Changing the Conversation About Emotionally Unavailable Men

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There are countless articles floating around the internet about the emotionally unavailable man, giving tips on how to "spot" these people as if they're wild beasts who should be avoided if we want to remain living, breathing beings. 

Please don't take my being facetious to mean that I think you should actively seek relationships with emotionally unavailable men if  you are hoping for serious, deeply intimate relationships. If that's what you're after, then yes, knowing how to decipher if someone is emotionally unavailable is helpful so you can choose who you let into your heart and world wisely, hopefully avoiding the pain of heartbreak from someone who cannot meet your emotional needs.

I just think that the conversation about emotionally unavailable men needs to change (and thankfully, organizations like ManTalks and entrepreneurs like Lewis Howes are helping to make this happen). 

Rather than encouraging avoidance of this type of person and giving them a negative connotation, we should work on fostering an environment that encourages growth, vulnerability, and emotional intelligence in men. We should provide more tips on how to be an emotionally available man, rather than tips on how to steer clear of emotionally unavailable ones.  We should continue to destigmatize men going to therapy. 

And we should have more empathy for them. 

I've had enough heartbreak from emotionally unavailable men that you would think I should hate them, but because of this little (actually, HUGE) thing called empathy, I don't. When we empathize with people, we put in the effort to truly understand what they are experiencing and why.

Empathy is different than sympathy. We are not aiming to feel sorry for them or neglecting to hold them responsible for putting in the work to gain emotional intelligence. Rather, we are aiming to understand them and feel their pain as if it were our own by figuratively putting ourselves in their position and imagining ourselves as them. What led them to this place? What are they experiencing and how is it affecting them?

Many emotionally unavailable men want to be emotionally available and are the way they are due to unfortunate circumstances in their lives (e.g. bad breakups, toxic previous relationships, and growing up in environments in which their emotional needs weren't met). Even just being raised in a society that discourages boys and men from expressing emotion as if it's not a natural human trait is enough to cause emotional unavailability; no traumatic experience is necessary. 

When we take the time to understand emotionally unavailable men, we can see them as vulnerable human beings who need healing, rather than the enemies to avoid.

Encourage the men in your life to seek help if they have trouble processing and expressing their feelings. Create a safe, nonjudgemental space for them to communicate authentically. The more we allow men to feel comfortable being vulnerable and expressing their emotions, the healthier and more satisfying our relationships with them will be.