10 ways to quickly tell if a man is emotionally unavailable

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Sometimes, you might start a relationship and still notice something keeping you apart. It can feel like there’s a wall of misunderstanding between you two.

This leads to feeling vaguely uncomfortable and unsatisfied with your partner or the relationship itself.

If this sounds familiar to you, don’t despair! Here are 10 ways to quickly tell if a man is emotionally unavailable.

1) Their affectionate gestures aren’t consistent

One of the first signs of emotionally unavailable men is inconsistency. One day, they will be super affectionate, and the next, they won’t even text you. 

In fact, it’s the most likely scenario. One moment of vulnerability might lead to another of panic and silence in their mind. 

Emotionally unavailable people avoid being intimate for long, and when they are, they feel scared and run. 

If this constantly happens, the partner with a healthy emotional attachment can get tired, and the result is that the relationship will fizzle out or end in bad terms. 

Don’t think that this is only about physical intimacy. It frequently includes other loving gestures! 

For example, I remember buying a nice shirt for my ex-boyfriend. I knew blue was his favorite color, so I picked it, especially for him. 

He was enthusiastic, but my gesture was never reciprocated. This showed me he didn’t really think of me or try to improve my life in any way.

2) To them, emotions are a sign of vulnerability

People who aren’t emotionally healthy tend to judge people who are. If you are the “sensitive” kind, prone to wear your heart on your sleeve, you’ve probably heard it all before. 

It’s easy to criticize and antagonize people who express their emotions. 

Men who aren’t emotionally attuned usually have an avoidant attachment style, and their perspective on feelings is negative. 

They might tease you–sometimes to the point of cruelty–or change the topic as soon as stuff gets “too heavy” for them to manage. 

Overall, they don’t like and don’t want to be and be seen as vulnerable, so they’d better avoid being emotional altogether.

3) The word “relationship” stresses them out

Being emotionally unavailable can encompass apprehension towards commitment and intimacy. 

In simple words, a mere mention of “relationship” stressed emotionally unavailable men the heck out.

If you keep things casual and light, it feels good for them. But if you fall in love and try to move things forward, they might cut things off quickly

These are some other warning signs of emotionally unavailable men

  • They state that they don’t want anything serious;
  • They talk too much about their ex;
  • They will mention their feelings for other women in their life;
  • They will outright say they don’t want to commit. 

I advise you not to date for potential.

Girl, we’ve all been there. When it feels like “they can change for the better.”

Yeah, they won’t, trust me.

Instead, try to see the person as they are, without letting your feelings rule you.

4) They don’t want your relationship to progress

Serious, committed relationships go through different milestones together. The relationship moves forward naturally. 

When one of the partners isn’t emotionally available, they won’t act to bring the other closer. There won’t be common goals to reach, and you’ll wonder why things feel “stuck” or too slow. 

For example, let’s say you’ve been dating for a few years, and you want to move in together. The other person might make you feel like you’re moving too fast, or they might tell you that you’re scaring them away. 

Take a moment and consider: does the man in your life would like to move things forward? If this isn’t the case, here are some other signs that may tell you he’s emotionally unavailable:

  • Not willing to meet your family and friends; 
  • You don’t know who his family and friends are either;
  • You can’t talk to him about the future;
  • You feel insecure about bringing up any serious topic about your relationship;
  • He gets defensive when you ask questions about your relationship status.

5) They don’t talk about their past

Emotionally unavailable men aren’t open and honest, even if they don’t cheat. They won’t tell you about their past because to them, that’s another vulnerable area. 

Now I’m not saying that couples should discuss every detail of their past relationships with each other, but sharing the important things shouldn’t be a struggle. 

After all, you have to get to know each other well before committing to anything serious! 

If they don’t even touch the topic of their past, it can be a red flag. 

Most likely, they’re emotionally unavailable and afraid of intimacy. It’s essential to know more about the other person’s life. 

Pay special attention if you find out they’ve never been in a serious relationship, especially if they’re older than 25. It’s a warning sign that can save you from heartbreak. 

6) They prefer physical intimacy to long conversations

Physical intimacy might not be seen as “equally vulnerable” when it comes to moving a relationship forward. 

It’s a very common situation for emotionally unavailable men

They feel like they don’t have to deal with the negative side of emotions if they focus on the physical side of the relationship. Beware, especially if he’s overtly sexual at the beginning of the relationship. 

If the deep emotional side is lacking, and instead, the focus is on the physical aspect, take it as a red flag that it is and try to move on. 

Someone who isn’t afraid of tapping into their own and others’ emotions would want to know their partner better on any level, not just the physical one.

7) They don’t make an effort

This ties into the inconsistency aspect that I mentioned before. If you make an effort, it will probably not be reciprocated at all

He won’t put you first or make sure you’re happy and satisfied. Does he take the initiative, or is it you doing stuff for him all the time? 

These are other ways he shows you that he simply doesn’t care: 

  • He never makes romantic gestures such as bringing you flowers, for example;
  • He won’t plan dates, and he will only adjust his plans to whatever you propose; 
  • He won’t care when you express something negative about the relationship, and if he says he cares, this won’t translate into actions. 

If I had known about these red flags before, I would’ve not been with a few of my exes. They didn’t take care of me, and I didn’t realize it back then! 

Basically, I was trying to see the best in them and give them credit, even for the smallest things. 

However, I should’ve better noticed the huge red flags that were right in front of my face. 

And didn’t lie to myself that they’re “not that red, actually”. 

Yes, girl. They are.

8) They don’t express their feelings

When you share emotions, how does he respond?

Does he express what he’s feeling or not? For example, when you tell him you love him, does he say “I love you” back, or does he say “That’s so nice to hear”?

I mean, you’d probably figure something is wrong if he didn’t reply back with “I love you too”. But it might not be as obvious as this example. 

Emotionally unavailable people would do whatever it takes to hide their true emotions from others.

It’s important to know where your partner is standing when it comes to emotions. If they can’t or won’t open up, they might be emotionally unavailable. 

9) Their past is a huge red flag

It’s critical to remember that we can’t judge someone solely based on their past, but when it comes to relationships, it’s helpful to take note of their history. 

For men who may be emotionally unavailable, it’s not uncommon to see patterns in their past relationships. 

Perhaps they’ve only had casual flings or situationships, or maybe they’ve had toxic and unfulfilling relationships. 

You may also notice that they leave relationships when things get serious or if they feel like they get stuck. All of these patterns can be signs of fear or discomfort with emotional intimacy

Remember, everyone has a past, but we can work through these issues and grow together in a relationship.

10) You haven’t met their friends

If you’ve been in a relationship with someone for about a few months and haven’t met their friends, it could be a sign that they’re not ready to acknowledge the relationship. 

They might be compartmentalizing their life and not willing to let you be a part of it. This might not be the case in familial situations, especially if they have children. 

However, if you notice that they don’t invite you to social events like parties or work gatherings, it’s not good. These situations could be another way of them keeping you at a distance. 

Remember to communicate with your partner and express your concerns.

Most common questions about emotionally unavailable men

1) What could be the reasons why someone struggles with emotional intimacy?

Usually, all roads lead to our childhood. 

Children whose parents weren’t emotionally healthy can develop an avoidant attachment style as a defense mechanism. 

What do I mean by emotionally unavailable parents? These could be someone as:

  • Alcoholics or workaholics;
  • People with mental disorders;
  • Abusers of any kind;
  • Self-absorbed narcissists.

If your partner experienced a lack of emotional support or was discouraged from expressing their emotions, they may have developed the habit of suppressing their feelings.

When trauma happens during childhood, this defense mechanism blocks their emotional responses so they don’t feel any more fear or neglect from their caregivers. 

2) What are the reasons behind people being drawn to emotionally unavailable partners?

If you’re emotionally healthy, you might be wondering why exactly you would choose to stay in a relationship like this

It’s not like a partner like this would take extra care of you, so why stay?

Well, people with an anxious attachment style often attract avoidant partners because they have problems of their own. 

It might be anxiety, low self-esteem, and low self-worth, among a million other things. 

It’s difficult to spot someone who’s not emotionally healthy, especially through our youth. 

Especially because emotionally healthy people might also have casual relationships!

This becomes evident once you leave the first half of your twenties behind. You stop dating the idealized version of a man and try to stay grounded throughout the honeymoon stage. 

3) What are the ways to move on from an emotionally unavailable man?

It’s key to ask yourself some deep questions and answer them honestly. The questions are such as:

  • Do I feel happy in this relationship? 
  • Am I willing to endure this way of dating forever?
  • How does he express his love?
  • Does he ever talk about his feelings? 

You have to be your main priority, so if you notice a red flag, you’re more than welcome to end things before the heartbreak inevitably comes. 

In a nutshell 

If your attempts to make things work are proving unsuccessful or the relationship is taking a toll on your mental well-being, it may be necessary to consider ending it. 

I realize this may be challenging, particularly if you have devoted significant time and energy to the relationship.

In the end, you have the power to decide whether to continue being in a relationship that lacks love, affection, and emotional intimacy. Remember that your self-worth and overall well-being are on the line.

There are many emotionally healthy men out there; you just need to put yourself out there and be ready to meet them!

You deserve all the best, girl! Don’t settle for less.

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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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