16 Signs Your Man Is Emotionally Unavailable

man is emotionally unavailableIf 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.

More from The Stir: 12 Signs Your Man Is a Commitmentphobe

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?


Image via Ant Strack/Corbis



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OMG. My husband has all of the 16 to a point where we are getting a divorce, all 16.

Milliese Milliese

Mine too; ( but we aren't getting divorce because he has started therapy and he is doing awesome!

Now it's my turn to do all 16! I think I have two already lol.It's very sad to get divorced when you have kids! So in my case I am staying put because he hasn't had an affair or cheated on me (that I know of;) )

And his gambling is an illness, so I remembered my bows... ...... For better or for worse...... Bad idea to get married and have kids!! It's stressful! Although I don't regret my son, he is my life;)

But his dad,uhhh has given me heartaches.

Shirley Brus

This article has saved my life!!! This is John , every 16!! Now, what do I do??? Stay, go, I am alone anyway, it just won;t matter will it?

Shirley Brus

This article has saved my life! This is my guy!!! Now what do I do? Stay, go, I am alone anyway, what difference will it make??

nonmember avatar Jacob

Where is the article about EDU (emotionally disconnected women) who are disconnected from reality because they feel their mind with this JUNK? Seriously, you have ensure 99% can accuse their men of being emotionally disconnected in the article. How about you disconnect from the internet and go enjoy life with your man making this article irrelevant!

the4m... the4mutts

Jacob- what makes you think that so many men act in the ways described? I have been with an emotionally unavailable man. We are now divorced, and I have since remarried. But every girl he's been with since, has left him for acting the same way he did while we were together.

But my husband? Not a single item on this list. Not one.

This is my longest relationship ever, and the most satisfying. We waited 5yrs to get married, and are approaching our 1yr wedding anniversary.

Sounds like you're angry that this whole list describes YOU, and you don't like facing the implications

Darnell Davis

Ok feeling VERY blessed, none of these are my husband. He has no trouble with his emotions and telling me how he feels about anything. Especially the way he feels about me. He has been like that through out our 28 yr marriage.

nonmember avatar daisy

This article makes me glad I'm not with my ex anymore, he was exactly like this, still is. I know he loved me as much as anyone like him could. What people have to understand though is that people who really subconsciously act like this have a serious disorder that they need professional help with. They don't purposely choose to act like this, it just comes natural that they don't know how and cannot handle real emotions. I feel bad for him when I think about how lonely it must feel to be this way.For you ladies struggling with a man like this I'd say sit him down talk to him ask him if he will get go talk to someone like a counselor for the sake of your relationship, if he refuses then you're better off without him cause I can promise you things will never change. He will never wake up one morning with you next to him and say "Its time for a change! I think i'm going to start expressing my emotions from now on!" If he refuses, you stay, you make a statement that says you will put up with this behavior and you will accept it. You'll be happier alone or with someone else.And yes there are men out there who don't have a problem expressing how they feel. The man I'm with now, my love, my heart, expresses his feelings no problem and still is more of a man than my ex was or any other guy I've dated.He's everything "manly" a man could be but he's as soft as a teddy when it comes to me.

So don't be afraid to leave, don't be afraid to be happy-cause you will be.

nonmember avatar Jeremy

Hey I understand that men have their issues... I've even seen some with my own eyes that are pretty severe. I have also been a few of these points at times. But people need to stop blaming the guy... Addictions for 1 isn't a sign of emotional unavailibily. It's the sign of an illness which makes them unavailable, like many other of these. But basically what I'm saying is if he isn't meeting your needs and being unavailable.... Leave him or quit bitching... He's sick, see how you can help him and quit complaining about him on the internet.... This is a very sexist page, I get what your saying but your also assuming that these women arnt making some of these symptoms worse in there men... And nothing bothers me more then a women playing a victim. You can only be a victim once in a relationship... After that... You chose to stay... That's on you. But thanks for the controversy... Comments are encouraged

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