What to Do If You Have an Emotionally Unavailable Partner
If you’re a woman in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner, it can feel frustrating and oftentimes, hurtful.
You may even think that he’s shutting you out because he’s mad at you — or worse — doesn’t love you anymore!
But when a man isn’t sharing his feelings, rest assured, it does not mean any of that.
In this post, I share what it actually means when a man won’t open up, simple steps a woman can take to get the love, connection, and support she needs, and how to inspire him to share his emotions more often so you can build that deep soul mate bond.
My relationship partner is emotionally unavailable.
What can I do to help him open up?
Will He Always Be an Emotionally Unavailable Partner?
I want to start by sharing that so many women ask me about their “emotionally unavailable partner.” It’s a very common question I receive.
Women typically ask…
- Why can't he be more emotionally available?
- What's wrong with him?
In truth, if we turn this around, we'll understand the situation better.
What I've seen over and over is that a woman will usually want the man to open up first, because then she will feel safe to open up herself.
But the first step actually isn’t for the man to open up.
The first step is for the woman to feel safe and connected so that then she can open up and express her feelings.
If the man is not opening up, rather than see it as his problem, see it as an imbalance in the relationship where you, the woman, need to open up more.
When you open up and share your feelings, that's your feminine side.
But quite often, when women just express how they feel, men either...
- Become distracted
- Lose interest
- Try to tell you that you shouldn't feel that way
- Happily give you a solution to talk you out of what you're feeling.
And none of those behaviors make you feel safe to open up.
So when you don't feel safe or don't know how to open up and be more vulnerable, how do you connect?
The only other way is to try and get him to open up.
Because if you know what he's thinking and feeling, then you penetrate into him and feel that connection.
But actually, that throws the relationship even more out of balance.
When you (the woman) are doing the listening while he opens up, that puts you on your masculine side in the relationship.
There's a lot of sensitive men out there who open up right away, but women are often turned off by that because it shifts the balance of masculine and feminine.
For you to feel safe and connected and attracted to him, you need his help to come back to your feminine side.
That means you’ll need to open up while he does more listening.
If you connect by getting him to be the one who’s always opening up, ultimately you end up putting him in the friend zone because you'll lose attraction for him.
So how can you open up when you feel he doesn’t care or isn’t listening?
When it doesn’t feel “safe?”
I’ll get into that next…
How to Create Connection When He’s Not Opening Up
Often women say, “I want to know what he's feeling” simply because you're not feeling connected. But that doesn’t always mean he’s an emotionally unavailable partner...
My daughter, Lauren Gray — who teaches an amazing premium course for women at our website called How to Get More Me-Time — has an incredible technique that she uses.
Here’s how to do it:
At times when you're talking, you may sense that your partner is distancing himself.
He might even look away, but either way, emotionally you’ll feel the disconnection and you’ll feel insecure.
You might even think “What happened?”
What happened is that he cares about you!
While you’re noticing the disconnection and feeling insecure about it — maybe even feeling mad or assuming he’s an emotionally unavailable partner — he’s actually detaching from his feelings so he can think about what you’re saying.
So you notice he’s not being present with you, but he’s actually…
- Trying to figure out what to say or do
- Thinking about what his response should be
- Analyzing what you actually mean
Inside of him, all of that could be going on but all you feel is this disconnection.
So naturally, you want him to talk about his feelings in order to connect back.
What Lauren came up with for this is brilliant.
At those times where she notices her partner pull away, she pauses and says with genuine curiosity:
“Are you thinking?”
Then, he says, “Yeah.”
As soon as he says yes, she feels that connection once again.
Women aren't as familiar with the experience of someone being connected and then suddenly disconnected except with their boyfriend or husband. So the natural response is to assume he’s being an emotionally unavailable partner and then want to know what he’s feeling.
You may even wonder…Does he still love me?
The reason you would suddenly feel that insecurity is because women tend to pull away when:
- They're angry with you.
- They don't trust you.
- They don't want to be open to you.
When women pull away, it is personal. If a woman disconnects from you, she's upset about something and she doesn't want to share with you.
But when a man disconnects, it could have nothing to do with you at all.
Usually, he's just trying to figure it out, and thinking “Okay, what do I do about this?” or “What should I say about this?”
He's withdrawing to become detached so he can analyze what's going on.
lt has nothing to do with you.
So you bring him back by simply saying:
“Are you thinking?”
And, he’ll say “Yeah.”
Then, you'll feel more connection with him and feel reassured by the tone of his voice when he says, “Yeah.” You’ll see he’s not being an emotionally unavailable partner at all.
But again, this technique works best when you’re already in the midst of opening up. So how can you start feeling safe to start opening up more?
Let’s get into that next…
Emotional Availability Starts with You
See, men are strange to women.
We withdraw when we want to think about something.
When that happens, it’s natural to panic and want to get that reassurance that he cares about you and loves you; that he's not mad at you.
Meanwhile, he just wants to be as helpful as possible, so he’s thinking about what you’re saying.
The bottom line here is that when you feel that a man is being an emotionally unavailable partner, reflect on yourself and ask…
- Am I that emotionally available with him?
- Am I really revealing what my thoughts and feelings are?
- Am I going inside and letting him come to a deeper place inside of me?
Maybe you've got a good reason why you don't do that.
One reason is that nobody's ever shown you how to do that.
That's why I write these articles.
But secondly, it may be that you started to go there and then, he doesn't give you the support you need.
So how do you solve this problem?
Again, it’s not by opening up him but by letting him know what he can do to make it safer for you.
So this is a simple solution.
When you want to share, feel connection, or find yourself wanting him to open up, think "How can I open up more with him?"
Then you simply say to him:
“Oh, I'm so glad to see you.
I just want to talk about what's going on in my life.
What my feelings are, what's happening, and I want to connect with you.
I just want you to know what goes on and you don't have to say anything or do anything.
You certainly don't have to reciprocate in any way.
I just need you to hear what's going on inside of me and I’ll feel closer to you and I really like that feeling.
So remember, you don't have to speak.”
Then you can start to share and then he will, by habit, try to give you some advice.
When he does, you just reassure him:
“Oh, you don't have to solve anything. I'm fine.
I just need to work this through and having you be present with me, not only helps me get through it and sort things out but also I get to feel more connected to you and I really enjoy that.”
You do that and then you go: “Thanks so much for listening.”
And you go in for a quick hug and then you leave the room.
This is key: Let him reflect on what just happened.
Often if you share your feelings and you're done, a man will ruin everything by saying, “Yeah, but you know, you shouldn't feel this and you shouldn't feel that…”
Those will be his afterthoughts of advice.
Don't create that opportunity for him.
Leave the room, let him be in that place of thinking…
“Gee, I just listened and it was helpful to her.”
Then, he'll feel more connected to you as a result.
When he feels connected to you, you will feel connected to him.
So how does a man feel connected to a woman?
How a Man Feels Most Connected to a Woman
Men don’t feel more connected to a woman by sharing their feelings.
Instead, they feel connected:
- By being present for her
- By doing things for her
Those are two ways that a man will bond with you.
If we feel that:
- What we did had significance for you AND
- That you appreciate it...
... that's the ticket to us feeling deeply connected to you.
So, when you’re dealing with a man that you feel is being an emotionally unavailable partner...
You want to get him to do things for you.
Whereas your job, as the woman, is to open up and share your feelings.
That will help him be present for you.
As you can go deeper and deeper, that will create an opportunity for him to begin sharing feelings as well.
Women often say, “Why don't men ever talk? He'll talk with his male friends all the time. Why doesn't he talk with me?”
One of the reasons he talks so openly with his male friends is because they don't care whether he talks.
There's no attachment to getting him to change.
So the secret of opening up a man is:
- You first open up.
- Have no attachment to him opening up.
Gradually, he will start to share more.
When he does share more, be careful not to offer him solutions.
Because that's quite often what women will do.
As much as they don't want a man to offer solutions to them, a man will start to share his feelings and she'll start to give him advice and want to teach him.
So you've got to practice backing off when he does start to open up, but... you're first!
If you practice asking for what you need so you feel safe opening up, sharing your feelings, using Lauren’s technique to help you reconnect when you feel him emotionally detaching, and allowing him to share too without trying to offer him solutions — you’ll soon see and feel your bond deepening.
And then it won’t be so hard for either of you to open up, and be emotionally available.
Grow in love,
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