If you’re a man like me, you may have been told, or felt, that you’re “emotionally unavailable” at times. Maybe, it sounded more like “I guess you don’t even care” or “What’s your deal?”.
This is a confusing situation for both parties involved. On the man’s side, it’s strange because, sometimes, we really are disconnected from what we’re feeling. Maybe, we are sitting down in front of a plate of food, fiddling with something, or watching TV and we literally aren’t aware of any undercurrent of emotion. And, for the women, it can be frustrating because they can’t get a read on what the heck is going on with their partner.
So, what can we do to bridge this gap, together?
First off, we have to acknowledge what is. If you’re man is emotionally unavailable, there’s a reason for that. He has probably dealt with things the same way for his entire life and he’s not going to change in one day. Don’t let his stoicism fool you. He needs some patience and gentleness, especially in his most stressful moments.
This doesn’t mean that you let him walk all over you. Taking care of yourself is just as important.
When you feel like you’re in a good spot yourself, be direct. We tend to respect straight forward questions and requests. However, most of all, we need to know why. Our logical brains usually need to be satisfied before our emotional brains will come online.
It may sound something like:
“Hey honey, I want our relationship to feel better so will you set some time aside to talk today?”
“I’ve noticed that you may be feeling stressed. I’d like to hear more so that I can help.”
“I hear you saying you want some space. For me, I need to know exactly what that looks like so, let’s sit down and make a plan.”
Odds are, you will probably get a lot farther using these exact scripts then saying what you’re used to saying.
And, if you don’t get a great answer, try giving a little space. It doesn’t mean that you have to do this forever.
Many men have a complicated relationship with intimacy. In some ways, we may try to show it through hard work, physical touch, or fierce protection. In other ways, such as sharing how we’re feeling, we may have little to no experience. It can feel very threatening to be asked what’s going on inside that thick skull of ours.
So, bottom line, try some new ways if the old ways are not working. If you’re used to shrinking and dancing around the subject, stand up tall and be direct. If you’re tired of chasing him around…stop. If you are in a constant state of blame, look at your part and own it.