Emotionally Unavailable or Emotionally Closed?

I have been studying my husband’s behavior since I found out about the affair he had. As time has went by, I have become a little confused as to why he has not been able to express his feelings about us, our marriage or anything to do with our relationship. It wasn’t until I found out about his affair that his attitude about anything of a serious nature was very passive and not addressed.

At first, I thought it was the fog he was in. After all, it is known that it does take time for the fog to lift. After he told me his mind had cleared two months after that devastating day, I thought he would return to his normal self. However, he continued to be distant and without emotion of any kind.

When I read of the term “Emotionally Unavailable”, I decided to go on line and do some research on it to see what the definition was and if this may possibly apply to my husband’s behavior. In my research, this is what I found:

Emotionally Unavailable is a pseudo-psychological term often used to refer to a sexual partner who doesn’t want to commit to a relationship. The term is also used to refer to a symptom of Reactive Attachment Disorder in which a person with the disorder seems withdrawn from emotion and emotional attachment, usually to parents or other family members.

An emotionally unavailable relationship occurs whenever one partner is unable to reach out and make a heart connection with another person, while the other partner feels it is somehow his/her fault and thus bears the responsibility to fix it by being perfect.

I also read where it is more about control than love for the emotionally unavailable person. For them, emotions seem unsafe, while control is appealing. They will not open up to you about their emotions or how they feel about something. And, they generally don’t want to sit and listen to how you feel either.

Basically, an emotionally unavailable person is someone who is not really committed. Being married to someone who will not commit themselves fully to the marriage, can be like living with a stranger. When this continues year after year, the relationship shrivels and eventually dies. A marriage is like a delicate flower needing constant attention and nutrients. Without those nutrients, we can exist, but not thrive. Also a marriage without emotional intimacy is no marriage at all.

After learning all about the emotionally unavailable and applying it to my husband’s behavior, I cannot help but wonder if this is now who he is. Then I question, how could this have happened as it seems to be something that a person has all his life, and not something that just happens to someone years down the road. Or does it?

Another term I found, which was more accurate when it comes to my husband’s behavior is the “emotionally closed”. Basically, they don’t like talking about anything regarding their feelings or emotions, and they don’t want to listen to how you feel either. They’d rather talk about the weather, politics, sports, or anything that’s not of a personal, intimate nature. They also tend to shut you out a lot, ignore your feelings and rarely show any emotions themselves. Being Emotionally Closed vs. Emotionally Unavailable is rather close, but they are different.

At this point, I really don’t know if my husband is “Emotionally Closed”, or just still in the fog. If his behavior continues for a long period of time, I will know it is not the fog, but rather the person he has now become.

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26 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I do not like to listen to other peoples emotional issues, nor do I like to listen to my own. I am not interested in comitment and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t experience any emotions, no sadness, no happiness. I have been like this for a long time. Am I emotionally closed?

  2. I have only done a little research on this subject due to my husband’s behavior. This does not make me an expert by any means. I would suggest you seek a professional who can answer your question or guide you in the right direction.

  3. Yes! I have done some research my-self and I strongly believe that my -ex was emotionally unavailable as I am codependent and seeking therapy my ex suddenly left me he told he loved …but why did he leave me? Was I asking for too much I asked him for support he wood not open up ! No matter how much I tried to understand him … he had no meaning conversation at all very quiet and to himself he looked bored all the time…

  4. You probably won’t be back to read this but I’m going to ask anyway. Was your spouse always emotionally unavailable during your entire relationship or did he start becoming this way at a later time?

  5. I’m not married but I’ve been partnered for almost ten years. We have a daughter together which complicates my feelings. I don’t want to break up the home. But I can’t stand being lonely and shut out. It wasn’t always this way but the bloom was off the flower soon after we were together he began becoming uptight and silent, angry. He’d freak out if he spilled something always at little things. Intimacy disappeared. He didn’t introduce me to his friends after we moved. I kept him involved in my life my friends and I invited him along to gatherings but he never reciprocated. About every three months we have a blow up fight about this. He never wants to here how I feel but when I’m ready to leave he’s always able to say just the right things to keep me hanging on. I hate it because none of the promises are ever kept. He’s so selfish and closed.

  6. Has anyone here had any luck/success in dealing with a spouse like this? I am 21 years into a relationship with my hsuband that is as confusing and as disconnected as it was when we were dating but like the article indicates, our marriages has slowly dwindled into pretty much nothing. I have stopped wanting to to try and please my husband as I am getting nothing in return. If I ask, he always assures me everything is okay but we are not close. We have always been distant, he continues to do things to violate the marriage with no concern for me or the family. It’s like he’s focused on himself solely and anything that he wants for him and to please himself. Seems I am only along for the ride. If I say anything he blames me. I have been the ideas person, the initiator and 95% of sexual contact was started by me (even from the start) and he always has an excuse. I finally stopped, finally quit asking him to do things with me, stopped going to him for sex and we have gone over 6 months without. In our most recent conversation he is mad a me for not going to him. I am done with that, done, done, done. This is been very one-sided, I have not felt loved and I no longer feel the need to please someone that I feel does not care for me.

  7. Thank you guys for sharing this, i’ve been looking everywhere for answers and this has so liberated me. I’ve been married for only two months, after reading about EUM i now see there were so many red flags but i still went ahead and married him. Our honeymoon was hell and after one week of marriage i knew i wanted a divorce. I worked in the evenings so we only met on weekends if i made any plans. I liked him cause he’s a born again christian but i got a rude shock. I’m so lonely, he can’t even touch me. Mind you this started one day after we got married. I thought we were gonna have fun since we waited to have sex till after we got married but he wouldn’t even bother to touch me. He doesn’t even look at me. I’m so emotionally drained he’s the opposite of what you want in a man. Unromantic, cold, emotionally distant, workaholic, he doean’t want me to ask any questions, never bought flowers, doesn’t have friends, always busy around the house, doesn’t talk about feelings and so on…. you know the exact definition of both Eum and Ec. I’m so tired i want out. I told him last night that this doesn’t seem to be working and i want out,he showed me the door and told me i’m free. I resent him and i can’t keep begging for attention and love.He expects me to respect him but he hasn’t made any efforts to love me. I feel shame for the choice that i’ve made and for knowing in my heart i don’t wanna stay. As newlyweds we’ve had sex 5 times initiated by me. There so much fear to leave cause we all want to be certain all will go well. I’ve read stories of people who’ve been in this kinda relationships for over 20 years and nothing changed and again i’m afraid of leaving too soon. How long can you wait for a change?

  8. you will not be able to change him…he really does not want to. I stayed for 25 years & 3 kids…thinking the babies wound fill the void. It did for a little while…then I’d be lonely again. It is not too soon to leave himm. I knew on our honeymoon too. He had me convinced that I was over sensitive- clingy & desperate. I believed it was my fault. I have gone to therapy..many times. He would go once & say he didnt need it. He says he wants me to stay but he can’t change. I am on Prozac for depression. He’s golfing or drinking with his buddys all the time. He has what he wants. Be kind to yourself & leave…theres a better life out there…I wish it did’nt take me so long to realize this. Good luck..let me know how it goes.

  9. i’ve been married for 7 months… but i don’t feel any intimacy as most couples do.
    my husband always get himself busy with his hobbies (plants, tv, online betting, animals, smoking) i rarely have time to really connect to him emotionally.
    when i hug him in the morning he will react negatively as if he push me away, he prefer to sleep and not to be distrubed.
    he has a low sex drive, but he is still 29 yo.
    he is fine with sex once a week, but as our marriage is just less than a year.. how come he is performing so bad.
    he would be very angry and even scold me whenever i look into his bag or wallet or mobile phone.
    and every time i talk about anything in my mind he would make any argument to make sure that i’m the one who is wrong,needy and too sensitive. if i ask him twice or talk same thing twice he would be really mad.
    I’m tired with him but i can’t leave him because i’m 2 months pregnant.. i’m affraid that my son will have no daddy.
    i thought my pregnancy will change him but no.. he doesn’t.
    he doesn’t get involved in my pregnancy, he just doesn’t care about my health nor our baby health. but he says he is good enough because he takes me for obgyn monthly.

  10. I feel for all of you. I have been married for 5 1/2 years and I am so lonely. My husband has everything he needs and I feel like I am all alone in this relationship. He isn’t intimate, there is no passion. I am the one who initiates sex 90% of the time. He doesn’t touch me unless we’re having sex or if he’s trying to prove to me that he does touch me, so then he’ll pat my leg or akwardly try to hold my hand. This just isn’t working but I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m stuck. We have a young child and I can’t afford to leave. I’m in therapy and on antidepressants now and if I speak my mind or ask him to give me some attention, some love, something, he tells me to go back to therapy, that I obviously am in need of help. He says he loves me, but how? I don’t understand why a husband wouldn’t want to hold his wife or comfort her or share his life. He doesn’t respond at all when I cry, it’s like I’m not even there. He rarely looks at me. He uses his silence to punish me. Yet I stay. I stay for our daughter and I stay because I don’t know what else I would do. The signs were there in the beginning, I just didn’t listen to them. I thought once we were married things would be different. I hope if there is a young woman out there reading this, if you are about to get married and you have any doubts at all, don’t do it. Listen to your instincts. Trust yourself. He will not change. Trust me. I hear all the time the promises, the lies…things will never change.

  11. Sounds SOO familiar! I have went through this 11 years and still going, but I have recently started to live my life..I have been alone so mayny days that I can’t even count them. Because my hubby is a military officer we have been moving around, which ofcourse has been quite devasteting as I have never had a stable social network, as I have to leave behind the people who care for me all the time.My best time has been the period when my husband was gone for 6 months, and I was blossoming only for the reason that I did not need to feel rejected. I have clear understaning that this is NEVER gonna change. After all I am a pretty, educated lady.
    At this point I have just decided to do what ever I please, without expecting anything. Ofcourse is painfull, and I could had choose to medeicate myself instead, but no person is really worth of that. I am so tired of being in a “sinking boat”. looking at his bored or hostile face…He always says to me “Leave me alone, just leave me alone: and when ever I feel bad having good time with my friends I remind myseld that I am just doing what he asked me to do.
    Cheers for all of you beautiful ladies.. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and wasting energy for that man. You could as well waste it for the peace of wood, and it would not make any difference.

  12. I’m a man on the losing end of a 14 year marriage with an unavailable woman. I feel like I’m the high maintenance one in the relationship, always looking for attention, love, or just a touch. She doesn’t volunteer anything about herself, her feelings or even what she did during the day. Looking back, I guess I saw this as a challenge when we were dating and in our early years of marriage. I was going to woo her and make her fall in love with me. She went along for the ride, but has never opened up. She seems dead inside and won’t let me in. At first I thought it was the kids (and me) that sucked the life out of her (maybe it was) but I suspect she’s always been this way.

    So much more I could write.

    • Conrad, i too am in the same situation as you and understand why you ended writing ‘ could write more’ as i feel for you living with a closed or unavailable women on an emotional level. I have to initiate all contact, sex, emotional conversation etc and get a lot of rejection as she is too tired although she says she is still attracted to me. I would like to know how you’re doing now.

      kind regards

      James

  13. Thank you Linda:) It’s been a while now, I feel that i have given it my best. I finally found a place and i will be moving out next Friday.

    SG I know the awkward touch so well. We’ve been married for seven months now and it seems to be getting worse. Going on three months as roommates and seven times of intimacy for a newly wed. He can’t even look at me.

    I left about 2 weeks ago for 5 days,called him to tell him that i’d be leaving, his response was asking me what i expected him to say. He then went ahead to tell me that i had told him that I’d be moving out anyway when i found a place. He never called or wrote while I was away. I finally got tired and wrote to him that i’d be coming back, his answer was whenever I’m ready I’m welcome…we haven’t spoken since. He never asked me where i was either.

    During the time I was away, my mum wrote to him wanting to know what was going on or his side of the story. He told her that he never forced me to marry him and he never asked me to leave either. He asked her what kind of a wife would leave a sick husband to go stay with friends. He wasn’t sick he was at work. That did it for me! I’m done. Having read all the other posts, I’ve confirmed he will never change. He can go on for months without talking to me. He lives like i don’t exist. Keeping busy with work and church and watching tv till 2 am except for when i go to see my friends i find him in bed even from 10:30. This is very weird. He never communicates he just shuts down. No sex, no intimacy we’re so disconnected he doesn’t even know me. A roommate would be much better cause they’re concerned about what you’re going through. I thought marrying a born again guy would be a safe place to be…. but nooo. He’s so committed to the the church and things concerning God and lt leaves me wondering which bible he reads.

    I cried last sunday for half an hr and he didn’t even move to come and comfort me. Cold,proud…. i have no words to describe what I’ve seen. It’s in all your posts.
    I wish all who are struggling strength to find a better life for themselves. Moving is the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do. Staying will drive me nuts, So God help me.

    • I’m so glad that i found this post, lyz… I thought i was reading MY post when i read yours, i have been experiencing the same exact thing as you for 3 years now. I thought i was going crazy. He makes me feel like i ask too much, i have unrealistic expectations to expect him to comfort me when i’m crying? He doesn’t call me or wonder about me if i’m on a long distance road trip to see my family. I’ve left him in the past and he responded the same as your husband, but i came back and things are STILL the same, never has changed no matter what.

      He is so emotionally distant and makes me feel like i’m asking for too much. He never wants to hear about my feelings, he never talks about his feelings. It’s not only disconnected in those ways but also he doesn’t inquire about my life, what goals i have, what makes me tick, what makes me happy, he never asks about my family or MY life…

      I asked him the other day where i was born “we are both from different cities and states” and he couldn’t even tell me and didn’t even care.. 3 years and you don’t know where your wife is from? seriously? this shows me how much he pays attention to me, my feelings and my interests.

      I’ve been to counseling multiple times and have gotten very good results and very good feedback, my psychologist has given me a clean bill of health other than keeping myself in an unhealthy relationship.

      I’m still here because of my son, but what kind of dad will he be if he is emotionally unavailable for him as well?

  14. I can empathize with you all. I can be emotionally closed a lot of the time as I get sick & tired of getting blamed for causing problems within the marriage because my husband admitted after 2o years that he thought he could change me to be his ideal wife & when he found out he couldn’t, over the years he got angry. After a couple of serious tragedies (things that separate couples), his anger increased, he became born again & then the problems really started as I wasn’t interested in his answer to all of life’s problems. So I would have to say that I became emotionally closed to protect myself hoping he would see that he must have loved me at the start, as I did him but I feel he just wants to blame somebody for the bad luck in our lives. I do realize that this type of behaviour is controlling but that’s all I can offer at the moment because I am emotionally closed & am surviving this way.

  15. I am married 12 years to a guy who is EUn. Half the time i don’t even know where he goes. stopped asking because i got tired of the arguments followed by silent treatment when ever i raise the issue.

    Whenever i bring up the issue that he does not care how i feel. Hs solution to emotional need is having sex for one day the next day he want to discuss football with me.

    To try to fill emotional void I keep initiating sex.. and it never ends well, i feel worse at the end of it. i normally feel dirty and desperate .
    I am lonely even after sex , I often pretend to sleep to avoid the next thing that comes out of his mouth and worried I don’t know what to do.

    Please do not attempt to answer the question this is less than half of the story

  16. As a married (6 years) and minister – I am blown away at how beautifully the definition of my husband (EC) has been revealed. I realized in year two that he was not given the emotional support he needed from his parents to give to me. It so interesting that during our dating, there was no indication of emotional problems. I realized that he put on an excellent facade and I have addressed that with him – to no avail. I learned that his escape from the drama in his life landed him in drug abuse. Although he has been clean for 4 years, there continues to be a distance that is so annoying to me that I am seeking counsel for what I need to do. The vows say “for better or worse,” I wonder does that include (EC) too? At this point I am leaning and depending on the love that God has given me and do my best to continue to “love on him.” Many days it feels so impossible. Now with my new education from this blog I will be able to address the situation with on a higher level. I will pray for us all – it does work in faith!

  17. I am in shock. There is nothing for me to write. All of you ladies have already told my story. It’s like we are all married to the same darn man!

    • Ur a funny lady. I hope ur doing well

  18. Dbbdd…I second that! My story is also the same. I’m sitting here feeling so lonely. Desperate for answers. All I wanna do is pack my stuff. But I stay b/c we have a beautiful 15 month old daughter who I want some control over in regards to who she spends her time with. Imagining him leaving her with shady members of his family during his visitations keeps me here. sigh

  19. This blog has really brought a new insight into my relationship issues with my boyfriend. The ironic part is I am the emotionally unavailable person in this case but I am really seeking help for it because its not what I want to be. The truth is I was in a previous relationship where I was on the receiving end of the an emotionally unavailable individual – and my mother/fathers relationship was dysfuntional as well at EU as well. I think that growing up around it and having my first really serious relationship also be with an EU person has left me very skeptical and cynical. I feel like I am unable to step outside of my wall and fully experience to thrills of love and excitement. It really does feel like a control thing. I feel like if I lose control of my emotions then I lose control of who I am and I end up feeling vulnerable and awful. I was single for many years and I convinced myself that although I wasn’t entirely thrilled about being single, I was much happier than being “bound” to someone.

    I’ve since met an amazing man who is incredibly loving and wonderfully patient – but I still find myself incredibly uncomfortable expressing intimacy or my feelings. His mom recently commented that she felt i was emotionally unavailable. It shocked me because I always had the victim mentality that it was the other people around me that were EU. Now I am the perpetrator of this awful apathy and I feel ashamed. My boyfriend have been trying to work through this slowly. I am scared about not being able to solve this, but also scared about revealing myself.

    Reading the posts by everyone here has only helped crystallize in me how much the way I act affects the people I love around me. I don’t want to be that EU person who is cold and uncaring. I cant vouch for the cheating husbands, but I can say that for some EU individuals, they either don’t realise they are like that or they are struggling with themselves everyday. Its hard not to notice when you feel cold and indifferent to things that you know should bring your happiness.

    For myself, I want to work through this and I am fortunate enough to have a person in my life who isnt ready to give up on me.

  20. I am also the EC person in the relationship. Not exactly certain if I have always been this way or developed this “condition”. My wife has been trying to figure out the problem and undoubtedly blaming herself in some way. We have been married over 20 years and I do not want to fail, but haven’t really found the trigger for my condition. I was raised that you take care of your own problems, so keeping closed is almost natural for me and while my wife attempted to fill the gap and maybe even express concerns, it seemed weak to me because she wasn’t handling her own issues. My family tree has a fair number of single people in it and I now wonder if they knew of their condition and avoided marriage because of it. I want to change and be the person my spouse deserves, but do not know where to begin. No affairs or anything of that sort, but just lack of connection with my spouse on a physical and emotional level.

  21. Here’s something interesting I found about my case: A person who had a unloving parent as a child, and who wasn’t able to connect with any or both the parents, not only will be emotionally unavailable but will look for that connection for the rest of their life. So, my dear husband seeks that connection with several people online since before we met. He was loving before marriage, but when we started living together something didn’t ‘click’ and that’s how I started looking for answers, most of which I didn’t like. He’s full of secrets and very closed, controlling and I have sadly learned that there is nothing for me to do, other than to inspire him to become a better version of himself. I’m not ready to give up just yet and not because I don’t love myself, but because I love him and in my mind I can see how good this can be. I am learning to be patient too!!!

  22. Yes this is my story but found out he was having an affair 6months after we got married. We went to counseling and he promised he changed but everything is the same. His closed off and never initiates sex. He could care less if I cry or am sad. Everything is about him. Will I’ve had enough and after a year and a half of marriage I’m filling for a divorce tomorrow. My life is too important to be sad all the time and cry all the time. I’m a attractive successful woman that’s letting this man drag me down. I weigh 100 pounds now from all the stress. A man should make you happy and bring new experiences into your life not garbage and negativity. Good luck to everyone but we are the only ones that have control over our own destinys and happiness.

  23. Wow this is my story also. I relapsed back into drug and alcohol use after marrying him. I had done so much, including getting a fiance Visa for him to live in this country, supporting and buying and decorating a home for us while he was away for nine months waiting for his Visa. Red flags galore. I wrote him everyday for a long while and he never wrote back! Duh… I blamed myself also. I even had a child at 40 years old, because he wanted one. I care for him, he had an extremely difficult childhood living in total poverty, but I have now started to care for myself. I have started two small businesses and just now making alittle money on my own. I know that I am a good and caring person and I deserve to be loved and cared for in return. Fifteen years now with a thirteen year old beautiful son. My son sees and we talk about his Fathers dysfunction. Oh, did I mention that he is emotional abusive also. A real prize among men..ha ha Kinda makes me think that we must have low self esteem to stay with men like these. I am clean and sober and working hard on my business. Which he tells me it will never amount to anything! I am woman hear me roar! As soon as I am financially able I must walk away from this relationship. I don’t deserve to live with this pain and emptiness forever and I feel that I can never really be my best self living with this situation..


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