A while ago, I asked on Twitter if anyone had ever been in a relationship with emotionally unavailable men before.

The response was “Yes!”

I also wanted to know how they knew the guy they were seeing was emotionally unavailable.

@Simone_Thatchic said that he just wanted to have fun.

@prettybathos said that the guy literally told her, but she didn’t heed the warning.

This got me wondering, what are the signs that you’re dealing with emotionally unavailable men (or women)… Or just anyone who isn’t relationship material?

(Note, I’m talking about emotionally unavailable men here, not just your average dude who might pull away now and again.)

Now, of course there’s an amazing list over at Baggage Reclaim that describes “Mr. Unavailable” (her term for these kinds of guys).

But today I wanted to offer some thoughts as well.

7 Signs He’s Not Relationship Material

1. He Is in a Relationship with Someone Already

First, of all what @Simone_Thatchic said was spot on when she said that a guy is unavailable when he just wants to have fun.

This can be especially true when a guy is already in a relationship with someone else (even if he’s not technically cheating).

Maybe he has a girlfriend. Maybe he’s married. Maybe he separated, but “the paperwork is still in the system.” Maybe he’s not over his ex yet (and you’re the rebound relationship).

Either way, his emotional energy is somewhere else.

At the end of the day, he’s not coming home to you.

Unless you are into polyamory or swinging, then a guy in a relationship with someone else does not have space in his life for a relationship with you.

2. He Isn’t Ready for a Relationship Yet

@prettybathos had a guy literally tell her that he wasn’t emotionally available. I don’t know if he used those words exactly, but he was making it very clear that he wasn’t ready for a relationship.

There are tons of reasons why a guy might not be ready to commit. Maybe he is too busy in life focusing on his career or school. Maybe he’s coming out of a bad breakup and isn’t ready to commit yet. Maybe he’s from out of town and he’ll only be around for another week.

But if he tells you he doesn’t want it, then you should take him at face value.

(This is a good rule of thumb when dealing with men in general.)

Trying to change him isn’t going to work and will only prolong the suffering.

It’s best to accept that he just doesn’t have the space in his life for a relationship right now.

3. He Is Self-Centered

Relationships go in two directions. There’s giving and receiving.

However, some people think (implicitly or explicitly) that it is just about receiving.

These people only have the “what’s in it for me” attitude.

It is impossible to have a real relationship and a real connection with someone who is incapable or unwilling to give or contribute.

Most of us are trained to believe that we should constantly give and never receive, so we often don’t notice this one… at least until we are boiling over with resentment and from a continued pattern of never receiving. That’s how drama in a relationship starts.

The self-centered guy is so focused on himself that there isn’t room for him to have a relationship with anyone else besides the man in the mirror, let alone you.

4. He Avoids Conflict

Most people won’t go out of their way to start conflict. That’s normal. People generally want harmony in their life.

But even the best relationships won’t be smooth and problem-free. There will be challenges that come up in any relationship.

If he doesn’t want to have those difficult conversations or is too focused on being a People Pleaser, he really isn’t there emotionally.

He’s not fully invested. He has one foot out the door, and as soon as the good times stop and “shit gets real” he’s going to hit the eject button.

5. He Has a Difficult Time Making Decisions

Some people like to sit on the fence. I don’t think most of them are intentionally stringing you along. I think that they just believe they need more information before they can make a decision.

Not just about you, but probably in every area of their life.

He makes plans to see you one day, then flakes on you the next day. He talks about getting serious with you, then he needs space a few days later.

He’s not relationship material because he can’t decide and commit to what he wants.

How can you expect to build a sturdy foundation with someone who can’t hold the same opinion for longer than a few days?

6. He Ignores His Own Needs to Take Care of Yours

This is the classic “Nice Guy.” And what kind of woman wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a guy who has dedicated his life to gaining approval from women? Isn’t this the ideal man?


This kind of man is fundamentally unavailable because he is so out of touch with his own feelings. He tries so hard to be everything you want him to be, that there’s no room left for him to be himself.

That is to say, he’s lost himself in the relationship.

Just like you can’t have a real functioning relationship with a man who only takes and never gives, you can’t have a functioning relationship with a man who only gives and is never open to receiving.

He’s so disconnected from himself that there’s no way he can really be 100% there with you.

7. He Has Expectations About How the Relationship or You Should Be

Lots of people these days have expectations about their partner or relationships. Of course it is reasonable to expect your partner to treat you with respect and compassion.

But should does he expect you to lose 10 or 20 pounds to be “good enough” for him? Does he expect you to always be kind and generous? Does he expect you to always be available when he calls you?

A lot of people have unrealistic expectations in a relationship.

If he’s more in love with his perfect concept of you, than he is with who you actually are yourself, then there isn’t room for you in the relationship.

He’s emotionally unavailable because he’s essentially in a relationship with a concept of what he wants a woman to be.

Your Turn…

Have you ever been involved with emotionally unavailable men? Did you notice any of these signs? Or did you notice something else that we forgot to put on this list?

Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

PS: Next time I want to share something very personal with you. You see, I used to be emotionally unavailable.

If you’ve ever wondered what emotionally unavailable men are thinking, next time, you’ll get a peek inside one’s mind.

Image Credit 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

About The Author


Clay is an author, blogger, and dating and relationship coach for Loving Boldly. He is also a nap enthusiast, coffee aficionado, and home brewer.

27 Responses to 7 Signs of Emotionally Unavailable Men (Is He Relationship Material?)

  1. Sabrina says:

    This is very spot on. It’s so important to recognize these signs and realize that in the end, it is not about you. These are issues that the other person has to work through, without you. It will only hurt to continue to get dragged through the mud while they decide what’s going on with them.


    Clay Replied:

    @Sabrina, Thanks for reading the blog and commenting. Yeah, it’s important to realize that these don’t say anything about YOU and is only a reflection of THEM. It’s common to take things personally when in many cases, the other person just doesn’t have room in their life for a relationship or to connect with you in the way you want them to.


  2. Ben Taylor says:

    I think No. 2 is the big one — it practically deserves its own post.

    1. “I’m not ready” means “I don’t like you enough” 99% of the time.
    2. Wherever someone is in their life — even if they will be ready — is part of who they are.


    Clay Replied:

    @Ben Taylor, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I’m actually planning on writing a post on that in the not-too-distant future.

    One good rule of thumb I advise is that: “how you found them is how they are likely to stay” (aka, you can’t change them)


  3. Brett says:

    You know Clay, I dont know why it is our society tends to agree with feelings woman are to have over a mans. it’s like everything they want us to be is expected however when the man voices his opinion, he get ridiculed up one side and down the other ,or the relationship in itself is in jepordy. you know that is why i usually dont take advice from to many people like yourselves because really you dont have the answer to this statement? I have seen many phycologists on these issues till I’m blue in the face. and when you come back at them with a very simple question it becomes the one thing that is overlooked in so many ways, yet i see it addreasses in the sense but never a full proof package to a cure for how a man is to react when he has to be unsure and play by the games people play. i believe that the only remidee is the bible and what it say about God jioning people together and just about everything else it stands for? have you ever noticed that good christains always are able to go undected when something goes wrong in there relationship, Not that there special in any way other than to say they obviousely knew where to go and who to turn too. [there lord] when people chose there own path, it’s certain destructive patterns are sure to follow. This is all i wanted to point out to you. So take care of yourselves?


    Clay Replied:

    @Brett, Thanks for taking the time to write a comment.

    In my opinion, if you are being ridiculed or shamed for having your own opinion, you are in the wrong relationship and/or setting poor personal boundaries. I would suggest that you use this as a test to see if a particular woman you’re seeing is worth your time or energy. If you express an opinion and she shames or ridicules you for it, time to end the relationship and move on, or at least enforce your own boundaries.

    How is a man to react when he is unsure how to respond to the games people play? In my opinion, he will have a much better experience of life if he opt-out of playing along with any games at all. If you want to be more specific about what you are experiencing, I could give you a more specific answer.

    It’s easy to complain about society being one way or another, but at the end of the day, it’s really just a form of a victim puke (or a pity party). Instead of wondering why the world is the way that it may seem, ask yourself what you are willing to do about it.

    I’m glad that you’ve found your own answers through religion. I know it has helped others and inspired them to be better people


  4. Lindsey says:

    Clay this is so timely for me! I recently reconnected with someone – and the chemistry is obvious, but I wondered if I am wasting my time in hoping something may come out of it. I asked him what he was interested in, and his response was that he didnt know the answer, he is clearly feeling me and I am cool. I said that I wanted to clarily if he wanted only sex or if he wanted something more, to which he said it wasn’t only sexual, and that he did like me. Generally this indicated to me that he isn’t into anything serious, and that I should not invest any more time into this. Correct me if I’m wrong lol but I think I am right!


    Mika Replied:


    I do know that giving a man the benefits of being in a relationship with you (i.e. sex) without actually being in a relationship with you isn’t a very strong foundation of a sustainable relationship. I think you’re right too. I love your self-awareness!


  5. I know at least two no. 6 type people and I think I’m coming out of being one myself. It’s very difficult to have any sort of meaningful relationship with this type of person, it’s so needy. Thanks for sharing this list; clarity!


    Clay Replied:

    @Aurora Rose Truth, Yeah Nice Guys are tough… trust me, I used to be one. Often, they are so disengaged from who they are that it is impossible to truly connect with them (because they simply don’t know who they are themselves.)


  6. A man is emotionally unavailable when he says. A man would say that he’s not ready for a relationship and women would rather play super-save-a-man rather than take what he’s saying at face value. But men are to blame to, because if you’re not ready for something why go out your way to treat that woman like a queen, possibly giving her the wrong impression?

    If you’re not ready for something say it and stay out of the way of giving someone the wrong idea.


    Clay Replied:

    @singleislandgal, Thanks for taking the time to drop by and leave a comment. Yeah, when it comes to any sort of problem in a relationship (or a hookup…) it can usually be traced back to both parties. Typically some form of expectations being out of synch.


  7. Chet says:

    Interesting take on emotionally unavailable men. If you’re emotionally an unavailable a man. how are you suppose to fix that? I think i might be one…


    Clay Replied:

    @Chet, Thanks for reading the blog and for your comment. We’re actually going to be covering how to get get more emotionally available with yourself over the next few weeks here on the blog. So be sure to keep reading. I think our next few posts might help you.


  8. Mike E says:

    Clay, just wanna say thanks for this.. I seen alot of this in myself.. My question is this.. Im wanting a relationship, so how do I overcome these trends in myself? I know I cant be serious in the relationship if I cant change these trends.thanks again!


    Clay Replied:

    @Mike E, Thank you for your comment. This is something that I have a lot of personal experience with, and this is also something that we’re going to be addressing on the blog over the next few weeks, so stay tuned :)


  9. namita says:

    thanks for this post. it made me aware of such a thing in my own life. but i have a question. what does a person who is in such a relationship do? how does one handle it..given the fact that i have had to live with it for 12 years now.


    Clay Replied:

    @namita, Thanks for your comment. I know it can be difficult to deal with an emotionally unavailable partner. This is something we’re going to be covering in more detail in the next few weeks on our blog. If you have any more details you’d like to share about your situation, maybe we could give you some more answers.


  10. namita says:

    Hi Clay, actually it all began 12 years ago when we got married. i had no idea what i was getting into. i did everything i could to keep this relationship going. have listened to his sob stories about his work life, given him a shoulder to cry whenever required and went out of my way to please his parents too. i gave up my career so he can feel more secure under the pretext of taking care of our son. whatever i have done has gone totally unnoticed. not recognising it is still ok, but calling me useless and worthless, is something i cannot take anymore. due to not being supported financially, i have taken up a job that fits into everyone’s schedule. i really feel bad that as time is passing, i only am being more and more emotionally distanced. i cannot rely on him for any kind of support or commitment. is there any hope for me?


    Clay Replied:

    @namita, Thanks for giving more details. In what you’ve written, I’m seeing a lot of “covert contracts,” which are unspoken agreements such as: “If I do X for you, you will do Y for me.” The problem with these sorts of agreements is that the other person doesn’t know that they exist. They only exist in our own mind as our own “rules of life.”

    I also am getting that you might have a difficult time enforcing personal boundaries. I’m actually writing an article about this for next week, so be sure to check back on Tuesday when we’re likely going to run that article.

    I think you could benefit from our live webcast, have you signed up for that? If not, just click here and sign up. It’s next week too.


  11. Khristina says:

    The last three men I have met online have determined after a few dates that “now isn’t a good time for them to be in a relationship.” Why would emotionally unavailable men put themselves out there on a dating website? I could accept this once, perhaps twice, but three times?? I feel like they are all operating from the same play book. If I can’t find an emotionally available man on a dating website, then where? What am I doing wrong??


    Clay Replied:

    @Khristina, Thanks for your comment, when it comes to online dating sites, you need to be careful about what you say in your profile. Things like “I don’t want a guy who plays games” may seem straightforward to you, but to normal, well-adjusted guys, this tells them that you have a lot of drama in your past and it tells them to stay away. The same goes for long lists of what you want or don’t want a guy to be like. They’ll just say, “oh, she’s way too picky” and move on.

    On dating sites, you really need to choose your words carefully and present the best version of yourself. I know that women get a lot attention on these sites, so you might think that you are weeding out the guys you don’t want to deal with, but this is the wrong approach. You want to instead, pretend as if you are writing directly to the one man that you do want to meet.

    Hope this helps.


    Mika Replied:

    “The last three men I have met online have determined after a few dates that ‘now isn’t a good time for them to be in a relationship.’ Why would emotionally unavailable men put themselves out there on a dating website?”

    Perhaps these men weren’t being emotionally unavailable but just didn’t feel it was going anywhere. I definitely agree with all of Clay’s points about creating a profile that will attract your ideal partner.

    Are you a woman on a mission when you go into these dates? That can be really intimidating if you’re coming into these dates with an expectation of a relationship. I see the first few dates as a test drive–you’re just trying to get to know that person before you decide if you want to pursue a relationship with them. I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear.

    We have no control over what men want or don’t want but we do have a choice on how to respond to rejection.

    Don’t let these rejection define who you are(which I see many women do and end up giving up on online dating.) Not many people know this, but Clay & I met on Match.com over 4 years ago. I’m a big believer of online dating but (like with regular dating,) depending on how you write your profile, it takes time on finding someone to pursue a relationship with. Don’t give up yet and just because the last few men you’ve met didn’t want to be in a relationship with you doesn’t mean that you won’t find someone who will. If you’re interested, you can email me a copy of your profile and Clay & I can give you some pointers. xx! You can reach me at mika[at]thepathtopassion[dot]com


  12. Lethu says:

    Oh my gosh this sounds like my ex! The worst thing is that I fell hard for him. Anyway we dated first when he was all nerdy and sweet then he met new friends and became one of the cool kids and all of a sudden he just wants to have fun and isn’t ready for a relationship. Anyway it ended but 6 months later we ended up in a friends with benefits situation, which obviously wasn’t enough for me. When I told him he said it he saw it as a relationship cos he wasn’t seeing other people, so I asked him why we don’t make it official, then he chickened out. I guess I want to know if it’s worth me waiting for him to grow out of this phase or should I just move on?


  13. Antony says:

    Your mode of explaining everything in this post is in fact nice, all be able to simply understand it, Thanks a lot.


  14. sigrid says:

    Ummmmm .. I am a woman and I hate to admit it but I see a lot of thins on your ,list in me. What do I do ?


  15. deedee says:

    Just came across your post. Been in a relationship for 2 years and I am only now realizing that he is emotionally unavailable. I have spent so much time trying to figure out how to make it work. When my bf was depressed and at his lowest I was there, I stuck it out and did what I could to make things better for him. But the minute anything emotional comes out of me he turns the other way even telling me that I should go somewhere else and deal with it. The tiniest conversation about an issue always results in him saying one day ill come home from work and he will be gone. There are more walls around him then there are around my house. I feel so shattered. Can not believe I am only now piecing it all together.


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