Have you been completely swept off your feet the first few months since you met your gorgeous date but now your relationship has fizzled off?
Is it ‘blow hot and then blow cold’ on most days? And even though the sex is great you don’t know where you stand? Chances are you’re dating a guy who is emotionally unavailable.
But you really want this relationship to go somewhere because he is an awesome guy. But you don’t know what to do? Now that’s a hard one but it can be done. Here's how to win an emotionally unavailable man.
Understanding an emotionally unavailable man
If you’re dating a guy who finds it hard to open up, keeps his distance and won’t go any further into your relationship then you’re probably with someone who can’t deal with emotions.
The problem is that you’re falling hard for this guy and want to take this relationship to the next level.
If you try and talk to him about your feelings and ask him to talk about his and where this relationship is going, you will probably scare the hell out of him and he will bolt, clamp up or shove you away completely.
The idea is to make him come to you and make him want you enough not to let you get away. But first, let’s tackle some tell-tale signs of an emotionally unavailable man and work on some actionable steps on how to win him over.
“Men are not born emotionally available. They learn to become emotionally available or unavailable, through a slow process of socialization” says Australian Specialist Counsellor, Wendy Perkins.
Men will learn what is expected of them based on their personal experiences with emotions. If they grow up in homes, where sharing and expressing emotions is not what’s done, then they will grow up emulating the same and become emotionally unavailable. A child can be greatly influenced if he has parents who shun emotions and are emotionally unavailable; the chances are high for the child to take on similar attitudes towards emotions.
An emotionally unavailable man will spend a lot of time internalizing his emotions or rather putting up walls so as not to deal with them. This makes him completely unaware of your feelings and he cannot empathize with what you feel.
“They’re evasive, make excuses or just inept when it comes to talking about feelings or the relationship”, clarifies Darlene Lancer who is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Relationship and Co-dependency expert.
But he was super charming, attentive and romantic when you first started out. What happened?
Well, that’s another sign that the guy you’re dating may be emotionally unavailable. As things start warming up, he slows down, may not even call you often, or will come up with excuses that hurt and sound lame.
“People who are emotionally unavailable actually do the beginning of relationships really fast, sometimes even really well, because they are bypassing the discomfort and natural rhythm of intimacy as a way to avoid being open’” explains Sile Walsh, transformation coach, author, and speaker.
Chances are this man has been emotionally hurt in the past and now uses excuses to build walls around him so as not to be hurt again. He may be truly attracted to you, but as the relationship progresses, he suddenly realizes that things are getting serious and that brings up his fear of intimacy and opening up emotionally.
If you find your date being unreasonable about changing or modifying plans and if he is inflexible in his routine, then most likely he is emotionally unavailable. Men like that don’t like losing control over their lives and will struggle to come to terms with any minor changes.
Major suggestions like moving in together will spin him out of control and that’s the reason why he will distance himself or make it difficult for such plans to go forward. An emotionally unavailable man is probably a perfectionist and will always find fault with others.
“Emotionally unavailable people have emotional obstacles in their lives that can often make them overly critical of themselves and others. They are frequently cynical and very negative about life in general. If a person close to you is always critical of you, there is a good chance this person is also overly self-critical and unable to connect emotionally,” explains Melbourne based All Relationship Matters, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Counsellors.
As such, you will find emotionally unavailable men often blame their girlfriends for even the silliest of things. And this can be a recurring issue. It goes on and on for every little thing. This is because he is trying to push you away from him unconsciously as the relationship deepens. He will blame his past or previous girlfriends for things he doesn’t want to do.
He will refuse to go there, emotionally. To maintain and improve intimacy, it's healthy to talk about your feelings, what makes you tick, what you just can’t do and face the ugly truths about yourself, but an emotionally unavailable guy will avoid these conversations.
They will not like to commit to things that are outside their comfort zone. So if you’re trying to get him to meet your family or go out with your other couple friends and he makes excuses, you’ve got yourself an emotionally unavailable guy.
All this does not mean that he is evil, terrible and should not be loved. He has clearly forgotten how to show his emotions and there are issues in his life that have made him so critical and emotionless.
But if he is someone you really want to move further in a relationship with, then there are 6 actionable steps that you can take to make him yours and help him along the way.
It may seem like a thankless task on some days but be patient and with time you will both learn more about each other and move towards a fulfilling relationship.
So let’s get started.
How to win an emotionally unavailable man in 6 steps
1. Understand where he is coming from
He is obviously going through something consciously or unconsciously and the first step towards winning this man over is to understand the issues that plague him. It could be remnants of a bad past relationship or problems with his parents during childhood.
Whatever it may be, it will help you to know where he is coming from and why he is not opening up to you so easily. By understanding, you can make up your mind if you want to go further or not and will not feel terrible when he does not want the same pace as you.
2. Let him set the pace and go with the flow
Once you know where this man is coming from, don’t overstep and take over the pace of this relationship. Be his friend first and as a friend you know you will be there when he needs you whether to support him or to just listen to him pour out his heart and soul. If he is going through something tough in his life, then make sure you keep the pressure off the relationship.
Katarina Phang author of He’s really That Into You, He’s Just Not Ready: The Ultimate Guide to Dating Emotionally Unavailable Men or Guys Who Want To Take It Slow, advises, “When he's hot, reciprocate that, this is your time to establish bonding. When he's cold, also keep a distance. Don't try to force yourself into him asking for attention and affection. He will only withdraw further.”
It also means that you will have to respect his terms. If you have had that conversation with him and have let him know that you want this relationship to flourish into something more meaningful; but if he speaks out and tells you that he would rather keep it casual – then you are going to have to respect that.
It’s important to go as far as he wants to go. Try and push him into something else and he will run from you.
3. Go out and have some fun
Don’t just wait around for him. Be your own person, love yourself and most importantly go out and have some fun. Be confident about ‘who you are’ and develop a strong sense of self which will attract him more to you.
You don’t have to conform to what he wants you to be or wait to plan around him. Pursue your own interests. If he hasn’t officially told you that you are his girlfriend, then, by all means, accept dates with other guys.
“It's a recipe for drama and heartache when you assume a role of a girlfriend when he himself clearly hasn't used that word to describe you,” says Katarina.
It’s about balance and offering as much as he is willing to offer, no more and no less.
4. Give up the chase
Don’t chase him. It does sound archaic, but all men like to be in control on most levels and prefer to be the ones chasing. But for a man who is emotionally unavailable, this is also about control over the relationship and the pace that it is taking. It’s also about exercising control over his emotions and how much he is willing to bare.
So every time you feel that you want to move the relationship further or want to nudge him along quicker, take a step back. Be patient. Let him call, email or set up a date. Let him chase you.
Create a safe zone in you for him to feel safe and comfortable.
5. Ease the pressure
By being patient with him you will ease the pressure off him, the relationship and yourself.
“There is no need to also bring the subject “where is this going” or “are we exclusive?” if he has said it once that he wasn't ready for the relationship. Just observe his actions”, advises Katarina.
By pressurizing him with such questions or always nagging him about your expectations, you will only succeed in pushing him away from you.
He will sense that you want to control how he feels and that what he is doing is not good enough for you, and this will make him even more unavailable to you.
You may be tempted to push the pace of the relationship because you have fallen for this guy, and you want things to progress but it’s important you take his feelings into consideration and what he wants.
If he doesn’t want to meet you parents yet or go out with other couple friends, then wait for him to make suggestions – don’t push it. This will only scare the hell out of him.
6. Open up to him
It’s important that you are able to open up to him about your own emotions – tell him your secrets and talk about your fears. You don’t want him to think that you don’t want to share stuff with him.
This will only make him distrust you and be more distant with you. But match your pace with his. Don’t over share, be overly dramatic and get all emotional especially when he has clearly drawn the lines on where your relationship stands.
“If he’s listening intently to what you’re saying and sharing his own secrets, it means there’s hope for you. If he has zero enthusiasm when you reveal important things about yourself, it’s a sign that he is not into you or that it would take a lot of hard work from both of you to achieve the connection you’re yearning for,” says the experts at Lovepanky.
But if you find that he doesn’t want to hear about your problems and know how you feel, then that’s ok. Walk away. Don’t pout, get emotional, give the silent treatment or scream.
Try and remain calm and play the game the way he wants to. Don’t reward his bad behavior by saying something loving to make him feel better. He may ignore you for a while and that will probably hurt, but if you must then state how you feel after things have calmed down
Kristina Marchant, Relationship coach and author of The Prism Effect: How To Get A Man To Love You says “This will show him that you aren't a pushover, and will make him see that loving you requires accountability and structure. Accountability and structure will actually make an emotionally unavailable man feel more trusting of you and safer to come closer”.
You can win your emotionally unavailable man
“If you are in a relationship with a partner who is emotionally unavailable, please know that there is much that can be done. There are skills that can be learned that can evolve into wonderful, extravagant exchanges of our emotional selves,” say the experts at Bayridge Counselling Center, Canada,
Emotionally unavailable people can change. Loving a man who is emotionally unavailable will not be a one-time fix. It will take a lot of patience and understanding.
You need to make sure you’re up for the ride and that this man is worth the effort. Sometimes it’s okay to walk away if you feel that this relationship is really not working out or take too much of your energy and not giving you the fulfillment that you desire.