“He’s Not Emotionally Available”

I’m just back from vacation with four men whose ages span close to 40 years. One thing that was made clear is this: Men are not women.

I frequently work with women who are dissatisfied with their relationships with men. The phrase “emotional availability” is often used to show the lack of the man they’re involved with and I think this deserves a challenge.

I am pretty sure if you wait around for a man to become a woman, to act like a woman, to feel like a woman, to respond like a woman, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Not only that, while you’re focused on what the man is not or is not doing, you will miss everything he is and is doing.

This is a tiny capsule but check it out. My son’s friend, 13 year old, Quirky Aquarian, mentioned that he liked this girl at school. “Do you think, Jocelyn is pretty?” he asked. My son mumbled something affirmative.

This was because men don’t go on and on about their friend’s girlfriend attractiveness nor do they say she is a dog, but here’s the point: That was the whole exchange.

My husband explained to me that men simply don’t go on and on about women. “They say they like someone and that’s all they say. Everyone knows what that means, we say it once and we go on to something else…”

Compare that to women who get on the phone to discuss their partner’s every breath and nuance. Can you not see these are two different species?

You may be mad a me for writing this but I ask you, what constitutes emotional availability when it comes to a man? Are you sure you’re being short-changed or somehow cheated in your relationship?

I find men try very hard to please women they care about but many women look for something intangible that may not even exist on the earth. As a result, they fail to register all the effort a man makes and consequently they feel unloved when they may in fact be loved to the bone.

What do you think when you hear the phrase “emotionally unavailable”?

47 thoughts on ““He’s Not Emotionally Available””

  1. After a lifetime of talk, talk, talk from men, I’ll take action over words any day.

    Just taking out my garbage to the chute for me can be touching. Maybe I have a low threshold for being pleased, lol.

  2. I’m confused McKenna… I would have answered ‘warm.’ .. emotionally unavailable is what I think of as cold.

  3. Great point you are making here Elsa… it’s taken me years to get a correct handle on men’s ways of acting and operating.

  4. Emotionally unavailable = doesn’t share any loving feelings at all. Sounds like nothing more than a roommate that helps pay the bills.

  5. “Everyone knows what that means, what does it mean if you say you like someone?”

    “It means you’re in love with some woman and you life is ruined.”

    “I see.” 🙂

  6. norah & neva, yes. A man does this and this and this and this and this for a woman and has no idea why she complains so much, lol. 🙂

  7. Avatar
    curious wanderer

    When I hear “emotionally unavailable,” that’s what I think – unavailable. Not there, not accessible, not present. Doesn’t matter what presence and accessibility looks like or doesn’t look like, because it’s *not there*.

    Heh, I think my ex was actually too available, now that I think about it. There were so many of his own emotions he couldn’t deal with, so he dumped them on me.

    Also, “sensitive” men are not all they’re cracked up to be.

  8. Elsa, this post is right on time. I was being my sensitive Pisces self working myself up about my man being too short with the affection last night but then I remembered he had picked up dinner by the time I got home and it was food he knows I like. This is a good reminder to cheerlead the things he does well.

  9. Avatar
    Anna in Canada

    When I hear the words “emotionally unavailable” I am reminded once again of the differences between North American and European culture–and relationships. We don’t expect or want our men to be women. Men are men–stop trying to turn them into your sister or best friend. You’ll ruin the sex and everything else that’s great about having a man in your life.

  10. Yeah, women have to realize that men ARE different from them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love the women they’re with.

  11. When you say “emotionally unavailable”, that implies to me that his emotional state is unavailable, either he’s already involved (and up to his eyeballs dealing with it) or that he’s shut down and re-couping from being involved. Now I guess it’s entirely possible for men (and women) to get involved with another when they are “emotionally unavailable”.

    I’m still working on the hurt, hurt, hurt part from yesterday. I know there’s so much more to that, and that I need to find a bit of time to get into the weeds with it. For now, it’s stewing,

  12. ‘After a lifetime of talk, talk, talk from men, I’ll take action over words any day.’

    I second (or third!) that.

    I’ve learned to equate “emotionally unavailable” with a man SAYING something, but never backing it up with his actions.

    If I know anything about men (!), it’s that they show how they feel through their actions. They DO things. If they’re not DOING, or not doing what they SAY they’re going to do… they’re emotions are “unavailable.”

    It’s Saturn in Libra time, baby… show me the money, and I’ll believe you. Don’t just talk about it.

  13. I say he’s emotionally available if you can tell he’s actually in your relationship with you. Not just some roommate, as mentioned above. He doesn’t lie! He shares his thoughts with you, however limited they may be, and not everyone else BUT you. Guys are not chicks, fine. But if the guy is sharing more of his life with his coworkers or friends instead of his wife or girlfriend, it’s time to move on. Women don’t want to feel like an outsider in their own relationship. You are dating someone in the first place because you are supposed to have a “special” connection neither one of you have with anyone else. Otherwise, what’s the point – just be friends and don’t date.

  14. ‘After a lifetime of talk, talk, talk from men, I’ll take action over words any day.’

    Ditto for me too…

    I think “Emotionally Unavailable” applies to men and women – whether it’s a temporary thing or permanent to the persons temperament.
    (DISCLOSURE: I do “EU” at times – seems to come about more since I’m getting older)

  15. Merryweather and AriesSun —– I hear ya and I am with you- as an Aries w/Sag rising and married to a Cancer w/ libra rising- I am up to my eyes with “lets talk about it” I feel like i am the man in the relationship and he is the woman… I would rather have a wolverine these days than this!! 15yrs of it- its exhausting!

  16. Really good post. I could cry! But I’m not feeling so melodramatic. Please keep writing these things, even if they’re not so politically correct (“men and women are made of different stuff”).


  17. @Anna in Canada – you mean the north american women don’t expect men to be girly/feminine? Or, it’s the european women who don’t have these expectations?

  18. For a man to emotionally unavailable, I’ve learned that he doesn’t want to be interrogated. He is charging his batteries and doesn’t care to be drained. I find when I respect those boundaries, he comes out of his cave fresh and ready to interact. Sometimes we decide to play a game where I limit my questions and it seems to work out pretty well. It makes me think of what’s most important to me to talk with him about, sort of a communication ‘bug out bag.’ Funny, since it is set up as a game, I do find myself honoring our discussions more instead of blathering all over him like I used to do with other men– who no surprise, became emotionally unavailable!

  19. Avatar
    Anna in Canada

    No, debdeb. I meant that North American women treat their men as girlfriends and get so easily pissed off or feel hurt when the dude doesn’t respond in the way the woman expects. And North American women (I’m generalizing here so don’t shoot me) expect their men to enjoy analyzing and debating the shit out of everything. You just don’t see that in Europe or in most ethnic communities. As a European-raised woman I grew up with men who were men, and I grew up with women who treated men as men, not as soul sisters.
    In other words, I agree with what Elsa is saying. Women expect so much from their relationships and heaven forbid the man responds in a way that doesn’t make the woman feel loved or threatens her sense of security in the relationship. It’s crazy and I was reminded of that recently with Dawn’s posted “what is he saying” obsession. This is why my closest friends are immigrants like me. We don’t analyze our relationships nor do we spend time talking about our husbands or boyfriends. Part of this is due to the way we’ve been raised: you simply don’t share intimate details of your marital life with friends. Talk shows (sorry, Oprah) and reality television has made it de rigour to blab on about everything, no holds barred, secrets be damned. I’m not perfect and neither is my relationship but I never criticize my husband for being a man.
    I do criticize his Mars in Cancer for being a bit over-protective. Smirk.

  20. I agree one hundred percent. I get mad at my mother all the time because she says that my Dad never “does” anything for her, when he has just taken her out, takes care of the yard, gone shopping for her etc. But she wants something more. It’s odd because she sees it as something he should “do” rather than “be” or “act”. But the result is the same. He is showing his love and support and she does not see it. To her, he is “emotionally” unavailable. I see him as extremely dependable and loving.

  21. @Elsa, you hit the nail on the head!

    @Anna from Canada — you, too, hit the nail on the head!

    Thank goodness someone has finally said what I’ve been thinking for years. I am so tired of listening to women complain about men not being “sensitive” enough.

    When I was younger, I didn’t understand men. But as I grew older, instead of bashing men on the phone with girlfriends like “sex in the city drama,” I began asking “men about men.” Men are the gender to ask if a woman wants to know or understand what men are thinking.

    Frankly, I don’t want a man, who is an emotional mess to cry with me over “chick flicks,” and I certainly don’t want him as a “girlfriend.”

    I like a real man — a solution finder, rough and rugged cow poke! Okay, I admit it! I’ve been watching too many Clint Eastwood movies!


  22. @Anna from Canada:

    You’re right about North American women — always obsessing, and over analyzing relationships with men. Instead of simply enjoying the relationship “in the moment.”

    I dated guys from Europe — Germany, Poland and Denmark. It was fun, and point on! No Drama!

    I am a Texan, who has lived in Los Angeles for 25 years. I won’t elaborate, but I miss the real men. Would you mind shipping a few European men my way — love them?


  23. I barely analyzed, up until the past few years; I grew up in Europe, and so did a certain Taurus. He could be both rugged and sensitive; he also chose to be an arsehole.

  24. While I agree with most of this, my ex-husband was a man’s man which in our case meant I was not his friend, at all. He did not confide in me or want to spend time with me, he was not my partner. This is what I think of as emotionally unavailable. If at any time his friends would call he’d be right there for them. I honestly think he just didn’t like women.

    I don’t want a man to be my girlfriend. I have lots of long time friends for that. But I do want him to want to tell me his good news and bad news first, to be his first choice of companion when he has free time.

    I did have a man who talked and clinged and cried all the time. He drove me nuts…

  25. @Anna from Canada: LOL! Were you referring to my post and me sounding like my mother?…lol I only ask as you posted that right under me : )

  26. Emotional unavilability is an unwillingness to be in the present time. My ex was ‘EU’ (*there’s a European Union joke in there somewhere) because he was still emotionally absorbed by the death of his mother many many years previously, albeit unaware of that.

    As for differences between men and women – EvERyOnE should read Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Grey. If you go around expecting men to be women and being constantly disappointed this will change your relationships and your life.

    My man doesn’t talk a lot, emotionally (aqua moon). Which sometimes frustrates me. But he shows me he cares by doing little things like sneaking into my house while I’m at work and tidying up, or making me dinner, or shouting a cinema trip even tho he’s skint. He calls me his ‘best friend’ and he is mine. If he doesn’t tell me he loves me (uninitiated) 12 times a day I still know that he does. It’s just expressed in a different way.

  27. “EvERyOnE should read Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Grey.”

    @Stellia- I totally agree with you on that! I not only learned a lot about men from that book, but it enlightened me on quite a few things about me and women in general too.

  28. Avatar
    Anna in Canada

    My own reading suggestion: What French Women Know About Love, Sex and other Matters of the Heart and Mind by American author Debra Ollivier who married a French man and lived overseas for quite a few years. I gave it to a former colleague who was annoying me with tales of the sturm und drang of her love life. It changed her world. Seriously.

  29. Avatar
    Anna in Canada

    My comment slipped into the ether. Here it is again:
    I would recommend What French Women Know about Love, Sex and other Matters of the Heart and Mind by American author Debra Ollivier who married a French man and lived overseas for a number of years. I gave it to a former colleague who was annoying the frick out of me with tales of the sturm und drang of her love life. It totally changed her world. I’ve read it myself and I think the author has (for the most part) captured a typical European woman’s attitude towards relationships AND life.

  30. “Men are not Women.” Ha! Ain’t that the truth!! Along with that goes “Women are not men.” I think if we can accept these two truths we’d ALL be happier:)

    A few years ago I was at a friends and my son was pushing around a doll stroller without a doll in it, and I said, Thats the difference between a boy and a girl, if a girl were pushing it she’d be taking her doll for a walk, a boy just likes that it’s got wheels!!

  31. i’ve heard a man say a number of times he found it difficult to find a woman who was willing to be happy….

  32. “Emotionally unavailable”: “I want to marry you, but you’ll have to accept that I am going to break up with you periodically when things get too much for me because I 1) have to work on my internal issues or 2) have a child who needs me to break it off (?!) or 3) am just “not a communicator” or 4) name your rationalization.”

    Yes, men are not women, nor should they be. It’s not a male-female thing and reducing it to a question of gender differences is overly simplistic; I’ve seen the “emotional over-doer/emotional under-doer” polarization in same-sex couples.

    However, there really is something called “emotionally unavailable” and dismissing the existence of that condition serves noone, least of all the woman who is trained to think that she has to take responsibility for the emotional health and/or existence of the relationship.

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