Loving > Listen, Learn, Grow > How to Love an Emotionally Unavailable Man 

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. You are not alone, even if he doesn’t show his emotions.  In this article, you’ll find 10 tips on how to love a man who isn’t available emotionally.

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 How to Stop Attracting Emotionally Unavailable Men. “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. He controls his emotions, I don’t think he even feels his own feelings. 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?”

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. “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.

Loving Emotionally Unavailable ManWhat 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. At the same time, be realistic. If you know he’s emotionally unavailable, don’t expect him to be eager to hear and support you. Give him the chance to respond, but learn how to guard your heart in a relationship.

Don’t try to fix, heal or save 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. 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. You may not be able to heal the emotional distance in your relationship, but you need to find fulfillment for yourself.

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 or spiritual 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.

emotionally unavailable men“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, by focusing on your relationship with God, your relationship with others, and your relationship with yourself. Ground yourself in peace, love, joy, and freedom.

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 emotional 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

how to love an emotionally unavailable manIn 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 these ideas on how to love a man who isn’t available emotionally? 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 need to be realistic. You need to guard your heart and spirit. 

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.


Need encouragement? Get my free weekly "Echoes of Joy"!

* indicates required

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

22 thoughts on “How to Love an Emotionally Unavailable Man ”

  1. What if your emotionally unavailable spouse, finds an intimate connection with someone else? The connection has now ended but he has no idea why it started and continued for 2 years. How do I live with the fact that he could be that person for someone else but not for me and stay happily married?

  2. I have been married for 2 years, we don’t have kids yet and currently my husband further his studies overseas for 4 years. Since married we do not have chance to live together due to our circumstances. Recently my family members fell sick (my mother recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease) and I just wanted his emotional support. I have talked to him, but he said he wanted to focus on his studies, and he could not let himself worry about what’s happening to me. He said he does not want to talk about my problems or talked about it in depth. Instead he started to complain about his studies, and he should not be continuing his studies there, leaving me and regret his decision, blaming everyone. Then I just cried and said sorry for everything. I was pretending to be okay, so that he could focus on his studies and classes. He said he care about me, but he does not act like it.

    I am sad and frustrated. I am shocked knowing that he is selfish. In this long distance marriage with this kind of communication, I just wanted to give up our marriage. I could not imagine my future with him anymore. I don’t want my future kids to grow up like him. I think I can live on my own as i already have my own career. I really don’t know how long I can cope with this kind of marriage. If anyone could give me some insights, please do. Thanks a lot.

  3. MS. L I feel the same way. Married for 16 years and 4 children. Now I can start working on myself, thanks to the book “Learn how to be married and not lonely”. Likewise, this relationship is like I am on these endless excruciating painful frightening roller-coaster with more lengthy downs and then ups walking with a knife stabbing me in my heart or my back. Most of the times, I don’t know what kind or type of trouble he is going to appear with. He is shocking surprises me every time, I don’t mean in the good way but in a bad way. Betrayal after betrayal, lies after lies and his mysterious life. When I was the only working and supporting our family financially. My money was OUR money. He made so many false promises that when he would work, he would get us out debt. He would say that he was going to this and that. Now that he makes more money than me, his money is his money and my money is my money. I am still on $11,000 in credit card debt, and $40,000 of my student loans. He shows that he does not care and as if all the debt is mine and not his problem. He gives me his ½ for the bills from his VA benefits and keeps $600. However, all the income he makes from his full time and seasonal coaching part time jobs. He does whatever he wants with it. He spends it on buying groceries every other week, his gas for his local transportation to and from work and one daughter’s school, eats out almost every day with friends, bowling expensive gear, and possible gamble. If he would have cheated on me, I would have left him a long time ago. But his lies are about money, betrayal with his family and friends. Where he tells me that he does not want to go out with me to dance or do something because he is tire, his feet hurt, etc excuses after excuses. However, all those things he tells me that he does not want to do with me. He does it with his friends and is very happy, like he is alive again. We could be dancing at a dance floor for a family event, and almost immediately, his tells me that his feet hurt, yet a few minutes later he is dancing with a cousin, family member etc. Likewise, other activities I have asked him to do with us, he says no. Rejection after rejection. However, the same activities he does it with his family and friends. When he is with his family and friends, he is very loud and happy, alive. At home all he does is seats in the couch to watch TV, when I talk to him, he ignores me. After calling his name several times, sometimes he answers me. Sometimes he gets mad and gives me an attitude for interrupting him from watching tv. Otherwise, he sleeps and takes lots of naps, he does not do any chores in the house. All he does is seats in the couch watch tv, sleeps and only gets up to go to the bathroom and to get some food to eat. I feel like I am his Maid/Roommate not even a wife much less a trophy wife. I am up to the point that I don’t even know anymore. I am a walking zombie with shatter and painful heart. Sometimes when we make up, he brings my hopes up and I feel all happy and in love again. The only last very short time. Then a few days later, he does it again, disses me and totally disconnected, ignores me, talks to me rudely, mean and condescending and arrogant and constantly not wanting to do anything with me and our children. Unless, he has a get together with his 5 siblings and mom, who has a control issue over him, who brings nothing but drama. Then, I am dead alive again walking around like I have a knife stabbed in my heart. For the times he puts me down, breaks my heart, constantly telling me no, yet I see him doing the doing with his family and friends what I had asked him to do with me or our children. Only once in a great while after he needs something the urge to be intimate or something. Then I bring my guard down and I give him another chance. Then, a few days later, he does it all over again. This vicious cycle that I have been living for the past 14 years.

  4. This is by far the hardest pill I’ve ever had to swallow. 10 years, 3 kids, I feel like I’ve always known these things but just needed to hear/read it. It hurts so bad. At least, I can start working on me, rather than waiting for something that’s never going to happen. I feel like I’m being freed, but still hurts like hell.