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Do Emotionally Unavailable Men Change?

by Danielle Wright

"Men aren't that complicated, they're kind of like...planets." - Samantha Jones, SATC

What if we told you that men are simple, would you believe us? Whether you’re a man or woman, arguably, most people aren’t that complicated. When you find yourself in knots trying to figure out why someone is acting a certain way, the simplest answer is usually the right answer. Samantha Jones from Sex and the City had this concept down to a science and felt it best to simply live her life, “no muss, no fuss.”

But can life really be that easy? What if you’re the Charlotte of the group? If love is the ultimate goal and you don’t want to feel confused or traumatized by an emotionally unavailable person, then keep on reading.

Simply put, an emotionally unavailable man is reluctant to make you a priority and this can be for several reasons: (1) he’s just not that into you (2) he is stressed from work or family (3) he is unhappy in the relationship but doesn’t know how to end things (4) he sees you as a placeholder and not a gamechanger (5) he lacks any real self-awareness.

Let’s break down each of these, shall we…

The most obvious answer is that he’s just not that into you, and yep, there’s a book with the same name. We’ll link it below in case you’re interested in giving it a read – a real page-turner, that one. For some, it can be hard to spot if a man is not into you because some men play the game oh so well. They have a knack for making you feel great about yourself and hopeful about the future of your relationship, but on the other hand, you feel they can be cold sometimes.

An emotionally unavailable person will find it hard to make commitments – whether minor or more significant. For example, maybe you suggest a get-together next week and they agree, but then their enthusiasm is met with hesitation or a, “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.”

Then when the time comes, you never hear back on the plans or they simply don’t bring it up again. Worst of all, they confirm things with you at the last minute. I can tell you for sure that you are not their priority when this happens. Generally, it means they were waiting to see if something else would fill their time (i.e., a person or plans).

Another sign is a fear of hearing and talking about a relationship. Maybe you do relationship things – go on dates, have sex, spend the night together, meet each other’s friends and family – but nothing official has come of it. Can this person change? Yes.

But you will have to STOP being a girlfriend or boyfriend to this person who does not wish to commit and give you the respect you deserve. Understandably, this is easier said than done, but this is why boundaries are so important. If not, you will continue to give your best to this person and get nothing in return, all while they court and chase someone else.

Perhaps you have made it to the relationship stage and your man is shutting down or shutting you out. This could be that he is stressed from work or family. Men often do TELL us exactly what is wrong with them, but women, for some reason, don’t listen. In these moments you have to stop being selfish and listen to your partner. If he’s needing more affection he may hint at it, he may have mentioned something to this effect and you brushed it off. This can no doubt cause a man to shut down.

Can this person change? Of course, sometimes the fastest solution is to change how you’re treating your partner. This can also lead to number (3) – he is unhappy but does not know how to end things. If your man is blowing you off, pushing you away, or putting distance between you both, then it may be signs he is ready to move on. Sit him down, have a conversation and let him know that you notice this pattern and are willing to walk away. I know, this is not what you want to do, but if he’s not man enough to end the relationship due to his unhappiness, then you must do it.

A relationship requires both individuals to be present and committed to working on growing each day. If one person is more interested than the other, the relationship will crumble. Don’t be the only one standing in the boxing ring fighting. If he wants to go, let him. At this moment you will know whether or not he is committed to change. If he agrees and you both go your separate ways, see this as a good thing.

What is a placeholder? Simply put, you could be a girlfriend or just a FWB. Either way, you’re just someone to sleep with, make out with, date and do relationship things with as the person you’re with actively searches for someone else to be official with – marriage, settle down.

What is a Gamechanger? The woman a man marries. The one he deems different from the rest.

To avoid being in a placeholder position you have to set boundaries and stick to them. If you want a relationship, say that and do not do anything until you are in one. If you want marriage before children, stick to that and do not procreate until you are married. The art of not being a placeholder is simple, you have to set your boundaries and stick to them. That alone can set you apart from other women, making you a gamechanger.

Can an emotionally unavailable man change? Yes. He must however have self-awareness of his behavior and you have to be someone he deems valuable enough to change for. The words are good, but nothing is better than seeing the change happen – actions. If he lacks self-awareness of his actions or likes to play aloof, you’re doomed and you should exit expeditiously.

You cannot control the actions of anyone but yourself. Hoping and wishing or changing yourself for someone toxic to your mental health is unhealthy. Move on and find the person who is right for you. You deserve that much.

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