If you are with an emotionally unavailable man, there are some things you can do to “fix” him. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t fix every man and that some men should just be avoided. For example, younger, inexperienced guys are often emotionally unavailable. And some men will just never commit. But if you feel as if the relationship can be better than what it is, there are some things you can try.
1. GIVE HIM SOME SPACE/TIME
It sounds like giving him space when he’s already distant would be the opposite of what you should do. It seems only natural that if he’s unavailable emotionally and is distant, you should get closer. But that might make him close off from you even more. You are now chasing him, and he’s running away.
The thing to do is to let him have his space. If you’re in a relationship (and he wants to continue it), he’ll eventually contact you. When he does, you can then use that opportunity to tell him what you’re experiencing in the relationship.
Time, like space, can be helpful. This is especially true if he’s unavailable because of something he’s currently going through that might pass such as the passing of a parent or a divorce (especially when you’re not yet officially a couple). Sometimes life events just take precedence over a relationship and can lead to emotional unavailability . Beware if he frequently becomes emotionally unavailable as the first sign of stress, however; this could be a sign that he handles stress poorly or isn’t mature.
2. DON’T JUDGE HIM
Let him know (and demonstrate to him) that you are open to him and won’t judge him. You should let him know that you feel hurt by the distance you sense between the two of you. Tell him your feelings without blaming or accusing him. For example, instead of asking him why he just left for three days without telling you first, when he’s with you, let him know how much you enjoy being with him. If he knows that you’re OK with him leaving from time to time, he’ll be more likely to let you know beforehand next time.
3. TELL HIM YOUR NEEDS
Make sure he understands that you need an emotionally available man. When your man is emotionally unavailable or when he withdraws from you, you probably feel neglected. You might also feel uneasy because you aren’t sure where you stand with him, and that might make you sad or angry. He needs to know how you feel because of the way he acts toward you. If he wants to be part of your life, and if he cares for you or loves you, he’ll want you to be happy. As long as he knows that he can still be himself, he should be able to be close and connected with you.
4. TALK ABOUT CONFLICT
Because he’s emotionally unavailable, he probably avoids conflict. Let him know that dealing with conflict is a normal and necessary part of a relationship. In fact, if he always avoids conflict, the relationship is more likely to end because problems are not being addressed. And unaddressed problems become bigger the longer that they are allowed to go on.
When you approach him to discuss the conflict, make sure the talk doesn’t turn into a fight. It might be easier to bring this up when you’re doing something else together, such as walking the dog. Note that if you’re both hotheads, it’s probably better not to bring this up while he’s driving. But if you can discuss things calmly, it should be OK.
Stay calm. Don’t yell, curse, or interrupt him. And practice active listening. That means you are really hearing and taking in what he has to say. You are not busy thinking about your response. When he’s had his turn, you take yours. Now that you both know what the problem is and you’ve both stated your positions, you can act to solve the problem together.
This is a pleasant method of conflict resolution. One of the reasons emotionally unavailable men avoid conflict is that they don’t want to get into a fight. Now that he knows that you can have a discussion without getting emotional, he should be more likely to talk things out with you when there’s a problem.
Remember that the two of you are a team so it’s less about how you can change him and more about building a strong and healthy relationship together. He’ll be resistant if he thinks you’re just trying to change him. Together, you can learn how to be emotionally available and develop healthy attachment styles.
Focus on letting your partner get to know you without worrying about shame or judgment. Let him know your hopes and fears. Find little ways to be vulnerable and open.
You might have to do the hard work of examining your fears to determine if they’re rational. You and your partner might find it helpful to seek a therapist to deal with your intimacy issues and learn how to be emotionally available to one another. Or you may want to go on your own to get over past traumas.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON
While it’s often possible to become more emotionally available and improve your relationship, you really need to work toward it. What do you do if it doesn’t seem possible, especially if the guy you’re seeing who is emotionally unavailable? You can’t force anyone to do something that they don’t want, and this includes striving for more emotional intimacy and availability. If you stay in a relationship with a person like this, you’re likely to feel self-doubt and anxiety about your relationship.
Trust issues (read more about them) can stem from a relationship where your partner is emotionally unavailable.
Instead, you might have to make a difficult decision and end your relationship. This is especially true if you know that he’s emotionally detached because he’s seeing or, even worse, married to someone else. He might indicate that he wants to leave his relationship, but he has no motivation to do so if you’re aware and still dating or sleeping with him.
But if you find yourself repeatedly going for the type of guy who is emotionally unavailable, cannot commit, and avoids intimacy, you might want to examine yourself. Do you have low self-esteem? Maybe you think that you aren’t worth someone who will treat you better or have an unhealthy attachment style. You might not be able to fully commit yourself, so you wind up with this type of guy. Perhaps you jump into relationships before you get a chance to see a person’s negatives.
Some people even relive past traumas in their current relationships. Women often try to fix men and turn them into “projects.” It might make you feel useful, but every person has to fix themselves, which you should do if you’re focusing on his problems to avoid your own. Maybe it makes you feel good that you get special attention from someone who has issues with other people.
Finally, you might crave the drama and excitement that you get because you’re unsure about this guy. As frustrating as it can be, it can also be enticing. The same goes for the mysterious allure of a guy who won’t reveal himself. Add in stubbornness — you’re not willing to give up — and you might not be allowing yourself to experience a healthy relationship.
Raising your standards and your self-esteem can prevent you from winding up with guys who refuse to commit and aren’t good for you. Be authentic and vulnerable yourself. Some people advise doing the opposite of what you always do. Look for a guy who truly cares about you, complements you and challenges you, instead of the emotionally unavailable person.
It’s problematic to be with a man who’s unavailable emotionally. You can never get as close as you would like to be, and your relationship can stagnate. Try focusing on your needs and asking yourself why you’re with an emotionally unavailable man. You might have some self-esteem issues that need fixing before you can fix your man. Know that with time and the right attitude, some men can change. Now that you know what to do, try to get your guy to open up so that you can both enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying relationship.