Is He Emotionally Unavailable? Here’s How To Tell

Is he chronically emotionally unavailable, or does he just take a little while to open up?

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock

You’ve just started seeing this guy. He’s handsome, funny, and successful. He always has a fun date planned, and you always look forward to the chance to see him again. He checks off a lot of boxes, but you can’t help but feel like something is … missing.

You’ve noticed that as soon as the conversation takes a turn toward the personal, he clams up and shuts it down. He doesn’t like answering questions like, “What are you thinking about right now?” or “How do you feel about that?” and you even feel him pulling away the closer you get.

You’re beginning to wonder if he’s emotionally unavailable. But what are the signs?

You Have a Hard Time Figuring Him Out

When a guy is emotionally intelligent and open, you won’t have to guess what he’s thinking or feeling. He’ll want to talk it through. He’ll bring up, without being poked and prodded, that he has something on his mind.

But when he’s emotionally unavailable, you’ll always be left guessing what’s really going on with him, like he’s a puzzle to be figured out. And when you attempt to ask him whether something’s on his mind, he might brush you off or give a cryptic answer that leaves you with even more to decipher.

In-Depth Talks Make Him Uncomfortable

Having long, in-depth, honest talks aren’t always comfortable. Sometimes we’re forced to pay attention to our shortcomings or painful feelings we’ve been suppressing, and other times new issues to work through together might be brought up. But overall, these in-depth conversations are the only way to know how the other person is really doing.

But if your guy tends to shy away from these talks, and even seems uncomfortable, aloof, or curt when you initiate a deeper conversation with him, he might be struggling to allow himself to emotionally check in and open up, a classic sign of emotional unavailability.

friends-joey-tribbiani-i dont want to talk about it

He Doesn’t Want To Label Things

In the early days of a relationship, it’s intoxicating to think about where things could go. We hope that by the time a month has gone by, we’ll officially be someone’s girlfriend, that we’ll announce it on Instagram with a sweet picture, that we’ll finally be able to tell our nosy aunts and uncles that we are dating someone.

But maybe this new guy you’re seeing isn’t as keen on labeling things. Maybe he’s hinted at the fact that he’s not really sure about getting into a relationship right now, or he just wants to “take things slowly,” or he sidesteps your attempts at having the “What are we?” talk. If this is the case, he might be too emotionally removed to even consider a committed relationship.

He’s Not All That Affectionate

When we’re attracted to someone, we naturally want to touch them – whether by grabbing their hand as we stroll through the park, grazing their back as we move past them, or cuddling up to them on the couch. Even if physical touch isn’t our first love language, we’ll want to show affection.

A sign of being emotionally unavailable? Getting uncomfortable with too much affection. Being physically affectionate requires vulnerability, openness, and intimacy, three things that are products of emotional availability.

emperors new groove no touchy

He’s Not Empathetic Either

While some might find that empathy comes more naturally to them, being readily empathetic is a natural outcropping of being emotionally responsive to others. We can understand, and possibly even feel, this person’s plight.

But when a guy is emotionally unavailable, he’ll have a hard time offering you empathy. Instead, he might joke to lighten the mood, tell you you’re making it a bigger deal than it is, or say you’re overly sensitive. Being loving, thoughtful, or caring won’t be his natural response when things get heavy.

He Hasn’t Had Serious Relationships Before

Most of us have had at least one relationship before by our mid-20s (unless you married your high school sweetheart, lucky girl!). Having past relationships means that we previously allowed someone to get close to us, but it didn’t end up working out.

But if a guy hasn’t had any past relationships, there might be something off. This could mean that he’s made an effort to not become emotionally entangled with another person, pointing to a desire to keep others at arm’s length and never get too close.

gizelle-bryant-gizelle-rhop too close for comfort

He Doesn’t Want To Do Introductions

When we’re sure about someone, we can’t wait for the chance to show him off. We want to introduce him to our friends, family, and anyone else who cares to meet him. And we also can’t wait to meet everyone in our boyfriend’s life.

But when he’s emotionally unavailable, he won’t be interested in doing introductions. He’ll get shifty when you invite him to your friend’s birthday party, always have an excuse as to why you can’t meet his, and go silent when you’re home visiting your parents.

He Avoids Deeper Friendships

Friendships are crucial to our health. We need at least one or two kindred spirits, maybe even a small, tight-knit community of people who get us, who challenge us, and who love us. Having deep friendships is the mark of an emotionally mature, available person.

If he hasn’t had any deep friendships, this could mean that, similarly to someone’s lack of past serious relationships, he’s stayed away from cultivating deep friendships because he doesn’t want someone getting too close to him.

i dont need anyone but myself

He Doesn’t Like Making Plans Too Far in the Future

When we’re in a new relationship, we can’t wait for all that’s to come: our first concert, road trip, beach trip, anniversary. And we like to vision cast together, no matter how far in the future our idea might be.

But if a guy is emotionally unavailable, he’ll shy away from making plans that are very far in the future. Planning a date a few weeks in advance might be out of his comfort zone. He’ll prefer to stick to making short-term plans.

Closing Thoughts

We can’t only rely on having mental or physical connections. An emotional connection is vital to any lasting relationship. If your guy seems to match up with a lot of these signs, don’t fret too much; it’s possible for him to learn how to become more emotionally available and communicative, but he has to want to.

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