Why is He Emotionally Unavailable?

Why is He Emotionally Unavailable?You’re dating an emotionally unavailable man. Is he unavailable because:

  1. He’s still not over his ex?
  2. He’s just not that into you?
  3. All men are like that?
  4. You haven’t said the magic words?

Okay, so maybe there isn’t any “magic spell” that turns an emotionally unavailable man into a romantic superstar…

But wouldn’t it be great if it WERE that easy?

Say these words, and kapow! He’s sharing a story about the time his pet kitten died when he was eight and he vowed never to let his heart get attached to a pet again.

You won’t often hear men share emotionally vulnerable stories like that.

The “guy code” forbids it. Men aren’t supposed to let anyone see their soft, gooey side.

There’s even a name for this: masculine gender role stress.

It’s the conflict men experience between the way they’ve been socialized to “be a man” and the skills their real life requires of them.

In real life, women want emotionally available partners.

But men often learn that showing emotions is unmanly. They keep their feelings close to their chest to avoid revealing any weakness.

And when they fall in love, they hold back. They don’t want her to find out. Their buddies may even make fun of them for having feelings for a woman.

As a woman, you probably can’t imagine being shamed for having feelings. Of course you have feelings! Feelings are good. They’re healthy. Expressing your feelings keeps you sane.

So when you come across an emotionally unavailable man, your instincts tell you there’s something wrong with him. Why is he holding back? Why isn’t he letting you in?

Is there something wrong with him?

Or are you just misunderstanding one another?

I can’t speak for all emotionally unavailable men, but from my perspective there are several reasons men appear to be holding back from the women they’re dating.

Understanding these reasons boosts your chances of getting him to open up and be the man you desire.

  1. Attachment style 

I’ve talked about attachment styles before. Basically, we all have different attachment styles based on a combination of genetics and how we were raised.

Many women who struggle in dating have an anxious attachment style. They never feel secure in a man’s love. They always want to be closer to him. It feels like death when a man pulls back.

Many men who struggle in committed relationships have an avoidant attachment style.  They feel suffocated by too much togetherness. They need their space. They can’t always communicate that, though, so they drive people away instead.

A man who appears emotionally unavailable may be protecting his sanity by keeping you at an arm’s length. His avoidant attachment style means he can’t give you the closeness you crave—especially if you’re anxious.

Don’t expect him to change, but do expect him to try to understand your needs (and vice versa). Learn together about how your attachment styles impact your relationship.

  1. Alexithymia

Let’s say you fall in love with a masculine man who’s the strong, silent type.

Two months into your relationship, you feel like hitting your head against the wall. He won’t open up! He never tells you how he feels.

It’s a red flag when a man who’s usually free and open with his feelings suddenly clams up.

But when a man who never talks about his feelings continues to avoid talking about his feelings, it’s no surprise.

Some men have difficulty knowing what’s going on inside of them. This is a trait called alexithymia. These men can tell when their heart is beating fast or their stomach is churning, but they can’t explain what they’re feeling or where those feelings come from.

As a woman, you may find it incredible that anyone could NOT know how they feel. But it’s possible—and in his case, highly probable.

Although more and more parents are recognizing the importance of raising emotionally literate sons, he may not have learned to name his feelings.

Instead of judging him, help create a safe place for him to explore and gradually learn to express his feelings with words.

  1. Genuine unavailability

Sometimes a man doesn’t just seem to be emotionally unavailable. He actually is emotionally unavailable. It has nothing to do with you. It has to do with where he’s at.

He may not be in a stage of his life where he wants commitment. He may be seeing other women. He may not be over a past love interest.

How can you convince him to open his heart?

That could take a book, but just remember this:

He won’t have the chance to miss you if he’s already got you.

Match his level of availability. If he’s not available, don’t be available. Make him put in the effort to see you.

And keep on looking for someone who has the emotional availability you desire—without having to work so hard for it.

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8 thoughts on “Why is He Emotionally Unavailable?

  1. PiscesSunflower said:

    This is a great write up. The guy I have been trying to sort out has been my best friend for 10 years. He and I fell in love but we were never single during the same times. Recently I became single and he is in a cruddy relationship that he’s been limping thru for about 6 years. He keeps telling me he hates it, and wants to move back.
    The catch: he no longer answers my calls. He rarely texts unless he is flirting or is upset about his situation and needs an ear. He’s always been very locked down with his feelings but I happen to be the one that he will talk to in person. Seen him cry, and admit a lot. Share horrible stories of his childhood. Even now things he talks about I know he trusts me with. About 2 minutes ago he declared his live for me. He said he always has. His actions don’t show it. I wonder if he only loves me as much as he is able to with his emotional lockdown.
    I feel like I should give him space and not text him when it’s been a couple of days of radio silence. He’s also a Scorpio btw and they love space. I don’t want to give up on him, but If he won’t meet up in person and talk with me I can’t help him. Maybe he doesn’t want help. Maybe he doesn’t know how to accept that. Sigh

    • James Bauer said:

      There’s a lot of beauty in the relationship you’ve shared, regardless of what happens next. But I do hope for a fairtale ending for you two. I wonder if you might benefit from reading this article I published not too long ago. It has a decision tree for what to do when a guy pulls away.

      • PiscesSunflower said:

        Hi James! Our relationship has been full of trust and when I say that I mean he has told me about abuse which occurred in his childhood. This has caused him to have PTSD, a social disorder … I feel he is emotionally unavailable and this is why he pushes away when he starts to get close. Deep down I feel like he loves me and knows I have been there for him but he just can’t give me all I want. His flirting has ramped up so much over the past few months and things he says, shows he wants me. I am no size 2 gal but he is absolutely chiseled and handsome. The catch is that none of our friends know about us. It’s always been a secret. Stressful? Yes. Very. I don’t know if I can trust him anymore or be patient. I don’t call him out on things like I should for fear of losing him. My family says to ditch him and that he’s no good for me. Do I stick by him and see if he moves back and stays with me? I tried dating someone else and it blew up in my face. All I could think about was him. Ughhhh!

        P.S. I also wonder if this is a test on his side of things. He has told me how he appreciates the fact that I do trust him and make him feel valued and wanted because he really doesn’t know where he is now. That’s great but I need to see him in person. No matter how much I tell him I miss him, he won’t even meet me half way (45 minute drive). So in my head I just figure I’m not worth it. But yet he tells me how beautiful I am and I turn him on so much. Confused.

      • James Bauer said:

        I don’t know if you should listen to your family’s advice or not, but often people who love you will have better insight (because their feelings are not tied up in the romance). You might take this situation to our relationship coaches for some back and forth discussion. You can do that on our private (members only) forum. If you’re not already a member of our Irresistible Insiders group, you can learn more about it here:

  2. Anita said:

    Sounds like he’s interested in you still, working out how he feels exactly since you’ve been intimate again. He’s keeping communication flowing re texts and actually calling to speak with you, to hear your voice. He’s perhaps wanting to take it slow, not rush into getting back together straight away, so keep walking along side him, enjoy the scenery together as it were, getting reacquainted, if you want to. If not, and you have other options, do what you feel is right for you. Much Love, Anita xx

  3. Roxy said:

    My husband and I met in high school and reconnected via social media 30 plus years later…We got married a year later and separated within the third year…and he moved to a different state.

    We talked of divorce several times. He filed and I did not sign the papers. I was not ready! I still love him and want our marriage to work.

    I have had counseling on three occasions by professionals. I do not believe he has…

    It has been over five years since we’ve seen each other. We communicate on and off via text messages. And, recently we began flirting via text messages and met up on Christmas Day at a hotel I was staying…I had just relocated from another state…

    I picked him up from the station and we had breakfast together…During our conversations, he kept eye contact and appeared interested in every word I said…

    We headed to our room and we laughed and talked and watched television….we did not talk about the relationship. I did not know how to bring it up…and he did not!

    I could see he wanted me…but I waited for him to make the first move…He has never been the emotional, affectionate type. And, I have always craved affection and wanted to feel that I was special to him…Oh, he has five children… four of whom are adults at this time…living in another country…

    So, I waited and he initiated the first kiss and then made passionate love to me…And I him!…

    He took me out to dinner and when we returned to the hotel, we made love again…I initiated it this time…

    When we were done, he eventually went off to sleep. We never talked about us, the marriage, our future, nothing!

    The next morning at 4:30 I dropped him off at the station…He had to get back for work…but before we left the room, I said, I hope this is not just a ‘booty call’, because I would not feel very good…He chuckled and said, “no, I will keep in touch”…What is that?

    I dropped him off and he said, “You take care!”…no kiss good by or anything. As a matter of fact, I initiated the kiss in the elevator as we were leaving the hotel…

    Since he left, he has texted and called only to find out how my apartment search is going…

    Please help me to see what I may not be seeing. Or, do not want to see… What do you think is going on here?


    • Tracey said:

      Hi Roxy,

      I’m so very sorry to hear about your estrangement. I can understand how painful that must have been all these years. I applaud you for seeking counselling and talking about your situation. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help you work through when you’re so close to the situation. I want to suggest that you consider joining our Irresistible Insiders Club with a members only private forum.

      Within this private community you can ask questions and share experiences with like-minded women and our most advanced members. This way you can get extra real-time feedback and support for your unique situation.

      Warm wishes,


      • Joy said:

        I think hun forget about him and move on. We women have to realize our worth. If he truly loved you…you wouldn’t have to question it or worry. I’ve been there too and it doesn’t feel good to not have the love you feel for a man or to be reciprocated.
        Don’t text or call him. Life is short and there’s so much to see and do to be happy.
        I was in an abusive marriage 24 years. Mostly verbal abuse. It took away my self esteem. I had enough and menopause probably gave me courage to leave. He took it very hard I know and I didn’t feel good about it. It took 3 to 4 years for us to make peace. Which I always wanted to be able to communicate like adults during our marriage and so my son would have stability and not dysfunction at home.

        Anyway, it seems even before my marriage, I always fell in love with narcissistic, macho, womanizing men. I do believe now it was because I didn’t have the most loving father growing up. He was easily angered and criticized a lot. I’ve prayed for healing in all this and to have esteem and love myself.
        Hope this helps to inspire you.

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