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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.

Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.


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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Thank you so much for your comments and insight. I’ve been in an intimate relationship with an emotionally disconnected man for 10 months. I have not been honest to state to him that he’s not meeting my needs emotionally. We have great passion for each other, but there are no words. I keep suggesting things he could say to me to reveal his feelings, but it never increases his endearments for me. Bottom line, your article made me realize that I have to be clear in stating my needs, but, probably, in the end I have to accept him as an emotionally disconnected man.

  5. It would be nice to have a list of things us poor clingy needy people can do to actually love these people. When someone never communicates, how are you to know what to do

  6. I am all but certain that my boyfriend, who I live with is emotionally unavailable. The odd part is that his actions do not match what he says at all. Since we met 9 months ago, he has always been the one to not want to leave my side. In November he asked me to move in with him when my lease was up. I moved my daughter and I into his apartment a month & a half ago. He is very cuddly, enjoys spending time with me, is very interested in having sex but he is not a talker, a hugger or a kisser. A week ago, he broke up with me and told me he knows it may take 6 months to a year, but I need to move out. He said he absolutely still loves me, but feels I don’t initiate sex enough for him and he can’t get past the fact that I went on a date with someone else 2 days after I met him. (side note: we had made no intent of beginning a relationship at the time and since we did commit to each other I have not once given him cause to doubt me or my love for him.) Since he broke up with me, he has continued to be incredibly loving to me in his actions and still wants to be by my side when we are not working. Do you have ANY advice for understanding this kind of person? I am head over heals in love with him and am doing my best to just take it one day at a time, but I am so confused over his contradicting actions. I’ve always believed that actions speak louder than words, but this seems to be the polar opposite.

  7. Thank you for this insight. I had to learn the hard way as God was working on me. I am thankful that I have a deep relationship with Him who fills me with His love to be able to do everything you state in this article. I had to grieve my expectations and love him where he is. My husband is still very disconnected but I do see changes in him. When he surprises me with his attentions I show my gratitude.

  8. My husband is always thinking the worst of me. He never says anything nice about me, or to me. If I speak to him he sounds a big sigh as though I shouldn’t say anythingto him until he speaks to me. He speaks rudely to me , I speak back rudely and tell him just the way he makes me feel. If I don’t answer my phone he leaves a nasty message. Even when knows that I’m in a dead zone , no signal.

  9. Spending time together is a good way to connect with an emotionally unavailable man…but it depends what you’re doing! For instance, watching tv or even going out for dinner doesn’t mean you’re actually connecting on an emotional level.

    What makes you feel loved? For me, it’s talking about growth, healing, God, and thoughts about life. But not everyone wants to talk like that all the time – not even me 🙂

    What would make you feel like you were loved? What do you need to hear or share that would help you see your man as available emotionally?

  10. I am married to one! I have been trying to find out what was wrong but I stumbled on this and strange enough I feel a bit better.

  11. Hi I’ve been married for 15 years. My husband says we have never connected emotionally and no bond. We have two children aged 8 and 5 both Boys. We have never spent time together always with others because he never wanted to spend tlme with me or as a couple. He always preferred to go out in a group somewhere (he is of a tradfitinsl Pakistani family background, really ott on family) that aside he has always had a temper , belittled me etc now he’s worked hard to stop all of that and he has stopped and changed that about himself. He realises after I left him and wjth the support I received from his family and mine that he wanted to try again. I came back but yesteday he said ‘what if we brake up’ he’s worried I’l leave wjth the kids agai. Which I have assured him im not and 100 percent want to make this work. He says he cares for me but not love me and still not sure if wel have this ’emotional connection’ he keeps going on snout. I feel bonded to him yet he feels differently. I just wonder if we can ever get this emotional connection or if it’s overrated Hollywood crap (which I think it is) a relationship in my view cannot survive on feelings alone there is the practical day to day stuff and other elements of ar relationship that keep it together. (Trust, friendship etc the basis of a long lasting love). He will buy me things I need, make sure I’m ok and always willing to talk openly about stuff. It’s me that finds it hard as I fear the it will always be negative and I will be rejected again.. what do I do? I’m emotionally burned out ! I do not want a divorce. I want us both to be happy with each other. I’ve suggested we spend time together as a couple as we have never done this.

  12. Hi, I’ve been married for 36 years to the same man . He does hug me and he’ll smile at me when he gets home from work if he’s not to tired. But he is not emotionally available, he does not show much emotion about many things and tries to fix problems instead of listening to me .
    The last one alot of men try to do . But my husband doesnt talk about any thing that is interesting or he has no hobbies of his own. My thing is I dont feel like he hears what I’m saying and he is indifferent. So I get bored . Cause he doesnt talk about any thing interesting.
    So I feel alone in our marriage. So there it is, I said it. What do you think of this? Normal, not normal?

  13. I know exactly how living with an emotionally detached unavailable man feels. My husband just doesn’t get it, he makes me feel like I’m needy and asking for unreasonable emotional demands. He. Ines nowhere near me, not a touch of my skin, not a hug, a trike, a smile, no verbal affirmations of any kind. I am lucky to know that he hasn’t always been like this. He emotionally withdrew after a family crisis four years ago and has never emerged from it. He hates my talking to him about my emotional needs. I have tried everything in my power to reconnect and engage, lowered my expectations to virtually nothing so as not to be disappointed. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m selling myself short and things must change. I’ve asked for an open marriage which he refuses. So what now? Die without love or seek it elsewhere without permission? Is he pushing me into the arms of another man to bring our relationship to the end? Hurting and very confused.

  14. I’m glad I’m not the only one trying to let go of an emotionally unavailable man. He tells me to let go, stop trying so hard, don’t be so pushy, stop forcing conversation…

    So I slowed down on texting and calling. If he says I love you, I say it back. I’m not available for every call, text , email or business function. Let him do it, I’ve been doing it for 10 years.

  15. This article is crazy. Relationship needs openness and emotional connection or “care” for each other. Otherwise, there is no relationship or “marriage”. Marriage is two people becoming one, how can that be when one is emotionally unavailable? It is like being married to a dead post. How can anyone accept that and be happy at the same time? Accepting what is unacceptable behavior is shortchanging one’s self. And setting up to be lonely and unfulfilled and unappreciated. Sorry, but I can not advise that to anyone. Some men should not be married at all, if they are emotionally unavailable or hasn’t grown up emotionally. Please don’t ask women to live a life not worth living. Life is too short to live with a selfish, under developed and uncaring man. It takes two people to make a marriage work. One partner can not do it for the two.

  16. Dear Wendi,

    You sound like an incredibly self-aware, sensitive, and insightful woman! You know what you’re avoiding (loss) by staying with an emotionally unavailable man. You’re protecting yourself from the pain and grief of leaving him. You’re caught in an unhealthy pattern, and it’s easier and more comfortable to stay than to leave.

    I don’t have any answers for you, but here are some questions to help you work through the process.

    What would it take to make this relationship painful enough that you would leave him for good?

    Which path – staying in an unhealthy relationship with an emotionally unavailable man or dealing with the loss and grief of a breakup – leads to more life, possibilities, and purpose?

    Go where the life is. Find ways to clear noise and clutter of unhealthy attachments, bad relationships, unhappy people. Listen to the still small voice of God – of divine wisdom and power! Be quiet so you can hear.

    Own up to the choices you’ve made and aren’t making. Don’t let past decisions ruin your future…you may grieve your loss, but you will be alive and growing a healthier future. You will be Blossoming.

    Here’s another post that may interest you:

    How to Deal With Your Fear of Being Alone
    http://blossomtips.com/how-to-deal-with-fear-of-being-alone/

    Take care of yourself. Listen for that still small voice – for you are smarter, stronger, and braver than you know. And stay in touch! Sign up for my Blossom newsletter; I will send weekly inspiration and encouragement 🙂

    Blessings,
    Laurie

    1. Thank you for the relief I am now feeling. I’m not so alone.
      I thought it was me. He walks away when I’m baring my soul to him. Actually turns and walks away and says he’s tired, I don’t feel good. He refuses to do any kind of housework, makes terrible messes and then will not take out the recyclable items after I’ve just spent 55 mimutes cleaning his dishes from his cooking last night. He tells me that he the one that takes home the bacon, that’s his job wow help

  17. Thank you for this article. I’ve been in unhealthy relationships for the past 18 years. My current relationship has been going on for the past 5 years on and off. He is am emotionally unavailable man. We will break up and get back together usually by my choice. This is our pattern. Recently I watched a video on YouTube by Teal Swan where she discussed this type of one sided relationship which is addictive. I have been starting to ask myself why do I keep going back to him and I’m thinking this is why. There is some type of chemical response happening in my brain. I so badly want a happy and healthy relationship with a supportive and caring man. I wish I could let go but I know that if I do it will mean that this person will no longer be a part of my life. I’ve experienced so many losses in my life that the pain associated with loss is something I don’t want. It’s like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    1. What was your dad like? Is this type of relationship ‘familiar to you? Is it what you’ve learned to ‘know’ as ‘love’? Would you feel at ease with a kind emotionally available man? Or would you think he was sort of’weak’ Could you be damaged? I ask myself these questions and had to answer yes to all. what then?