11 signs you’re in a relationship with an emotionally distant man

All you want is love. Affection. A connection that reaches beyond the physical, a deep knowing that you’re in love with the right person.

It’s really not that much to ask.

So why does he make it so very difficult? Why does every day feel like you have to pull him toward you with so much force you end up completely exhausted by the end of it?

I’ve got some bad news. You might be in a relationship with an emotionally distant man.

These are the 11 signs to watch out for.

1) There’s a lot of breadcrumbing going on

Your first question probably is, “What the heck is breadcrumbing?”

It’s what you’re most likely going through. Breadcrumbing refers to a situation where you get crumbs of attention from the person you love, leaving you hungry for each nugget of communication.

One day, you’re texting until midnight.

The next three go without even one message.

An emotionally distant man breadcrumbs because he only talks to you when it suits him, which creates an anxious cycle of excitement and disappointment on your end.

What’s more, you’re extremely confused. What’s going on? Why is he like that?

It’s like looking at a simple mathematical problem and not being able to figure it out.

2) You have no clue where you stand

Confusion permeates most aspects of the relationship, leading you down anxious spirals.

Is this even going anywhere?

You try to strike up important discussions about the future with him, but it’s like approaching a doe way too quickly. He scatters. Turns the conversation in a new direction, goes out with his friends, or completely shuts down.

As the fictional pop culture icon Bridget Jones advises, it’s best not to form romantic attachments to commitment-phobes.

But since you’re probably already dating one, that’s kind of a moot point.

The only thing left to do is to unpack all the vital signs, figure out your feelings, and make a decision that’s best for your long-term well-being.

3) Deep conversations are like digging in a frozen wasteland

He’s a vault you don’t know the number to.

You’re starved for a deeper connection, and there’s nothing you want more than to get to know him properly.

What was his childhood like? What does he think about the big unknowns, like life after death, karma, and infinity? What’s his greatest fear?


He’s Mr. Mysterious, which is all good and well in the early stages of flirting, but as far as serious relationships go, mysteries are best unveiled.

And he just won’t open up.

Related: These 8 phrases indicate that someone is genuinely interested in you

4) He gets super uncomfortable when you show vulnerability

There’s more, though. He keeps his own emotions at a distance, yes. But what hurts even more is that he gets uncomfortable when you display your own feelings.

The whole emotion business is simply not for him.

When you’re upset, he invalidates how you feel, turns to sarcasm for help, or says he needs to run because of some made-up emergency.

He doesn’t know how to console you, and what’s worse, he might make you feel silly for opening up in the first place.

And this makes you feel like…

5) You receive zero emotional support in the relationship

Turning to him for support is like leaning on air. You just fall and scrape your knees.

Slowly but surely, you begin to realize that he’s not the one you’d call if your world fell apart. You turn your attention to your friendships and family relationships because they’re a safer haven than him.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely okay to have multiple people on a list of those you’d contact in an emergency. But as someone who’s supposed to be your closest companion in life, your partner should be up there.

If he makes you feel like you can’t rely on him for emotional support and help, what is his presence in your life truly worth?

Harsh. But true.

6) You have to lean into your masculine energy during serious conversations

Emotionally distant men tend to be aloof and not take anything too seriously. If there’s an issue, they just shrug.

But serious conversations are crucial to the health of every relationship, and if he’s not putting the effort in, the whole problem falls on you.

You have to put your dominant voice on. The whole discussion is basically you giving a speech, to which he responds with long moments of silence and “uh-uh”.

Sometimes, it feels like you’re not partners at all because you have to mother him so much, solving the relationship’s issues for both of you.

But if only 50% of the couple moves forward, how many steps have you really taken?

7) One step forward, two steps back

Your effort doesn’t count for nothing, of course.

The relationship does progress a bit – maybe you’ve finally gone on that holiday, perhaps he’s agreed to get a dog, or maybe you’re moving in together.

But each big decision comes with its own mishaps. Namely, the fact that he freaks out and almost backs out Chandler-style.

Taking the relationship further is simply much harder than it should be. You’re constantly forcing him to commit to you and remain a stable presence in your life.

And when you push a bit too hard, he runs.

8) “You’re too clingy”

Ah, we’ve reached my favorite. Gaslighting.

When you’re dating an emotionally distant man, it’s common to feel like maybe you’re the problem. And he doesn’t help much, telling you that you’re too clingy or attention-seeking.

The doubts creep in. Maybe you are asking for too much? Maybe you should settle for what he offers, even when it tears you apart?

Stop right there.

Only you know what kind of love you need to be truly happy. Yes, it’s true that low self-esteem breeds more need for reassurance, but if that’s your case, a high-quality man knows how to calm you down instead of belittling you.

Plus, your self-esteem might not even be the issue. You might have a perfectly good relationship with yourself, and an emotionally distant man will still cover up his unavailability with your “neediness”.

Sigh. And all you want is a freaking hug.

9) Non-sexual affection is a rarity

Emotionally unavailable men can get weird around intimacy, especially when it’s not sexual.

Cuddling releases the love hormone oxytocin and promotes deep bonding, and maybe that’s just too much for them to handle.

Does he reach out to hold your hand as you walk down the street? Does he hug you out of nowhere, caress your skin while watching a movie, or plant a kiss on your head when you’re reading?

If your answer’s no…I’m sorry to say, but you might be dating an emotionally unavailable man.

10) Excitement and passion slowly evaporate

The longer you’ve been together, the less he tries.

He doesn’t take you on dates. Doesn’t do the little things that make you smile. Doesn’t plan trips, doesn’t go the extra mile, and leaves most decisions up to you.

After some time, it starts to feel like you’re an old couple, bored of each other’s company.

Maybe this happens in all relationships? you think, doubting your gut instinct.

And while it’s true that most relationships do calm down after some while and their passionate love transforms into the more companionate kind, you should still feel like you matter.

Love is a verb. Every day is an opportunity for him to love you. If he never takes it, he might not be the right person for you.

11) You carry the whole relationship on your shoulders

Finally, the relationship wholly relies on your own desire to keep it going.

You’re the one to start important conversations, plan dates, keep communication alive, and show love.

And you’re freaking tired of it.

Before we part, I’m going to give you a small piece of advice. Try doing nothing for a week.

Don’t text him unless he reaches out. Don’t hug him unless he initiates physical touch himself. Don’t plan anything and leave it up to him.

If you’re met with silence, there’s your answer. You’re in a relationship with an emotionally distant man.

But you deserve more. You deserve a connection of souls and that warm feeling in your chest when you know you’re truly loved.

If he can’t give you what you need… it might be time to walk away.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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