Avoidant, unavailable people are everywhere. We’ve all spotted them in the wild, and most of us have dated at least one person who qualifies for this category.
Sometimes, we’re the ones who are emotionally inaccessible.
The truth is that we understand why it happens. Life hurts. Hell, sometimes love hurts.
Most of us have trauma, and it seems like most of us aren’t really dealing with it. We’re coping. We’re denying or distracting or just trying to move on. Yet, how many of us genuinely heal from the things that hurt us?
Emotionally unavailable people aren’t healing.
They have a tendency to shut down, to run hot and cold, and to run like hell from any sign of permanency or commitment.
They’re running scared because life has given them every indication that what they’re running from can, in fact, hurt them.
It’s heartbreaking because while emotionally unavailable men are less likely to get as hurt as the rest of us, they’re also less likely to be loved.
We cannot completely love others and allow ourselves to be loved when we aren’t emotionally available to connect.
We hurt ourselves more withholding from relationships than we do by trying — and yes, sometimes failing.
Yet, that doesn’t mean the emotionally avoidant can’t fall in love. Quite the contrary.
What follows is a list of clear signs an emotionally unavailable man is in love with you.
11 Signs an Emotionally Unavailable Man Actually Loves You
Here are some subtle clues emotionally unavailable men send when they’re actually in love with a woman.
Why listen to me? I’m Crystal Jackson and I was a master’s level licensed therapist. I worked with couples and individuals and specialized in trauma recovery and empowerment. I now write content about relationships, self-improvement and psychology. My work has been featured on large publications such as Elite Daily, Your Tango, Positively Positive, and Mamamia.
1. He makes an effort to be open with you
The emotionally unavailable man may be charming, kind, and sociable, but what he’s usually not is open. In fact, that’s a key criterion of someone who is emotionally unavailable.
They just don’t open up and share how they feel.
But if he loves you, you might find that he makes an effort to open up to you.
He wants you to see him — to be known by you.
He wants the opportunity to be heard and to express how he’s feeling.
This isn’t natural for him. In fact, it will likely be terrifying to be this vulnerable on purpose.
You may even notice that he struggles with expressing his feelings. Can we at least give him credit for genuinely trying here?
If he’s in love with you, he’s going to try to go there even though his psyche is likely telling him it’s a bad idea that’s not going to end well.
2. He introduces you to his friends and family
If you want to know if an emotionally unavailable man is in love with you, ask yourself how open he is about the relationship with family and friends.
Even more, does he introduce you to them?
If he wants you to know the people who mean the most to him, he’s probably in love with you.
Usually, emotionally unavailable people dodge these introductions. They don’t want social media selfies, and they don’t invite you to be around their people.
Their lives tend to be highly compartmentalized. But when he loves you, he wants you to be a part of that life — even though this, too, is scary.
3. He talks about a future with you
Does this emotionally unavailable man plan a future with you? Does he talk about what you’ll do together weeks or months or even years down the road?
This is a good sign that he might be in love with you.
Sure, he might be emotionally unavailable now, but if he’s trying to build a future with you, he might be working on being more available. After all, it’s not a life sentence.
He can heal and build that future if he tries.
Recommended read: 17 Signs He Wants You Badly Sexually
4. He asks for your opinion
The emotionally unavailable man doesn’t often ask for help or solicit outside opinions. He’s learned the hard way not to let other people know when something is wrong.
Yet, he asks for your opinion.
He includes you in his thought processes when making decisions. He trusts your input.
He trusts you. Your opinion matters to him. Believe it or not, this is a step toward being more emotionally available.
5. He meets you halfway
One of the biggest signs that the emotionally unavailable man loves you is that he meets you halfway. This has nothing to do with geographic distance.
This simply means that he is trying. He is genuinely trying to share, to compromise, and to do the hard work of maintaining the relationship.
None of this is natural for someone who fears intimacy or commitment. Yet, when he loves you, he really tries to be better. Better for himself. Better for you.
He knows that his issues could sabotage the relationships, and he’s trying like hell to avoid that at all costs. He’s meeting you halfway, willing to work on the issues. He does it because he loves you.
6. He makes an effort to be consistent
Let’s face it: emotionally unavailable people are spectacularly inconsistent. They blow hot and cold. One minute, they can’t get enough of you. The next, they can’t pull away any further without leaving the planet.
But when an emotionally unavailable man falls in love with you, he really tries to be consistent.
It’s not easy for him. In fact, it’s a struggle every day.
But he shows up for you. He is consistent with contact. He doesn’t ever want you to worry that he’s not in this relationship because he loves you.
This doesn’t mean he won’t ever screw it up. He absolutely will. You can pretty much count on that. But then, he’ll dust himself off, he’ll make it right, and he’ll try again. That’s what a man in love will do.
7. He might pull away
This one might be confusing, but sometimes, the emotionally unavailable man will pull away from you.
He’s likely freaking out about his feelings and needs space to process them. When you’re in love with an emotionally unavailable man, this just might break your heart. It might break the relationship, too.
Trust me — I’ve been there.
But if he loves you, if he truly loves you, he’s coming back.
I don’t know how long this takes. The emotionally unavailable men I’ve known run and keep running. They don’t come back.
But I firmly believe that if he really loved you in the first place, if he still loves you, he’s going to be back to let you know that the space he took wasn’t about you.
Maybe he only pulls away for a few hours or a few days, but if he loves you, he’s coming back. And if he doesn’t come back, there are a couple of good possibilities.
He either just didn’t love you, and that hurts — it really hurts. Or he loved you, but he couldn’t love himself enough to stay.
Recommended read: 11 Signs He Will Come Back After Pulling Away
8. He cares about your feelings
An emotionally unavailable man in love cares about your feelings. He doesn’t want to hurt you. He’ll try really hard not to be a person who causes you pain.
If he does cause you pain, if his issues manage to hurt you as they often do, he will be overcome with guilt and shame for being the person who caused you grief.
He cares deeply about how you feel, and it comes out in all his actions.
Sure, he’s emotionally unavailable. He’s shut down sometimes and has trouble showing any difficult emotions, but he also loves you.
He’s your best friend and your lover, and hurting you will hurt him. That’s how much he cares. Even if he can’t express it in the way you prefer.
9. He has a couple mentality
You may have noticed that this man has developed a “we” and “us” mentality. You’re a couple, and it comes through in how he talks about the two of you. It’s pretty cute, isn’t it?
Of course, this can happen to emotionally unavailable men who also happen to be codependent.
But if codependency isn’t an issue for him, you can be sure that the “we” and “us” references mean that you’re just included in everything that has to do with him.
He’s thinking of you because he loves you, and you have a couple’s identity to go with your separate individual ones.
10. He is motivated to be near you
The emotionally unavailable man often longs for space. Yet, this one, the one you’re with, wants to be near you.
He’s planning for the next date. He’s making plans to see you.
He is highly motivated to be near you even though he’s usually feeling pressured at this point in relationships. Instead of feeling suffocated, he longs to be near you. We call this a clue.
11. Intimacy becomes emotional, not just physical
While the emotionally unavailable man can ace the physical intimacy part of relationships, you’ll notice that something curious happens when he falls in love with you.
The intimacy becomes more than physical. Emotional intimacy starts to develop, too.
He lets you in. I hope you know how unusual this is for him. He loves you, he shares with you, and he’s trying.
You can see his effort, and if you confront him with an issue, he’s working on it.
That kind of deep inner work is pretty sexy, but you’ll notice that your emotional connection just keeps getting deeper even when you’re doing little more than sitting side by side in the same room saying nothing.
Recommended read: 10 Signs He’s Falling in Love With You
So, He Loves You. Now What?
Now that you know the signs an emotionally unavailable man is in love with you, there’s something else you need to know.
It’s not something you’re going to like, but it’s absolutely necessary for you to understand.
Just because this man loves you doesn’t mean that the relationship is going to work out.
It doesn’t mean it won’t either.
That’s the thing about relationships. It takes more than just wanting them or loving the other person for them to thrive. Here are some tips for loving the emotionally unavailable man in your life.
Be a Safe Space
You may have to learn how to provide the safety he needs. Just because you’ve known emotionally unavailable men doesn’t mean you’ve known this one. Learn how to listen.
Learn how to sit with what he’s thinking and feeling without judging him or trying to fix it for him. Allow him the time and space to share who he is and how he feels. He may never have had a safe space in his life before.
This one is harder than you think. Sometimes, you think you’re being that safe space, but you’ve underestimated just how tough things are for him.
You think he’s shutting down and not sharing, but did you allow enough time, space, and silence to let him share? Did you create the space within the relationship to hear him out or did you just try to fix it?
If you want to be a safe space, you’ll need to re-think everything.
Remove the Pressure
Applying any pressure in the relationship could drive him away.
You can address conflict. You can tell him what you want for your future. But if you deliver ultimatums or apply pressure to encourage him to commit, you may send him running even though he loves you.
He has enough pressure. He experiences pressure from himself every day. He’s dealing with the pressure of emotions he’s not letting out.
He’s dealing with the need to be strong and perfect all the time even though no one can be.
He’s putting so much pressure on himself to avoid hurt and to avoid hurting you that he may not be able to handle a single other form of pressure no matter how genuinely he loves you.
Allow for Mistakes
Can we cut the emotionally unavailable man just a little slack?
Sometimes, we think he’s being a selfish, terrible person when he’s really just a hurting person who hasn’t healed.
If he’s actually trying to be better, understand that he’s going to mess up because that’s part of the learning process.
Yes, it hurts, but it will hurt even more if you have unrealistic expectations.
It’s important to allow for mistakes in relationships. I’m not referring to the “oops — I accidentally slept with someone else” kind of “mistake”.
I’m talking about the times we try to connect and let each other down instead. It’s important to understand that both people will absolutely mess up.
We need to make space for that to happen — space to heal and repair the relationship when it does without creating further harm in how we handle it. Judging and holding grudges will never make it better.
Know When to Go
This is the part when I tell you to do the thing I absolutely couldn’t. I loved an emotionally unavailable man so much that I just got stuck.
There are so many things he got right, but the things he got wrong were hurting me, and there came a point where I was fighting to save the relationship on my own.
I couldn’t tell if he still loved me or ever did. But I also couldn’t leave.
That’s a clue, if you’re curious. It’s a clue that you have healing to do. I took myself to trauma therapy. I worked to heal the things that caused me to be paralyzed in a relationship I likely needed to leave.
I loved him and didn’t want to go, but I’ve learned the hard way that you cannot save a relationship that the other person isn’t even trying to save. You can only accept what is and save yourself.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do that for myself. Instead, he left, and I worked to heal myself so that I would never again stay in a relationship where I wasn’t loved.
But the truth is that sometimes, they’ll love us, and we need to figure out when to leave anyway.
Love isn’t all you need. You need to know when it’s time to go, when the relationship has become toxic, and when it’s not going to work no matter how hard you do.
The emotionally unavailable man is capable of love. He just hasn’t yet learned that anyone else is safe and capable of loving him in return.
But if he loves you and he’s trying, he may learn to become the emotionally available man you want to spend the rest of your life loving.
Or he may never completely become that man.
He may be the emotionally unavailable man who has to fight that tendency for the rest of his life, working every single day to heal.
But if he loves you and, more importantly, if he’s genuinely trying, isn’t he worth it?