When it comes to my relationship with emotionally unavailable men, I’ve noticed that women are pretty much divided on the subject. First, there are the ones who are staunchly against them and who claim that a relationship with such a man would never work. Then, we have the ones who are always hopeful, always waiting; the ones who are certain that these men can learn to open up and love them back.
Where does the truth lie? As with most things, somewhere in the middle. I’ve observed relationships like this from the sidelines for years and I’ve witnessed both happy endings and not-so-happy ones. So, let me tell you how it went.
Christa is my sister, and I love her more than life itself. She is fiercely independent and can fend for herself just fine, but as her big brother, I am always there, looking out for her. Every jerk that broke her heart? I wanted to break his jaw. I never did (okay, almost never), because I never had to.
But I thought that would change when she met Mark. You see, Mark was divorced, jaded and not really interested in playing house. He was not there for a relationship, but my little sister fell for him, so I was ready for heartbreak.
Obviously, I wasn’t thrilled, because I knew how these things usually ended (the guy stays true to his distant self and the girl is left crying and broken-hearted) and I wasn’t going to let Christa go through that. But she kept me at arm’s length and told me that she knew what she was doing.
So, over the course of several months, I saw her go on with her life as she’d always done, only she was in this uncertain, seemingly one-sided relationship with this Mark guy, who was clearly never going to commit.
However, Christa is not the girl to pine and she is not the girl to cling on to a guy. When things need to get done, she gets them done. When she wants to have fun, she goes out and has it for herself. And she never calls you; you call her. Mark’s distance didn’t seem to affect her that much, and slowly, but surely, he kept hanging around more. He kept coming back over and over again, and she let him. She never pushed him, never asked for anything. She didn’t demand commitment. But she was in charge, subtly, but surely.
And you know what that accomplished? Mark had some time and space for himself, and he got a chance to think and realize how he felt. He’d never wanted a relationship, and he wasn’t ready for one full-on anyway; he’d just ended a marriage. A guy needs some time to get over that.
But he knew he had support and the understanding of a woman who didn’t want to change him. And, irony of ironies, he changed for her. He got closer and closer and decided that he didn’t want to lose her, after all.
People can surprise you, and sometimes, all they need is a little time and space. I will happily admit that I was wrong and that he ended up getting over his issues with opening up, emotionally. However, he was honest with her about what he couldn’t offer her, and it took a certain kind of woman to be okay with that situation. A relationship with an emotionally unavailable man can work but in very specific conditions.
On the flip-side, there’s Angela. I’ve known Angela a long time and she used to date my best friend, so I was similarly concerned when I saw her get involved with a man who didn’t seem like he was exactly boyfriend material. But she was completely smitten, so there wasn’t much I could say.
The problem was that she was convinced he was ‘The One’ while it was obvious to anyone with eyes that he was a player. Guys can always tell when other guys are only looking for sex. She, however, had rose-colored glasses.
After a while, things naturally started to go south for her. Angela was almost always sad and practically glued to her damn phone, always waiting for him to call. You see, he never called her and he didn’t pick up the phone much, either. He hadn’t introduced her to his family as his girlfriend and he refused to meet anyone on her side. By all means, this was not a relationship, but he never bothered to tell.
No, instead he left her hanging over and over again, and when he wanted to see her, he’d drop by and she’d go back like a grateful puppy.
But she wasn’t happy about the situation, so every time she saw him, she kept pushing for him to commit more, to go out, to make it official, to introduce her to his friends, to go on vacations – you know, normal couple stuff. And every time she did, he pulled farther and farther away. He didn’t want any of this, and this wasn’t what he signed up for. In his mind, this was a casual lay. In her mind, they were a couple.
But alas, they were not a couple. She was his booty call, his friend with benefits, his occasional hook-up while she was hoping for more. I don’t even have to tell you how this story ended. Yes, there were tears.
Angela made a terrible mistake, in that she expected this jerk to change. All along, that’s what she hoped for. Don’t think she didn’t know he was closed off emotionally (come on, how can you not notice that?), but she kept thinking that he’d come around. Spoiler alert: he didn’t.
Now, this was his fault as well, because he never told her that he was not interested, but the signs were there. You can’t force a relationship with a guy who is not available emotionally, and if you try to, you still end up alone, only with your heart broken.
Blayne Ketcham offers a ton of dating advice & a relationship program for women. After going through his free email-advice series, you'll understand how men think & what they truly desire. You'll also discover how to connect with any man using one simple method. This blog contains general thoughts and ramblings about relationship problems.