How to Love an Emotionally Unavailable Man
You’re in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man, and you love him too much to leave. Writing hundreds of relationship articles – and reading thousands of comments – has shown me that you’re not alone! In this article, you’ll find 10 tips on how to love a man who isn’t available emotionally or spiritually.
But first, here’s what a wife wrote on one of my articles about divorce: “I don’t want to start over in a new relationship,” says Christina on Considering Divorce? Signs You Should Leave Your Husband. “I don’t want to learn another man, I’d rather keep the husband I have. Our 12th wedding anniversary is in two days and he never listens when I talk. 11 years our 12year will be in in two days and he doesn’t care. He’s never said Happy Anniversary, he doesn’t listen when I talk, and he doesn’t care about my needs. I have financial debt that is small compared to what he makes, but he doesn’t care to help me. He’s emotionally unavailable, and I’m lost, but I want to stay married. How do I love him?”
I get it. The thought of starting over, of letting go of a man you’ve loved for years, of untangling the ties of children, finances, family members and perhaps even business partnerships, is overwhelming. Painful. Perhaps even terrifying. So, here you will find tips on how to love an emotionally unavailable man. If you aren’t sure if your boyfriend or husband is connected with his thoughts and feelings, read How to Know if a Man is Emotionally Available for Love.
“To find true love, ideally you want to avoid getting involved with anyone who can’t reciprocate your affections,” writes Dr Judith Orloff in The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being. “If you are in a toxic, abusive, or nonreciprocal relationship, withdraw even when your passion is strong and tells you to stay. It may feel excruciating to let go when you don’t want to or if you’re still hoping against hope that he will change, but you have to trust that your heart knows when it’s enough.”
Is your heart telling you that it’s not time to let go? Then you’ll find these tips for loving men who aren’t available emotionally helpful…
How to Love an Emotionally Unavailable Man
“A good husband wipes her tears, but a great husband listens to the story of why she’s crying.”
Brace yourself, for these tips for loving a men who aren’t available emotionally aren’t exactly the lightest, most joyful, or most hopeful bits of advice! But they are honest and real, and they will help you see your relationship clearly.
Express what you need from him
Tell your man that you want a great husband – the kind who not only wipes your tears, but actually cares why you’re crying.
What else do you need from your relationship? Maybe you want to talk about your struggles and share your victories. Maybe you need to work through a family or work problem. Maybe you have a dream that you want to share with him, a goal you want to achieve, a vision you’ve had for years that you’re longing to experience in real life. Maybe you have a serious health issue or financial problem that needs to be uncovered and aired out.
Be honest. Tell your husband or boyfriend what you need, want, yearn for. And be realistic! If you know he’s emotionally unavailable, then don’t expect him to leap at the chance to support you.
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Let go of trying to “fix” your boyfriend or husband
You can beg, scream, threaten, or love your boyfriend to death…and he won’t change.
You can promise your husband the moon and stars if he opens up to you….and he won’t change. You can fall on your knees and threaten to crawl through fire if he starts sharing how he really thinks and feels…and he won’t change.
One of the most important tips on how to love an emotionally unavailable man is to stop trying to change or fix him. Change takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and nobody can do it unless he really, really wants to. Let go of the illusion that your love will help him open up, that your emotional depth and commitment is enough to save your relationship. It’s not.
Accept him the way he is today
Learning how to love your husband fully and unconditionally is possible only if you accept him the way he is right now. Embrace him as an emotionally unavailable man.
Accepting him is taking it one step farther than not trying to fix him. When you accept him, you love him for who he is. You don’t just stop trying to fix him; you actually embrace and love all his qualities, quirks, and characteristics. Including being emotionally unavailable. He is your man, and you accept and love him fully. You give up trying to change him; you surrender to loving him the way he is right now.
Surrender your fantasy of how your marriage could be
“Keep focusing on what IS instead of what you hope for,” writes Dr Judith Orloff in The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being. If your husband or boyfriend is focused on his job, children, or sports team, keep reminding yourself of that. Don’t fuel your imagination or pipe dreams by allowing your fantasies to overcome your reality.
Learning how to love an emotionally unavailable man involves letting go of how you wish your relationship was. You have to be realistic about what he can and can’t give you. If you’re praying for a miracle, keep your feet grounded in reality.
Learn how to live with emotional distance in your relationship
You are surrendering to a relationship with a man who isn’t available emotionally or spiritually. You are letting go of your expectations and dreams, and you are learning how to flow with uncertainty. You are learning how to love without being loved the way you need to be loved.
You are choosing to love an emotionally unavailable man, which means you’re choosing to experience your emotional life alone. If you truly want to be with this man – and actually love him – then you must learn how to live without the warm fuzzies that emotional connection brings. Accept your differences, and don’t insist that he sees things the same way as you do. Learn how to love by accepting and flowing, not resisting and fighting.
Build strong emotional connection with friends and family
Even if your husband or boyfriend isn’t emotionally alive, you still need to seek and find attachment and intimacy in your own life. I’m not suggesting an emotional affair; I’m encouraging you to take care of your emotional needs.
Establish a close personal relationship with at least one other person. She should be someone you can share your deepest thoughts and feelings with, someone who reciprocates by telling you her own wishes, dreams, and yearnings. Connect with her on an emotional level, so your need for connection and love is met. Don’t allow your man’s disconnected emotions to ruin your own emotional life. When you choose to be in an unhealthy relationship with a man who can’t connect emotionally, you need to find alternate ways to be happy and healthy. Loving a man who isn’t available emotionally doesn’t mean you have to live without love, intimacy, or affection from people. In fact, it would be destructive for you to choose a life without emotional connection!
Stay flexible and patient
While I think it’s unrealistic to expect an emotionally unavailable man to change (unless he wants to), you can learn how to love him unconditionally. This may crack open his emotions – but don’t get your hopes up! Be realistic.
“Have a cooperative attitude,” writes Dr Judith Orloff in The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being. “Being tight-fisted and impatient stops you from surrendering. Flow with conflict. If you notice you’re getting overly controlling or pushy, take a break for at least a few minutes. Pause and breathe. Don’t polarize into ‘I’m right, you’re wrong.’ Instead, be willing to give a little and reach a middle ground without sacrificing your values.”
Dr Orloff also says that all intimate relationships ask a lot of us. She encourages women to continue tapping into your inner warrior – which is the part of you that wouldn’t hear of fear getting the best of you!
“Stay open, stay brave,” she says. “Each day, treasure your joys, struggles, and shortcomings, but most of all your heart. Then you can attract someone who will be able to treasure you too.”
Role model emotional availability to him and your kids
The best way to teach the people you love how to be emotionally connected is to develop a strong, healthy, emotional way of being and living in your life. If your husband or boyfriend is the father of your children, then they’re learning how to be emotionally unavailable. They’re not learning how to love full and healthy.
So, it’s up to you. How will you show your loved ones what an emotionally healthy and available person looks and sounds like? By getting emotionally and spiritually healthy, of course! You need to focus on your relationship with God (or whatever your Higher Power is), your relationship with others, your relationship with yourself. You need to ground yourself in peace, love, joy, and freedom. Forgiveness, faith, hope, and compassion! You need to learn how to allow these characteristics flow through you.
And, you might also stay open to “teachable moments.” For instance, if your kids or husband opens up emotionally in a healthy way, celebrate it! Don’t make a huge deal about it, but express your gratitude and pleasure that they’re being emotionally available. That’s how to love an emotionally unavailable man – and how to role model healthy availability to your children, him, and your loved ones.
Be realistic about your husband’s growth
While role modeling healthy emotional connection in marriage may have an effect on your children – especially if they’re young – it may not make a difference to your husband or boyfriend.
“I tried to stop pursuing my husband and he didn’t notice,” writes Jaycee in Emotional Disconnection in Marriage. “I made other friends and this led to me having an affair. My husband doesn’t want to spend time with me. He likes being an emotionally disconnected man and doesn’t see a need to change. I need to change my expectations. I’m tired of always being the one who has to change, but I have no choice. My needs are unfulfilled. Why on earth would anyone stay with a man who isn’t available emotionally? Oh yeah. Children. Don’t want to screw up there. I really wish I had chosen more carefully.”
Learn how to be married and not lonely
In Married…But Lonely: Stop Merely Existing. Start Living Intimately, David Clarke reveals seven steps that you as as wife can implement with or without your husband’s cooperation. Is it possible to experience the kind of marriage you’ve always wanted? There are no guarantees, but this psychologist says 85% of all husbands are intimacy-challenged.
You want to learn how to love an emotionally unavailable man but your conversations with him are brief, safe, and superficial. He does not reveal what he’s really thinking and feeling inside. He believes your marriage is great. He’s perfectly happy…and the intimate, romantic, emotional part of you is dying a slow death.
What do you think of my tips for loving a man who isn’t available emotionally? I feel like they’re sad and hopeless! I wish I could encourage you to have faith that he’ll change, to stay hopeful for the future, and to keep working on your relationship. But the truth is that when you’re in love with a guy who is unavailable emotionally, you really shouldn’t set yourself up for more disappointment.
I welcome your big and little thoughts below. While I can’t offer relationship advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience on how to love an emotionally unavailable man.
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