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My DH appears to have no emotions

(77 Posts)
coffeeisusuallytheanswer Fri 16-Nov-12 21:56:54

I've just been reading another thread about men who don't show emotions. DH and I have been struggling for a long time due to his apparent lack of emotion and affection. We are at stalemate - I think he lacks emotion, he thinks I am too emotional. Hugs are rare. He doesn't know what to do if I cry. He doesn't get excited for me or even angry at me. Yet he seems genuinely confused if I question whether he loves me.

So I am well aware we have issues. However I have just realised in ten years of being together:

I have never seen him cry
He has never got angry or raised his voice / shouted
We have never had an argument as he does not engage
I have never known him get truly excited about anything
I don't think he has ever laughed 'properly'

I have always thought his lack of emotions strange...but this isn't normal is it?

And more importantly how do you cope? I think I am likely having an emotional affair - certainly I turn to a male friend for emotional support not DH but that is because DH just doesn't seem to recognise emotion. Without leaving I'm not sure what the solution is...

orchidee Sat 17-Nov-12 02:25:20

I could have written this. You are not alone.

Ex-P is exactly like this. It's like he genuinely doesn't understand that other people have emotional needs. Completely flat emotionally, never excited or fed up. No friends, no interest in having any... Any nights out or holidays were my doing. He seemed to enjoy them as much as anything else but no interest in planning them, nothing special to him.

He was more demonstrative, happy etc in our first year together. I think I hung around thinking it was possible to get that back. Eight years later... Living a celibate life with no emotional connection, no discussions past trivial day to day things. He was floored when I said I wasn't happy living like flatmates sharing a home but not sharing our lives. Like he couldn't understand that it wasn't enough.

He's now quite cuddly with our child.

I suspect some puzzles can't be solved but I'm interested in this thread.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 08:31:32

AF, I asked what he would do about it?
It just seems strange that he is able and willing and understands to show his children affection.
Which means that he does have emotions I would have thought?, and is able to show them in certain circumstances, and seems to know appropriate times to do so.
Which brings me again to my question, what would happen if the op acted childlike?
Not meaning, that is a be all and end all answer to her problems.
I am just exploring some ideas.
This poster and it sounds like orchidee have stayed with their DHs till now.
Maybe they will stay. If they stay, they need ideas. Which may or may not work.Ideas may have to be explored and discarded. As I also said upthread, the more this is bumped, the more ideas may come in.

Right, so re acting childlike. I am thinking, eg if say her DH hugged the children , and she bent down, would he hug her too?
Just asking the question, and I am wondering what would happen. Would he get confused, what would he do?

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 08:38:16

The op has said she doesnt want to have an affair, and she doesnt want to leave him.

coffee, re your last post.
It does sound like it is all him.
I think if I were you I would look into AS more.
It doesnt mean you or anyone else has to label him.
He may not be AS.
There may be some clues in what other people have written on the internet and elsewhere, to "knowing how to enjoy our relationship".

coffeeisusuallytheanswer Sat 17-Nov-12 11:40:58

Thank you for the responses. I don't want an affair - I just don't understand EA really - where the line is in between getting emotional support from others.

He really doesn't seem to understand emotion or the need for it. He knows I would not have sex with said male friend...therefore he isn't worried about anything else as that isn't important - does that make any sense? For example he knows friend has gone out of his way to do things for me or I can sit and chat to him for hours but for DH that isn't linked to a relationship so no threat? I can't really explain it.

I get the logic of the acting like a child - I do wonder sometimes if demanding affection from him would get it. But I don't want forced affection. Nor do I want to make him change - he is who he is - a decent man who doesn't interact emotionally.

Life threatening situation - yes once when pregnant and I had to go to the hospital immediately - pre eclampsia, possible c section. I rang him and he told me to keep him updated and he'd try and pop in after work...oh but to ring him if the baby was about to be born. Another time I went into labour as he was leaving for work and he just carried on - walked out the door cheerily telling me to give him a ring when I needed to leave for the hospital.

Orchidee - I have also hung on as I hope he will change.

I don't want to leave - he is great with the DC's - hands on, does take them out - they love him. He is a decent man. But he is really like a flatmate / brother to me rather than partner. I miss the hugs, sharing thoughts, emotional support. I know he won't give that to me...so am back to square one...

totalinjection Sat 17-Nov-12 11:55:31

I can't speak for your DH coffee, but I can try to explain AS thinking around the hospital situation. If I knew someone (even a loved one) was in hospital, I would trust the medical staff to deal with the situation so I wouldn't rush there after work. Logically there would seem to be no value in my being there since I wouldn't have the medical skills to deal with any emergency. I think I wouldn't get upset because I would see no point to it, it would not improve the situation or make you feel any better.
And as for going into labour - well, we all know that labour takes hours and hospitals will send patients home if they arrive too early, so again I would think that there was no need for me to be there until things were really happening. Indeed, I have always continued as normal (often on my own) until quite late in my labours.

I suppose most women would just want reassurance and hand-holding in situations like that, even if the probability of anything going seriously wrong is quite minimal, and perhaps they need the show of emotion to feel cared for. But I don't relate to that as a person with AS, and if your DH has AS too (which sounds likely) he will probably analyse the situation and weigh up the risks and respond appropriately, rather than acting purely on emotions which many people do, but is not the best guarantee of a good outcome.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 12:01:23

EA, do you mean emotional abuse?
I dont think itn be abusing you if he doesnt know he is doing anything wrong.
If you called it neglect, again, if he doesnt realise he is neglecting you, he isnt doing it to you on purpose.
He looks after things matter of factly doesnt he.
To him, that is the caring bit.
I wonder if he could be trained. Dont much like that word in this circumstance.He wouldnt understand your need, and wouldnt need it himself, but does sound like he would do eg hug, put an arm around you etc if asked.

ecclesvet Sat 17-Nov-12 12:04:31

I think EA here means emotional affair.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Nov-12 12:04:44

Does your DH express 'passion' about anything at all? A hobby, sport or political party, for example? The lack of concern about the pre-eclampsia episode would have been it for me, I'm afraid. How can a man like that love anyone?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Nov-12 12:09:25

I also don't think you're having an emotional affair btw. If someone is living in an emotional desert any human interaction, any friendship, any confidant(e) is going to instantly score higher than their partner. You can't therefore call it an 'emotional affair' simply because you're experiencing normal human relationships.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 12:15:54

oh, emotional affair.
That is why I have sometimes not gone onto threads,as I thought EA meant emotional abuse, so didnt understand.
tbh, when I first joind MN, I thought all the EA references were meaning estate agents. I thought MNetters were quite obsessed about estate agents!
Sorry for the misunderstanding op, and the flippancy.
I think Cogito has explained well about emotional affair.

FlaminNoraImPregnantPanda Sat 17-Nov-12 12:17:19

Doesn't sound like Asperger's to me.

OP says he doesn't have an hobbies. Aspies have intense hobbies, they take their hobbies to whole new level. Having special hobbies is part of the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's.

I have Asperger's, as does my husband, my brother, my nephew, my daughter, my mum and my sister. All of us show emotions. My husband has never cried but he also laughs and smiles and loves cuddles and affection.

I hate the automatic labelling of cold, emotionless men as 'must be an Aspie'. I find it really offensive.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 17-Nov-12 12:23:08

"Without leaving I'm not sure what the solution is..."

Why is leaving off the cards?

strumpetpumpkin Sat 17-Nov-12 15:41:52

maybe hes aspie?

NanettaStocker Sat 17-Nov-12 15:56:35

The lack of reaction to pain and blood sounds more like psychopathy to me.

thewhistler Sat 17-Nov-12 16:02:00

Total, thanks for that explanation.

It helps a lot to explain why when my mother was rushed to hospital with a heart attack a long way from us, DH tried to get me once on the phone and then stopped. So I arrived back late. So we couldn't go up that night. And he couldn't see the issue. It has bugged me ever since.

orchidee Sat 17-Nov-12 16:35:25

I think the talk about Aspergers could be a red herring. Putting a label on this behaviour doesn't help unless the OP's H wants to change.

Also, some people are just a bit fucked up. My ex had some weird nonsense with his family, he took on loads in a filial duty sort of way, but seemed to resent it although he'd put himself forward rather than letting his perfectly capable siblings get involved. I reckon he resented people depending on him. He was v weird if I was ill or incapacitated (e.g. on crutches). I was usually very self-reliant so it came up extremely infrequently. The deal-breaker for me was when I was pg. He still didn't put me first, he would put a stranger first if it came up (this sounds pathetic but e.g. holding a shop door open for a stranger but letting me, heavily pg struggle with it.) Anyway thread hijack over, just adding that as it's all coming back...

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 17:28:17

"We have never had an argument as he does not engage".
Does he express his opinions on anything?
What happens if you choose what you want, and not what he wants. Or does he never seem to mind what the outcome is?
Does he do any habits etc which may be out of the ordinary?

I suppose what I am leading up to is, have you asked your colleagues if they have any ideas?
fwiw, I googled a few things, but nothing seems to fit.
I am beginning to think it must be very unusual.

biryani Sat 17-Nov-12 18:10:50

Coffee - my DP sounds very much like yours. I am not emotional myself, so I can sort of understand it. I think there are some people who genuinely find it difficult to express emotions (maybe partly due to the way they were brought up?). He's unlikely to change, so I suppose your options are either to end the relationship or accept the way he is and get on with it.

Sorry if that's not helpful, but I think there's far too much pressure these days to wear one's heart on one's sleeve. I think I'd rather a decent, dependable, stable bloke than a blubbing, needy, emotional one!

ccarpenton Sat 17-Nov-12 22:37:23

yes, a man that does not know what to do when you cry is a problem for any relationship. they have to know. they just have to!

but, the fact it has taken you 10 years to wake up, shows that whilst you didn't like it - you stuck with it.

I think this is more a personal awakening for you. you've sat around, "mentioning" the problem to your husband and now someone is acting they way you want a man to act without any effort on your part ... suddenly you're ready to move on.

to be honest, your story is far too conflicting to be taken at face value. you call him "emotionless" then say how much emotion he shows to the kids. the truth is, he CAN be emotional. he just isn't with you.

to put it bluntly ... it take two people to hug. so if hugs are "rare" then that means you are expecting him to make all the moves. otherwise the statement would be "him initiating hugs is rare". but if you were making hugs a frequent occurrence in your relationship, chances are he'd be reciprocating - even just out of routine. men are generally easy to train that way - like the kiss goodbye.

your whole first post was putting him down. you didn't say one positive thing about being with him even though you've been with him for 10+ years. you even made out that you married him by mistake because you'd just come off an abusive relationship.

you said "I can't live without affection." maybe he is thinking the exact same thing because you never once indicated that you shower him with affection.

I'm wiling to bet that your hatred of him is totally apparent. misery over his wife despising him would account for his depression in other parts of his life too.

ask him if he thinks you hate him.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 23:17:48

coffee,just to let you know, the above poster does not have a poster history.

Theala Sat 17-Nov-12 23:26:22

totalinjection, that was very interesting, thank you. I suspect both my brothers of being a bit AS and I could see what you said there as reflecting a bit of how they might see certain situations.

Zazzles007 Sun 18-Nov-12 02:26:37

Hi there OP, your description of your DH rang bells with me, especially:

"He has no real friends. He speaks to people in work and that's it. He sees an old friend probably once a year for a couple of hours. He doesn't text / FB. He has no hobbies. He goes to work and comes home. He won't socialise with my friends. His parents are distant - he probably sees them a few times a year."

My father is like this, and it took me literally years to figure out what it was. My father doesn't have his own friends, his friends are all people that my mother has brought into their social circle. He doesn't call people (eg, has never, ever called me for my birthday), doesn't initiate contact, doesn't build relationships with people (even those of his own family), has no hobbies, and is very much a 'loner' in so many ways. He would much rather spend most of his time on his own, and when he does spend time with people, its for a predetermined activity. The most common emotion I have seen him display is anger when something doesn't go his way. I've seen him cry exactly once in my life, when he accidently ran over our pet dog when I was a teenager. He does not cry at weddings, funerals or for any other reason. Other than that he rarely smiles, and seems to spend most of his time trying not to feel anything at all.

Does any of this sound familiar?

PattyPenguin Sun 18-Nov-12 06:48:02

OP, you said his parents are distant. I take it you mean emotionally rather than geographically. Is it possible that his parents never showed him any love and treated any show of emotion from him with scorn? Could he have shut down his own emotions in childhood for such a reason? And is it possible that he shows affection for his children because he sees himself in them and wants them to have what he didn't? Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about psychology could give an opinion.

Bubblenut Sun 18-Nov-12 07:00:34

My husband is very similar!

Is your husband an only child?

mirai Sun 18-Nov-12 07:18:50

Zazzles, you say it took you years to figure out what it was... What was it?

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