Is your love life beginning to look like the first three seasons of How I Met Your Mother? You are investing your entire being into it and in return, you receive half-baked gestures and a grunt in the form of a reply? It is time, then, for you to learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man.
Climbing the highly built, electricity-equipped fences of an emotionally unavailable man’s heart is a herculean task. Truth be told, Carrie Bradshaw epitomized and romanticized the chase between a smitten woman and an emotionally unavailable man. In reality, while we all have a Mr. Big in our life, we don’t always get the happy ending we expect.
In this article, we have taken it upon ourselves to solve the eternal mystery and give 10 tips on how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man with the help of counselor Ridhi Golechha (Masters in Psychology), who is a food psychologist and specializes in counseling for loveless marriages, breakups, and other relationship issues.
What Are The Signs Of An Emotionally Unavailable Man?
Before we begin dissecting the behavior of men, let’s first understand what can cause a man to be emotionally unavailable. According to Riddhi “One of the reasons why a man is emotionally distant could be that he has never been allowed to face his emotions from a young age. Another reason could be that he grew up in an environment where he was neglected, which compelled him to shut down his emotions and become emotionally unavailable in future relationships because being emotionally available has brought him pain in the past.”
“Past relationships could also be a reason why men become emotionally unavailable. Maybe he faced betrayal, was cheated on, or just had a toxic experience,” says Riddhi. Most of us are wired to jump to conclusions and internally overthink relationships.
So, when a man we are madly in love with does not reciprocate the intensity of our emotions, our first instinct is to dive headlong into a lengthy session of self-loathing and identify the problem within ourselves. “Am I not pretty enough?” “Does he think I’m too demanding?” “Is it me who is overthinking the problem?”
If these questions flood your mind at every waking hour, girl, take a pen and paper, sit down and start taking notes because we are going on a hunt for the signs that your man is emotionally unavailable and how to recognize them:
1. Not being vulnerable is one of the early signs of an emotionally unavailable man
One of the early signs of an emotionally unavailable man is that he doesn’t express or expose his true sentiments in front of you. And, no matter how much you push them to open up and communicate their feelings, they never let down their guard around you and say what’s really on their minds. When learning how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man, observe his level of vulnerability in front of you.
One of my friends from college faced a similar issue. She said, “The first task to make an emotionally unavailable man available is to acknowledge his unavailability. My boyfriend had terrible experiences in relationships so when we started dating, it was impossible to get him to share anything about himself. I did not understand this until I observed that he was the same way in all his relationships. It takes time to realize why the person has become emotionally unavailable and even longer to accept that you are not the reason for it.”
2. They are secretive about their past
An emotionally unavailable person is rarely upfront, honest, or forthright with you about their past experiences. While they don’t have to provide every detail about their relationship history or personal lives, it’s vital to remember that having a good relationship requires you and your partner to openly discuss and get to know one another. There is only so much you can communicate with an emotionally unavailable man if you know nothing about him.
Secrecy, says Riddhi, “can add to trust issues in the relationship. It can lead to the other partner becoming stressed and living on the edge. It further leads to distance in the relationship because you can never fully connect with your partner. It is important to understand some things about them in order to understand the person deeply.”
If he chooses to keep you in the dark about critical facts about their past, it could indicate that they are emotionally shut off. It is a significant red flag when someone decides to be a closed book. You cannot learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man if he won’t connect with you at all.
3. Sarcasm is their coping mechanism
We are a generation of pseudo-Chandler Bings trying to pass through life unfazed. But while the cheeky sarcasm and timely comebacks seem humorous on-screen, in real life, it could be a warning sign.
Have you ever noticed how they dismiss everything with a joke or a caustic remark? An emotionally unavailable person makes a joke instead of expressing anger, fear, sadness, or disappointment to avoid dealing with raw emotions and appear strong and undisturbed in your eyes.
Related Reading: 6 Types Of Emotional Manipulation And Expert Tips To Recognize Them
They’re pulling themselves apart emotionally from you when they employ sarcasm as a defensive mechanism and choose humor over honesty. For example, when you text an emotionally unavailable man something romantic, they will reply with a sarcastic GIF or sticker. Once in a while, it can be funny, but when done persistently to dodge emotional communication, you must acknowledge that it is a major dating red flag.
4. They hardly make an effort
While a lot of people take time to put effort into a relationship in the fear of getting hurt, an emotionally unavailable man will not put effort whether you date him for a day or a year. Do not waste your time learning how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man if you are not okay with his lack of effort in the relationship.
If you notice a pattern in their behavior and realize that you are the one initiating everything in the relationship, it is a sign that the man you are in love with might be emotionally unavailable. The classic example is every teenager’s dream boyfriend, Chuck Bass. He was the epitome of emotional unavailability and while that charm seems attractive, you do not want to be in a relationship with a person who does not make an effort to be with you.
Related Reading: 5 Signs You Are Entering A Wrong Relationship
5. They prefer physical intimacy over emotional intimacy
Yes, lust is a real thing. But if that’s all they are in it for, maybe it is a sign. The trick here is to separate the casanovas from the emotionally unavailable men. Someone who is in it for the sexual aspect of the relationship will probably be upfront and would not want to be in a relationship.
Emotionally unavailable men, on the other hand, will claim to be in a relationship with you but will dodge emotional intimacy. Jenna, 32 was in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man without realizing it. Here’s what she has to say:
“It takes time to know when a man is emotionally unavailable. I realized it after a few months when he had all the time in the world to be physically intimate, but the minute I tried to get him to talk about his feelings for me, he would suddenly remember how much work he has to finish.”
How To Connect With An Emotionally Unavailable Man? 10 Tips
It is frustrating to give your heart and soul into a relationship and receive nothing in return. But, it is also important to understand that an emotionally unavailable man is not a monster. He probably has his reasons to be that way. No human being is born without emotions. If you want to know how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man, you need to dig deeper into his life and understand where he is coming from.
It could be childhood trauma, past experiences, or anything which has triggered the fear of being emotional in him. And it isn’t fair to blame this on his gender because there are enough women who are also emotionally unavailable. If you have made up your mind that you want to make this relationship work, then pay attention now, because we have 10 helpful tips on how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man:
1. Understand that his emotional unavailability has nothing to do with you
The biggest confession of an emotionally unavailable man will probably be that he is not like that on purpose, he behaves the same way with everyone. To make an emotionally unavailable man fall in love with you, you need to start by removing the blame from your head. Understanding that it is not your fault that your partner is acting this way is the first step toward breaking past his emotional walls.
“It is a woman’s nature to nurture, because of which, she feels that it is her responsibility to make the man feel emotionally available,” says Riddhi. But remember, his emotional barriers have little or no reflection on your abilities as a partner. They’ve been there for a long time, long before you came. In other words, he isn’t rejecting you, he is rejecting anything and everything his mind and body perceive as a potential threat to his heart. The most important step while learning how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man is not to victimize yourself.
Moreover, it is imperative to keep in mind that it might be new for you to experience a lack of emotions, he is so used to this state that to him, it is completely normal and he probably hasn’t even realized it.
2. Try to empathize with his state of mind
We all have our defenses to protect ourselves from something or the other. For an emotionally unavailable man, it’s distancing himself from his feelings. When it comes to men, as a society, we forget to give their mental and emotional health the same dignity as that of someone else.
We write their emotional needs off as weakness or view them as a type that must be avoided by all women like a plague. If, like Alice In Wonderland, you have gone and thrown yourself into the hole you were asked to stay away from, then just like her, it is time to face the reality and find a practical solution and learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man
Ask yourself, do you truly love this man? If the answer is yes, then you need to learn to understand his state of mind. Don’t get impatient or begin to ignore him. When you ignore an emotionally unavailable man, you are giving them another brick to add to their metaphorical wall.
3. Be prepared for disappointments
Yours won’t be Nora Ephron’s movie but a Nicholas Sparks novel where the main character finds true love, but only after crossing a trail of hurdles. When you want to make an emotionally unavailable man fall in love with you, you have to be realistic. There is no magic potion in the world that will transform him overnight.
Riddhi throws light on what you can expect when in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. “There will be moments, especially during times of high stress, when he will shut down and not prefer to discuss things. Even when you confront him, he might not respond well to it and would choose to remain silent,” she says.
Riddhi also tells us the best way to cope with this. “Acknowledge that he is emotionally unavailable and start the conversation in an empathetic manner. For example, you can say something like “I know this is hard for you but is equally hard for me to keep things inside. You can take your time but it will be great for us if we can discuss things.” You should give him time to process and if he isn’t able to, then understand that you both are trying to take a step toward a healthier relationship and for that, you must be patient and consistent,” she advises.
4. Notice if he acknowledges his emotional unavailability
The first and biggest confession of an emotionally unavailable man is that he doesn’t know he is emotionally unavailable. So, what you need to do when learning how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man is gauge his sense of self. Is he aware he is emotionally unavailable? Has he accepted it? Is he trying to do something about it?
If the answer to all of the above is yes, then it is good for you. He has taken the first step of self-realization and is trying to change himself for the better. However, if he hasn’t realized it, things can get trickier. Instead of attacking him with words, try to show him gently by examples of his emotional unavailability. You can express your concerns or views, but you can’t demand or try to change someone for them. They’ll have to figure that out on their own.
Related Reading: 15 Signs An Emotionally Unavailable Man Is In Love With You
5. Focus on your feelings
Someone once told me that a relationship might be a two-way street but it is also akin to a business transaction. You give something and in return you receive something. I believe that stands true for everyone, even an emotionally unavailable man. It is even truer in relationships where you’re trying to learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man
“Proper communication is essentially missing when you’re in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner. Be accepting and learn to open healthy channels of communication,” says Riddhi.
To make an emotionally unavailable man available, you have to show them your emotions. The relationship can’t be centered around them. You need to let them know how their behavior or response is affecting you.
6. Reflect on your mental health
Maintaining a relationship if you know a man is emotionally unavailable can be extremely draining, especially if you are emotionally available and secure yourself. This circumstance frequently causes emotions of rejection and insignificance, and it may be highly unpleasant when you realize your contributions to a relationship outweigh your partner’s.
A person can become melancholic as a result of internalizing their emotionally absent partner’s conduct over time. As a result, your walls might go up too and now there are not one but two emotionally unavailable people in a relationship.
In most cases, people accept their emotionally unavailable partner’s behavior and continue to stay in the relationship. However, if you see that your behavior or character is changing unfavorably as a result of the relationship dynamic, it might be time for you to consider if this is the right relationship for you.
7. Do not try to manage their feelings
You cannot control the storm of emotions or in this case the lack of it. It is like attempting to tame the wind. When you want to learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man, you need to understand you cannot control him. It is not your responsibility to change his mood.
Just because your partner shuts down does not mean you have to go and press the reboot button. You can keep your distance, give them breathing space and let them learn to be in control of their emotions.
8. Consider getting professional help
If your attempts to communicate with an emotionally unavailable man are failing, it is time to consider some professional help. Individual and/or couples counseling can help a relationship tremendously. It is not shameful to need to talk to someone to sort out your emotions.
Consider whether bringing in a neutral third person to assist you in navigating difficult dialogues is the appropriate option for you. It can not only help cast new light on a situation but can also help detect destructive patterns within a relationship.
Together, you both can help identify the best exercises which will help your relationship. This is one of the most helpful tips in your journey of learning how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man. If you are feeling lost in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help you move one step closer toward a harmonious relationship.
9. Give him the space to take action
Imagine this scenario: You are in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. You want to learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man because you were not aware of his state of mind when you fell head over heels. You keep pestering them, day in, day out to give you what you need. All his energy goes into dodging your ultimatums and questions. Will he have the space to initiate action?
He won’t. Once you have communicated your needs to your partner, take a step back and give them space to act on it. Since it is not a normal habit for them, it will take time. But if you suffocate the person with demands, their walls will go up higher instead of coming down.
10. Know when it is time to walk away
It is truly heartbreaking to walk out of a relationship. Most people stay in toxic and mentally harmful relationships just because the prospect of ending them seems too intimidating. Such relationships, in the long run, will destroy your happiness, your health, and any chance you have at a healthy and fulfilling love life.
“Walking away from a toxic relationship, especially when you are used to the chaos, is not easy. However, if you have recognized that you have tried everything and the relationship is still not working out, the first thing you need to do to walk away is to work on your loneliness and become independent emotionally as well as in other areas of life. This will help you become stronger and enable you to walk away from an unhealthy relationship,” adds Riddhi.
With time and patience, you can have a future with an emotionally unavailable man but you need to decide if you want to wait because there is no fixed timeline. Dealing with an emotionally unavailable man is not easy but that does not mean that they do not deserve to be happy. What they need is someone who can be there for them and can give them the space to deal with their emotions. If you think you can be that person for them, follow these tips and successfully learn how to connect with an emotionally unavailable man.