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Do You Stay Or Go? Loving The Emotionally Detached Man

There is nothing more lonely than loving an emotionally unavailable partner.

The emotionally detached man will court you, fall in love with you and even marry you—but when he gains your love and commitment, he withdraws his communication and affection. 

Guys, flip the dialog.

In the beginning the emotionally detached man may work hard to win your love, affection and commitment. He texts and calls you frequently and he takes you out on dates. He praises you and he surprises you with gifts and flowers. He wants to have frequent sex with you but you feel there is something missing within your relationship. He’s physically present but you struggle to achieve emotional intimacy with him; nevertheless, his intense pursuit impresses you, he seems like “marriage material” and so you minimize his withdrawn, tight-lipped behavior and you allow yourself to fall in love with him.

You settle into the relationship with your guy and soon after, he emotionally detaches from you. He quits opening your car door, he quits holding your hand in public and he quits sending you regular “check-in” text messages. He quits enjoying conversation with you. He checks his iPhone messages and scrolls his Facebook wall during dinner. He immerses himself into his work, hobbies and computer. He stops cuddling with you and he gives you feigned affection: a half-hug and a dutiful, “I love you.” His foreplay is perfunctory, minimal or non-existent. He is no longer tender, loving and affectionate towards you. He puts more feeling into his dog than he does you.

You are no longer his top priority.

The emotionally detached man is not a bad guy, in fact, he is often a super nice guy. He willingly preforms “acts of service” for you. He remembers your birthday, anniversary and Valentine’s Day with gifts, cards and flowers. He’s nice to your parents and children. He escorts you to soirees, he gives you the freedom to enjoy your friends and he supports your career and outside interests. He goes to church with you, he is generous with his money and he rarely says a harsh word to you—and yet, you feel a suffocating void in your relationship with him. 

You tell him you’re not getting your needs met. You express that you need mental, emotional and physical intimacy, and although you appreciate his acts of service, (taking out the trash, taking your car through inspection, picking up your dry cleaning, etc.), your love language is quality time together, verbal validation and physical touch.

Sadly, your pleas roll off him because he is tone deaf to your emotional needs.

If ONLY he would express an ounce of genuine affection for you, you could tolerate his emotionally withholding nature.

Arguing with an emotionally detached man will test your sanity.

Your arguments with him are one-sided: you cajole, cry and beg him to pay attention to you but he is unmoved by your obvious emotional pain and tears. His rejection and lack of sympathy wounds you deeply. Your anger and resentment comes out sideways as harshness and criticisms. You eventually detonate, he shuts you out completely and he goes into his cave and he waits for you to “just” get over it.

You seriously wonder if he even loves you.

You are always the one to initiate reconciliation. He never apologizes for his inconsiderate, hurtful behavior, even when he is clearly at fault. He’s full of excuses and he deflects and blames you for his unkind and dastardly actions. Time after time, you swallow your hurt feelings and you forgive him for the sake of the relationship. When you can no longer stand his withdrawn, rejecting and punishing behavior, you threaten to leave him and he doesn’t even put up a fight.

You keep trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.

You keep trying to fix your emotionally detached man. The problem is: he doesn’t see the need to change because he has convinced himself that YOU are the problem.

You drag your partner to couples counseling and he halfway tries to be more loving, more communicative and he tries to please you with his acts of service—but like every time before, he regresses to his deep-rooted withdrawn and neglectful behavior.

Evolutioncounseling.com posted the article, “Emotional Detachment In Relationships,” It explains how a man, who struggles with emotional detachment, will most likely “shut down” when faced with conflict in a relationship and that your conflict is reminiscent of the original threatening, hostile conflict in his childhood that prompts his psychological solution of emotional detachment. 

In a nutshell, he is emotionally crippled. He’s uncomfortable with intimacy and he avoids it at all costs. He can’t deal with relationship conflict and his learned response is to shut down so he can stop feeling anything. He doesn’t take responsibility for his hurtful behavior because he would have to face the reality of his actions. 

Nevertheless, your heart aches to have an intimate relationship with himbut you are slowly dying inside. You stop caring about his happiness. You avoid interaction with him and you quit wanting to have sex with him. Your heart hardens towards him and you begin to have thoughts of leaving him or having an affair.

In the meantime, are you part of the problem?

  • Do you expect too much of him?
  • Do you constantly nag and criticize him? 
  • Do you hold him responsible for your happiness?
  • Do you look to him for the love you never got from your father?
  • Are you with him predominantly for monetary perks and security?

​Do you need to stop trying to change him—and instead change yourself?

In the end, you may need to consider:

If he won’t or can’t change—can you accept his withdrawn and uncommunicative nature?

If you can’t accept him, does it make sense to remove yourself from a relationship that makes you miserable?

Read: Is It You—Or Is It Him? The REAL Truth About The Conflict In Your Relationship.


Do you repeatedly fall in love with men with who maltreat you? It’s time to get off the roller coaster. Based on true events, God, Please Fix Me! can help you start making decisions that are right for you.

Email nancy@knowitallnancy.com for a complimentary 15-minute Life Coach consultation. Learn more at Nancy Nichols Life Coach Program.

God, Please Fix Me! Trilogy
A Breakthrough in Self-Esteem, Relationship Understanding and Personal Healing for Women by Nancy Nichols

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