What To Do With An Emotionally Unavailable Man

You’ve probably dated your fair share of emotionally unavailable men. 

You know the type. He’s charming and attentive, but he pulls away and becomes emotionally distant. He’s not interested in commitment, and he doesn’t want to talk about his feelings.

So why do you keep finding yourself falling for an emotionally unavailable man?

At first, that type of guy may seem exciting. It’s thrilling to be involved in a whirlwind romance, full of passion and chemistry. But eventually, emotionally unavailable men always disappoint. You’re investing your time in someone who doesn’t have the desire or capacity to reciprocate your love. 

If you’re struggling to maintain a connection with your boyfriend and you think you may be getting attached to a man who will never marry you, dating coach Evan Marc Katz outlines all the signs that your partner is emotionally available – and tells you exactly what you should do next. 

You’re smitten. It’s easy to see why.

He’s fun. He’s sexy. He’s successful. And he’s interested in you.

Naturally, you want him to become your boyfriend and begin to envision a future with him.

There’s just one thing: he’s emotionally unavailable.

Which means that even if he’s a great catch, he’s a high-risk long-term partner. Many women spend years waiting for their emotionally unavailable man to change, only to discover that his definition of a relationship and your definition of a relationship are two wildly different things.

So, are you wasting your time on him, or should you wait it out and hope things turn around?

Keep reading, and I’ll explain.

What does it mean when a person is emotionally unavailable?

What makes a man emotionally unavailable?

It’s an important question because this is a term that’s thrown around loosely and not always accurately.

A man who doesn’t want to rush into a relationship isn’t necessarily emotionally unavailable. He may be cautious. He may have been hurt before. He may be timid by nature. But that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of a committed relationship. Such a man can be considerate of your feelings, communicate his desires, and ultimately become an amazing boyfriend.

Similarly, a man who is not interested in a relationship with you isn’t necessarily emotionally unavailable. It’s easy to assume that if he’s unwilling to commit to you, it must be some sort of failing on his part. But haven’t there been men that YOU didn’t want to commit to? Maybe you’re not that attracted, maybe he’s not that interesting, or maybe the timing is wrong. But being rejected by a man doesn’t mean he’s inherently unavailable.

Emotionally unavailable people are marked by three basic qualities:

  • They are emotionally distant.
  • They show indifference to the feelings of their partners.
  • They cannot commit to relationships despite the fact that they say they can.

That last one is particularly hard because emotionally unavailable men often present as enthusiastic partners, only to reveal over time that they have an avoidant personality.

This doesn’t mean such men have no feelings, that they don’t love you, or that they’re evil.

Emotionally unavailable men either cannot or will not reciprocate your emotional investments the way you’d want them to – thus leaving you perpetually dissatisfied and feeling unsafe.

Emotionally unavailable men either cannot or will not reciprocate your emotional investments the way you’d want them to – thus leaving you perpetually dissatisfied and feeling unsafe.

How does one become emotionally unavailable?

The underlying reasons for emotional unavailability vary from one person to another.

Sometimes, it can be an offshoot of a dramatic life event. If his mother died of cancer, if his father abandoned him when he was young, or if his ex-wife cheated on him, you can see why he may be afraid to open up, be vulnerable and throw himself into love again.

Then there are men who are emotionally unavailable because they are so dedicated to the pursuit of other goals. There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing one’s career, but if that coincides with working 60 hour weeks or traveling 20 weeks a year, even the nicest guy may be considered emotionally unavailable.

Or perhaps he just got out of a long-term relationship and doesn’t know what he wants. It’s incredibly common for people to look for a rebound relationship directly after breaking up.

An emotionally unavailable man will rarely TELL you it’s a rebound relationship, but since he’s single for the first time in years, it stands to reason that he may rush into both physical intimacy or an exclusive relationship.

But that, too, is often an illusion. Most men who are recently separated or divorced are NOT ready for a serious commitment – even if they think they are.

Most men who are recently separated or divorced are NOT ready for a serious commitment – even if they think they are.

Therein lies the problem. You can’t always tell whether a situation is temporary or permanent – whether a guy is just going through a rough time or is actually suffering from an avoidant personality.

If it’s the former, work can calm down and he can heal from his breakup. If it’s the latter, he may unconsciously spend his entire life blocking his feelings out of fear of pain, rejection and loss.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

The result is that you’ll have a guy who genuinely wants to make a lasting connection but always sabotages it by pulling away or unconsciously creating distance.

Ultimately, their fears and coping mechanisms prevent them from the very thing they want most.

What are the signs that you have an emotionally unavailable partner?

If you feel that there’s something off in your relationship, you’re not alone.

It’s easy to fall in love and envision a future with an emotionally unavailable guy. Many emotionally unavailable people are vibrant, charismatic, and make you feel good about yourself. Charm is their superpower, and it allows them to get away with what comes next.

You know what it is – that nagging feeling, months later, that your relationship is going nowhere.

By failing to recognize the signs of emotional unavailability in the first six weeks, you find yourself trapped in a relationship that can be mentally and emotionally punishing.

So, how do you know if you are dating someone emotionally unavailable? Here are a few signs:

You don’t know what to call your relationship

You’ve been going out for two or three months. You’ve met each other’s friends. You have great chemistry and lots of fun. And yet, you don’t know exactly where your relationship stands.

Emotionally unavailable men prefer to keep things casual and avoid making serious commitments. You’ll hear a lot of things like:

  • “I’m not sure what I want.”
  • “Everything is great. Why do we have to put a label on it?”
  • “I don’t like the word ‘boyfriend’.”
  • “I’m not seeing anybody else. Isn’t that enough?”
  • “Can’t we just keep doing this and see where it goes?”

These are all his ways of saying that while you might want to take things to the next level, he is more than happy to keep things exactly as they are right now.

While you might want to take things to the next level, he is more than happy to keep things exactly as they are right now.

It feels like you’re stuck

Relationships with emotionally unavailable people often start off fast because that’s the only way these avoidant men can win you over. They start off with love-bombing, frequent texting, and romantic gestures – anything to demonstrate how excited they are about you.

None of this involves actual intimacy. It’s the illusion of intimacy; it’s a seduction method designed to win you over without opening his heart.

Which is why, after the honeymoon phase ends, you feel stuck. You wonder how that same guy who was so into you at the beginning can be so indifferent now. You long to connect with him but realize you don’t even know much about him. All you know is that he made you feel really good at the beginning, and now you feel really bad.

He doesn’t let his guard down

An emotionally unavailable partner can be difficult to read. You don’t know what he is thinking or feeling because he won’t open up and let his guard down.

It’s not that he doesn’t have feelings; it’s that he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing them. Maybe he was taught at a young age that people can’t be trusted. Maybe his own relationship experience suggests the same thing. At the end of the day, this is not a man who wants to share his feelings nor hear about yours. The more you ask him to talk, the more he’ll deflect.

You may think you’re close because you spend a lot of time together, but it’s hard to feel safe and connected if your emotionally unavailable man prefers to keep you at a safe distance.

He resorts to making jokes

To protect himself from having to go deep, emotionally unavailable men are skilled in using humor to avoid serious conversations. This is the same charm that originally seduced you, and now it’s being used to keep you at an arm’s length.

It’s far easier and safer for a man like this to avoid his emotions and control the conversation than to earnestly explore how he feels.

While you just want to be real, he teases you about always turning the conversation serious. He may not be intentionally gaslighting you, but it sure can feel that way.

He doesn’t reciprocate your efforts

Emotionally unavailable men may be confident and alpha in their lives, but when it comes to making an effort for you, they tend to be passive.

Their big effort is in GETTING into a relationship with you. At the same time, they know that if they continue to make a colossal effort, things will start to get serious. Which is why emotionally unavailable men fall into obvious behavior patterns: they stop reaching out, stop making plans, and stop making you feel like a priority. Suddenly, you’re forced to do all the work to prop up the relationship. And if you stop doing all the work, the relationship falls apart. So you keep it going, even though it’s draining and you’re not getting much in return.

This is a perfect arrangement for the unavailable man because they believe, subconsciously, that making an emotional investment and putting in effort sets them up for heartbreak.

He’s canceled your plans multiple times

It’s bad enough that he’s left you to plan your dates. What’s more disheartening is when he arrives late or cancels your plans, with a little apology and no intent to make things right.

What’s worse is that he always has an excuse – and you’re supposed to always accept it.

Next thing you know, you don’t feel like “the cool girl,” but, rather, a doormat.

Yet, doormat is just about the only role for someone dating an emotionally unavailable man. Since these men always put themselves first, you will always finish in second.

Since these men always put themselves first, you will always finish in second

He’s never been emotionally intimate with you

An emotionally unavailable person almost always prefers physical intimacy over emotional intimacy.


Because physical intimacy is easy. It doesn’t leave him feeling vulnerable. It makes him feel connected and relaxed – and it has that temporary effect on you, as well.

But a relationship based on sex is not much of a relationship at all. If most of your time is spent having sex, you’re never talking about anything real. Feelings. Emotions. Hopes. Dreams. Disappointments.

You know: the things that allow you to deeply connect with the closest friends in your life.

Your man may not want to go deep, but if you have that need, you may need another man.

He shuts you down

To emotionally unavailable men, the expression of feelings is a sign of weakness and neediness.

It’s not.

You’re only as needy as your unmet needs. And when you’re dating a man like this – his avoidant attachment style can only serve to make you feel anxious and needy.

You’re only as needy as your unmet needs.

If you try to get closer or bring up a conversation, he will either withdraw (and leave you feeling lonely and crazy), or fight back (and tell you that you’re being emotional and demanding).

The fact is that since HIS way of dealing with emotion is to shut it down or avoid it, he assumes that you should do the exact same thing.

That’s a really unhealthy way to live, and no one should have to put up with such treatment.

Why are women attracted to emotionally unavailable men?

Dating emotionally unavailable men can only leave you questioning yourself.

What have you been doing wrong to attract men who are emotionally distant?


To be clear, you don’t “attract” these men, you ACCEPT these men.

You’re attracted to their confidence, aloofness, and inscrutability.

You find it more appealing when a guy leaves you guessing than when he’s really consistent.

This often has to do with the primary relationship you observed when you were young.

That became your normal and you’ve spent your whole life recreating that dynamic.

You had emotionally unavailable parents

Psychologists say that people are attracted to people that are similar to them and their parents.

If you had a father who left when you were six, and you never felt you could win his love, you may choose men who are also distant, because that’s what’s normal to you.

If you had a mother who was a critical narcissist, you may choose men who also embody those traits because that’s what’s normal to you.

It’s not your fault for thinking that dysfunctional relationships are normal, but it is up to you to try to identify and break that pattern, lest you spend your whole life with emotionally unavailable men, wondering why you can never seem to make things work with them.

The fact is: NOBODY can.

You are also emotionally unavailable

Then there’s the possibility that because of what you’ve been through with your family and your ex-boyfriends that you are also somewhat avoidant.

It makes sense. If every relationship you’ve ever had has broken your heart or disappointed you, you may be afraid of experiencing true intimacy.

As such, you unconsciously seek relationships with emotionally unavailable people because they’re strangely safe. Since you know in your heart they’re never going to work, you never have to be truly vulnerable.

You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop – because, with the men you choose, it always does.

You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop – because, with the men you choose, it always does.

Can you make an emotionally unavailable person fall in love with you?

Being in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable person can be draining, especially since you’re doing all the work.

But can you turn things around and make an emotionally unavailable person fall in love with you? Or are you better off calling it quits?

While many women spend years banking on a man’s potential, hoping he changes, wishing she could recreate the magic of the first few months, the truth is that there is little reward to dating an emotionally unavailable man.

You have to do everything to make your relationship work.

You have to get him to open up.

You have to deal with inconsistency, loneliness and insecurity.

And while you can argue that it’s a temporary condition due to a recent break-up, for the most part, men like this are bad bets for a healthy long-term relationship.

There’s no value in blaming a man for his inability to commit and make you feel safe; at the same time, there’s no value in staying with someone who is incapable of it.

A good partner should fill your cup. An emotionally unavailable partner just drains it.

A good partner should fill your cup. An emotionally unavailable partner just drains it.

How to deal with an emotionally unavailable man?

Entering a relationship and making yourself vulnerable is hard enough. But with an emotionally unavailable significant other, you will perpetually find yourself confused and frustrated.

Millions of women stay with emotionally unavailable men because of attraction, sunk costs, or fear that they can’t do better. But you can.

Here’s how to deal with an emotionally unavailable man:

1. Recognize the signs

Whether you’re already in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man or hoping to avoid one, it’s important to recognize the signs.

As I’ve mentioned, failing to do so will trap you into a mentally- and emotionally-punishing relationship.

2. Set boundaries

An emotionally unavailable man will often take as much as he can from you without giving anything back. It’s important to set boundaries so that you don’t end up getting hurt more than necessary.

3. Don’t take it personally

Remember that it’s not about you. He has his own issues that he needs to deal with. And his inability to connect with you emotionally has nothing to do with you as a person.

4. Know when to let him go

You can’t have a relationship with a man dependent on him changing for you. You have to assume that this is all there is.

Once you realize that you’re unhappy and that – despite his charms – he’s actually incapable of making you feel safe and happy, you can let him go and choose a man who you don’t have to work so hard to change.