15 Signs & Characteristics of an Emotionally Unavailable Man

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It has happened to almost every woman:

You are dating this new gorgeous, funny, attentive guy and the relationship is going great.

But after a few weeks with the guy, you’re finding yourself in the middle of Sex and the City episode, in the role of Carrie looking all confused with Big’s behavior.

Sounds familiar?

If so, then this is one of the first signs of an emotionally unavailable man.

And we’ve all been there.

Boy, do I have some stories to tell.

But, no worries though. Even though you might not see it now, this seemingly vicious circle has an endpoint.

In this article, I’m going to tell the exact signs to look for to find out whether you are dealing with an emotionally unavailable man or not and how to deal with it.

Before starting to put labels, let’s talk about what is emotional unavailability.

How to Recognize Emotional Unavailability?

Emotional availability is the capability of one person to acknowledge, develop and maintain emotional bonds in relationships. 

Emotional unavailability is exactly the opposite of this – a person who struggles to keep up with the relationship and distances himself from having a connection.

Emotional unavailability is a real thing and it’s usually connected with the attachment style of the person.

Each one of us has its own attachment style, one that goes way back to our parents and our childhood. And once an attachment style is developed, we as human beings tend to practice it throughout our entire life.

A psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine, and psychologist Rachel Heller wrote a book in 2010 dedicated to this topic.

In Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, they describe the styles quite accurately.

From their researches they have found out that people have three styles of attachments:

  • Secure Attachment Style
  • Anxious Attachment Style
  • Avoidant Attachment Style

The avoidant attachment style is the one where all emotionally unavailable men fall.

As the name says, they avoid getting attached, showing emotions or anything that might straighten the relationship even more.

But how to recognize them?

Luckily, there are 15 signs you can look for…

15 Signs of an Emotionally Unavailable Man

These are some of the red flags to be cautious about when dealing with men.

1. He Likes to Move Fast

Relationships have a natural flow of things. We need some time to adapt to the other human being, get to know them and become comfortable around them. Emotionally unavailable men tend to skip this part and focus more on the physical connection rather than the emotional one.

Basically, they want the sex without the other things that come with it like intimacy, sharing feelings, and relationship responsibilities.

They do this because they want to avoid the part of opening up to someone because he’s trying to detach himself from anything emotionally.

Don’t get me wrong – they adore sex, just as women do. They just don’t want what the sex is going to bring in their life and out of the relationship.

How to Deal with a Man who Moves Too Fast
Talk with your partner that developing physical intimacy happens on a mutual basis and understanding, not something that occurs only when one of the partners desires. This way, you can both practice slowing down and learning about each other’s desires, rather than skipping all that.

2. Every Day Is an Emotional Rollercoaster

Have you found yourself extremely happy with everything that’s been going on in the relationship, but then he acts out all weird and you haven’t heard from him in a week?

Yes, Carrie and Big’s alert again.

An emotionally unavailable man can put you through such an excessive emotional rollercoaster, it can be almost exhausting. One day he might be telling you how much he loves you, and the next day he might be telling you that he needs a break from all this.

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An emotionally unavailable man can put you through such an excessive emotional rollercoaster.

They do this out of fear – fear that the relationship is going to require him to show emotions, vulnerability and being open to another human being and they don’t want that.

True, in every healthy relationship each of the partners should take some time for themselves. However, taking a break from your relationship is not a sign of a healthy way of communicating emotion.

How to Handle the Emotional Rollercoaster
The longer you wait on this issue, the harder it will be to solve it. If you notice the early signs, talk with your partner. Acknowledge his behavior, remind him that it’s a safe space to share something that bothers him instead of showing passive-aggressive behavior.

3. He’s a Perfectionist

Have you ever heard the sentence “Ugh, that dress just doesn’t look good on you, you need to work up some more?” or something like “Why do you dance that way, you look stupid

Well, maybe not literally like this (although this does happen), but you can get the idea.

Emotionally unavailable men are seeking for perfection for one reason only: they’re deeply insecure.

Since they’re insecure and don’t want to show any sign of a vulnerable exposure, they will comfort themselves with the thought that ‘no one is good enough’ and they don’t need to open up to anyone.

I know too many guys who simply won’t meet with a girl they like simply because “ugh, but she definitely has some flaws, so why bother?”

It’s easier to set aside and judge everyone for who they are rather than open up and have a chance for a decent human connection, right?

How to Deal With A Perfectionist Man
This might come as a shock to them but newsflash – we all have flaws. But in a healthy relationship, they’re unnoticeable. A perfectionist tends to forget this fact, so the best thing you can do here is to remind them about it and see whether that will result in changed behavior.

4. It’s All About Him

If it’s all about their needs, wants, desires and feelings, this might be a sign of an emotionally unavailable man. For example, you only see each other on his terms or when he’s available.

He doesn’t invest time in the relationship or even forgets important things to you, like birthdays or an issue with your boss that you’ve shared with him.

But it’s not just that. Even when you do see each other, he might seem distant or distracted or not at all interested in whatever you’re sharing with him.

The problem with this kind of self-absorption comes from their way of thinking about superiority, which is just another sign of insecurity.

This way, they can avoid creating a true connection with another human being.

What to Do When It’s All About Him
This issue is related to risks – the lack of risks emotionally unavailable men do to prevent sharing emotions and feelings. This one might be challenging to handle, but the best thing to do is to let him know that no one knows how things will turn out. It’s about the journey between two people, regardless of how it will end. Keeping himself on a distance just to prevent hurt is not a healthy way to go through life.

5. He’s Keeping Everything to Himself

In a relationship, trust and love are not built solely on talking about each other’s feelings all the time. It’s about sharing every aspect of our lives with our partner, letting them into our lives.

Emotionally unavailable men don’t do this. It’s not only about their lack of sharing romantical emotions with you – it’s about every emotion.

If they had a bad day at work or a horrible fight with a family member, he’s probably not going to share it with you how he actually feels about it.

He might let you know that a certain thing has happened, but nothing more than that.

It’s more like he chooses consciously to avoid sharing or having emotions about the issue as if that will solve the problem. By not sharing something he chooses to not build the trust in this relationship and that’s another reason for him to end it, eventually.

How to Deal with a Man Who Keeps Everything to Himself
Start with talking a bit every now and then about your life and see how he will act on it.
Be patient and persistent with building the trust among you two is the best thing you can do here. By pointing out this issue you may not get anything in return.

6. He’s Not Comfortable When You Share Emotions

Here’s one harsh truth – emotionally unavailable men are not in line with their own emotions therefore they’re not able to respond accordingly to your emotions.

It’s like their brain turns on the panic button once you share any kind of emotions and they just want to get out of that new-build situation.

If he’s acting nervous, angry, frustrated when you share any type of feeling, you might be dealing with an emotionally unavailable man.

They’re not used to dealing with emotions and they will try to avoid it at all costs.

How to Deal a Man Who Is Not Used to Dealing With Emotions
It takes time to learn and understand empathy. And if someone hasn’t been doing much about it all his life, it may be overwhelming. If he wants to become better at this, there are books, TED talks and many YouTube videos on how to work on his empathy, so he can understand other people better. Or, for starters, you can use this simple guide – Empathic Listening: 9 Simple Ways to Be More Empathetic in Conversations. This can be one effective way for him to raise his EQ and with a lot of patience and understanding, he can be more comfortable with your emotions.

7. He Doesn’t Take Responsibility for His Actions

If he made a mistake or said something wrong, he thinks the problem he’s caused will solve it by itself. In other words, he doesn’t take responsibility for his actions.

Here’s the thing with these types of men – with the way they are, they’re hurting a lot of people.

Sure, we all hurt someone at one point or the other – no one is perfect.

But the difference with the emotionally unavailable men and the rest of them is that they don’t feel any sorry or regret for any hurt they’ve might cause.

Some men don’t feel the need to apologize for their behavior simply because they might not be familiar with empathy. Empathy is the ability to recognize how our actions and words can make other people feel.

And, since they can’t acknowledge their own emotions, they certainly can’t acknowledge if they’ve hurt someone else.

How to Make Them See the Consequences of Their Actions
If a man does something that upsets you, tell him upfront and as clean as possible. It’s easier to use passive-aggressive methods here, just to show him that you’re hurt. But honest communication is key here. He needs to work on his self-awareness to actually see the consequences of his actions, but you can help him get there by being honest with him.

8. Bad Behavior with People In General

“I don't trust anyone who's nice to me but rude to the waiter”.

When Muhamed Ali said this, he certainly didn’t have emotionally unavailable men on his mind.

But this does apply to them too.

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An emotionally unavailable man doesn't take responsibility for his actions.

Bad behavior with waiters, taxi drivers, bus drivers and such is a sign for a calculated behavior from these men. Treating anyone with disdain or rude behavior should always be a red alert for any woman.

I mean, if he’s treating these people that way, what’s stopping him from treating you that way down the road?

What to Do When This Happens
Since this doesn’t involve you directly, it’s a tough one to deal with. No one likes to have a partner who treats other people badly. You can point this out to him once it happens, but the truth is, he might not see it even then. So, the best thing to do is to work with him on his empathy and in time, hopefully, he’ll be able to improve his relations with other people as well.

9. He's Always Trying to Flirt with You

Emotionally unavailable men will flirt with you on a regular basis.

Some of them will do this just so they can, once again, prevent their vulnerability from happening.

Others will do it simply because they prefer the chase rather than the catch.

Most of them do the flirting to get what they want from you, which is once again, a sign for their self-centered way of thinking.

How to Deal With a Flirtatious Partner
This one is usually harmless, but if it happens on a regular basis ask him openly – is he trying to achieve something with this behavior, what are his intentions and see how he’ll react.

10. There’s Nothing Wrong with Them – It’s Always Other People’s Fault

Men of this kind think of themselves extremely highly. As I already mentioned, they tend to be perfectionists. They also consider themselves flawless and like there’s nothing wrong with them.

Which is why convenient for them to always blame the others for any problem that occurs. Blaming others gives them a sense of power and control over the situation. Additionally, it gives them justification for their own actions.

How to Deal with a Man Who Always Blames Others
Emotionally unavailable men use manipulation quite often. Next time you notice something like that is happening, point it out immediately. Let him know that you’re aware of his intentions and that you won’t allow being manipulated. And that’s it!

11. He avoids commitment

I don’t think men are truly aware of how it pisses women off when they refuse to label the relationship, at least those of us who prefer to define our romantic interactions. Instead, your guy stays in the gray area, suggesting he wants to be with you but he’s not ready for a relationship.

I reckon this is something someone with an avoidant attachment style would say. They avoid love and emotional intimacy. He also doesn’t want to lose you or have an open relationship while he’s making up his mind. So you’re like caught in a bind and it’s really confusing, unfair, and hurtful. After all, you’re providing all the juicy benefits of a real relationship.

The guy may also avoid conversations about defining the relationship.  Let’s be real here. He’s either fearful of commitment or wants a relationship, but not with you. Maybe he doesn't see commitment as necessary or he’s trying to escape being emotionally hurt again like he was in a previous relationship.

How to Handle a Non-Committal Boyfriend
Some of his explanations for not committing might be valid. For instance, the fear of potentially getting hurt. You know how that feels if someone betrayed you in a past relationship. Other excuses might not add up, like if he says you don't need a boyfriend and girlfriend label to establish that you're in a relationship.
He means an uncommitted relationship, by the way. If you haven’t done so as yet, clearly express your need for commitment.
You can give him a timeline to decide, as a supportive gesture…not an ultimatum. Let him know you’re prepared to end the relationship if he won't commit. What not to do is to become insecure and start chasing after him. He’ll only pull away more. You can’t force feelings and you certainly can’t force him to commit.
Even if he genuinely likes you, his attachment style might get in the way. Hopefully, he comes around. If not, it’s time for boy bye!

12. He Only Has Surface Level Conversations With You

A guy who’s truly looking to connect on all levels will ask about your childhood, family, likes, dislikes, views, goals, and feelings. He’ll also open up about his life like emotionally available men do. This shows that he’s willing to be vulnerable through sharing and receiving private information.

One who’s not trying to bond will keep conversations light and surface level. He might ask about your day, but not about your dreams and desires, or how you’re feeling. The guy doesn’t want to discuss feelings, not his and not yours.

I’ve noticed this behavior in men with avoidant attachment personalities also called fearful avoidants. According to relationship experts, avoidants have a chronic fear of emotional intimacy. It’s funny because they don’t seem to have a problem with physical intimacy.

Anyway, taking the surface-level approach to communication keeps him at a safe emotional distance. He risks emotionally bonding with you if he learns too many intimate details, and he doesn’t want that.

What to Do If He’s Not Having Deep Conversations
If you’re someone who’s comfortable with emotionally connecting, e.g., you have a secure attachment style, and then being unable to connect with the guy will bother you. Tell him you observed he’s not asking many questions about you and ask why. The response could be telling, so pay keen attention. He might say he doesn’t want to pry or he’s allowing you to decide when and what you want to share.
On the surface, these answers are reasonable and believable. So let’s put things in context. If you’ve been dating for more than a month and he failed to get into deep conversations, that could be a sign of a lack of interest in pursuing a long-term relationship. He just wants you as a placeholder if knowing only your first name is enough.

13. He Can’t Relate to Your Feelings

Some men don’t hesitate to call women crazy if she keeps bringing up the commitment subject. They’ll see your need for a relationship as a desperate move to tie them down and accomplish something nefarious. “What’s wrong with you?” “Why are you acting hurt about me not wanting a relationship?” These are example questions they’ll throw at you.

If you cry over the situation, he may sit there and stare, ask why you’re cryingor leave the room. Seriously?

do emotionally unavailable men change | how to connect with emotionally unavailable man
If it's all about him, this might be a sign of an emotionally unavailable man.

He doesn’t want to deal with your emotions because he can’t. There’s probably a lack of empathy, meaning an inability to feel how someone else might be feeling.

The guy may also have low emotional intelligence and be unable to pick up on your social cues or connect the dots. Emotional intelligence is a personality trait that helps people see how their thoughts, feelings, and actions affect others.

How to Handle an Inability to Connect with Your Feelings
A guy who is unable to relate to your feelings is not really in a position to be an emotionally supportive partner. You could try to find out why he responds this way and if he’s willing to work on understanding and validating your feelings.
Dismissing your feelings can make you think that you’re wrong for expecting commitment and could end up settling for a guy who isn’t emotionally ready for a serious relationship.
Ask yourself if an emotionally supportive partner is a non-negotiable requirement. If so, then what’s the point of giving yourself to someone who’s unable to or won’t reassure you?

14. He Says He Doesn’t Trust Women

What? Are you still trying to date this guy after he clearly states that? The guy may hold this view out of fear of getting hurt. He’s within his right to not trust women or feel fearful. The question is, how does that apply to you? Why is he trying to date if he’s emotionally unavailable because of a lack of trust?

I’ve experienced this in two separate instances and refused to get involved in a relationship. One of the guys said he didn’t trust women because he witnessed his mother cheating on his stepdad.

While I understood the psychological effects, he had no right to project distrust onto me.

In other cases, saying he doesn’t trust you could be a cop-out or his way of implying that the relationship won’t last. If you stay and he doesn’t commit, he’ll have the perfect defense. He could say you shouldn’t feel upset after he made it clear that he doesn’t trust you (or women as a whole).

How to Handle a Man Who Doesn’t Trust Women
If someone doesn’t trust you and women, period, that’s not your problem, especially if you’ve never given them a reason to distrust you. It’s unfair for him to bring his emotional baggage from the past and dump it on you.
Tell him you feel hurt over his decision not to trust you based on the actions of other women. It may or may not change his point of view, depending on his level of self-awareness and emotional maturity. Using negative experiences with other women to judge you shows a lack of emotional growth and an inability to see every woman as a separate individual. It’s unfair for you to have to prove you’re trustworthy when you haven’t caused the distrust.
Hopefully, he can see your point of view, but it definitely takes a lot of personal development work, and sometimes psychotherapy, to get over relationship trust issues.

15. He Doesn’t Have a History of Serious Relationships

This particular sign speaks for itself, but let’s dig a little deeper. The big question is WHY. Why is there a lack of committed relationships? Is it that he didn’t want to commit or he wasn’t willing to create emotional bonds and be vulnerable with his exes?

Women who have self-love, self-compassion, and a good sense of self-worth aren’t going to settle for someone who’s emotionally disconnected. They want to be loved, cared for, and emotionally supported by their partner, especially if they’re providing those benefits to him.

On the flip side, the guy might be the one breaking off the relationship before it becomes too serious. I hardly think an emotionally unavailable man will sit the woman down and be honest and open about calling it quits.

What he’ll likely do is suddenly disappear into thin air (ghosting) or misbehave to sabotage the relationship.

How to Deal With Poor Relationship Track Record
Ask why his relationships didn’t work out. Gently broach the topic at a time when he’s talkative and in a good mood. I think this may be the best approach as opposed to speculating, especially since relationships can end quickly for so many other reasons.
Give him the floor and allow him to explain. Look for the answer in the details if he’s beating around the bush. If you sense emotional unavailability, then follow your gut instinct.
Having a suspicious relationship history coupled with other signs of emotional unavailability you’ve noticed in the guy might solve the mystery as to why the relationship isn’t moving forward. What you shouldn’t do is try to fix this guy. That is his responsibility.

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Final Thoughts on Emotionally Unavailable Man

When it comes to emotionally unavailable men, it’s never black and white. Truth is, they do have feelings, sometimes even more than usual. The problem is, most of the time, they don’t know how to acknowledge them, express them or recognize them.

The trick is to know whether a guy is someone who struggles to show his emotions or is someone who will always remain emotionally unavailable. One quick way to find out is if you try to communicate your frustration to a guy and you’re met with complete resistance (or argument), then this is a warning sign that he will probably never change.

If that’s the case, then it might be time to walk away from this relationship.

And if you want a simple guide that elaborates on this topic, then check out this step-by-step process on how to deal with an emotionally unavailable man.

Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.

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