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Does emotionally unavailable men ever change?

(45 Posts)
Stickels Thu 21-May-15 21:43:33

I just wanted to know if anyone has experience of being in a relationship with a commitment shy emotionally unavailable man?

Every time I get too close he runs away. It's frustrating and painful because the times we get the most close and the most intimate are the times he always pulls away afterwards.

Sometimes he calls all the time and texts all the time and I see him a lot, then other times he drops off the face of the planet. At those times if I text him he replies in one word answers and it's hurtful. If I ignore him, he always comes back.

He's not dating anyone else or anything, but he is hard (impossible) to make fixed plans with and he has to do it in his own time at his own pace. I often feel like everything revolves around him and I have feelings too.

He says he cares for me deeply, and that he is falling for me but that he needs time to adjust because he is so used to being alone. He says as time passes and trust builds he will be and give all the things I want and we've had clear discussions about that. Sometimes little things he does do show he cares a lot for me. For example I found he's kept lots of sentimental items from our dates (he's not the sentimental type!) and also noticed he deletes all his phone conversations and photos apart from ours. I asked why and he said "because that's us". Little things like that show he cares about me, but sometimes I feel like he's testing me or trying to make me dump him to see if I will.

I just want to know whether men like this are a lost cause. It's been five months now and while we make gradual progress it is very slow and I do spend a lot of time wondering what's happening which I don't really like.

One thought that has kept me going is that I have a female friend like this, who pushes people away and is scared to get close to people or intimate and I know that her current husband persevered through her barriers for months and months before she finally opened up enough to trust him and I was wondering if this might happen the same way.

I'm not a doormat with him but I have exercised a lot of patience and given him a lot of space and I just don't want to be a fool or waste my life away on a hopeless case. Has anyone ever been in a relationship with a man like this and does it always end badly?

Is it behaving with a lack of self respect to tolerate a boyfriend who disappears like this with never any explanation? I am not sure if I am being patient or being stupid.

weedinthepool Thu 21-May-15 21:51:52

When you say he disappears what is the timescale of the disappearances? A day, week, month?

When you communicate does he leave hours, days, weeks between calls/messages/emails?

And has he integrated you into his life at all? Do you stay at his house regularly? Have you met any of his friends? Do you go on dates?

Sorry about all the questions!

Bleachedandscrubbed Thu 21-May-15 21:56:55

Five months us early days but it's not a pattern that should be allowed to continue. He sounds very hurtful, even if that's not his intention.

pieceofpurplesky Thu 21-May-15 21:57:37

Is he/was he married?

Stickels Thu 21-May-15 21:59:05

It's generally for 5 - 10 days. Average is a week. It happens once a month or so. He will often pick fights about silly stuff to facilitate his disappearance, which he admits to doing.

When I text him, even during those times he is "off the grid" he texts back instantly. Generally the type of texts that lave no room for a conversation to continue though. Not that he's rude or mean, he just gives a clear impression he wants me to leave him alone.

No, we haven't integrated into each other's lives at all but yes we go on great dates, he's very thoughtful. When we first met he introduced me to his friends and as very full on and wanting to meet mine but as soon as things got a bit more intimate I feel he put barriers up.

Stickels Thu 21-May-15 22:00:06

He is divorced yes, it is very hurtful, yes.

alicemalice Thu 21-May-15 22:01:11

God, how can you handle those disappearances? I feel for you.

Stickels Thu 21-May-15 22:02:05

I have tried to end it by the way twice, one the very first time he went off the grid (I was really shocked) and the second time last week.

The first time he said he'd been busy at work, and not to read anything into it and he was more lovely than ever when he came back so I put it down to an anomaly. Then he did it again and I realised it was going to be a pattern.

This second time I tried to end it, he came to see me and told me he cared for me much more than he shows and asked me please not to go.

alicemalice Thu 21-May-15 22:04:52

His behaviour is horrible. Picking fights and then backing off.

It can't be making you very happy, despite the nice times you get.

Bleachedandscrubbed Thu 21-May-15 22:08:40

Run. Put on your trainers and run very very fast. He may be fond of you, I'm sure you're a lovely woman, but a decent man in love doesn't behave like this. Don't be drawn into the "injured soul" bit. He's fantastically manipulative. It puts you constantly in a position if fear of abandonmemt and on the back four all the time. And as for deliberately starting arguments so he can do his disappearing thing, well that's despicable.

I have been there with this type, and it ended in agony for me. I met him again years later and he's just the same. People who can be so callous with other people's hearts are dangerous and yet strangely addictive - you'll always see a chink of light, a sign he really nearly loves you, but it's a facade because the only important feelings are his.

Stickels Thu 21-May-15 22:08:51

No, I am not happy. I stick with it because I know if he changes I would be very happy and I do know that you can't stay in a relationship because of someone's potential.

GoatsDoRoam Thu 21-May-15 22:10:30

You should visit the website "Baggage Reclaim", Stickels. The author has plenty to say, and at great length, dissecting unavailable men.

What I'll say is: doesn't matter what's going on in his head. What's going in yours? Is this relationship making you happy, secure, fulfilled? If the answer is "no", it is not a good relationship for you.

GoatsDoRoam Thu 21-May-15 22:11:41


I think you've answered that question.

vanimal Thu 21-May-15 22:12:11

He sounds emotionally abusive to me, and will have you walking on eggshells, trying your best to please him and make it work, and clinging on to the hope of a happy future that he can't give you.

Sorry sad

TopOfTheCliff Thu 21-May-15 22:12:54

I had a brief relationship with a man like this. It was hurtful and infuriating. The key is that you said it is after periods of closeness and intimacy that he pulls away. He can't handle it and needs to regroup to regain his independence. It is a pushme-pullyou relationship where he chases till you respond then runs away leaving you confused.
Have you read the Baggage Reclaim website? That describes the emotionally unavailable man and how to handle him.
I got dumped after a week of magical closeness with no notice. Then he came creeping back again. I knew he would mess me up so I cut him off and went out for a drink with someone else who turned out to be my soulmate. We are engaged now!

PushingThru Thu 21-May-15 22:13:25

He's obviously doing 'something' during these disappearances. If it's not another woman, though I wouldn't rule it out because of the deleted phone history, could it be something like a drinking bender?

alicemalice Thu 21-May-15 22:15:31

Must admit, I also thought he has someone else on the side.

This is not how a good relationship looks, OP. Men don't just disappear like that, something is definitely up.

If you cut contact, it's very painful in the beginning but then you start to feel so much better.

weedinthepool Thu 21-May-15 22:16:52

Hmm, so when he does these 'off grid' behaviours he is still maintaining some forms of contact?

He sounds fucked up to some degree but I can relate a bit to him and your relationship. I haven't seen the guy I'm seeing for 2 weeks because he's studying, been completely open and honest about needing to keep a clear head and concentrate on his thesis. I'm pretty restricted when I can see him as a have 3dc's, a stressful job and a PhD ongoing so I might appear 'off grid' but it always comes with an explanation. I'd be pretty upset if he thought I was being emotionally unavailable.

If he is genuinely not busy then yes, I can see why you are pissed.

Bleachedandscrubbed Thu 21-May-15 22:16:57

BTW in the interim years between my particular heart-fuck and seeing him again he'd had three other LTRs including one he married and he was exactly the same with all of them. The only difference was he recognised it now, but it didn't make a jot of difference, he was just able to admit he was a bastard.
For him it was control. I (and the subsequent woman) were all left so insecure and addicted to how good it might be one day, we bent ourselves out of shape trying to make it work. And with all of us, the second we backed off was the second he chased again. It's a hideous fucked up game.

ScrambledEggAndToast Thu 21-May-15 22:18:16

It should be easy in the early days, he should be chasing you. I would get rid.

Twinklestein Thu 21-May-15 22:23:13

If he's not involved with one other particular woman, I reckon he's just shagging other women and coming back...

newnamesamegame Thu 21-May-15 22:28:15

I wondered if it could be depression.
I had a BF many years ago who suffered from depression and he used to do this.

Lipgloss74 Thu 21-May-15 22:31:31

Give up. Won't be doing you much good.

DrElizabethPlimpton Thu 21-May-15 22:37:19

A man who truly cared and respected you would not behave like this. You are worth more than this sort of fuckwittery. Healthy relationships are a pleasure not an angst fest.

Stickels Thu 21-May-15 23:56:26

I think the other woman theory is not really applicable. For a start he makes a show of the fact that he's off grid. It's almost like he's making a point of it. As if he wants me to know he's ignoring me. He never texts and says "busy the next few days" or whatever. I can also see when he does it, he appears to be in 24/7. Certainly he's either on Facebook or whatsapp permanently and goes completely quiet. I don't think he has a double life.

I do think he reacts as if to punish me in some way, it's a bit odd, and if questioned he does admit he's been a bastard and asks me to be "hard on him". None of that is very encouraging I know, because I don't want a child, I want a boyfriend.

I did know the answer to my own question here really. I know I need to move on. I'm just sad because I will miss him and I suppose I am frustrated because I know he will be sad when I am gone. I know that might sound optimistic to think that, but I just know he will. I do think he cares about me, just not enough to treat me right I suppose.

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