Here's what to look out for, and how to rise above it.
So many women come out of the woodwork and share with me their heartbreaking stories of dealing with guys who can't or won't commit or move the relationship to the next level. Or guys who can't even label the relationship.
First of all, how do you know if he's really emotionally unavailable or if he's just a little guarded because he's not ready to plunge in both feet? Or, worse still, he's just not that into you?
Second, if he's not ready, will he be ready one day? And when he's ready, will he pick you as the one? Will you just waste time with such guys? Will you feel used or feel like a temporary filler until something better comes along, and then will he dump you?
Third, if he's truly emotionally unavailable, is there a cure to it and should you just accept it or move on to a greener pasture?
My advice is don't freak out or give up just because he's not ready. Don't pine or over-invest either. There are ways to do it right and keep your heart safe.
This relationship will heal you from your own unreadiness and/or emotional unavailability that you aren't even aware of. This relationship will prepare you for the real deal with the real man who deserves you — either him or someone better. When you're ready, the right man will find and claim you.
So how do you know if a guy is truly into you? Generally speaking, when a man is into a woman, it doesn't take much for her to feel that. He will show efforts, initiate, take you out, love to touch, hug, kiss and makeout with you, make you feel special, call/text and compliment you.
If you have to ask, he's either giving you conflicting messages or he's not. But why would a man give conflicting messages? Here are some of the reasons:
- He likes you but he's not looking for relationship. He doesn't want to lead you on so he has to blow hot and cold.
- He likes you enough to want to explore things with you, but he's discouraged or scared by your enthusiasm or (perceived) clinginess. So he needs to back off every now and then to dampen your eagerness.
- He's just playing the field and he's probably in a relationship of some kind with another woman.
- He loves the sex and doesn't really want anything more than a casual relationship in which sex is the center. In other words, you're a just f*ckbuddy or a booty call.
- He just wants to be friend with benefits. He loves and values the friendship and the sex is great, but he doesn't have the emotional capacity to make it more serious than that. Or simply, he's just not up for the obligations, expectations and responsibility of a relationship at this very moment.
So, will he ever be ready? And when he is, will he pick you instead of another woman? The answer is yes and yes — both CAN happen.
My ex wasn't ready when we first met. He displayed every sign of emotional unavailability in the book, but he didn't want to lose me so he made us a couple 1.5 years after we met and married me a year later. Anything is possible.
But what if he doesn't? If you're a high-value woman, you won't worry about these things because:
- You won't invest more than he does.
- You won't make him a priority when you're only an option to him.
- You will still be dating around or accepting dates as long as he's not ready to commit or call you his girlfriend.
- You're so irresistibly secure that any man who has a chance to spend a good amount of time with you will have a very hard time letting you go.
If you find yourself in the situation where you're falling for Mr. Unavailable, here is the cure.
Some people are truly emotionally unavailable. That means they can't be emotionally available to anyone, no matter how great he/she is. It might have to do with childhood traumas or upbringing, or there are some other psychological damages that make them unable to connect with another person on a deeper level.
If you have established that he is truly emotionally unavailable, it's up to you what to do. Can you accept him the way he is with the amount of intimacy and emotional expressions he's able to give you? Can you be contented with the little you have in terms of passion and affection? If not, it's time to move on.
The number one concern among women will be a relationship of convenience (i.e. a casual relationship in which she invests more than he does, yet she feels she benefits less than he does), mainly because he has all the sex he wants and she gets very little in return in terms of security and commitment. And to a woman, security is everything; while to a man, his freedom, independence and autonomy come first.
The more you are relaxed about sex, the more alluring you become. By that I'm not saying be promiscuous or sleep with any man you date. Relationships based on convenience happen, but if you have faith in your own value as a woman, that worry can be minimized.
For most guys, though sex is important they will rarely come back for more for an extended period of time, unless they truly like you. Why? It's just not worth it in the end, since most know that nothing comes free.
The potential of drama and hurt feelings far surpass the benefits of having regular, "easy" sex. And it's even more so if the woman constantly puts them on alert of the status of the relationship.
Most men understand there's virtually no strings attached sex after a certain amount of time has passed. When she begins to show signs of discomfort of the lack of clarity in the relationship, most men will quickly leave the scene unless they really like her. And if she has been somewhat a nag and yet he's still around, obviously he likes her more than just sex.
So while this notion isn't foolproof by any means, that should enable you to relax a bit about the notion of "being used," which is a phrase that only women with lack of self-esteem and self-confidence will use. A high-value woman feels secure and confident about her desirability simply because she has faith in herself, if nothing else.
This is what you can do to avoid a relationship of convenience that will waste years of your life:
1. Lean back and let him take the lead.
When a woman rows the boat, she's creating a fertile ground for a relationship to flourish, because many guys will gladly enjoy the ride when they don't have to extend any effort.
2. Mirror him.
When he comes to you, you come to him. When he pulls away, you pull back, too, even further sometimes.
3. Don't give or invest more than he does.
The more you give or do things for him, the more you're invested in him and the relationship. Give him a chance to reciprocate and step up his game by leaning back. It doesn't mean you give to expect something in return; it means if he doesn't reciprocate you can at least judge his level of interest toward you. Men who are into a woman will at least do something from time to time to make her happy.
4. Don't stop dating others.
The more focused you are toward one guy, with whom you have regular sex, the more you will be hormonally and emotionally hooked on him and the more vulnerable you become. I'm not saying you should have sex with every guy you date, but keeping your options open and your schedule full with social activities and other interested men will keep you grounded and sane throughout.
Katarina Phang is a dating and relationship coach at katarinaphang.com. If you are itching to learn how to deal with an emotionally unavailable man from a coach responsible for one one engagement/week, check out her e-book 'He's Really That Into You, He's Just Not Ready'.