How To Deal With An Emotionally Unavailable Husband: Signs, Reasons, And Advice

Learn the underlying causes for your husband's inability to open up and what you can do to help.

Reviewed by Brian Tavizón, Psychologist & Couples Therapist
Written by Sneha Tete, Certified Relationship Coach
Edited by Shatabdi Bhattacharya
Fact-checked by Gracia Odile  • 

The emotional distance between you and your husband may affect your relationship, leading to many issues. Not opening up completely, expressing their affection, and supporting you when needed can all be signs of an emotionally unavailable husband. Your relationship can thrive when both are emotionally available for each other.

In many cultures, men feel they are not supposed to show any emotions as they think it is a sign of weakness. This can affect the whole framework of the relationship and make the woman feel lonely and unappreciated. Here, we discuss some signs of an emotionally unavailable husband and how to deal with the situation. Keep reading.

Signs Of An Emotionally Unavailable Husband

1. He Does Not Show Vulnerability

Picture this – you are trying to have a heart-to-heart with your partner. You’re talking about your feelings, maybe you are crying or showing some other emotion. On the other hand, your partner is very stoic and refuses to discuss their feelings on the subject or “doesn’t feel” them overall.

Emotionally distant partners tend to stay away from vulnerability. They often seem aloof, steering clear of showcasing their emotions. They either remain silent, change the subject, or become angry when forced to open up.

2. He Avoids Confrontation

If your husband avoids confrontation to the point of blindly agreeing with you, it is an issue. They may also get up and leave in the middle of the conversation, which can be useful to prevent the conversation from heating up and escalating. In some cases, they might become angry and even abusive.

Eventually, you stop bringing up topics that might aggravate your husband which leads to communication issues. And while the relationship may be working for him, you will always feel neglected and trapped in the same place. Thus, the relationship will suffer.

3. He Shuts Down

You may notice that at times your husband seems very happy and talkative, but other times he suddenly shuts off and shows disinterest or neglects you or the relationship. This inconsistency in feelings may be a sign of an emotionally distant partner. While you think the relationship is going great, he may throw a curveball at you, giving you the feeling that he isn’t happy in the relationship.

This may be his way of coping with issues that he should be speaking out about but does not. It normally requires couple’s therapy to resolve an issue like this, especially if the gridlock occurs in the middle of an argument.

4. Deflection

Do you ever try to have a serious conversation with your husband, but it is only one-sided? Any time you ask him questions, he responds with more questions without giving you a straight answer. He might even crack a joke or two instead of giving you a straight answer. You may sense coldness or indifference also from him at times.

This happens because he may feel it’s easier to deflect the question rather than deal with the pain that comes with facing your emotions and problems. When your husband does this, it’s important to remember that deflection does not stem from insensitivity. He has probably grown up with deflection as a coping mechanism to steer clear of expressing their feelings and confrontation.

5. Lack Of Emotional Support

Lack of emotional support is a sign your husband is emotionally unavailable
Image: Shutterstock

If your husband becomes quiet instead of acknowledging your feelings when having an argument, it is a sign of emotional unavailability. He may use logical reasoning to disregard the gravity of your feelings or simply ask you to calm down.

This does not mean that he does not want to emotionally support you. It may mean that he does not know how to offer such support.

6. He Is Evasive

If your husband does not answer your questions directly, it is a sign of emotional unavailability. Imagine you send your husband many texts a day, but he shows unresponsiveness or only responds to one without acknowledging any of the other texts.

They may also never directly shoulder responsibility when it comes to dealing with problems in the relationship. They respond to things they like but refuse to directly talk about serious issues in the relationship. Another evasive maneuver is, they will make you feel like you made the mistake.

While this may seem like a way to shrug off responsibility in the relationship, for the evasive partner, it might be their genuine way of looking at things. They are not trying to hide anything but simply don’t know how to acknowledge serious problems.

7. He Is Inconsistent

In some aspects of your marriage, you may feel like your husband is always there for you. But when push comes to shove, he’s absent. He may not always tell you where he is and often does not have an issue with spending time by himself without you.

In some serious cases, the husband might even go off on his own for a few days and return with little to no information about where he has been and what he has been doing.

8. One Man Army

Does your husband often prefer doing things by himself? Does he seem secretive about many things, to the point of not sharing his opinions on certain issues? This is a clear sign of an emotionally distant partner.

They often keep to themselves. And when asked about their plans or their opinions, they become defensive. They view sharing their opinions as an obstruction to their privacy.

9. You Keep Pursuing Him

Avoiding you is a sign your husband is emotionally unavailable
Image: Shutterstock

Are you the one initiating all the serious conversations in the marriage? Are you always the one making the big gestures? Are you the only one verbalizing your feelings in the marriage?

This is another sign that your husband may be emotionally unavailable. This will make you feel that your husband has little to no investment in the marriage while you are constantly pursuing him. While it may seem like a power move, often it stems from his inability to verbalize his feelings.

It is important to remember that many men are not emotionally unavailable by choice. They just may not have learned how to be in touch with and express their feelings. Learn more about the reasons for emotional unavailability below.

Reasons For Emotional Unavailability

You are not responsible for your husband's unavailability
Image: Shutterstock
  • The most common factor among emotionally distant men is that they have been raised with the thinking that men should not show emotional vulnerability. They look at it as a sign of weakness. Generations of men believe that talking about their emotions is more of a feminine quality while men grit their teeth and bear everything.
  • l Your partner may have undergone some trauma, and being emotionally unavailable is his coping mechanism. This is the case when men don’t want to deal with the pain that comes with the trauma. This spills over into other areas of their life that may give them the same feeling as the trauma did.
  • l Some men don’t know how to express themselves properly, which leaves them emotionally distant. This may be because, in the past, people did not react to their issues the way they wanted them to.
  • l Some men simply think that the issues they are facing are temporary and, therefore, do not need not be talked about or resolved.
  • l Most men just need their personal space to deal with emotional issues. They don’t know how to work on their issues with another person, and it is easier for them to deal with them on their own.

Now, let’s talk about how to deal with an emotionally unavailable partner.

Dealing With An Emotionally Unavailable Partner

Opt for couple's therapy to deal with unavailable husband
Image: IStock
  1.  Be open and straightforward with your partner. Let them know how you feel. If you are not happy or emotionally satisfied, it’s important that you verbalize it to them.
  2.  Let them know what you expect from them. Understand that being emotionally vulnerable is important in the relationship. So, make sure you let them know that’s what you expect from them.
  3.  Talk to them about going to therapy. If your partner wants to make you happy and make the relationship work, they will be open to seeking help. This may be difficult for them as they find it hard to open up but stick to your guns.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Know that therapy takes time to work. So, be patient with the lack of intimacy and your emotionally unavailable husband if they have just started their sessions. Also, do not force them on the days they don’t feel like attending the sessions – as you only may be burdening them with too much pressure.
  1.  Understand that even if your partner is seeking help, things will not improve in a day, or week, or even a month. It is going to take a lot of time and constant work. You will need to be patient with your partner.
  2.  Try to get to the root cause of your husband’s invulnerability. Oftentimes, it is simply because men have been raised to keep their emotions to themselves. Let them know that them being emotional is absolutely normal.
  3.  Create an open space for him to discuss his issues. For example, if you notice that your husband is angry at you, take time to sit with them and ask them what is wrong. Make sure their emotions are acknowledged. They might not open up immediately at first, but as they realize it helps to talk about their emotions, they will start expressing themselves.
  4.  Don’t beat around the bush. It’s always better to be upfront with your man. If you notice any inconsistencies in his behavior, call him out on it.
  5.  Don’t be aggressive with him. Try your best to be patient and calm with him. Try looking for a solution to the problem together.
  6.  Do not force them to change. Most women believe that they can “fix” the emotional issues in their partner. This leads to a lot of issues. Your partner may start feeling insecure because of the change you are forcing. Also, if the change does not occur, it will leave you disappointed.
  7.  Do not gang up on your partner with other friends or family. Sit down and talk to them one-on-one. If you feel that you need help, talk to a professional therapist. Ganging up on your partner may cause them to close up even more.
  8.  Sometimes, all your husband needs is some space. Just let him be and do his own thing. Once they resolve the issue, they’ll come back. Then you can talk to them about it so they know how it affects you.

If your husband is resistant to change despite your best effort, it might be time to end the marriage. Check out the next section to find out how to end a marriage with an emotionally unavailable husband.

How To End A Marriage With An Unavailable Husband

Divorce is the final solution if you have an unavailable husband
Image: Shutterstock

1. Let Go: When you make the decision to divorce your partner, it comes with a lot of complications. Friends and family might try to convince you to live with your husband’s emotional unavailability. Society may question your decision to divorce your partner. You may have a weak moment and want to go back, only to find yourself back to square one. You need to stick to your guns. Remember everything about your relationship and how it affected you.

2. Be Certain: Make sure that you really do want a divorce. Do not try to use this as a tactic to get your husband to show some emotion. It will backfire. Also, figure out if separation or divorce would be better for you and your partner. You can start off with separation and see how it goes from there. But if you are certain that nothing can improve your marriage, getting a divorce might be the best option.

3. Communicate: Let your partner know that this is it for you. Your husband needs to know that you have had it with his emotional unavailability. Let him know how it has affected you and stifled the relationship. He needs to know that you are done and that this is not a ploy to get him to show any emotion.

4. Create Space: Once you realize that your marriage is over, create some space between you and your partner so that you don’t blur any lines. If you can move out to your own place, go for it.

protip_icon Quick Tip
If children are involved, allow them to meet their father while you maintain a healthy space with your partner. But do take care of your children’s safety too.

5. Love Yourself: During this time, you will feel hurt. Your friends, family, and even your partner may label you as the villain for wanting to end your marriage. It is very important to love yourself. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Learn to appreciate your point of view over what others think of you.

6. Move On: Eventually, you will need to move on. That does not mean you have to move on to another person, but that you just have to move on from your husband. If you still have feelings for your partner, you may feel the urge to go back to him. It is important that you resist that urge.

Infographic: Top 5 Red Flags To Notice An Emotionally Unavailable Husband

It is tough to stay with an emotionally unavailable husband to grow the relationship in a marriage. You may feel like you are not keeping him happy and start to lack self-confidence. But it is not always your fault! There are some key signs to recognize whether your husband lacks the emotional side.

Check out the infographic below to know the top 5 red flags in your husband to understand whether he is naturally like this or it is just an act.

emotionally unavailable husband (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

It can be heartbreaking to be trapped in a marriage with an emotionally unavailable husband. They do not share their vulnerabilities with you and evade any confrontation or deep conversation. Avoidance and detachment from your emotionally unavailable husband lead to a feeling of abandonment as you get no emotional support from them. The best way to deal with this issue is to understand the root of this emotional apathy. For instance, their parents could have raised them with a mindset that men shouldn’t be emotional. In addition, they may have gone through some trauma or struggled with emotional expression, among other things. The best way to deal with an emotionally unavailable husband is to be open about your concerns, encourage them to share their feelings, and don’t be impatient or aggressive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when you ignore an emotionally unavailable man?

An emotionally unavailable man can react in many ways to being ignored. Yes, they might miss you and realize you want attention and a response from them, and go the distance. However, they may also take this negatively and ghost you or wait until you speak to them. Instead of ignoring your partner, just talk it out with them.

Is he emotionally unavailable or a narcissist?

An emotionally unavailable man might be unable to show or talk about how he feels. A narcissist always believes they are right, better than everyone else, and will manipulate you to get what they want.

Can you love an emotionally unavailable man?

It can be hard to love an emotionally unavailable man as they keep their feelings to themselves. But, remember, their unavailability stems from a bigger reason. Follow the tips mentioned in the article to deal with it effectively.

What are good questions to ask an emotionally unavailable man?

Ask questions about how he is feeling, commitment, any issues or problems they are facing (work, personal, or family), and if there is anything they would like to share. Ask about their personal preferences and whether they are open to hearing you out.

How do I stop chasing emotionally unavailable men?

Before falling head over heels for someone, get to know if they are willing to talk about their feelings and open up. If they are not, don’t proceed any further. You might think of giving them a chance, but that will draw you in deeper, and there is no guarantee that they will open up.

Key Takeaways

  • Most men grow emotionally distant because they are raised to not show their emotions.
  • An emotionally unavailable husband usually avoids confrontation and does not show vulnerability.
  • Being straightforward and talking it out is the best way to deal with an emotionally distant partner.
  • However, sometimes your partner might not want to change, which can cause a strain on the relationship and lead to separation.

Are you struggling to decipher your partner’s emotional availability? Then watch this video featuring the key indicators of an emotionally unavailable person that you need to watch out for.

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