How to Know if a Man is Emotionally Available for Love

These signs of emotionally unavailable men will help you see him – and your relationship – more clearly. Also, here are the reasons women fall in love with men whose hearts aren’t available. The more you know yourself, the healthier your relationships will be.

The best way to stop falling in love with men who aren’t available emotionally is to understand them, and to understand yourself. So, I want to share not only the signs of emotionally unavailable men but also the reasons women tend to get involved in relationships that go nowhere. Most of this information is from Dr Orloff’s The Power of Surrender, which is an amazing resource for healing and acceptance in relationships. You’ll see more of it below…

I was inspired to write this article by a reader who is struggling with her boyfriend…

“I always fall for the wrong men, ever since I was 14,” says Phoebe on How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Get On With Your Life. “Mostly they’re emotionally unavailable, for some reason I’m attracted to men who can’t seem to love me. My last boyfriend wouldn’t even say he loved me even after four years together. He never talked to me, we just go together every couple of weeks to do it. Why do I do this? How do I stop?”

How to Know if a Man is Emotionally Unavailable

For a relationship to be healthy and happy, emotional connection must flow both ways. Your boyfriend or husband has to be in touch with his feelings, and be able to share how he feels with you. It may not be easy for him, but a truly emotionally available man will at least try.

I remember my husband once telling me that talking about our marriage – and his emotions – was like physical work to him. He found it tiring and draining, partly because he wasn’t used to it. Most men don’t find it easy or natural to talk about their feelings…but an emotionally available man will at least try. Many men won’t enjoy talking about their relationships, but men who are emotionally unavailable will check out before the conversation even starts.

In this article, I share the signs of emotionally unavailable men as well as the reasons women fall in love with men who aren’t available emotionally. At the end, I link to another article you may be very interested in: how to love a man who is disconnected from his emotions.

15 Signs of Emotionally Unavailable Men

“Some of these signs may be more obvious than others at first,” writes Dr Orloff in The Power of Surrender. “It’s tricky because we tend to show our best selves in the honeymoon stage of a romance. It can take time for a person’s unavailability to emerge.”

Men who aren’t available emotionally:

  • Are married or in a relationship with someone else (Read How to Break Up With a Married Man if you already know this is you!).
  • Can’t commit to you, or have avoided commitment in past relationships.
  • Tend to be emotionally distant, shut down, or can’t deal with relationship conflict.
  • Abuse alcohol, drugs, prescription medications, sex, or other substances.
  • Are narcissistic (they only care about themselves and their needs).
  • Give you emotional crumbs, such as tiny insights into how they really feel and think.
  • Prefer long distance relationships, emails, or texting (classic signs of emotionally unavailable men).
  • Are reluctant to introduce you to their friends, family, or coworkers.
  • Are elusive, sneaky, or frequently working or tired. Workaholics may be emotionally unavailable men.
  • May disappear for long periods of time (days or even weeks).
  • Send mixed messages, flirt with other women, or don’t you give a straight answer when you ask questions about their actions or whereabouts.
  • Force you to constantly try to guess or decode what they mean or how they feel.
  • Are mainly interested in sex, not connecting to you emotionally or spending time with you in social situations.
  • Veer between pushing you towards a relationship, and withdrawing from emotional connection or interaction with you.
  • Seduce you, but make empty promises. Their behavior and words don’t match.

“Most of us aren’t purposely drawn to emotionally unavailable men,” says Dr Orloff. “Their mixed messages in combination with our particular susceptibilities, conscious or unconscious, can lure us in.” This is why it’s important that you become aware of why you’re attracted to men who aren’t available to commit to an emotional relationship. If you can identify patterns in your own life – which I discuss below – you’ll be better able to choose men who are healthy, strong, and loving.

Men who are emotionally unavailable don’t choose to be distant or uncommunicative. They’re unconsciously defending themselves against trauma or an emotional wound. Many men who aren’t available emotionally aren’t purposefully trying to trick or hurt you. They just can’t love a woman or be in a healthy, whole, happy relationship.

“Research has shown that many emotionally unavailable men are afraid of being clung to or smothered, which stems from having had a controlling, engulfing, or abusive parent,” she writes. “Commitment-phobic men, in particular, may just prefer sex without love. They are afraid of being controlled by feminine energy, though they don’t know it or couldn’t admit it.”

If you tend to chase your boyfriend or husband – or if he actually tells you that you’re smothering him – read How to Heal Codependency in Your Relationship.

5 Reasons You’re Attracted to Emotionally Unavailable Men

If you find yourself repeatedly falling in love with guys who are distant with their emotions and unable to commit to a relationship, you may be allowing yourself to get trapped. Here are a few of the most common reasons you may keep falling for men who aren’t emotionally available.

1. You tend to surrender to a man’s “knight in shining armor” charm

Many women are attracted to men who are strong, tough, and able to save us. If you find yourself drawn to men who want to save you financially, emotionally, or spiritually, you may be more prone to falling for men who aren’t available emotionally. He may say he loves you and even act in loving ways, but when you really get to know him…you realize you don’t know much about how he truly feels or what he really thinks. White knights in shining armor are often on power trips, and not able to commit to an equal relationship.

The other thing about knights in shining armor is that they look really good, say all the right things, and even claim to be spiritual in a New Age sense. But when you get involved with them more deeply, you discover that they’re just showing a facade. One of the most common signs of emotionally unavailable men is their ability to hook women and reel them in.

2. Your self-esteem is low

Do you feel unworthy of love? Then you may not feel like you deserve a man who knows how to love and be loved in return. If your self-esteem is low, you may even believe that you don’t deserve love. If you think you’re worthless, stupid, unattractive, or unlovable then you’ll find yourself falling for men who are emotionally unavailable.

If you can’t accept yourself as a woman who is worthy and deserving of love, then you’ll be attracted to men who don’t know how to love. You don’t see yourself as lovable, so you choose men who aren’t available emotionally. The solution? Start working on your self-image. How do you see yourself? Who are you, and why did God create you? If you don’t feel loved or cherished by Him – or whatever you deem your Higher Power to be – then you won’t allow yourself to be loved by emotionally available men.

3. Your parents were emotionally distant or abusive

“You have inner radar for partners who mirror the unhealthy dynamics you had with a parent,” writes Dr Orloff in The Power of Surrender.

signs of emotionally unavailable men

signs of emotionally unavailable men

“In intimate relationships, you re-create the same dynamics in an attempt to receive what was lacking. For instance, if your father was emotionally unavailable you are drawn to similar men, hoping to finally win Daddy’s love. This is never going to happen because the men you choose aren’t capable of true loving.”

If your boyfriend doesn’t love you the way you need to be loved, it may have more to do with you than him. Is it possible that you’re attracted to men who aren’t there for you, who even reject and abuse you? Sometimes we learn these patterns of relating and communicating in childhood, and we carry them over to our romantic relationships.

4. You’re afraid of commitment so you choose emotionally unavailable men

Taking the risk to love a man can be scary, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. One of the main reasons women are attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable is because the woman herself is afraid to get hurt. She doesn’t want to risk a breakup or divorce, so she “falls in love” with men who can’t commit emotionally.

“Once I fell hard for an emotionally unavailable younger man who’d just left a woman he couldn’t commit to. It was an obvious red flag that I disregarded,” writes Dr Orloff in The Power of Surrender. “Why? Mostly because I was aggravated to him and craved physical and emotional contact.”

You may also resist an emotionally healthy relationship because you had parents who were critical, abusive, or controlling. You protect yourself by loving men who aren’t can’t be emotionally intimate or close. You don’t want to be alone, but you’re scared to get hurt. So you choose the halfway measure of loving men who aren’t available emotionally.

5. You’re willing to settle for anyone – even an emotionally unavailable man

Maybe you think you’re too old to wait for a man who can love you the way you long to be loved. Maybe you feel like you’ve waited long enough – or maybe your parents or relatives are pushing you into marriage or a relationship. Maybe you think this man is your last chance at love, so you allow yourself to get involved with a man who isn’t really available. He’s there physically and mentally, but he can’t meet your emotional needs.

emotionally unavailable men“A confusing part of being attracted to unavailable, commitment-phobic people is that the emotional or sexual chemistry can feel so strong,” writes Dr Judith Orloff in The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being.

“You accept behavior that you’d never tolerate in friends. Why? The electricity can feel so incredible and rare, you mistake intensity for intimacy….but, hear this: Not everyone you feel a connection with, no matter how mind-blowing, is your soul mate. You can fall for someone who is totally wrong for you.”

Are you settling for crumbs in your relationship? Do you know deep down that you don’t connect with this man the way you yearn to? Listen to still small voice within you, or your intuition. It can be difficult to admit that you’re in love with a man who isn’t able to connect or commit to you emotionally, but it’s better to admit the truth than continue fooling yourself. Look upwards and inwards, and you will find the  strength and courage you need to end this relationship and find a man who can commit to you.

Are you in a relationship with a man who is disconnected from his and your emotions? Read How to Love an Emotionally Unavailable Man.

I’d love to hear what you think and how you feel about emotional disconnection in relationships. What is the reason you keep falling in love with men who aren’t emotionally available?

While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.


Leave a Reply to Claudia C. Cancel reply

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

8 thoughts on “How to Know if a Man is Emotionally Available for Love”

  1. I’m bothered by the insinuation that being emotionally unavailable is destructive. I’m the first one to admit I’m emotionally unavailable and not available for relationships. For very good reasons. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; more a matter of self-protection.

    1. Perhaps, you can realise you can ask yourself directly – What am I protecting myself from? – if you are sincere in asking yourself that, and choose to withhold self judgment, something very powerful will be shown to you.
      Blessings to you my friend

  2. I am currently in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man. We were both married when we met. We had an affair for only 3 months and were found out by our spouses. I have since divorced and his wife moved 1100 miles away with his daughter who is 7. We are still together. I still feel the spark. We have a wonderful time together. When we aren’t together he doesn’t call or text anymore. I’m always catching myself asking him what’s wrong. Well, this last time I asked him what was wrong and he told me he feels emotionally disconnected from me due to missing his daughter so bad. I feel like he blames me sometimes but I wasn’t the only one in the relationship. I love him with all my heart but I don’t feel like I’m getting the same in return. We have been through so much in this year that we’ve been together. I just cant walk away. What’s wrong with me?

  3. I fell in love with an emotionally unavailable man.
    It was an intense sexual attraction that totally consumed me. Apart from the sex I felt comfortable with him and we had a great banter between us. We shared the same sense of humour. I ve never really met anyone that I’ve had the the two go together:. So the only man that was my type of guy soon came to surface he was emoitanally unavailable! I tried for two years to break off, and even though I never saw him I still wanted him in my life. So it became a phone relationship. This went on for 12 months until it became that it wasn’t enough. Now it’s been a month and we don’t communicate anymore. When I told him that he lost my love due to his indifference., A heart that cared that went unshared until it died within its silence he hasn’t rang since. Timing is everything in a relationship and I don’t feel close to him anymore to be free and easy to pick up the phone. So the lesson I hope he has learnt is that you have to be forthcoming and love needs expression or esle it dies.

  4. All your points ring true for me….I left a brief relationship recently because I KNEW from the beginning I got ‘red flags’ & didn’t heed them – so wanted my Dad’s love subconciously & did inner healing with this
    ..& saw/experienced that I attracted an emotionally unavailable man who could only give sex, but didn’t have emotional intimacy skills….& I KNEW it was time to go…the Good thing is I didn’t stay long & didn’t feel I needed to ‘fix’ this man & we weren’t a match…I was NO longer willing to stay here with not being heard, etc., emotionally…thank you for this article#

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Do you know how long I have needed to read your words? Every step you listed rings pure truth to what I knew so very long ago. Before I remarried, against my better judgement, a man who wanted to save me, a man that I had nothing in common with but a good man. A man who marries to feel complete and he’ll believe it to be love. I knew better but was as you described in #5 we were both willing to settle for companionship. Living for 30 years unable to feel the connection I need and not being loved in the way that I need and long to be has taken it’s tole. I found that I was unable to be effective in all my attempts to self express, to reach out, to be see or heard because of his emotional unavailability and defenses against my tone of voice, my enthusiasm, my approach during conversations that I started to become silent, then lost. I had given up but I have more to me than just this and I want to face myself and find my strength again. I am a spiritual human being and I need to find a way to shift my attention away from what is not in my life, toward what I can bring into my life. I know I need to save myself and I appreciate reading your words they couldn’t have been more perfect for me. It was like reading what you knew to be true and what you have known all along. What has been missing in my life was given to me by you, confirmation. I feel like I was visited by an angel whose message carried words of healing to me. Thank you very much for the hope I feel.

    1. Wow Debra well said, I feel similarly. The other person is partly responsible and you have something precious within, and a lot of potential.

  6. Hello there, amazing how i came across your website. My situation goes back 12 years now, finally I confronted my ex regarding my needs and desires in our relationship. Out of the 12 years of knowing each other, we were together for 6 years. I always felt more committed towards him (Love, dedication, admiration) than he was towards me emotionally. He would pull away every 6 moths and will become distant and cold. Out of the 6 years maybe on 3 occasions, he told me that i was the only one that got through him like no else did and that made me special to him. But his actions always gave me mix signs. He would act one way, but then he acted the opposite days after and so on our relationship went on.

    He’s a single dad and I’m a single mom, Our kids 18 and 14 always wished that we could eventually become a family. Not until 2 months ago, where i sent my daughter off to be with her father for a month. That month i really needed his support, i felt alone, i desired to be cared for and supported even hugged, but when i expressed how i felt, his words were the following: ” you need to find yourself another man, because i can’t make you happy. You want to do things together and i can’t do that for you”.

    Those words broke me and filled me with anger and resentment because 12 years ago I avoided listening to that inner voice that told me; he’s not right for you.

    The other part of my story, is that we work together. We opened our business 8 years ago and more than one person has express how cripple he will be If I left the company. Even people I worked with that left the company, expressed to me how they didn’t like how he treated me. But at home he was a total different person. Just confusing and emotionally draining.

    I’m working on healing and letting all emotions pass through so that I can be ready for a true emotionally available man. I figured, his past hunts him and he believes he’s not worhty of love.

    Just wanted to share a little bit of my story with you and Thank you for this amazing website 🙂