If you feel like you're pulling teeth with two thumbs and no anesthesia every time you try to get your guy to talk about his feelings, well, you wouldn't be alone. Plenty of men find they can't, because they're cut off from their emotions. Society still tells guys, from the time they are very little, to deny their feelings or better yet, not have them at all. Unfortunately, women are simultaneously being primed by society to believe that men should fulfill them emotionally.
So little girl and little boy grow up, get married, and become frustrated with each other. Amiright?
Sigh. We're here to help you recognize when your man is having a hard time getting in touch with his "feminine side" (see what a sexist world we live in?). Patti Henry, therapist and author of The Emotionally Unavailable Man, writes that there are various behaviors suggesting a man is emotionally shut down. Here are 16 signs your guy is emotionally unavailable.
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1. Not talking. Sure, maybe your guy loves to talk about baseball, work, or that man cave he's determined to build in the basement one day. But when it comes to subjects that require any degree of connecting with his emotional side -- how your relationship is doing, how he feels about his crappy boss, his fears about how to pay for the kids' educations -- he clams up. Refusing to engage in any topic that might inflame emotions ("I don't want to argue about that!") is just a way of avoiding them altogether.
2. Being passive-aggressive. Many a passive-aggressive man has driven many a woman to near insanity. This is the guy who will say he's going to do something, or agree with a plan, but subtly go out of his way to sabotage it. For instance, he says he definitely wants to visit your in-laws. But when the time comes, he's always sick, or working too much, or (fill in excuse here). He'll say he's going to fix the garage door tomorrow, but then you have to remind him about it 50 times. He finally explodes because you're "nagging." He finds it virtually impossible to risk "confrontation" by saying no to something or saying how he really feels -- and he may not even acknowledge how he really feels.
3. Having addictions. Addictions, be it to a substance, a hobby (even sports), work, food, porn, or anything else, always act as a great way for the EUM (emotionally unavailable male) to create distance in the relationship.
4. Affairs. Affairs are probably the most obvious way that a man can be emotionally unavailable to you. Patti Henry said that the men in her therapy describe affairs as an "oasis" where they feel appreciated. But he really should be creating that "oasis" with you.
5. Lying. Another way for an EUM to shirk responsibility for his own feelings and actions is simply to lie. Whether he's saying that he fixed something when he didn't, or he was at church when he was at the strip club, or that he never contacted his ex when he's been emailing her for months, lying is a way for him to avoid uncomfortable emotions.
6. Lies of omission. While most men wouldn't consider keeping information from you "so you don't get upset" to be a lie, it is. And since it's often easier to do than lying, and gives plausible deniability in case he's caught ("I never said that I didn't see my ex, I just forgot to mention that I did!"), lies of omission are some guys' favorite way of avoiding dealing with their feelings and emotional repercussions.
7. Secret behavior. Whether a guy has a family in another state or he sneaks off to play fantasy football when you think he's volunteering at a soup kitchen, secret behavior is yet another way of refusing to be genuine and accept responsibility.
8. Refusing to argue. While arguing might seem like a sign that the relationship is in trouble, it's also a sign that two people can express their differences of opinion. But if he just won't engage when there's a disagreement and literally walks away whenever the conversation turns heated, that's a sign he's closed off from his emotions -- possibly because he grew up in a household where arguing wasn't done, or where it was done all the time, leaving him scared of and horrified by fights.
9. Physical avoidance. Never being home, coming home only when he knows you're busy or about to go to bed, or staying in the basement, shed, garage, etc. are another red flag that a guy is emotionally unavailable. If he isn't there physically, he certainly can't be there emotionally either.
10. Raging. Shouting you down every time you bring up something he doesn't want to acknowledge or hear is a clear sign that he's not appropriately processing his feelings.
11. Being condescending. And he's also avoiding dealing with real feelings when he talks down to you and says things like, "You want to talk again? Good God, woman, your lips flap so much they could power a jet engine!" or "Oh my God, are you crying again? You should have been an actress!"
12. Gaslighting. Telling a woman who wants to discuss controversial or emotional topics that she's "crazy," "hysterical," "overly emotional," "not normal," "paranoid," "nagging," etc. is another indication he's shut down.
13. Being difficult to communicate with. Not everyone knows how to communicate effectively, but being stubbornly obtuse about it is a good sign your partner just can't do it. For instance, you may ask him what he wants for dinner and also what the two of you should do about the fact that your son is in jail again. He'll answer the dinner part.
14. Making unilateral decisions. Not consulting you when he makes a major decision that affects both of you -- such as getting a puppy or a vasectomy -- might not seem like a sign he's emotionally unavailable, but it is.
15. Communication breakdown. Staring at you blankly when you ask a question, not answering point-blank questions, or answering them in roundabout ways means your guy isn't willing to face feelings and issues head-on. Instead, he'll focus on minutiae instead of the big picture. For example, you say that there's a hurricane coming and you better get in the basement and he says, "It's not a hurricane, stupid! It's a tornado! How could you not know the difference?"
16. Denial. He might say his family is awesome and his childhood was perfect, even though he's told you his father was a raging drunk and his mother would beat him. Or he might tell you something vulnerable about himself but when you try to engage him more, he says he was "joking." But denial, as they say, is an ugly thing. And it means he just can't or won't deal with real feelings -- his own or yours.
The good news is that emotionally unavailable people -- whether male or female (yes, women CAN be emotionally unavailable, though society makes it much more acceptable in men) -- can learn how to connect with their feelings. But it takes work. And the person has to want to change and be willing to work consistently at it. In the end, though, he will be much happier for it, and so will your relationship!
Have you ever been with anyone who felt emotionally unavailable?
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