blurred out emotionally unavailable man in background

Emotionally Unavailable Men – 11 Characteristics

Can I Make It Work With Emotionally Unavailable Men or Is It Time to Move On?

I’ll bet you’ve asked yourself that question before. I also bet $1,000 that if you were to take a poll, you would find out that the bane of a woman’s existence and struggles with online dating is the emotionally unavailable man. A man who is ‘not there’ for you has the characteristics and symptoms of being fiercely independent, detached, unwilling to commit, distant, and even cold at times. And most of all, (absent) emotionally unavailable men have no time or patience for this romance stuff the chicks are after. They are charming, broken, brooding, or drunk.

Sex? Yes! Relationships? Nope!

As a woman dating an emotionally distant man, you run the risk of being shut down repeatedly and every effort you make to get closer can be rebuffed. You have tried and didn’t get far, so now you seek out some solid relationship advice. So, here’s what you need to know.

He’s sort of there… but not really. The worst part of it is that you don’t know what’s happening. He’s not there, you’re confused, and you end up on an emotional roller-coaster. Well, honey, it’s time to come down!

Use this guide/quiz to discover if your man is truly emotionally unavailable:

Your dilemma is oh-so-familiar to me. The number of women who want to know how to deal with men and this issue is mind-numbing. What you know is that he’s not treating you right, but there are so many options as to why.

  • Is he simply not interested?
  • Is he just a massive jerk?
  • Is he closed off, emotionally?
  • Are all men like this?
  • Why do some men have these traits?
  • Do emotionally unavailable guys change?
  • What are the signs and characteristics of unavailable men?

Here are some questions that can help you find out…

1. Are you getting mixed signals?

man showing mixed signals

There’s a Katy Perry song that goes “You’re hot, then you’re cold, You’re yes, then you’re no” – does that sound like a familiar feeling? Do the signs a man give you fluctuate from week to week? Disregarding the dated and cheesy reference, if your first thought was “I can totally relate!”, then you’re in trouble.

But for clarification purposes, let’s define “hot” and “cold”: hot is when men can’t stop texting you, and you hook up every night for a week; cold is when men suddenly stop calling and disappears for two weeks without explanation. Then, they suddenly show up and it’s all hot again. Is he into you? You don’t know. Is he just playing? You can’t tell. Is he driving you crazy? YES.

2. Are these unavailable men already “attached”?

man attached to teddy bear

Now, I wasn’t even going to touch this one, but since I know how people are, let me say it: if he already has a girlfriend, fiancée, or – God forbid – a wife, then all of his behavior suddenly makes sense. Of course he’s going to be emotionally unavailable and yes, you are probably a booty call or a side-piece to pass the time. Hopefully your experience with men hasn’t taken this awful turn.

If he gives any indication that he is already attached or won’t disclose his relationship status, that should raise red flags all over the damn place! This isn’t a guy who will commit to you, so don’t fall for that one. I can tell you from years of seeing women have this issue, that if he cheats with you, he will cheat on you. It sucks to be in that position, so don’t do that to another woman or to yourself.

3. Is he recently divorced, separated or broken up?

recently divorced man laying on ground

Divorced is good, right? It means he’s okay to date! Wrong! Recently divorced, separated or broken up means that he’s still healing, that he’s looking for a rebound or that he’s too jaded to really give romantic relationships another shot this early. Believe me, jumping on seemingly unavailable men with a muddy or newly changed relationship status is never good news. After seeing countless numbers of break-ups, I should know.

At this point, all he wants is to forget his ex, or even worse, replicate her. So he could be looking for a woman who is practically her doppelganger, in a desperate (but not conscious effort) to bring her back somehow. I don’t need to tell you that this is designed to fail and that he is not emotionally ready to seriously date anyone.

Time is your friend here – though if you are determined and if you want to learn how to make an emotionally detached man fall in love, your best bet would be to pick up Source of Attraction and go through all of the material.

4. Do you know for sure what you are to each other? Do you have a definite “label” of sorts?

male pick up artist holding gopro

Babe, what are we to each other?”, you smile coyly as you brush a piece of hair out of his eyes and kiss his shoulder. He pulls an annoyed face, before saying “Do we have to stick a label on it? Let’s not ruin what we have”. You smile, finding his answer incredibly romantic.

Um… I hate to break it to you, but this is a man who is absolutely hiding something. This “Let’s not put a label on it” excuse is 100% BS and it almost always comes from the guy. Coincidence? Nope! If he can’t bring himself to call you his girlfriend, then you’re not.

Hate to break it to you…

5. Does he help you in your times of need?

woman leaning into washing machine

Before you jump to say yes, think about it for a second – was he at your grandma’s funeral? Did he join you at IKEA to get that new bed you needed? Does he offer advice about your career? How about when you fought with your best friend? Did he have words of comfort for you?

Oh, what’s that? He was absent for every single one (or most) of those things? He is not pulling his own weight in this relationship. He is not there for you at all, for anything you need, big or small. Sure, he says he’ll be there and do this and do that, but if you think about it, he never comes through, does he?

You may want to sit down and spend some time thinking about this. There are unavailable men and then there are men who make time for you. Which is he?

6. Can you talk to him about anything, including your feelings?

woman emotionally hurt by unavailable men

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard this one: “Ugh, you know I don’t like talking about my feelings!“, he says with an eye roll and a groan. Don’t get too excited – this means you’d better run the other way. Generally, men are not all that eager to talk at all, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

But there is an enormous difference between being reluctant to open up and straight-up shutting down any attempt at conversation. If the two of you are in a relationship (or, at least, you think you are), he should be able and willing to discuss some things. Unless, of course, he is an emotionally unavailable man, which he probably is and you need to move on if that’s the case.

7. Is he open to plans for the future?

airplane in sky at sunset

Now, this depends largely on the amount of time the two of you have been together. No talk of marriage, after several years of a relationship? HUGE Red flag. But let’s say you’ve only begun dating, or you’ve only been together for a little while. Marriage and kids are off the table, but vacations, weekends away and trips to your hometown should not be deal breakers.

This may of course depend on your personal views as well. For some, spending time together in the same room is off the table until the situation is permanent.

If he won’t hear of it either way, then that is a deal breaker. If he won’t even commit to a weekend away with you, do you really expect him to commit to you emotionally? From where I’m standing, you shouldn’t bet money on this particular possibility.

8. Does he always find excuses?

man shouting excuses into can

Wait, don’t tell me! Let me guess – he always says he’s going to be somewhere, and then he doesn’t show up, he doesn’t pick up calls, he won’t help you when you need him, he disappears, he blows you off and all manner of other unforgivable behavior.

But you do forgive him. You have forgiven unavailable men before. Why? Because they/he has an excuse! Unpredictable stuff happens to everyone, and you can give him a pass once or twice, but when he spends his life making excuses… the dog didn’t really eat his homework. That is a pattern of behavior. He is simply unavailable, in every way possible. Most importantly, he is unavailable for you – and that’s what you need to learn from this.

9. Is he okay with showing PDA?

couple standing in snow showing pda

*PDA = public display of affection

What you want: Holding hands while you take a walk, kisses in the street, hugs in the restaurant, caresses, etc.

What he wants: You each keep to yourselves, don’t touch in public, and always keep a significant distance between the two of you.

No, he’s not “private” or “shy”, he just doesn’t want to be seen as having any romantic attachment to you. That is for two reasons:

a) because he really isn’t attached to you and/or

b) because he is either “attached” to someone else or he would like to be.

10. Do you know what he’s up to when the two of you are not together?

man working on car to avoid wife

How about these sayings?

I’m with…

I’m hanging…

I was…

I have stuff to…

What are these?

They’re all the vague, not-at-all-specific excuses unavailable men give you when they/he doesn’t want to tell you what he’s doing or who he’s with. “Going out with some friends” is not a real answer, especially when you know nothing about these friends. “I’m going to meet up with Brian for 7pm at Pizza Hut because I haven’t seen him in a couple years,” is a real answer.

When you ask (completely valid) questions and he inevitably becomes defensive and acts like you’re some overbearing hag, there is a problem.

But then what is he hiding? Why won’t he disclose his whereabouts? There is something he is not telling you, and I smell another – or multiple – girlfriend(s).

11. How can you distance yourself from him?

woman leaving her man in airport

Let’s just get this out of the way: you deserve better. I know you love him and desperately want this to work, but at some point, we all have to listen to the music. Leaving him may be hard, but your song in this case, is “He Is Emotionally Unavailable And He Will Never Commit”. The bottom line is that he is not there for you and you need someone who can be involved in a real relationship and meet your needs. (This is a different scenario if you are married. Husband issues require a different approach and marriage with an emotionally distant man could be signs of deep-rooted marital problems, instead of just him “acting funny”.)

So far, we’re all good. However, now we’ve got a problem – you have to distance yourself from this man and from this unhealthy relationship that is not offering you anything.

Breaking up with someone sucks, especially when you have to be the one to break up and when you still have feelings for the person. It can be the hardest thing in the world. Fortunately, I’m here to help you out.

This is what you need to do…

Tired of Emotionally Unavailable Men?

Over the next few months, I'll show you how to enter his heart & connect with him on a level he understands. When he feels that you understand him, he's all yours 🙂

Realize that you are dating an emotionally unavailable guy.

This is a very important moment for you; it’s the moment when you have to choose yourself over your man. Maybe honesty is not your forte (it can be difficult), but this is the time when you have to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror and be sincere with yourself: somewhere, deep inside, you’ve always known that he was not behaving the way he should have. That’s talked about here on Psych Today. Look, I know you knew. Even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself.

There’s a very specific feeling you get in the pit of your stomach – a tightening, a nagging feeling that all is not right. You know you deserve better and you know this is not how a relationship should look like, but what do you do? That’s right, you ignore your gut feeling. You lie to your friends and family. You make excuses, but deep down you know and this is when I want you to take charge of that feeling and do something about it.

It’s time to pull the plug. Cherish yourself more than this and realize that you deserve better. It’s not about him – it’s about you.

Here is something you can do to help you. It is your blueprint for healing.

Make a list of all his faults and all the ways in which he makes you miserable

Okay, we’re making progress!

Now I want you to make sure you maintain this progress by writing a list. This will not be a list to Santa, but a list of flaws; deadly flaws. All the things that are wrong with this unsuitable lover, all the ways in which he comes up short and all the ways in which he makes you miserable.

I want you to be more honest with yourself than you’ve ever been before and put on paper everything that is wrong with this relationship.

“Highlights” (yes, this is being ironic) include:

  • His selfishness
  • The fact that you never know where he is or what he’s doing
  • The way he always blows you off
  • The fact that he didn’t want to meet your family or friends
  • His secretive nature
  • His reluctance to make plans for the future (not even for the weekend!)
  • The mixed signals he sends
  • His unwillingness to call you his girlfriend
  • The fact that he is never there for you
  • His lack of openness to talk or share

Stop contact and see what happens…

Now that you know for sure that you want out, you have to take it to the next step. And what I mean by this is that you should cease all contact. Give the man a taste of his own medicine. After all, you mostly talk to him when you take it upon yourself to call him. Have you always wanted to know what would happen if you just stopped? Will you finally succeed in learning how to get an emotionally blurry man to open up to you?

This is your chance to find out.

How long will it take him to notice that you’re not around anymore? Will he care? Is he going to “ghost” you and just drop off the face of the earth? Or will he emerge, finally, at some point, as if nothing happened?

Every single one of those options is plausible and not one of them makes him look good. I’m going be real with you for a second: he will most likely not notice you missing (at least not how you want him to).

If after a while, he does eventually call, well… let’s talk about your next move.

Remember his characteristics & be strong: Don’t go back when he finally calls!

So, picture this: three weeks have passed and the phone rings. Your ears perk up – it couldn’t be him… could it? You look at your phone and the screen flashes his name. He’s finally calling! You rush to answer – WAIT! Is that really what you want to do? Do you want to be that girl?

Now is the time to assert your independence. Now is the time for you to be strong and hold your ground. This time apart has been all the evidence you needed (as if you didn’t have enough already) that this man will not make himself available to you, emotionally or otherwise. Now is the right moment to break it off for good and move on to someone better and more deserving of your affection.

There are men out there who will work hard to be by your side emotionally first and then physically. Remember, emotional is the permanent bond and physical should always come later.

Can you really make it work?

Here’s the thing – most women who find themselves dating emotionally unavailable men fall into a trap they set for themselves… the trap of “maybe we can make it work”. They feel they can handle the man and the situation.

Can you though? Not likely and not usually, but let’s give it a shot.

Is It One Sided?

Of course, whether or not a relationship with a man who is emotionally unavailable works, depends on your expectations.

Are you content with essentially leading a one-sided relationship, with giving everything and not receiving anything in return? Sure, that might work for a while.

Warning: A word of caution – it will make you miserable, if what you are looking for is a real relationship. Honey, this is not it.

Talking It Out

Then you have the possibility of him actually wanting to become a commitment kind of guy. Make no mistake, when a guy is not ready to fall in love, he absolutely knows it. Some of them will even tell you to your face. You walking out of his life can trigger a desire to change and open himself up to you, in which case, all I can say is “You go, girl!”

Warning: He could be all talk and no action, in which case, you have to be packed up and ready to leave.

Wake Up Call

Sometimes, he doesn’t take his head out of the sand until the end. This is when you’ve already stopped calling. But, as some say, better late than never. The sudden and distinct lack of “you” in his life can be the wake-up call he needed and it might make him realize that if he snoozes, he loses… you.

Warning! Don’t wait for him to call, for weeks on end. If he doesn’t make the move within the first few days, you’re outta there!

Related Posts

Tired of Emotionally Unavailable Men?

Over the next few months, I'll show you how to enter his heart & connect with him on a level he understands. When he feels that you understand him, he's all yours 🙂