Emotionally unavailable

Dear Positive Way, The guy I have been dating for nearly a year is great in most every way, but he cuts me off emotionally and does not like to discuss any serious issues. I have learned to accept this and avoid discussing when something is really bothering me. But I find keeping how I really feel is going to cause great conflict when he asks me to move in with him down the road. We have had arguments about this but usually talk and let things go. I do not set expectations that he will do any of the little things I would enjoy romantically because he does so many other helpful things. I can only honestly describe him as emotionally and romantically unavailable. I am finding I am beginning to cut myself off emotionally and only set a limit to our intimacy. Any advice? signed, cateyes72, age 34

Dear Cateyes72, many men cannot deal with the “emotional” part of a relationship.  They tend to show their love and respect by being a good provider and like you said “great in most every way”.  This way of behavior is ingrained in a man and rarely will they change enough to give the emotional or romantic side needed for their partners.  So now you have to decide can you live with this man for the rest of your life knowing that he will probably not change in this respect?  Here are some things for you to consider:

1.  Concentrate on what he does have to offer and really be honest with yourself – is that enough for the long haul?  Will you be settling if you continue a relationship with a man that is not willing or capable of providing the emotional and romantic support you desire?

2.  Men want and need their partners to define exactly what behavior they are expected to have and how they can improve on making their partner feel loved.  He needs you to tell him exactly and as simply as possible what you need from him.  For example:  Tell him how he can show he is listening to you and what response you want from him when he is listening.  Tell him exactly what to do romantically – if you want flowers then tell him to buy you flowers x amount of times.  If you want a candlelight dinner occasionally then tell him when and where.  If you want a love letter or love notes tell him what you want said in them and where to leave them.  He needs clear direction from you.

3.  Men are not mind readers.  Too many women expect and hope that their partners will do certain things and that is totally unfair to them.  They want and need to be told these things.  The more specific and clear you are the better results you will get.  Have a one on one meeting with your partner and tell him exactly what you want and give him direction and exact things to do.  Don’t shame him for not doing these things up to this point.  Only ask for what you want clearly and without shame or blame. Please read our article Express and Own Your Feelings before having this meeting and then practice this way of communicating during your talk.

Once you have had your talk then thank him for listening, hug him, and be there for him and his needs.  Give him some time to put what you have asked for into action.  Let him get his head around all of it and give him some time. 

If things don’t improve and you learn that he doesn’t care enough to show you his love in the ways that you defined clearly and in the ways that will make you feel loved, then it is time to reevaluate the relationship altogether.  Please read some of the books we recommend for singles and finding the ideal mate.  Don’t settle.  If what you want is really important to you, first try to get it from him and if that doesn’t work then move on.

Please understand you have free will.  This advice is given only in the realm of personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute for therapy or professional counseling.  We wish you well.