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What to Do if the Man You're Dating Is Not Emotionally Available

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

An emotionally unavailable man often refuses to commit or settle down into a loving relationship, according to clinical psychologist Seth Meyers, Ph.D., in “Why Women Love & Lust After Unavailable Men: Traumatic Love,” in Psychology Today. Reasons vary, but could include that he is unfaithful in his current relationship or doesn’t trust women because of previous relationships. You probably won’t change him, but you can help yourself.

Check Your Commitment Level

When you are in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable man, you are often more committed than he is and you must work hard to maintain the relationship, according to Meyers. You might believe that he has most of the power and control in the relationship. Resist the temptation to reshape yourself to become what he wants to get him to commit. You likely won’t convince him by changing, advises behavioral scientist, Christie Hartman, Ph.D., in “Dating the Emotionally Unavailable Guy” on her website.

See Your Worth

The work you put into the relationship demonstrates that you are patient, persevering, committed and hard working, according to Meyers. You do not need his commitment to prove that you are worthy. If you have self-esteem and insecurity issues, get help to see just how powerful and valuable you are. Look at the qualities you bring to a relationship and find worth in who you already are.

Refocus Your Priorities

You may be focusing much of your relationship energy on meeting his emotional needs so he will commit and meet yours. Instead, focus on meeting your emotional needs, suggests Meyers. Ask yourself whether your needs are met in the relationship and how long you plan to wait for that loving, committed relationship you want, suggests Harman. If you are tired of the wait, it could be time to move on and look for a man who is emotionally available and will treasure you. In the meantime, care for yourself by filling your life with things that make you happy and provide a sense of fulfillment.

Appreciate a Different Type

Redirect your energies, suggests neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, M.D., in her book, “The Female Brain." You aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong, other than hoping that he will notice and love you if you “just do it right.” Stop chasing him and decide what you need in a relationship. If you have patterns of relationships with unavailable men, including your father, seek professional help to break the cycle, suggests Meyers. Commit yourself to loving a man who can love you back and who will value the love and commitment you have to share.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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