7 signs of an emotionally unavailable man, according to psychology

The early stages of a relationship can be both exhilarating and confusing, right? 

On one hand, it’s fun and exciting to learn about someone and explore new feelings with them. But on the other hand, it’s hard to read someone who you don’t know very well. 

What about if your instincts tell you something is off? 

Your feelings are growing but they’re not showing much affection. They seem distant and indifferent. Are they just playing it cool to keep your attention or are they emotionally unavailable? 

This is where psychology can help us out. Although every man is different there are a few common signs to look out for that tell you he’s emotionally unavailable. 

Today, I’m sharing 7 of those signs to help you recognize when your man isn’t all in emotionally, so you can make the best relationship choices for yourself. 

Do you recognize any of these in your man? 

Let’s get started.  

1) They give you mixed signals

Is there anything more confusing and frustrating than a guy who gives you mixed signals? 

It’s like he’s all about you one day, messaging you and chatting with you. Then the very next day, you can’t get two words from him. 

This inconsistent communication is typical for an emotionally unavailable man. “They can swiftly transition between engagement and aloofness” as outlined by Dr. Danielle Roeske, clinical psychologist and relational psychoanalyst. 

If your man is blowing hot and cold with you, showing inconsistent behavior and communication, it’s something to take note of and may suggest he’s emotionally unavailable. 

2) They don’t like deep conversations or talking about their feelings

It’s normal not to spill your life story on the first date. However, for things to progress into a relationship, you need to get to know one another on a deeper level. 

And this means having deeper conversations and talking about feelings.

This is not something emotionally unavailable people find easy and therefore they’re likely to avoid it as long as they can. 

Elyakim Kislev, Ph.D., sociologist, and author explains “One way that emotional unavailability can manifest is through a lack of emotional expression or difficulty talking about feelings”.

If the time has come in your relationship to get a little deeper and your man seems to be resisting or simply unable to go there with you, it’s a telling sign about how available he is emotionally. 

3) They won’t commit to future plans 

How far in advance is your partner willing to schedule plans with you?

If you watched the TV series, ‘How I Met Your Mother’, you’ll probably remember Barney Stinson’s golden rule about committing to plans.

The date-time continuum, as he called it, states that you never make plans with a girl further in the future than the time you’ve been going out. Personally, I found this to be a great guide early in relationships. But it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you. 

It’s important not to jump into a new relationship, head first, and make a lot of plans that never happen because you guys didn’t make it past the second date. 

But you’ve got to see progress as time goes on in your relationship. 

If you notice your man is not willing to commit to any future plans, even minor ones like weekend plans or a day trip a few weeks out, it could be a red flag that indicates he’s emotionally unavailable. 

4) They’ve got a track record of short-term relationships

Have you talked to your partner about their relationship history? 

If not: now might be the time to have that conversation.

Although, sometimes we’d rather not go digging around in the past, understanding your man’s relationship history can actually tell you a lot. 

If they’ve had a string of short-term relationships or none at all, it might be something to note.

As outlined by Psychology Today, “A history of short-term or superficial relationships is another potential sign of emotional unavailability..A person who is emotionally unavailable may have a pattern of starting and ending relationships quickly”.

Understanding their past can go a long way in helping you to understand your potential future, so be brave and ask the question. 

5) They don’t show empathy

Carl Rogers, American Psychologist who popularized empathy in the 20th century suggests that “empathy is the ability to understand another person’s experience in the world, as if you were that person, without ever losing the “as if” sense.”

Think about your relationship so far: has your man shown you empathy throughout? 

During disagreements, even though you have opposing views, he listens to you and acknowledges your feelings. Or when you’re stressed at work, he’s able to comfort and support you. He understands you.

If you haven’t seen examples of empathy like this, it might mean he’s just not emotionally available.

6) There’s an extreme emphasis on being independent

A common theme among people who tend to lack emotional availability is their over-emphasis on independence. 

While independence in any relationship is healthy, being overly independent can mean:

  • He doesn’t turn to you for emotional support 
  • He thinks he can handle everything himself. 
  • He prioritizes his wants and needs over yours or what’s best for the relationship. 

Sound familiar? 

Emotionally unavailable people often have an avoidant attachment style and it’s common for these people to lean towards extreme independence as opposed to a healthy amount, in relationships. 

They “value independence over interdependence” as outlined by Annie Tanasugarn Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in attachment. 

The bottom line: if your partner over-emphasizes their independence, it might be telling you about their lack of emotional availability. 

7) They’re all about the physical stuff

It’s amazing when you have an instant physical connection with someone, right? 

But we all know for a relationship to stand the test of time there also needs to be an emotional connection

Very often, emotionally unavailable people will be all about the physical stuff in a relationship but then they’ll completely avoid the emotional side of things. 

“They may prefer casual sex or superficial relationships” as noted by Psychology Today.

Here’s the thing: we need both physical and emotional intimacy for a strong healthy relationship. It’s not a bad thing if there’s a great physical connection between you two, instantly. 

But if you don’t see it developing beyond that as time goes on, it might be a tell-tale sign your guy isn’t emotionally available. 

Final thoughts

There you have it, 7 signs to look out for that indicate your man is emotionally unavailable

How many of them resonated with you? 

Don’t forget, that different relationships move at different speeds, and just because you aren’t there yet with an emotional connection, doesn’t mean you won’t get there.

Keeping these signs in mind will help you to ask the right questions at the right time for you and your partner. 

Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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