Most men want to be emotionally intimate, but their coping strategies get in the way.
Being emotionally available is not that easy for any of us. And for a man in a society where we give our such mixed messages, it’s no surprise that both the people asking men to be emotionally available and the men who are trying to achieve it, are confused.
My male clients desperately want to connect with friends, lovers, and family in a very real way. But often they have no model of what that looks like and how to do it.
One of life’s interesting phenomenon is that we often reject the very thing we seek. So the most distant and emotionally unavailable people desperately want to be available and feel that connection, but the fear and learned coping strategies get in the way.
Generally, emotional availability in men is different than in woman both because of society’s conditioning and because most men experience interpersonal bonding differently than most women.
For most men, being emotionally available is not just about sharing his emotions; it is about his openness with another person and himself. It’s about where he is at in this moment emotionally and staying with that discomfort, instead of running or presenting it as fixed, resolved or all sorted out.
It is not about oversharing or being dramatic for the sake of it, it is sharing what is relevant to develop that connection in an authentic way. It is about knowing the personal behaviors that avoid true openness and availability. It is at the start very uncomfortable, awkward and even alien to someone who wasn’t taught how to be available emotionally growing up.
What we have to accept is that no one can lead you to emotional availability not even someone you are truly in love with. You were born with it, then life happened, and you developed coping strategies.
The only person who can change this is the person who is presently unavailable. Remember that being available or unavailable has nothing to do with love, it is all about conditioning and a choice to continue to be unavailable or to change it. That choice can be inspired by love, but there are times when its just too great a step for someone to take.
As a life coach and recovering “emotionally unavailable person” myself, I see this pattern so often and what lies under it is the fear of rejection, hurt, and not being good enough. When we move into a more authentic and available space, we feel more emotion and we also create deeper, more authentic connections, with ourselves and with others.
Signs of emotional unavailability and how to address them:
Blames others in relationships
This can be romantic or simply friendship, someone who doesn’t recognize the impact they’ve had on the demise of a friendship or relationship, isn’t really being open and available. Instead they are pointing fingers and avoiding themselves.
If you do this, take a moment and reflect on three things you learned from your relationship with this person and next time you’re trying to share and be available talk about YOU.
Starts Off Fast and Furious
In romantic relationships a man who is emotionally unavailable will move into the sexual phase of the relationship quickly. But it won’t be just because he wants sex. Relationships have a natural development flow. People who are emotionally unavailable actually do the beginning of relationships really fast, sometimes even really well, because they are bypassing the discomfort and natural rhythm of intimacy as a way to avoid being open.
If you do this, practice slowing down and learning how it feels to go at a mutual pace, rather than your usual pace. At the end of the day a relationship is a unique coming together and it deserves the space to occur mutually.
Can’t go there
Relationships, romantic or otherwise, require you to “go there” from time to time to develop intimacy. By “go there” I mean talking about the ugly truths, the insecurities, the “this is not OK for me” boundaries. A man who is emotionally unavailable will attempt to bypass this because it feels too unsafe, to unsure, too ugly. They will even label it as wrong or limiting because society’s stereotypes don’t allow men to explore those emotions let alone show them.
If you do this, be compassionate with yourself. You are unavailable for a really good reason, it’s a safety technique. To grow into a more available person, you need to “go there” with yourself first, you need to get comfortable with seeing uncomfortable things about your behavior, history, and experiences. Then when your body is crawling inward, wanting to run, just breathe and stay for a moment longer. It does get easier.
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About Sile Walsh
Sile is a passionate coaching psychology author, facilitator and speaker. With a private practice based on a person centered approach to well-being. With a belief that true happiness comes from being authentic, having healthy relationships and living with purpose.
Sile works with people in relation to Mental Fitness, Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence, Recovery, Stress Management, Business Development, Authentic Leadership, Interpersonal Skills, Holistic Well-being and Relationship Coaching in Ireland, online and internationally .