a date night, etc
Dating and relationship expert | Founder and CEO, Linx Dating
There is nothing more frustrating than heading towards a serious, monogamous relationship only to hear your could-be-significant-other say, “I just don’t think I’m ready to commit.”
Save yourself time, energy, and heartache by choosing men who want—not be convinced to want—a longer-term relationship and are emotionally available.
My top three signs he is emotionally unavailable:
He is not intentional
An emotionally unavailable man does not think about doing things and activities together. There are no actual plans in the works to see you. He invites you to hang out super casually, where he might mention that you should “drop by” his weekend BBQ.
An emotionally available man makes commitments, asks you out, and figures out a time based on your schedule. You’ll also notice that dates with an emotionally available man are somewhat tailored to your preferences.
Emotionally available men want to share great moments with you—and that starts with thoughtful planning.
He’s not reliable
If he is not showing up for you, this is a big sign that he is not emotionally available.
Being able to rely on your partner for support is a big part of a sustainable relationship, and he will want to show you that he can handle one.
It’s easy to feel infatuated when everything is going well, but does he have staying power when things get a little, hmmm, complicated?
- How did he react when you had a blow-up at work?
- Was he available when you were sick with a nasty cold?
If he always shows up for you, he’s showing that he’s worth the emotional investment.
He’s not great with communication
Emotionally unavailable men can make it difficult for you to understand how they feel about you.
They are not interested in learning about you beyond the surface and are certainly not willing to put in the work in terms of communication.
An emotionally available man can be straightforward about his feelings for you. He is attentive to the things that are important to you and is generally a good communicator.
If you are dating someone with checks any of these signs that a man is not emotionally available, I encourage you to re-evaluate where you’re at and if your needs are being met.
If you checked more than one of these signs, chances are you might need to muster up the courage to move on to a man who can invest in a healthy and balanced relationship with you.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Doctor in Integrative Mental Health
He is not committed to the relationship
An emotionally unavailable man is a common complaint from many women and a common issue in couples therapy.
If you are in a relationship with an unavailable man, you may experience some of these signs:
- You feel lonely as your man is not there for you; instead, you feel as if “it is just a body,” as his mind wanders to other places.
- You feel undervalued as you do not feel you are his priority. There is often something more vital for him to do or think about.
- You feel confused because there is a considerable difference between what he says and how he acts.
- You do not feel safe in the relationship because he often gives you reasons for you to realize that he is not trustworthy.
- You feel hurt as he ignores things that are important to you. He will give a good excuse for his lack of attention.
- You feel disrespected as he loves to fantasize and follow his sexual instincts to the point of doing things incompatible with his age or place.
- You feel unvalued when you are in social places, and he is browsing at everybody but not you.
- You feel resentful as you constantly argue about the same issues and feel your relationship does not grow.
- You feel angry as you cannot engage in deep conversations with him as he feels judged, not ready, busy, or tired. He will always find some excuse to avoid unpleasant talks.
- You feel that he is not committed to the relationship, and he does not follow through with agreements that are not convenient for him.
- You notice that he lacks empathy or respect for your feelings. Sometimes, he can be cruel, even hurting you more when you become emotional.
- You realize that his excellent attitude or behavior comes into waves, and it usually gets better when he thinks he is losing you, and he does not want this to happen.
Engaging in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man may be very unhealthy, and it can cause serious emotional and physical issues.
If you have tried to talk about those issues and he does not listen to you, a couple’s therapy may help.
If he refuses to go to therapy, perhaps the best thing is for you to go for individual therapy. This way, you might be able to:
- Understand the reasons for staying with an emotionally unavailable man
- Empower yourself to leave him
- Prepare yourself for healthier and more rewarding relationships
Professional Coach for Single Women | Founder and CEO, Love by Design
Signs of an emotionally unavailable man are based on personality typing
The truth is that a level of emotional availability depends on a man’s personality type.
There are four main different personality types. While each person has access to their feelings, the degree to how much and how deep varies on:
- their type,
- and the type of person they’re with.
Some types are inherently compatible, and some are not.
Here’s a quick background of these types based on a personality typing system called Eniostyle that was developed in the 1980s based on Carl Jung’s personality types.
The four main types can be easily remembered as four cardinal or nautical points:
Each person has all four of these functions but in different proportions, with one being a dominant function or type that predetermines that person’s life’s mission and certain qualities that:
- align with that mission,
- inherent strengths and weaknesses,
- core values,
- subconscious needs, wants, and preferences.
He’s avoidant when others expect him to be more emotionally available
North type’s mission is to keep a system. The keywords are:
- law and order.
North is the most logical and least emotional of all types. Therefore, his level of emotional availability is lower than others.
While he’s reliable, predictable, and consistent, he’s likely to lack excitement, romance, and spontaneity.
He is likely to be reserved, unwilling to express his emotions, and vulnerable, especially in public. He can be perceived as avoidant when others expect him to be more emotionally available when he’s capable of being.
He can send conflicting and contradictory signals
East type’s mission is to create new ideas. The keywords are:
East is the most exciting, original, unusual and least predictable, consistent and reliable of all types. Therefore, his level of emotional availability will vary based on what currently occupies his mind.
He’s likely to be excited, romantic, and creative in expressing his emotions one moment and completely switch the next moment. He can send conflicting and contradictory signals that leave you wondering what you did wrong.
The reality is you did nothing wrong. It’s simply a nature of his type driven by interest and constant “inner dialogue” that he has with himself that gets his mind to generate endless ideas that get him distracted and taken in multiple directions at the speed of light.
This type is responsible for most women’s tears, sleepless nights, and broken hearts. He can be perceived as avoidant and non-committal.
You are not his priority
West type’s mission is to grow. The keywords are:
West is the most powerful, bold, driven, and strongest of all types. Therefore, his level of emotional availability will depend on his current level of top priorities that will be tied to his ability to make an impact in society.
He’s likely to have limited time and energy for relationships that can take second place in his career goals. He’s likely to be avoidant and defensive.
South type’s mission is to feel. The keywords are:
South is the most emotionally available and connected to their feelings of all types. Therefore, his level of emotional availability will be the highest.
He’s likely to always have time and energy to talk about emotions, share his feelings and connect with you.
- He’ll want to talk about relationships anytime you want to.
- He’ll be open, vulnerable, and honest about his feelings.
- He can make you feel seen and heard like never before.
- He can be perceived as anxious when others don’t reciprocate his high level of emotional availability.
When you start looking at signs of emotionally unavailable men through a prism of personality types instead of the generic false assumption that all men have the same signs of emotional unavailability, you can make a better choice of a life partner based on:
- compatibility of your and his type,
- show up in much more powerful and effective ways in your communication, dating, and relationships with men.
Founder and Chief Editor, Seniorstrong
Emotionally unavailable men aren’t one in a million. In fact, this trait is pretty common among men surrounding us; it might be our romantic interest, partner, or spouse.
They cannot receive love and other emotions openly from people they are related to and can’t reciprocate the same.
Few obvious signs could be an eye-opener pointing out such men.
They can’t empathize
Emotionally unavailable men can’t sympathize with you as you would want them to. They are too detached to understand the situation and act upon it in real-time.
They are too distracted by everything in their head which doesn’t concern you or your plight.
Be it an unforeseen emergency or minor setback in personal or professional life; these men can’t be bothered less to make sure they make their presence feel with comforting words or needed actions.
They are always unavailable—physically, mentally, and emotionally
During hardships, catastrophes, or achievements, you can’t seem to locate them or their physical, mental, or emotional involvement during these key moments in your life.
A feeling of desolation triggered by their unavailability will haunt you intensely.
They don’t show much-needed excitement on the topic of intimacy
One of the most blatant and irritating signs of emotionally unviable men is their disinterestedness in sharing intimacy.
The topic of intimacy is sensitive to all couples as it is responsible for keeping their spark alive.
Unusual negligence or lack of interest in the topic of intimacy is your cue to identify such a partner as emotionally unavailable.
They are always a closed book
Such men are always a closed book, not allowing anyone, even their faithful partner, to peek inside their hearts.
You won’t be able to interpret the mental state of such men, their desires will remain a mystery, and this won’t grow in a shared space with them.
They lack the motivation to open up and establish strong emotional connections even if they have an infatuation with you.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Psychotherapist
He is unwilling or unable to be self-reflective
In general, be aware if your male love interest withdraws instead of reaching out when they are having struggles.
If he withdraws and you have established trust in the relationship, you might want to consider whether your partner is comfortable being seen while he struggles.
One of the fundamental pillars of a good relationship is tolerance and allowing your partner to witness your vulnerability.
Notice if your partner has a tendency to blame others for problems and doesn’t seem to examine their contributions to conflict—this often can indicate someone is unwilling or unable to be self-reflective.
Emotionally available men are self-reflective.
Listen to how your partner discusses past relationships, romantic or otherwise:
- Can they identify their mistakes?
- Can they discuss their regrets?
This is a good sign of emotional availability.
- Can your partner listen to you and retain what you say?
- Do they follow up with you later if there is an unresolved issue?
You want someone who is emotionally curious about what is happening in your life and thoughts. This can also indicate someone interested in being available.
He can’t deal with the hard stuff
- When you discuss a problem, are they:
- automatically defensive,
- trying to explain why the issue is not their fault, even when you never indicated that it was?
- Do they shut down or pretend like nothing happened after a bad fight?
You need someone that can deal with the hard stuff and doesn’t depend on you to be the sole emotional breadwinner in the relationship.
If that has been your story in the past, you want to figure out why and how to resolve your behaviors, so you don’t repeat the cycle.
- Does your loved one have a lot of secrets or gaps in the stories they tell you?
- Do they ignore or dodge questions if you ask them follow-up questions?
Ideally, if someone doesn’t want to answer a question or disagrees, they can say so, for example:
- “I am not ready to share that information yet,” or
- “I hear what you are saying, but I am going to make a different decision.”
Often avoidant individuals do not directly discuss disagreements and leave their partner to guess motives or if they agree.
Dr. Courtney R. Padjen, PhD, LAMFT
Sex and Relationship Therapist | Owner and Director, Centre for Sexual Wellness
You feel emotionally depleted after interactions with him
You know the scene in the movie Forrest Gump when Forrest is in high school, and he abruptly drops his schoolbooks and runs from the high school bullies?
This is precisely how you should respond upon learning that you are with an emotionally unavailable man. Run and don’t look back! They are the worst.
When it comes to emotional availability, do not make the mistake of falling for a man’s potential. The heartbreak will be a slow simmer because you’ll most likely hang on to hope that they will change or become emotionally available somehow.
So how does one identify an emotionally unavailable man? Excellent question! Here are some common indicators to determine if you’re with a potential Mr. Right or a potential Mr. You Should Run:
Conversations lack depth and are put off
What are his thoughts on therapy? Legit question. Responses such as:
- “It’s not for me.”
- “I don’t think it would ever help me any.”
- “Nah, I am how I am.”
might indicate you’re with an emotionally unavailable man.
Do you feel emotionally depleted after interactions with him because you are always giving more than you are getting in return? That is not a man you should be with. You are with an emotionally unavailable leach and need to get out:
- If conversations are superficial and consistently lacking depth
- If you make a bid to connect emotionally and he breezes over what you shared or changes the topic
- If he is constantly putting off having a serious conversation with you
Is he breadcrumbing you? Leave! ASAP!
If he doesn’t want to commit or have labels on a relationship where he reaps almost all of the benefits of a committed relationship, put your walking boots on, queen, and walk out on that man.
Has no time for you
If he has time for family and friends but no time for you, and he is only available to you via text/call, or your primary means of connecting is a booty call, you might be dealing with an emotionally unavailable man.
This list certainly is not exhaustive, but these are some ways my friends and I have experienced emotionally available men.
Emily Simonian, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Head of Clinical Learning, Thriveworks
Your relationship fails to get deeper due to their emotional withholding
There are typically two categories of emotionally unavailable men:
- those that are aware
- and those that are unaware of their emotional unavailability.
An intentionally unavailable man will probably not be:
- asking you questions about yourself,
- seeking your advice,
- or inviting you to hang with or meet his inner social circle.
It’s usually easier to pick up on these types because their lack of prioritization of you is somewhat obvious.
Then there are the types that may be oblivious to the fact that they’re emotionally “hard to get.” These types might tell you they’re:
- into you,
- introduce you to friends,
- or even commit to exclusively dating you.
But the relationship fails to get to a deeper level due to their emotional withholding.
- if he’s unable or unwilling to listen to you or validate your feelings
- if he doesn’t share his thoughts and feelings
- if he doesn’t like to make plans
even after you’ve been dating a considerable amount of time, these could all be signs he’s emotionally immature, i.e., “unavailable.”
Someone who is emotionally available will be able to give and receive—in conversation, affection, or otherwise—and that reciprocity is what being relational is all about.
Advice for those involved with emotionally unavailable guys: give them a chance to improve by sharing what you want from them rather than what they’re “doing wrong.”
Sharing feedback is usually well-received, and he just might surprise you.
Licensed Professional Counselor and Dating Expert
He shows his unavailability through his behaviors
He is inconsistent with commitments and lacks follow-through. He won’t:
- Appear on time
- Stay through whatever event or crisis is occurring
- Communicate consistently and regularly apart and together
- Be genuinely curious about you, your behaviors, and your day
An emotionally available man, however, suits up and shows up for you and the relationship.
He tells you he’s unavailable emotionally
Some men are aware that they do not have much to give in the emotions department.
When you cry or experience distress, they may leave the conversation, the room, or in another way, shape, or form, avoid and exit the conversation.
He is unable to express feelings and intentions towards you directly
He will be unable to say that he:
- loves you,
- cares for you,
- sees a future with you,
- or alternatively, that he does not see a future with you and will stop seeing you.
An available person can be honest either way, and communicate that, however difficult it may be to do so because they are also invested in themself and do not wish to waste their own time, energy, or emotions.
He is not committed to his growth or the growth of the relationship
Such a man is unlikely to work through conflict or deal with uncomfortable emotions and situations that arise.
Relationships can deepen through conflict resolution, and an emotionally unavailable man will ignore or deny that conflict exists because he does not have the tools to handle it effectively.
Licensed Professional Counselor | CEO, The Confess Project
He struggles with committing to a relationship
An emotionally unavailable man will often struggle with committing to a relationship, which can make you question where the relationship is going.
The person in question will often value independence over the relationship and try to spend a reasonable amount of time away from the other person.
The fear of having to express his emotions to a partner or in social settings can promote isolating behavior.
A few examples of this would be saying things such as:
- “I don’t believe in marriage.”
- “I prefer to keep things casual.”
He never brings up how he feels
Does this person struggle to share their feelings or make a deeper emotional connection with you? What I mean is that if they never bring up how they feel and comment about personal boundaries, they are most likely emotionally unavailable.
Ok, here is what I have learned, personally and professionally—the ability of a man to be emotionally present depends on his comfort in communicating.
So there was a time in my marriage when my wife and I struggled to communicate. Being both strong-willed individuals, you can imagine the war that raged.
I learned from this experience that I needed first to understand my emotions and formulate how best to communicate them to my wife.
Now my wife is a much faster processor than I, so she can do all those things in a matter of seconds. We learned from this experience to honor each other’s way of communicating, and sometimes when we forget, we apologize.
He is inconsistent
Men who struggle with being emotionally unavailable often do the opposite of what they say they are going to do, whether switching up plans last minute or even canceling altogether without much explanation.
This can be highly frustrating for the other person in the relationship and builds on the emotionally unavailable person’s need for freedom from their significant other.
You may be asking, well, why is this the case? One thought is that the individual may choose to avoid situations where emotional expression is expected.
The person may have an experience or issue and is afraid to discuss this with anyone for fear of appearing vulnerable or weak. They instead cut off communication as a form of protection.
Being in a community with an emotionally unavailable individual requires patience, insight, and self-awareness. I hope that the emotionally unavailable male will recognize he is worthy of love and is able to grow.
CEO and Lead Therapist, Naya Clinics
He is incapable of understanding his feelings and of others
Emotionally unavailable men are incapable of understanding their own feelings, so something as fundamental as understanding that of others is a challenge to them.
The inability to feel for their partner and recognize the reason for their partners’ emotional triggers is what causes the relationship to fail.
However, this doesn’t always mean they don’t care about their partner. Given the differences in upbringing, some men might have other ways of expressing their feelings that don’t quite register with others.
He always makes excuses
Male emotional unavailability also manifests as a lack of trust, which drives men to always make up excuses.
In an attempt to avoid being emotionally vulnerable, they would come up with every reason possible to skip the inevitable. They will react to situations, but they are unlikely to open up about how they feel about said events.
He is unable to hide his reluctance to commit
Emotionally unavailable men find it hard to commit as romantic commitments require establishing emotional bonds.
The very notion of opening up and being vulnerable around a person other than himself reinforces a fear of attachment and moving forward.
They will be unable to hide their reluctance to commit as they will do everything to avoid intimacy and being put in a position where they have to subject themselves to situations where expression of feelings will be involved.
He disregards your emotions
I don’t want you to misunderstand this indicator of an emotionally unavailable man because not every male incapable of handling a woman’s emotions is emotionally unavailable.
However, a man who frequently responds coldly and indifferently to your emotions likely has difficulty connecting with his own emotions.
Therefore, he becomes uncomfortable or angry when you express:
And when you attempt to discuss your concerns or difficulties, he rejects them by claiming you’re “too sensitive.” Which typically results in feelings of isolation and rejection inside the partnership.
Relationship Coach | Creator, The Millionaire Marriage Club
He’s embarrassed by “emotional displays“
He habitually uses thought or opinion words. When he is obviously feeling something, he resists naming his feeling.
- He turns off whenever you want to talk about your feelings.
- He’s shy about public displays of affection.
- He’s quick to sexual arousal but uncomfortable with holding hands or arms around your shoulder.
- He tries to shut down you or another when expressing a feeling.
Two real-life examples of how emotionally unavailable plays out:
My late husband conducted many funeral ceremonies. He told me about one where this woman’s husband of fifty-plus years had died. After the service, her son walked her up to the open casket to say goodbye. She began crying.
Her son said, “Now, Mom, you’ve done well until now. Don’t let me down now.” It was so sad to hear that her son was discouraging her from expressing a normal grief response.
Funerals are often a place where emotionally unavailable men are particularly uncomfortable. Although, once, my husband officiated at a wedding ceremony for a man who had won prizes as a bull-rider.
He was painfully embarrassed by the tears of joy that he couldn’t stop while his bride repeated her vows. He kept trying to hide his face, repeatedly saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.“
Life and Success Coach | Owner, Millennial Zen Coaching
Dating an emotionally unavailable man can be a torturous experience. You feel like you’re spending all of your time together defining the relationship; instead of enjoying the relationship.
However, if you want clarity about what an emotionally unavailable man is, here are some signs:
He always has an excuse for why he can’t see you
Have you ever been dating someone emotionally unavailable? If so, then you know how frustrating it can be.
You might feel like you’re always the one making all the effort, and you’re never quite sure where you stand. There’s always an excuse for why he can’t see you, and it’s never anything personal.
He’s “too busy at work” or “trying to spend more time with his friends.”
It never seems like he’s really that busy, but you can’t seem to get him to open up. You want to believe that he’s just going through a tough time and that he’ll eventually come around, but deep down, you know that he’s not that into you.
If you’re tired of feeling like you’re the only one invested in the relationship, it might be time to move on.
There are plenty of emotionally available men out there who would love to date someone like you. Don’t waste your time on someone who isn’t ready to return your feelings.
He’s always too busy to spend time with you
It’s frustrating when you’re always the one reaching out, and he never seems to have time for you.
You might feel like you’re being put on the back burner, or you’re not a priority in his life. If this sounds familiar, then you might be dating an emotionally unavailable man.
These types of men are often busy with work or other obligations, and they can struggle to make time for their personal relationships. They might also be unwilling to open up emotionally, preferring to keep their feelings to themselves.
If you’re dating an emotionally unavailable man, it’s important to have realistic expectations. He may never be as emotionally present as you want him to be, and that’s something you need to be okay with. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting hurt.
He doesn’t make any real plans with you
You may start to feel like you’re always the one making plans. He may seem hot and cold, and you may never quite know where you stand with him. This can be draining and confusing, especially if you like to have things planned out in advance.
However, it’s important to remember that emotionally unavailable men often have trouble committing to anything, including plans with you.
If he constantly cancels or changes plans at the last minute, it’s not personal. It’s just his way of dealing with his own emotional distance.
While this may not be the ideal situation, it’s essential to try to understand where he’s coming from. With patience and understanding, you may be able to help him open up emotionally and start making plans together.
When you talk about your relationship, he changes the subject or walks away
This can feel like you’re never going to be able to connect with him on a deeper level. Emotionally unavailable men often have difficulty being emotionally intimate with their partners.
This can make it challenging to communicate and resolve conflict in the relationship.
Often, they have been hurt in the past and are scared of getting hurt again. They may not be aware of how much they’re shutting down emotionally.
If you can explain your needs and give him some space, he may eventually open up emotionally. However, if he continues to be unwilling or unable to meet your needs, it may be time to consider ending the relationship.
He disappears then reappears without an apology
It’s been said that the emotionally unavailable man is like a cat: he disappears for long periods without explanation and then reappears without apology.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who fits this description, you may find yourself constantly wondering where he is and what he’s doing, only to have him reappear out of the blue as if nothing happened.
It’s important to remember that you deserve better than to be treated like this. If your partner is consistently disappearing and reappearing, it may be time to reassess your relationship.
He withdraws from physical contact
He may pull away when you try to hug or kiss him, or he may stop initiating physical contact altogether.
This can leave you feeling:
- and confused.
Relationship Expert | Co-Founder, Platinum Poire
He is incapable of letting you in
From a bad day at work to a family crisis, he’s unreliable when you need him most. Along a similar vein, you won’t necessarily know what’s going on in his own life—as he is “incapable” of letting you in.
He refuses to talk about anything beyond the surface with you. When it comes to his family, secrets, and fears, you are left in the dark. An emotionally unavailable man is quick to zip his lips.
He doesn’t care about your feelings and day-to-day schedule
He only wants to have sex. He doesn’t care about your feelings and day-to-day schedule, as he seeks his needs to be met first and foremost.
Despite sex being an emotionally connective experience for women, he uses it to get off and put up another wall.
He also doesn’t check in on you every day. A man who is interested in all parts of you will want to see how you are doing on a daily basis. Even if it’s just a quick text, he won’t leave a day unnoticed in keeping that spark alive.
Director of Marketing and Content, Divorce Answers
He keeps you second-guessing his feelings or emotions
If all your man ever says is “fine” whenever you try to gauge his feelings or ask him about his mood, then it’s a telltale sign that he is emotionally unavailable.
He will shut down any possible discussion about his feelings in general and be dismissive of what you feel, too.
He does not acknowledge your emotions
It’s normal for people in a relationship to be more emotionally sensitive.
However, if your partner remains:
- has no empathy when you’re sad or upset,
- or sometimes calls you “childish”
then that means he doesn’t want to participate in any discussion regarding your feelings or his.
Most of the time, when they are forced to do so, they explode or cannot handle their own emotions.
He always drops self-deprecating comments or statements
Most emotionally unavailable people would want to find an easy way out of a relationship when they see it convenient.
They could sometimes resort to negative pronouncements by joking:
- they aren’t boyfriend material,
- or aren’t good at maintaining relationships.
However, it could be a very good sign to take these statements as truth as they may be dropping hints.
Jared Heathman, MD
Psychiatrist, Active Ketamine
He only wants to talk about you
Some men hide their emotional unavailability by focusing their attention on you. They may ask great questions and be great listeners. While those are wonderful features, relationships are about reciprocity.
As you open up about yourself, he should take some cues and include information about himself. Some men are concerned about being perceived as bragging, so they may need some coaxing.
He constantly changes the subject
Some topics are sensitive and strike a nerve, but redirecting most emotional conversations is not a good sign.
While it isn’t necessary to reveal all your personal details early on, relationships are about growing together. Little by little, our walls should come down to show who we are as a person.
He’s overly focused on one aspect or topic
Emotional availability requires a diversity of topics and connections. When someone is overly focused on one aspect of themselves or life in general, there are limits placed on their growth.
If you can’t grow in multiple directions, how can you make strong emotional connections with someone new?
Sofia Rivera Escalante
Relationship Expert and CEO, InspirebySofia
He’s not really present when you’re together
You feel like you’re always the one doing all the talking, and he’s just kind of half-listening, or worse, not listening at all. This can be frustrating and make you feel like you’re not really being heard or seen.
He’s always busy and has a lot going on
It feels like he’s never really available to spend quality time with you. He’s always got something else to do and is always on the go. This can make you feel like you’re not a priority in his life.
He’s not very communicative
He doesn’t share much about himself, and he doesn’t seem interested in hearing about your life either. This can make you feel like you’re not really connected to him.
He’s not very affectionate
He doesn’t initiate physical contact, and when you try to get close to him, he feels uncomfortable or pulls away. This can make you feel rejected and unwanted.
He’s not interested in deepening the relationship
He’s happy with things the way they are and doesn’t seem to want to take things to the next level, even after you’ve been together for a while.
This can make you feel like he’s not really invested in the relationship.
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