What It’s Like To Love An Emotionally Unavailable Man


“Never count on a man,” her father had told her. “They will always let you down.” So she didn’t, and they still did.

Pretty powerful headline, huh?

This Modern Love essay in the New York Times sounds like it was directly downloaded from the memories of any of my Love U coaching clients.

Let me know if this dynamic rings a bell to you:

I thought of him as my lover, although he never said he loved me. When I was feeling concerned, I would ask him what we were doing, what he wanted, where this was going. He was uncomfortable with such questions, but if I was direct, he would answer.

No, he wasn’t seeing anyone else. No, he wasn’t having sex with anyone else. No, he didn’t want to.

But he didn’t introduce me to anyone in his life. Even when I asked him to. And he didn’t tell his family about me, although I knew all about them.”

It’s the smart, strong, successful woman’s comfort zone

Yep. This is what happens when you choose a guy because you “like” him as opposed to choosing a guy because of how he treats you when you’re not together. It’s the smart, strong, successful woman’s comfort zone – little investment, little vulnerability, little chance of such a relationship developing into something real and long-lasting.

“I was enjoying my career, good health, long trail runs with my Australian shepherd, a vibrant social life and the quiet time it took to read a book a week. I appreciated that he wasn’t needy, that he didn’t call just to check in. He didn’t send “good morning beautiful” texts when he needed attention or wish me sweet dreams in Bitmojis to see if I was home.

When we texted each other, it was to exchange information about when and where we would meet. When I asked him how he was doing, he answered in one or two words. When we were together, he often told me how much he appreciated my low expectations.”

Click here to read the rest of the essay, and forgive the spoiler: the man who expects nothing and gives nothing does NOT turn out to be the love of her life.
If you have a relationship like this, why are you still in it? If you’ve had a relationship like this, why’d you stay? Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (7 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Maybe she is emotionally unavailable HERSELF. That’s my hypothesis. It may present different in women, but she DID have low expectations.

  2. 2

    Well, after my awful marriage, I am also emotionally unavailable so these relationships work for me. I don’t think I will ever recover.

    1. 2.1

      Tina, it took me over seven years to begin to love myself and then someone else again. I’m now in a healthy relationship with an amazing partner. Like you, I was emotionally unavailable and that’s what I attracted. But, there is hope….

  3. 3

    This essay felt a little bit empty, as if there were no leader in it. Ms. Dowd said she loved him first, but love wasn’t the impression I got from reading her words: more that she wanted something from him, so she said it (even if she didn’t feel it), and then didn’t get what she was looking for. How can you know you love someone if you see them 2 times a month, and barely communicate in the times in between? This was more friends with benefits. It doesn’t mean that neither of them can love deeply. But in this setting, meeting and communicating so infrequently, and both reluctant to take charge and be the leader, it wasn’t going to happen.

  4. 4

    I know many women willing to accept low standards just to “have a man.” It’s truly sad, but I see it all the time. You have to value yourself and your time and expect to get that back. As Evan says, “Slow to hire and quick to fire.”

  5. 5

    This women is equally emotionally unavailable. I would even say she seems contented with being alone.

  6. 6

    In the article, the author writes: “When self-reliance is forced upon you as a child, it can make it hard, as an adult, to be any other way.”

    One minor revision tells my story: When *emotional* self-reliance is forced upon you as a child, it can make it hard, as an adult, to be any other way.

    When you grow up in an environment where displaying emotion is unsafe, where there is no one to turn to when the hard emotions come, you learn to build high, thick walls around your heart to protect yourself. You choose emotionally and/or geographically unavailable people.

    It’s not that you are contented with being alone — but it feels safe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *