Emotional unavailability: how to break through it?

  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 21, 2014 1:47 AM GMT
    Here's my scenario: I met a guy a few months back that I really like. We went out on four dates spread out over a couple months. On the last date, I told him that I like him... I never made a move in terms of physical intimacy, however, because I wanted to signal to him that I really like him. And since I really like him, I don't want to be intimate until I know he likes me, too. To me he is a wonderful guy and he could possibly be everything I want in a partner... but I really think he is emotionally unavailable. He did say that he dated me more times than anyone else since his last relationship and he did share a lot of personal detail -- I think there is a decent possibility that he's into me. But he basically wouldn't say a lot of nice things directly about me, other than I'm a 'great guy' and he had a 'wonderful time' -- which I really appreciated. Also, he feels a little uncomfortable about holding hands in public. When I asked him some questions to try to gently approach the topic of whether he is into me or not what I got was a series of long, complicated answers and no conclusive statements. I appreciated the effort to communicate his feelings -- but his responses were frankly unclear to me -- but then he said he did want to meet me again. Because I like him, I feel like I'm so nervous and shaken up that I can't even be my usual happy and funny self around him anymore! I got angry with him because he didn't text me back quickly enough about our plans for date 5... I've got to apologize for that, right? What else should I do guys -- if he will date me 4 times and hasn't said 'I'm not into you', then I've got a chance, right? How do I move this to the next level gently without scaring him away? How can I coax him out of emotional unavailability? I don't mind putting aside my pride and trying to (somehow?) work with him through his issues, but how should I go about that? How can I be more sensitive to whatever is making him emotionally unavailable? Your input appreciated. Thanks.
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    Oct 21, 2014 2:15 AM GMT
    Four dates over a couple of months with no physical intimacy sounds like you're taking it so slow that it's almost dead in the water. I would step things up in intensity (frequency and intimacy), and see if he responds with equivalent intensity. If he didn't, I would move on. In this scenario actions speak much more loudly than words.
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    Oct 21, 2014 2:16 AM GMT
    Your thought process is all over the board; hence, the reason why you are asking so many questions. Here are some points I've noticed:

    1. Yes, you need to apologize to him because he didn't return your date #5 text in a timely manner. Did you even know what was in his mind when you sent that text or what he was going through?

    2. Not everyone is comfortable, including straight people, with PDA. My bf and I have been together for 5 years and he knows I don't like PDA. Yet, he respects my reasons and we still get along well. This guy has reasons of his own. Ask him and respect his answer!

    3. You said that he gave you a complicated answer on whether or not he likes you and that you didn't understand his response. Why didn't ask him to clarify it?

    Overall, this guy seems to be having some emotional issues to which you show little patience for. If you don't give him the time to open up to you, then there's no point in you two continuing your dates. Yes, I understand you've been dating for a couple of months. But you should never place the start of a relationship on a timetable.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 21, 2014 2:49 PM GMT
    Thanks for the responses!

    Personally, I don't think speeding up physical intimacy is a good idea, because I don't want to further complicate the emotional picture here. Also I have absolutely no doubt that we are going to have chemistry.

    Erik101 -- thank you very much! I actually just apologized to him by text last night. No I didn't have really any understanding of what he was going through -- so I shouldn't have been angry. Yes, you're totally right about the PDA, I can be flexible on that -- I had not thought about it in the way you put it, but I can understand some guys are just not into it and that doesn't mean they are necessarily unfeeling. I guess I will ask him to clarify his answers if he meets me again. Yes, the key thing is that I am impatient... I've never been very good with patience, but I'll work on it. I've always been one who tries to make up for patience with intense determined effort. Yes, he is going through emotional issues -- which I really don't know about -- but he said he is seeing a therapist, so that's good.

    If he wants to meet me again, my plan is just to catch up with him and just let him know I'm sorry for getting angry and remind him that I like him, but not demand that he says either that he likes me or not.

    The reason I posted this is not just for my benefit, but because I think the issue of emotional unavailability is not so rare among gay men... probably not so rare among people in general, in fact. So please do post your thoughts on this!
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    Oct 21, 2014 3:05 PM GMT
    You sound like you're in a puppy love stage. You seem to know nothing about him but you like him a lot. That's good. That's how all relationships start. But you need to slow down a bit and just start to get to know him. Talk. Figure out what he likes. Talk about things that interest you. If you have common interests and time, the relationship will come together. Or not. But be careful about this glacial pace you're taking with intimacy. A good relationship also has a healthy lust factor. It is totally possible to slide right past the physical and end up with a bud, not a lover. You seem focused on his emotional unavailability. I'd suggest you stop putting that label on him and it and just try to get to know what makes him tick.
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    Oct 21, 2014 3:10 PM GMT
    both men have to want a relationship, actually alot. Relationships are alot of work. You might have a ways to go before you have more than a friend. Best of luck in all you do.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 21, 2014 3:11 PM GMT
    Here's his last text, my angry text and my apology.

    Can anyone give me their feedback on how I'm handling this? Please don't be flippant here... all serious responses really appreciated! Give me harsh criticism if you think it's necessary! --Just reading these three together right now makes me realize I'm incredibly stupid.--

    His last text: Sept. 4: "Hey! Thanks again for the awesome lunch, and the great company. Until next time!"

    My angry text: Sept. 9: "Well ____, since you didn't respond to my text or voicemail but you are up and about on grindr I take it that you are finally sending me the message that you think we aren't a match. Message received."

    My apology text: Oct. 20: "Hi _____, I just want to apologize for that last text of mine back in September. It was very stupid and immature of me -- and really out of character for me. So I'm really sorry and it's all my fault. I'm not the world's champion apologizer, but I mean it. I'm really wishing you well, I miss talking with you and would really enjoy catching up with you sometime. How are things going? For me...[details omitted]. How's your work going? All good I hope. Are you keeping up with your workouts? I have... [details omitted]. Please let me know if you might be free to meet for lunch sometime. If you can there's no rush, just whenever works for you... :-)"

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    Oct 21, 2014 4:14 PM GMT
    Did I read this right that he hasn't contacted you in over a month but since his last contact(I'm assuming a text is contact in this context) you've contacted him twice with no response? Your generation is so screwed.

    How the fuck did gay people go from my generaton of being in the closet to your generation of hiding behind your thumbs. Which by the way seem stuck up your asses.

    Put your fucking phone away and stop texting. Now pick up your fucking phone and call him. What the fuck is the matter with you people. Texting 30 characters and then going off into lalaland to imagine what the rest of the conversation might have been had you actually had one. You're idiots. You really are. And I'm being complimentary because this is beyond idiocy. Pick up the fucking phone and talk. Stop texting. Unless you're dumb or deaf, relations benefit from voice.

    You're tying to date _________, not Super Mario, stop strategizing and start living. Breaking through an emotional barrier? To what, get to the next level? I know this might come as a shock but a relationship is not an app.

    (I went with harsh)
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    Oct 21, 2014 4:56 PM GMT
    If I were him, I wouldn't want anything to do with you having received the 9/9 text. The second one 5 weeks later wouldn't persuade me to reconsider. I doubt anything would. Sorry but you asked for honesty.
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    Oct 21, 2014 5:35 PM GMT
    From your first post it sounded like he is really shy or introverted, but that you also think he ultimately has a lot to offer emotionally. To me that seems at odds with someone who uses grindr. Maybe you need to honestly revisit in your own mind whether your feeling that he could be the one is truly accurate here.
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    Oct 21, 2014 9:02 PM GMT
    Honestly, it sounds to me like you are trying to force a relationship. If he is going through issues right now he may need time. He doesn't need you complicating things for him.

    My advice is to cool it with him. Disappear for awhile. Resist the temptation to text him. If he is interested in you he will text. If he doesn't, you have your answer.

    Also, in my opinion you were perfectly within your right to feel snubbed and peeved at his not answering your text. I answer all texts that contain an invitation. Not to respond is rude. HOWEVER, IT DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO LASH OUT IN ANGER.

    I think his not getting back to you about the plans for date number 5 was quite telling. I would have taken that as my answer as to whether or not he was into me and would have pursued him no further.

    You said: "I feel like I'm so nervous and shaken up that I can't even be my usual happy and funny self around him anymore!" That's not a good sign.

    And: "Also, he feels a little uncomfortable about holding hands in public." Do not try to conform your behavior to appease someone in order to have a relationship with them. If touching and hand holding is important to you then don't get involved with someone for which it is repugnant. No harm, no foul. You guys are just two different people and with different needs. Never sublimate your needs for someone else's. In time you will become resentful of them.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 21, 2014 11:43 PM GMT
    Before I respond I'd like to say that I'd really like to hear what people think of my apology. I feel like I'm not very good at apologizing... so let me know if you would have done it any differently. Thanks.

    Frankly I don't have a problem with texting. I actually prefer it over talking on the phone. And basically I -- and I think most people -- use it to set up in person meetings anyway. I think the post about texting was too harsh.

    Also, grindr was not the problem... after all, I was on grindr too... lol!

    Undercoverman, thank you! Yes, I agree this didn't give me the right to lash out in anger. Definitely. Yes, I will definitely not text him again for quite awhile if I don't hear back soon. But I don't actually think his failure to get back to me for date 5 was telling... I think he was going to get back to me but didn't because I got angry. His last text was positive. So basically it was my angry text that put the freeze on things. Basically my angry message was saying: 'I think it's over... if you don't think so, prove me wrong.' If I were him, I would have texted back to clear it up, however --but I really might have been turned off, too --... but, I am not him and I don't understand his emotional circumstances. I'm more inclined to be flexible on the PDA thing -- based on Erick101s advice. Overall, I agree with you... I'm definitely planning to cool it and give him time if he contacts me again. But if he does contact me again -- and I don't know, but if I had to guess I think he might -- then I want to know how to deal with emotional unavailability in an effective way... patience? Probably... arrggghhh!

    The whole context of this issue is not something I can explain here... after all we did date 4 times and we talked for hours and shared a lot of personal detail, views of life, future plans and desires... and all our times together went really well -- so my opinion of him is based on those experiences. I think for sure he is emotionally unavailable, but other than that, I think it's very likely a good match. I've given it a lot of thought... and I've got a lot of prior relationship experience. But I don't have experience dealing with emotional unavailability.


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    Oct 22, 2014 1:28 AM GMT
    "We went out on four dates spread out over a couple months."
    He's probably dating other people or coping with his feelings if that's the amount of times you've seen him over a couple months. I've only seen one person long term, but we were hanging out at minimum four times a week when things new.

    Also, your expectations from him are too high. I know it's easy to over analyze everything when you have feelings for someone, but give the dude some space. He obviously doesn't feel the same way about you and you stressing out about it isn't going to make him magically like you.
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    Oct 22, 2014 3:31 AM GMT
    Destinharbor saidIf I were him, I wouldn't want anything to do with you having received the 9/9 text. The second one 5 weeks later wouldn't persuade me to reconsider. I doubt anything would. Sorry but you asked for honesty.

    Yeah, 9/9 was a killer.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 22, 2014 3:42 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    Destinharbor saidIf I were him, I wouldn't want anything to do with you having received the 9/9 text. The second one 5 weeks later wouldn't persuade me to reconsider. I doubt anything would. Sorry but you asked for honesty.

    Yeah, 9/9 was a killer.


    Yes, I think so too... but I'd like some way to get around that.

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    Oct 22, 2014 4:56 PM GMT
    Dude.....STOP TEXTING YOUR EMOTIONS! Pick up the damn phone and let him hear the tone in your voice. Texting your feelings is absolutely retarded and will end a relationship before it even begins. Yes, your text was way out of line, but if you had spoken those words, you could have actually had a conversation about your feelings and chances are things would be fine. Seriously.....if it's more than 5 sentences, just press that little green button on your phone that says "TALK." And if what you're about to say involves sharing ANY emotions at all, hit the "TALK" button.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 22, 2014 9:32 PM GMT
    Hmmm...OK, I'll think about calling him... I guess I better follow other posters' advice, though and wait awhile. But I wonder if he is now upset with me whether he will answer or not!icon_confused.gif
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    Oct 22, 2014 9:35 PM GMT
    Noeton said...

    I want to know how to deal with emotional unavailability in an effective way... patience? Probably... arrggghhh!

    ...

    But I don't have experience dealing with emotional unavailability.



    You are attempting to begin a relationship with someone who you believe is emotionally unavailable?!

    SERIOUSLY?!

    When beginning a a relationship with someone I want someone who isn't a fixer upper. I want someone who is going to add positives to my life.

    I do not want someone working through emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Work on that and get over it before coming at me.

    I do not want addicts of any type. Seek help, learn coping mechanisms, and then come at me clean and sober.

    I do not want an angry guy. Seek professional help, get over your anger, then come at me.

    Am I looking for perfection? No! I'm not perfect either. If a guy saw something in me he didn't like I would prefer him to say: "Hey, you're a nice guy, but I think you need to seek help with _____. For now you aren't the guy for me."

    On the other hand, if someone I had already was in a relationship with began to have problems, I wouldn't abandon the relationship at the first signs of trouble. I would work with my partner to get him the help he needs.

    I'm not afraid of problems, problems are foisted upon us all the time. I'm just not willing to unnecessarily invite them into my life.

    New relationships require open and honest emotions to grow and thrive. Expecting a relationship to blossom with an emotionally unavailable person is just plain idiotic.
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    Oct 22, 2014 10:13 PM GMT
    Noeton saidHmmm...OK, I'll think about calling him... I guess I better follow other posters' advice, though and wait awhile. But I wonder if he is now upset with me whether he will answer or not!icon_confused.gif


    You won't know until you call him now will you? And if he doesn't answer, leave a VOICE message so he can hear the tone and sincerity in your voice.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 23, 2014 2:47 AM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    Noeton saidHmmm...OK, I'll think about calling him... I guess I better follow other posters' advice, though and wait awhile. But I wonder if he is now upset with me whether he will answer or not!icon_confused.gif


    You won't know until you call him now will you? And if he doesn't answer, leave a VOICE message so he can hear the tone and sincerity in your voice.


    OK... I'm definitely warming up to the phone call or voice mail option. But I definitely have to wait quite awhile.
  • Noeton

    Posts: 208

    Oct 23, 2014 3:10 AM GMT
    UndercoverMan said
    Noeton said...

    I want to know how to deal with emotional unavailability in an effective way... patience? Probably... arrggghhh!

    ...

    But I don't have experience dealing with emotional unavailability.



    You are attempting to begin a relationship with someone who you believe is emotionally unavailable?!

    SERIOUSLY?!

    When beginning a a relationship with someone I want someone who isn't a fixer upper. I want someone who is going to add positives to my life.

    I do not want someone working through emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Work on that and get over it before coming at me.

    I do not want addicts of any type. Seek help, learn coping mechanisms, and then come at me clean and sober.

    I do not want an angry guy. Seek professional help, get over your anger, then come at me.

    Am I looking for perfection? No! I'm not perfect either. If a guy saw something in me he didn't like I would prefer him to say: "Hey, you're a nice guy, but I think you need to seek help with _____. For now you aren't the guy for me."

    On the other hand, if someone I had already was in a relationship with began to have problems, I wouldn't abandon the relationship at the first signs of trouble. I would work with my partner to get him the help he needs.

    I'm not afraid of problems, problems are foisted upon us all the time. I'm just not willing to unnecessarily invite them into my life.

    New relationships require open and honest emotions to grow and thrive. Expecting a relationship to blossom with an emotionally unavailable person is just plain idiotic.



    A LOT of food for thought here which I think a lot of people should pay attention to, thanks! Well, I'm definitely not looking to rush into a relationship right now... I just want to re-open communication with him. It might be great if eventually it did turn into a relationship... And from everything I've seen I think we are likely a match. He is, after all, getting help from a therapist and I know he's working on emotional unavailability. It's possible I have anger issues... I'll have to think about that. I was in a relationship for 5.5 years and I don't think I had anger issues then... it was pretty smooth sailing (or so I think... there's a chance he might have been scared that I would get angry, I just don't know). I was very happy and my partner seemed to be very happy most of the time... though I wonder if he really was. I'm definitely going to check on the anger issues thing... I'll ask my best friend what he thinks -- since he's seen me explode in public a number of times, I'm afraid what he might say. That's true about the fact you shouldn't expect an relationship to blossom with an emotionally unavailable person who isn't working on changing. I wouldn't submit myself to that... but I would like such a guy to know I'm interested and that he needs to work out his issues. Assuming I get in touch with him again, I'd like to have a plan ahead of time. I don't think I can just say: you're emotionally unavailable, go fix that. I don't even know what else to do... but I figure it's something like trying to convince him that he can trust me.
  • LEANDRO_NJ

    Posts: 1117

    Oct 23, 2014 4:49 AM GMT
    UndercoverMan said
    Noeton said...

    I want to know how to deal with emotional unavailability in an effective way... patience? Probably... arrggghhh!

    ...

    But I don't have experience dealing with emotional unavailability.



    You are attempting to begin a relationship with someone who you believe is emotionally unavailable?!

    SERIOUSLY?!

    When beginning a a relationship with someone I want someone who isn't a fixer upper. I want someone who is going to add positives to my life.

    I do not want someone working through emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Work on that and get over it before coming at me.

    I do not want addicts of any type. Seek help, learn coping mechanisms, and then come at me clean and sober.

    I do not want an angry guy. Seek professional help, get over your anger, then come at me.

    Am I looking for perfection? No! I'm not perfect either. If a guy saw something in me he didn't like I would prefer him to say: "Hey, you're a nice guy, but I think you need to seek help with _____. For now you aren't the guy for me."

    On the other hand, if someone I had already was in a relationship with began to have problems, I wouldn't abandon the relationship at the first signs of trouble. I would work with my partner to get him the help he needs.

    I'm not afraid of problems, problems are foisted upon us all the time. I'm just not willing to unnecessarily invite them into my life.

    New relationships require open and honest emotions to grow and thrive. Expecting a relationship to blossom with an emotionally unavailable person is just plain idiotic.


    Great pointers Undercoverman!! why in the world would anyone be interested in someone who is not emotionally available is beyond me!?
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    Oct 23, 2014 7:55 AM GMT
    You really like this guy so I suggest you give it a little more effort to meet again. However, given what you've described about the guy's behavior, why don't you work on being his buddy rather than emphasizing dating as a romantic (and for him - apparently forced) thing. This may greatly improve his comfort level with you and lead to more intimacy and closeness between you guys.
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    Oct 23, 2014 11:30 AM GMT
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    Oct 23, 2014 1:49 PM GMT
    LEANDRO_NJ said
    UndercoverMan said
    Noeton said...

    I want to know how to deal with emotional unavailability in an effective way... patience? Probably... arrggghhh!

    ...

    But I don't have experience dealing with emotional unavailability.



    You are attempting to begin a relationship with someone who you believe is emotionally unavailable?!

    SERIOUSLY?!

    When beginning a a relationship with someone I want someone who isn't a fixer upper. I want someone who is going to add positives to my life.

    I do not want someone working through emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Work on that and get over it before coming at me.

    I do not want addicts of any type. Seek help, learn coping mechanisms, and then come at me clean and sober.

    I do not want an angry guy. Seek professional help, get over your anger, then come at me.

    Am I looking for perfection? No! I'm not perfect either. If a guy saw something in me he didn't like I would prefer him to say: "Hey, you're a nice guy, but I think you need to seek help with _____. For now you aren't the guy for me."

    On the other hand, if someone I had already was in a relationship with began to have problems, I wouldn't abandon the relationship at the first signs of trouble. I would work with my partner to get him the help he needs.

    I'm not afraid of problems, problems are foisted upon us all the time. I'm just not willing to unnecessarily invite them into my life.

    New relationships require open and honest emotions to grow and thrive. Expecting a relationship to blossom with an emotionally unavailable person is just plain idiotic.


    Great pointers Undercoverman!! why in the world would anyone be interested in someone who is not emotionally available is beyond me!?


    Because when someone is not emotionally available, it can trigger insecurities in the other person if he has a low self esteem. Especially if he was neglected or abandoned as a child, this can set off his fear of abandonment and cause him to subconsciously cling to that person for dear life. Of course this only makes the unavailable person distance himself even farther, which helps fuel the cycle of clinging and pulling away in the relationship. It's a painful and destructive cycle and the only way out of it is to raise the self esteem. I know this all too well on a very personal level.

    I'm not saying the OP has the issues, but if I were a betting man......