What To Do With An Emotionally Unavailable Man


Man, I wish I wrote this.

I’ve never been an emotionally unavailable man. Even when I was in my ten-year-online-dating-slut phase, I always wanted to fall in love.

So while I can’t personally identify with guys who are shut-off from love, I can acknowledge one thing: they keep me in business.

And yet, today, I’m going to continue to do my part to put myself out of business, by sharing this really well-written piece from SingleBlackMale.com on what emotionally unavailable men are thinking and doing when you’re dating them. (Thanks to the ladies of FOCUS Coaching for the link!)

Here are a handful of excellent take-aways that I want you to internalize ASAP, so you will no longer waste time on another dead-end guy:

1. Being emotionally unavailable doesn’t mean he’s dead. It means he’s not serious about falling in love at this point.

In other words, he can be a good guy and do everything right – but if he’s not acting like a boyfriend, you’re wasting your time.

“Now the fact that we are emotionally unavailable doesn’t mean that we’re no longer desirous of a woman’s attention and affection. It also doesn’t mean we’ve lost the ability to perceive attractiveness and beauty and it most definitely doesn’t mean we’re no longer interested in sex. We will want all of those things, and we’re still going to work toward getting all of those things. Understanding this is essential to understanding the emotionally unavailable man…Women often seem to assume that because a man is single, educated, employed, handsome, possessed with great taste, a great wardrobe and is a generally good guy, he is automatically on the market. This is an absolute fallacy.”

2. Ignore the positives, believe the negatives. Maybe it was our overt actions (not claiming you as a girlfriend). Maybe it was our silences (one week after a date). Maybe it was our actual words (I’m not looking for anything serious right now), but you didn’t pay attention. Says the author about women who ignore the signs:

“They figure if they can determine why we’re emotionally unavailable, then they can just help us address that issue and all will be right with the world. Still though, no matter how stern our warnings, no matter how many times we tell you that our emotional unavailability is serious and not a game, you still find away to allow yourselves to fall to the point of no return.”

3. Just because he’s emotionally unavailable doesn’t mean he’s evil.

“If we communicate to you, in no uncertain terms, that we’re very interested in you, but not interested in anything serious with anyone, and you choose to proceed, we see that as the green light to be the naturally great guys we’ve always been. This means we’re going to be thoughtful, we’re going to be charming and we’re going to make your friends laugh when you introduce us to them. We’re going to check on you when you’re sick, send you good morning emails and good night text messages. When we go out together, we’re going to do everything we’re supposed to do to make sure you have a good time and if you let us, we’re going to do everything in our power to please you sexually. Why? Because a good guy takes pride in making sure a woman in his company has enjoyed her time with him.”

Amen. I dated lots of women during my single life. You’d be hard pressed to find any of them who would say, “That Evan is a miserable asshole. He has no idea what makes women tick. What a terrible communicator. He’s so selfish and insensitive that he’ll never make a woman happy.” In other words, he can be a good guy and do everything right – but if he’s not acting like a boyfriend, you’re wasting your time.

4. You claim to be a powerful woman, but you don’t act like it. (Oh, boy, now we’re cutting close to the bone…)

You can’t expect him to value you like a girlfriend if you don’t insist on being treated like a proper girlfriend.

“Men use a formula to assign value to the women in their lives and a large part of that formula is derived from how much we believe that woman values herself. If you’ve been giving us all of you while requiring nothing more than our bare minimum then that negatively affects how much we believe you value yourself and we know in our heart we can never be with you. No matter how much we want to, we can’t build up the motivation to give you everything if we know you’ve been content with us giving you barely anything. We need to be challenged, we need to know that you’ll accept nothing less than everything.”

This is why I tell you repeatedly to act like the CEO and treat men like interns. If he’s not showing up and you’re putting up with it, it’s not his fault. It’s yours, for not firing him! You can’t expect him to value you like a girlfriend if you don’t insist on being treated like a proper girlfriend.

Any questions?

Join our conversation (348 Comments).
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  1. 41

    Selena @ 38.1 and SE @38.2 – thanks for the great advice.   I do try to keep my distance by keeping my actions consistent with my words but it does get difficult.   If I purposefully keep my distance by turning down an invitation to the Christmas party then I feel I have hurt her feelings and she will feel rejected.   If I accept the invitation then I’m treading dangerously close to BF/GF activities.   Some women understand the boundaries and some don’t.   Those who don’t usually push me away by trying to pull me too close in which case is a lose lose situation for both of us.
    [email protected] 40 – Kiki if I could find that 1% and the feeling was mutual then life would be wonderful!!   The problem with the no sex suggestion (besides the fact that there would be no sex!) is that most women are quite happy to have sex.   With some women, after a few weeks of great casual dating they want more than I’m willing/able to give.   I don’t think that a life of never dating for fear of hurting feelings is a viable option.

    1. 41.1

      My suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, but I do in fact have your topic close to heart. My husband has a very close friend, who has been in this strange situation with women for as long as I have known them. This guy, lets call him Bob (42 y.o), is very good looking, but quite shy – most probably because he got bald in his early 20s and this still bothers him. He is also what we call beta at this blog. He is a college drop-out, had a major problem with alchohol (but has been clean 5+ years now), makes a rather low income working as a  plumber, but is otherwise very sweet, kind, good humored, well meaning and pleasant company, and, lets not forget it, is in great physical shape. He has women hitting on him all the time, and because “he can’t say no :-)” he gets himself in all kinds of ridiculous situations. For the last 2 years he was dating 4 women simultaneously – one married (age 42, broken marriage that she is unable to leave), one 29, with a live-in boyfriend and a child, one at 24 single who is rather plump, and one divorced  who is reasonably good looking and smart, but 5 years older and lives in a far away city.   All the women suspected that they are not the only one, but he did not volunteer information, and neither of them dared to ask. Eventually, #2 got pregnant, they discussed it and decided to have a go at being a family, but it has been very rocky between them. The baby is 4-5 months old now, and a few weeks ago she moved out. He is heartbroken, he wants his child, but he never was particularly in love with the mother, and they are having a terrible time together. Because of Bob’s friendship with my husband, I have been a witness to all this, and have met some of the women. I particulaly liked the one in the far away city, but the long distance killed the passion there. So, I do understand that when a man gets offered [what he considers to be] no strings attached sex, he has a very hard time to refuse.   But I have also seen how this screws up people’s lifes, so my friendly suggestion to you is – stay away from bad karma.

      1. 41.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Did all four women go up to Bob and say come home with me? Or did Bob have dates with these women and the eventually had sex with them…and continued to have sex with the married, live-in bf women, even though they had S.Os of their own? Not very smart.
        As much as I like men and often see their side more than most, I believe in personal responsibility. Your friend Bob didn’t exhibit much of that. He made his own bed. And on top of that he had UN-PROTECTED sex? Your Bob is not a responsible man and the women he was with were not responsible women. They each earned their own bad karma.
        (Generic) You make good choices, good things tend to happen. You make bad choices bad things tend to happen. That has nothing to do with being emotionally availability or not. And even less to do with casual sex or not.
        He behaved stupidly. Rarely do good things result from stupid choices. No sympathy from me for Bob. But too bad about the baby. Sounds like s/he won’t see much of Bob whilst growing up. The child didn’t deserve that.

        1. Kiki

          Everything you say is correct.    It beats me how he does it with the women. They have acted stupid and he has been acting stupid.   Mind you, I see way more of this in real life than any one on this blog would admit. Here, if you read the posts, we are all, each of us,  not only smart, but also  saints, and only other people do stupid thinsgs, or bad things :-).
          I still think that irresponsible   behavior in one party breeds irresponsible behavior in the other. That’s why I think there is value in the idea of a man exercising self-discipline and not getting himself in borderline situations with casual sex when he has a clear idea of his own emotional unavailability, or whatever he calls his desire for no-strings sex.   This is my response to the question Still Looking posed. It surprised me that   Selena and Sparkling have been giving him advice as to how to give the message to the woman without actually telling her where things stand, I guess they are broader-minded than me :-).

        2. Selena

          Kiki, re-read Still-Looking’s posts. He says he DOES tell the women he dates he’s only looking for casual. They end up disappointed anyway.
          Either the women are ignoring what he tells them, or they are getting attatched in spite of what he tells them. Hence my advice to keep it brief.

        3. SparklingEmerald

          Kiki – You said “It surprised me that   Selena and Sparkling have been giving him advice as to how to give the message to the woman without actually telling her where things stand, I guess they are broader-minded than me :-).”
          I said he should tell women up front that he wants   NSA, and better yet his words and actions should match.   If he does that, he IS telling her where she stands.   I also think women should leave when a man says that UNLESS they also want NSA.   And I DON’T mean they should ACT like they are cool with NSA if they aren’t, I mean they shouldn’t stick around if they aren’t cool with it.   I have had so many girlfriends play the “cool girl” when they weren’t cool with it at all and then end up heartbroken.   I wanted to lock them in a closet when, after we would have a heart to heart and they would say they were looking for love and marriage, and a week later they meet some guy who tells him he only wants NSA sex, and they suddenly flip what they want to what HE wants.   Sacrificing what THEY want to give him what HE wants (in the vain hope that he will suddenly out of the blue fall in love with them)  
          I can’t say that I have NEVER done shit like that, but I never last more than 3 weeks after the announcement that he “wasn’t looking for anything serious” came.   I’ve had girlfriends languish for YEARS in non-relationships.

    2. 41.2

      @ Still- Looking
      With some women, after a few weeks of great casual dating they want more than I’m willing/able to give.    
      You’ve just illustrated why casual dating tends to be brief.   The longer it goes on (with a specific person) the more likely the chance of ambiguity and attachment developing. I’ve heard of long-term casual relationships, but they appear to be uncommon.

      1. 41.2.1
        Karmic Equation

        I disagree that it’s Still Looking’s responsibility to keep it brief if he’s happy with the way things go. It’s up to the woman (if SHE is unhappy) to change. Whether that’s to accept the casual or to walk away. HIM walking away “to keep it brief” to protect her sensibilities is hogwash. If a woman doesn’t have the will power or the awareness to walk away from an unhappy situation, she shouldn’t be dating. Period. Don’t make it the man’s job to protect her from herself.

        1. Selena

          Karmic Equation:   “I disagree that it’s Still Looking’s responsibility to keep it brief if he’s happy with the way things go.”
          Still-Looking # 38:   The dilemma is I can either avoid hurting   someone’s feelings by not dating anyone or I can just continue to be as open and honest as possible, knowing that I will ultimately hurt someone.   The choice is clear to me but I’d love some feedback on what emotionally unavailable men and women should say/do to lessen the risk of heartache.
          Still-Looking is apparently unhappy with the way things go, hence my advice to him  to keep it brief.

      2. 41.2.2
        Karmic Equation

        I could see how you could interpret that as Still Looking being “unhappy”. He doesn’t sound unhappy but rather admits to being confused. If he really wants to stop causing heartache, then he should only date his future wife. But how does he find her if he doesn’t date? Some women attach after first time sex…and some women attach simply through having lots of conversations with the same man. A man can’t save a woman from herself. Only she can. You’re sending him on a fool’s errand.

        I’ll agree with you that the longer one dates the same person without a label, the ambiguity grows. I’m in that exact situation with my personal trainer. Ambiguity, while uncomfortable, is what leads to progression. And whoever is more uncomfortable with that ambiguity is the one who starts that progression. I’m counting on my trainer feeling just as uncomfortable with the ambiguity as I am. He’s not an idiot. He knows what he has to do to stop the ambiguity: either ask me for exclusivity or end the relationship. And while I don’t like the ambiguity, I also don’t want to stop seeing him. So this non-committed relationship continues until one of us can’t stand the ambiguity anymore. If I’m wrong and he’s comfortable with the ambiguity (or not even feeling the slightest bit ambiguous), then it’s all on me to decide what to do next.

        While all this ambiguity is happening, I’m dating other men. I’m sure he’s dating other women. For my part, however, I’ll say that dating other men feels like cheating. Which is totally incongruent with the actual relationship, which is non-committed. So I detest feeling like I’m cheating. However, he’s not making me feel this way, I’m feelin this way all by myself. And I can choose to how to deal with that feeling. Since I don’t yet want to stop seeing him, I must accept the ambiguity, for now. I can always change my mind later. Why does HE have to do anything about MY feelings of ambiguity or cheating? He doesn’t. It’s all on me.

        1. Kiki

          thanks for the update,   I did actually ask you for one on one of the other posts.
          I see your way of thinking is very similar to mine (except for on the importance of looks, I have not forgotten :-).   So I am sure you will appreciate my story.
          Many years ago   I met a guy at work, and I fell in love with him. We became friends, but he was also very friendly with the other women, and there was one who surely had a huge crush on him (but she was married). We spent a lot of time together at work, and we went out socially, sometimes with other people, sometimes just the two of us. He was always the perfect gentleman, paid for my meals, movie tickets  etc, but never made a move.   In a few months,   I   was madly in love with him, but did not dare to speak up for fear of scaring him off.   Time goes by so slowly for those who wait (Madonna :-). I lost hope.   I met another guy at a friend’s wedding, who was eager to make me his girlfriend, and even though I was not too keen on him, we quckly hooked up, and he started to call me at work and to show up to pick me at work after hours. The other guy never said a word, but I could see he was getting upset.   Then, one day, when we went out with him for a drink after work, I told him I can no   longer hang out with him, as my new boyfriend gets jealous (the new boyfriend had no clue :-). I could see from his reaction he was upset, but did not say a word. I asked him how he felt about that and he avoided the question. Then, I had a “now or never” moment, and I told him “Look, I like spending time with you so much. I think you do too. I thought we might become boyfriend and girlfriend, but I see you have no desire to progress things.” He said, “I like you very much, but I thought you were not interested in me romantically”. I said “May be we should give it a go between us.   Do you want me to break up with the boyfriend?”. He said yes.
          This is the story of how I met my husband.  

        2. Kiki

          I also wanted to address this thing which you said that dating other men while you are in the ambiguity phase feels like cheating. This is very interesting.   If you are not having sex with either of your dates, I think you are pretty safe that you are not cheating any one, right? At the same time, you do not view sex as sacred and reserved for your exclusive relationship so you could as well be having sex with either of your dates, and that should not be cheating.
          Now notice the difference between a woman who might have NSA sex and is worried that she might be cheating on the man who is her primary interest, and the concerns of a man who is having NSA sex, that the women will get attached in spite of his clear message that this is only casual!!!
          The double standard that women are monogamous and men are not is so ingrained in our minds, that even you, my dear friend, are not immume!
          Karmic, I also need to let you know, that if someone elses snatches you before the trainer, while he is dragging his highly athletic feet, his heart will be broken :-). Have mercy.

        3. Karmic Equation

          “If you are not having sex with either of your dates, I think you are pretty safe that you are not cheating any one, right?”

          Absolutely. Truth be told I’m having sex with both guys, not simultaneously, of course, but I’m sure they would up for that if offered. lmao. All kidding aside. I’ve spent a lot of non-sex, non-training time with my trainer, which is what bonds me to him. I’ve had dates followed by makeouts or sex with guy 2, which is why I haven’t bonded to him, very little non-sex time. Guy 2 is much more age appropriate for me, more easy-going, and easily makes a lie of my inability to orgasm during intercourse. So wouldn’t you think that I would bond to Guy 2 more? Strangely I don’t. So that puts a lie to the “sex/orgasms bonds you to the man”. At least for me, it doesn’t work like that.

          “The double standard that women are monogamous and men are not is so ingrained in our minds, that even you, my dear friend, are not immume!”

          I don’t deny that I’ve been brainwashed along with all other women here into believing that monogamy is natural rather than culturally-driven. I’m just the only one who wants to fight the brainwashing. Instead of trying to make my reality fit my feelings (e.g., get him to become my bf, so that my feelings are justified), I’m working on making my feelings fit the reality (I’m in an uncommitted relationship, so I need to “get over” that feeling of cheating). As you can see the former requires HIM to do something, the latter requires ME to do something. Guess which method I believe is more empowering?

          And thank you, Kiki. Yeah. If he drags his feet too long he’s going to force me to break his heart 😉

    3. 41.3

      @Karmic. I’m so sorry you’re in that situation. I spent the last year dealing with ambiguity from someone I cared deeply about. We’d been friends for many years before dating. The lack of definition made it awkward. I didn’t know what to do if someone else asked me out. I never did date others because it did feel like I would be cheating. It almost felt instinctual, like I would be betraying him. It was frustrating, because we seemed close and behaved like a couple, but weren’t one. I was the first to break and ask for commitment. I didn’t receive one and heard some things that really hurt. That was a month ago. Three days ago I was in an pretty bad accident. I didn’t even get a phone call. I entered this situation a pretty confident person. I have absolutely no insight for you, but hope you receive a happy resolution. Everyone deserves clarity.

  2. 42

    A general comment about all the semantic haggling over what “emotionally unavailable” means.
    This is a coined phrase that has a general meaning, but everyone understands it a tad bit differently.   To some, it just means any man who’s EU for YOU.   To some, it means a man who is generally EU to anyone.   To some, it may mean a person who is Emotionally Damaged, and while they may seek out a relationship, never really fully give their heart to it.   Look up any word about something TANGIBLE in a dictionary and you will find it has several definitions.   So a coined phrase about something as intangible as emotions and relationship is NOT going to have an exact, precise definition either.
    So while some people are assigning sinister motives to women joining in a discussion about EU and using the term EU, has anyone noticed that the headline of this BLOG (and not just this article) reads . . . .”
    Learn How Chemistry Has Always Led You Into the Wrong Relationships…

    … And The Reason You Find Yourself Stuck in Unhealthy Relationships with Emotionally Unavailable Men.”
    Oh, if I wanted to be a semantical nit picker to the umpteenth degree, not only could I bash this headline for the use of the term “Emotionally Unavailable Men”, I could really go to town on the concept of “Finding yourself stuck” and argue that no one “finds themselves stuck” in any relationship, but they CHOSE to be in a relationship, and blah, blah, blah.  
    Remember, we are discussing a rather intangible concept within the limitations of language.   Not everyone is going to express such concepts using the EXACT same words as someone else.   Nit picking over the semantics of such discussion is rather pointless IMHO.
    Perhaps we should just say “emotionally unsatisfying relationships”.   That accurately describes most relationships that end, or never quite get off the ground doesn’t it ?   And really doesn’t blame anyone, just describes the situation.   But I suppose if someone really wanted to argue semantics, they could find something wrong with that phrasing too.

  3. 43

    Reading this made me realize that I am a super emotionally unavailable woman – except when it comes to my ex, who I’m still in love with. That said, I don’t think its necessarily fair to decide that he absolutely positively never EVER wants to be with you, or never will. That isn’t true. Like the original author said, every guy he’s known has gone through a period of unavailability. I think that’s pretty true for most modern women too. Since my ex and I broke up, I’ve turned down a ridiculous amount of probably-awesome dates with probably-awesome guys who were attractive and have their lives together. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever be ready to date and that when I do, I won’t ever hit up one of those guys, I’ve got a running list of the ones I’m planning on hitting up the day I feel alright about things. I know I’m not ready yet, and by staying unavailable I feel I’m also saving some poor guy from getting his heart broken when he finds out I still have feelings for my ex. It’s the most annoying thing to me when a guy laments to me that he knows I’d “never date him.” I’d date plenty of these dudes, I’m sure of it. Just not right now.

  4. 44

    I love this article.   Seem like I’ve been dating every emotional unavailable men over   thirty out there. But why is it, when you tell them; this has been great.   So long sucker, they always come back. Wanting to date, have a talk, have a coffee, drink or a friendship, fuck or even a relationship.  

  5. 45

    There are many women that would willingly allow themselves   to be strung along by a man that has no desire to become anything more.   Knowing hes emotionally unavailable and sleeping with a woman even if hes told her is having his cake and eating it to. But its HER fault if she sticks around allowing it to happen thinking she can change him. NEWS FLASH: Sex will not get you a commitment. Let him wine and dine without the casual sex and I bet he doesn’t stay very long.  

  6. 46

    I just stumbled upon this site and find it so interesting!  
    I just recently broke up with a guy and I wondered if he was “emotionally unavailable” or not and found this site. The truth of the matter is, a few dates in, he told me that if I asked him for a commitment, he could not continue to see me, and that it could work for him if we defined our relationship as “less serious.” I actually thought I could do this b/c we had a lot of fun together, but literally, the next day and in the days following, it was as if any “juice” that was even left, just completely drained right out of the whole thing!
    So, when I saw post #16, it really resonated for me:
    I think you emotionally unavailable men really want the woman to fall for you . Why? Because  the benefits you get (the cake) are much sweeter when she’s emotionally invested. If she took you at your word and uninvested her emotions, you would not enjoy it so much.
    It really energetically felt like the chase went dead! After a few days of this, I realized I’m NOT interested in something less serious…I’m actually ready for an emotionally intimate relationship! So I let him know this and he understood.
    What I want to say is that I give him lots of credit for telling me what he wanted. And for the record, he didn’t go on to do “boy-friend’y” things. He was treating me like a FWB and I now see that’s how he defined “a less serious relationship.” I was thinking in a less serious relationship, that there could still be emotional sharing (I myself have asked for this kind of relationship with a few men in the past b/c they were not BF candidates, but I can tell you, it never worked out and I’m not sure it ever can) but evidently that was not what he had in mind. So we were open and honest, said what we wanted, tried it, and it just didn’t work out.  
    I agree with some comments on this post in that we all need to take responsibility for our needs and desires. If someone is open and honest with you about what they want and it doesn’t work for you, then move on. I do believe that many women – and I include my old self in this – think that if they hang on long enough he will come around to see how great she is. Sometimes that undefinable “thing” just isn’t there and never will be! It does take some self-awareness, however, to get some altitude on the relationship and see that it’s just not happening and that it’s time to move on. Sometimes we need the help of authentic friends or a therapist to help us see that.  
    I do believe that there are men (and women of course) who have had some emotionally damaging experiences in their lives (this latest man of mine was just coming off of a divorce and he was so saddened that he was once in love and that it just all ended), some of which just require time in order to heal. There are some whose early childhood (attachment) experiences were so damaging that they may need the long term help of a therapist to help regain that sense of vulnerability and trust. Then I think there are those who just want to play the field and see what’s out there (I have been there myself after my own divorce). But no matter what the WHY is of a person’s emotional unavailability, if you are involved with that person and it is currently, in the present moment, working for you, then great. If you end up feeling a whole host of negative feelings about the relationship – and one of the big ones is anxiety – then you might consider that it’s just not working out for you and make the decision to move on.  
    I realize this sounds a bit cold or matter of fact, but I did say it takes some self-awareness to see these things, so if something feels “off” (as it did for me from the beginning) then talk to someone you trust about it for feedback.  
    I appreciate the honesty and respect that everyone shows each other on this site and look forward to reading/writing more blogs about dating.

    1. 46.1

      Post #16 resonates with me, too. Someone has to have some feelings in any relationship; there has to be some heart, love and affection.

      If it were really about plain, mechanical, physical sex only, then men would hire prostitutes.


  7. 47

    Hi My bf   is definitely an   emotionally unavailable person. He is 38 years old. His longest relationship was   a year and a half. He can’t and doesn’t say i love you to his family not even his mother. He doesn’t believe in feelings or emotions. He communicates with logics and phrases and statistics. he treats me very   good when we’re together but when we are apart he is not that attentive. I could see people who would say they label themselves EU just so the don’t feel bad   for not being into you. I probably won’t the one to crack my bfs code   and I seriously don’t want to change him. Every one has some issue   I myself have self esteem issue which to me now that I truly see him in a different light probably we aren’t good for each other. I just have to figure this out but just want to explain there are true use people out there. Thank you  

  8. 48

    I had met EU four years ago. Totally into me, chased me for months and I was actually the EU women to him. I didn’t want a serious relationship. Until I realized I had fell for him unintentionally. Turns out it was all a game and the back and forth, confusion was exhausting. He finally broke it off. I admit I was attached for a very long time, heartbroken even. He dated someone else. At one point we reconnected and he told me that he never saw himself marrying said girl. He was never in love with her etc etc. Everything a women doesn’t want to hear. I realized then that he was always going to be EU. It definitely helped me move on from him.

  9. 49

    This is so true. I will never make this same mistake again. A man I have known for two years told me he is not in a place in his life to be committed to one woman, he says all of the other woman he dates know that and feel the same. After two months he told me he and some other woman decided they have feelings for one another. He told me two months earlier he had feelings for me? He told me they are getting serious and don’t want to see other people. Now he wants to marry her. I’m so done. If a man is dating others, has a crush on someone else, whatever, I’m out of there, I feel so used.

  10. 50

    Interesting article about women however to all ladies: it is all about what we WANT in the relationship and not about what men want. We should never ever settle for less than what we deserve and you know what screw guys who are players.

  11. 51

    Why does a relationship have to go “anywhere?”   Why is it considered the woman does not value herself if she stays with an EU guy in such a relationship?   I have been in an on-again-off-again relationship with what I suppose you would say is an EU guy.   LOL, I guess I am his “Thursday” girl or FWB.   I am not “needy.”   I do not feel “attached” to him.   I am not waiting for him to come around or change him and make him into a better man.   I sense when he feels he’s getting too attached to me he starts singing the song that we’re not like peanut butter and jelly, that he’s sorry he can’t be the guy for me, that he is a screw up, that I should not not want him, that he is trouble.   I’ve heard this for 5 years.   I don’t feel like I am wasting my time or devaluing myself.   We enjoy each other’s company but his first love is alcohol.   He says I deserve much better, someone good looking, intelligent, wealthy, and who has time for me and is looking for companionship because I am such a “great catch.”   He says he’s a screw up.   He also sometimes says our getting physical with each other   is wrong because it will never go anywhere.   So I take it from this blog that I am not the right girl for him but am letting him use me.   But what man turns down sex?   He is not seeing anyone else.   At first I thought he just didn’t want the pressure to perform or saw me as drama and responsibility.   He said I am a lot of work because I like to talk.   When we have sex, he is all about pleasing me.   I don’t know who is more mixed up, me or him.   I am in my 50’s and he is 10 years younger.   I guess most of you would say to move on but I am comfortable with him.   I’ve seen   5 other guys during this time – he encouraged me – but I prefer him.   I feel I have more with him than any one of those other 5 guys. So I did try moving on.   His children and brother and sisters and mother love me like a family member. I sat it is what it is.   I guess that’s what happens after you’ve been in a 15 year relationship with a sociopath.   It’s amazing I can trust anyone.   There is a reason why there are so many women with these type of men (EU) who choose not to move on.   In my case I am not a quitter and I guess it doesn’t take much to make me happy.   I am responsible for my own happiness, not some future BF looking for an LTR going somewhere.   And yes, I do have high standards but no expectations.   No expectations = no disappointment.   Now is that a cop out too, like labeling men EU?

  12. 52

    Wow!!   What a insightful article.   Thank you!:)

  13. 53

    Yes, I agree there is a difference between a man having a light and honest relationship and someone who is EU. I have had several long term relationships and consider myself to be a high-value person. I  expect men to be  honest with me. Recently I became involved with someone that seemed perfect: smart, funny and we had a great deal in common. On the second date he said he was looking to get married and start and family  but later said  that he could only see me once a week as a result of work commitments. Something about the way he said this felt odd but I went along with it. His communications were intermittent. We met once a week. He went off the radar for two weeks  once we slept together (said he had food poisoning); then came back on the scene. He seemed very sexually attracted to me but implied that I was promiscuous (I’m not).  He  has a bad relationship with his family – his mother in particular – and has few friends.  After three months we had “the talk” he said I was wonderful and that he wanted to go out with me. After this he said the mood had gone and became visibly agitated.  He was away with work for a while and then seemed reluctant to sleep with me, blaming allergies, illness, work pressure etc.  He would promise to phone then not phone. Then he  broke things off as a result of a social media post (spurious reason) but said that he wanted to be friends/platonic.  We met as friends during which time he talked a lot about sex, this seemed odd and manipulative. Then he said  I was so fucking lovely  and that he  wanted to start things up again. He said he  would call me the following day. He didn’t call. We met again, he said that I was great, that he wanted to meet again as soon as possible. We arranged a date. He didn’t call. I called him and said that his doing this was hurting my feelings. He said this was “sweet”. That he couldn’t commit to anything but would I call him again in a week. I was angry and said so. (He had said he wanted to see me as soon as possible after all). There were lots and lots of mixed messages, and it has caused me a lot of pain. I think it is the cognitive dissonance, the inability to make sense of it all that has been the most difficult thing. He lied about a few things and didn’t involve me in his life. It was all pretty weird. I think he was scared or narcissistic (perhaps both)  but all I needed was for him to be honest with me.

    1. 53.1
      Karmic Equation

      I’m sorry, Nicola. You believed a man’s words instead of his actions. He was honest all along with his actions but you didn’t want to believe that.

      If ever there is “dissonance” between a man’s actions and his words, you MUST believe his actions. Don’t let pretty words distract from his poor behavior.

      Men can easily lie with their mouths. But it’s a lot harder for them to lie with their actions.  

    2. 53.2


      I had somewhat of the same experience. I can tell you that this sort of man never lets go, so you need to run!

      Karmic Equation is correct. You need to look at a man’s actions, not his words. I didn’t know this. I do now! Sometimes you need these sorts of relationships just for the experience. Just to know that these sorts of conflicted men exist. Great. Now you and me both know. And I don’t need that experience again.

  14. 54
    Zara Kellaris

    I feel so stupid. The guy I’m dating has said numerous times about being emotionally unavailable, but in a sort of jokey way – because he doesn’t like PDAs and gets embarrassed easily. Yet I took it to mean he was joking about that because when we’re alone he’s affectionate, sweet and has always been so respectful.

    Evidently I’m just not a long term prospect, though he always talks about long term plans like what we’ll do next summer (2015) and at Christmas. I should have guessed from the fact we don’t call ourselves girlfriend and boyfriend and I’ve not met his family.

    This is a bitchslap of a reality check actually.

    1. 54.1

      Don’t feel stupid. It’s an experience. Now you know, you don’t have to have that experience again.

      Yes, my unavailable other also did not introduce me to his family. That’s definitely a giveaway.

  15. 55


    Some people want to be in a progressing relationship that is living. When the person your with is silent   and is not helping the relationship grow it can be a waste of time. As for me that person can stay emotionally   unavailable, I prefer an active living, thriving, progressing relationship with an active, living, thriving, progressing person. Trying to resuscitate a   relationship with a person who is so called emotionally unavailable is a waste of precious energy.  

  16. 56

    I’ve been in a “relationship” with this guy for 4 years.   Granted it was a rocky start, but we’ve gone through a lot of life experiences together; the loss of his mother, a foreclosure, and death of at least 3 pets.   He’s continually telling me how much he has to do, how things in his life are in disarray and he can’t have the responsibility of a having a girlfriend right now, however, I’m the only women in his life that he’s intimate with or that he shares everything with and we see  each other on a regular basis.   I’m employed, financially self-sufficient and I have two children I’ve raised by myself for 16 years, so I wouldn’t be a burden to him financially.   So there is something bigger going on here that I’m not listening too and its come to a point that its making me emotionally, mentally, and physically ill.   When we’re together we have a wonderful time, we talk intimately about life, we spend time together, I’ve met all his friends and family.   But, he doesn’t refer to me as his girlfriend; he tells people I’m his friend or his girl.   On occasion when it suits him in front of a successful family or business man he’ll introduce me as his girlfriend but, especially with other women I am his friend or close friend.   So I need to value myself enough to walk away is what I’m realizing because I’ve invested too much of my time and I don’t believe he appreciates me.    He’s 49,  never married and doesn’t have children, but the bigger problem is that he was adopted and has  attachment issues.   I don’t believe he has the capacity to love or value anyone.    I truly believe this is an emotionally unavailable man or a sociopath I’m dealing with here, but I need to move on with my life for my own health.  

    1. 56.1

      Maria.   I think you have already figured out that this is not real.   If he is not proud to call you his girlfriend, especially in front of other women, he clearly wants to keep his options open.   So do the same.   Get out there and meet other men.   Don’t be afraid to be honest with these other men.   If they ask, say that you are in an unhappy relationship and then just say that there are many issues and then specifically state that he calls you his friend or good friend in front of other women, and you are tired of it.   IMHO this tells those other guys that you are not going t be taken for granted.   If a guy wants to sleep with you, let him know two things…one you are still in a relationship but not out of it yet and you don’t sleep around.   Until that is officially over, you won’t sleep with anyone else.   Then let them know that until you are in a committed relationship you won’t sleep with anybody else.   I would say something like, “I love sex, but I need to feel loved before I can make love.   A good man worth having in my life will appreciate that I don’t just sleep with   anybody I meet.”
      But you know the truth.   If after 4 years, this man doesn’t know he loves you, he never will.   Oh, he might have strong feelings…like you as a friend…love you for sex, but he doesn’t love you and you know it.
      You have the option of just dumping him cold, or keeping him around to keep you from being lonely until you find another man.   In many cases I would say just to drop him first, but he has clearly felt comfortable using you, and it is pretty low to treat a woman like that…4 years later and can’t even call you a girlfriend in front of other women.
      In the meantime, if you do stay with him while you search, when he pulls that with other women, smile real big, offer your hand to these other women, and say, “Hi, I’m Maria, his girlfriend of 4 years.”   Don’t act snooty, or uppity, or angry, or aggressive, just act sweet and docile, and then ask him what he wants to do now.   Again, not in a sarcastic way.   Be genuine.   Like, “What do you want to do now?   Are you hungry, or do you want to dance?”   Etc…
      If you act snooty to the other women, or act like you own him, or act controlling of him, it may trigger the other women to try to get him just to show you.   The other way will make them realize he has a good woman and if that is how he treats a good woman, they will want no part of him.   Just act sweet and loving.
      In fact, don’t be afraid to make friends with these ladies.   They are not the enemy.   Be friendly, and compliment them in a genuine manner, maybe on their dress, or something you like about their clothes, hair, make-up, etc…   I am sure you know how   to avoid making a compliment sound like a possible insult, like hair color, etc…
      I have no doubt that he will not be happy when you do that.   But it will be amusing even more as a result.

  17. 57

    I have a question. I too have been in this situation for far too long and clearly I wouldn’t have stumbled upon this blog if I hadn’t been looking for answers. What I want to know, and what no blog, article or book has addressed is HOW does one differentiate between Mr. Unavailable and Mr. Cautiously Getting to Know You. I myself am not the  earth-moves-on-the-first-date type so how can I possibly expect these men to be? Is the only difference the effort that I put into it? If I’m hanging  back and letting him do ALL the  work, how does he know that I’m interested or if I’M the unavailable one (because there are certainly women who suffer from this affliction, I  have several in my own life).   What’s dating and what’s not is not definable anymore like it was even 10 years ago (I am in my mid 30s and remember dating life pre-cell phone/technology dependence). Is he unavailable after 3 dates and no title? Personally, I don’t even want a title after 3 dates and I don’t want someone I don’t know yet pursuing me relentlessly for one. I like to get to know someone before I decide if I want to be exclusive with them. Maybe it’s partially my age or experiences or the fact that I’m looking for a connection on a deeper level rather than the 7th grade: ‘I like you, you like me, now we’re going out’ or a combination of all of the above. I also do NOT  want children. I woudn’t want to waste the time of someone who does and it doesn’t always come up in the first date or so. My point is: how do you know the difference between a man who is taking his time in getting to know me but not making me the center of his world while doing so (I don’t WANT that) and one  who is simply unavailable? The ‘symptoms’ aren’t always cut and dry. Is the only difference the manner in which I behave? Because I’m not one to throw myself at any man  but I’m  also not the ‘let him  do ALL the work type’. I reach out to say hello  or suggest an activity (I don’t expect him to be a mind reader. If I want to go to the beach and I want him to join me, I will ask. I don’t crumble if he says no or bails. I find someone else). Is the whole idea here just knowing when to cut your losses (input versus output)? I’ve read dozens of  articles and books and  blogs on the subject and they all just say the same thing and come up short  in  regards to  an answer to this. They all seem  to say that a man who  is interested will fall  all over you and I’m far too practical for that.  I don’t want someone falling all over me, it isn’t genuine if they don’t KNOW me. Compatibility  comes first.       

  18. 58

    Is a person emotionally unavailable or do you both have a different definition of emotionally available?   For instance, one person may feel like their is no emotional connection unless there are times where you sit around and talk, giving each other undivided attention.   For others, this may not be an essential component.   For them, it may only require sharing affectionate physical contact, maybe while watching TV.

  19. 59
    Altruistic CEO

    Hi Evan,
    Thanks for writing. “This is why I tell you repeatedly to act like the CEO and treat men like interns. If he’s not showing up and you’re putting up with it, it’s not his fault. It’s yours, for not firing him! You can’t expect him to value you like a girlfriend if you don’t insist on being treated like a proper girlfriend.”

    This is a gem. But how, can you be specific? Frankly, I would prefer to treat someone with dignity and respect, unlike a CEO to interns. I imagine lots of delegation. But that’s not what a healthy relationship is about. How can one insist on being treated like a proper girlfriend in a positive, attractive way?

  20. 60

    This article makes me feel rather sad. So men play games then?
    we’re going to be thoughtful, we’re going to be charming and we’re going to make your friends laugh when you introduce us to them. We’re going to check on you when you’re sick, send you good morning emails and good night text messages. When we go out together, we’re going to do everything we’re supposed to do to make sure you have a good time and if you let us, we’re going to do everything in our power to please you sexually. Why? Because a good guy takes pride in making sure a woman in his company has enjoyed her time with him.”’
    All of the above to me sounds like ‘acting like a boyfriend’. If you are not interested in anything serious you shouldn’t be on a dating website or even in the dating game – spend some time on your own figuring out exactly what you want and who you want to be with them go after it.
    Dating means you are looking for someone to be with not hooking up with random people to fill your time. Is this what dating has come to in 2014? I believe in treating people how you would like to be treated and that means giving them respect not playing with them and ‘acting like a boyfriend’ taking all the perks of being in a relationship without any of the responsibility.
    The last time someone did this to me I showed them the door.

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