Is he ready for a relationship?
How do you know if the man you’re dating is emotionally unavailable for a relationship?
If you have a strong attraction to him, you can fall into the trap of excusing his bad behavior and ignoring relationship red flags. You want it to work, so you overlook issues that you wouldn’t tolerate in a friend.
Your brain keeps telling you that he must be your soulmate because of how strong your chemistry is together. If you can just get him to treat you better, then you will live happily ever after.
Disregarding the signs of emotionally unavailable men will ultimately lead to heartbreak.
Most people date backward and give the man they are attracted to the benefit of the doubt before they really know who he is. Instead, we suggest that you take your time before going exclusive and use the time to observe his behavior and discover his values. Cultivate discernment and you’ll be able to choose a partner who is an ideal match where you can weather the storms together.
Look for these relationship red flags to know if the man you're with is emotionally unavailable:
1. He sends you mixed signals
A man who is interested in a relationship with you will pursue you for a relationship. He will call you and set up regular dates. If he is busy, he will let you know when he has time to speak to you again.
You can tell by his behavior that he is pursuing you for a relationship because he is moving things forward. Ideally, you’ll be telling him, “not yet” to slow him down because you’ll want to discover who he is over time.
When you date a man who is relationship ready, you never have to ask him about where the relationship is going.
A man who has too much emotional baggage for a relationship will send mixed signals. He may disappear without communication for days or weeks at a time and then suddenly come on strong like he needs to see you immediately.
If he’s hot and cold intermittently, then watch out! This is definitely a red flag that you need to pay attention to.
On a date he will be completely into you and then he won’t call or attempt to set up another date. Some days he will seem completely distracted and uninterested in you.
Through his behavior, this man is showing you that he is unsure about what he wants. Either he is not emotionally available for a committed relationship, or he doesn’t know how he feels about you.
Sit back and allow a man to pursue you. This is true regardless of his age! If a man wants to be in a relationship with you he will make sure that he claims you and takes you off the market so no other man can scoop you up.
2. He wants you to "drive"
There is a difference between a man who lacks confidence and a man who is in his feminine. A man in his feminine is happy to let you take the lead and all the risk while he reaps the benefits.
A man who lacks confidence will respond positively to your encouragement and will step up. If he has too much baggage for a relationship he will instead continue to put the ball in your court and allow you to do all the heavy lifting.
Some men are shy or don’t want to come across as chauvinistic. These men will look for signals from you that the water is warm. Once they are given the green light by you they will step up to pursue you.
A guy who has been hurt may take his time getting to know you, but the guy who is ambivalent about seeing you is just looking for companionship and hopefully sex, not a long-lasting relationship.
A man who has too much emotional baggage for a relationship will act like he wants to be your friend, but then will become scorned when you want to wait and put off a physical relationship.
If the guy you’re dating seems shy, give him a little encouragement and see if he steps up. If he doesn’t, it is time to move on.
3. He wants you to change
Your soulmate will love you for who you are, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He won’t ask you to change your appearance or behavior to fit some fictionalized vision of who he wants to be with.
Twisting into a pretzel to please a man will ultimately leave you exhausted and questioning your sanity.
Show up authentically. Speak how you feel and make requests. Pay attention to how he responds to your requests. If he makes an effort to honor them then he is looking to win your heart. But a guy with too much emotional baggage for a relationship may argue with you about your requests or your feelings. He may become defensive and argumentative with you claiming you’re too high maintenance.
If he is asking you to change that could be a red flag that he is looking for something that you’re not. It’s one thing to make requests and figure things out together as you get to know someone through the dating process. It’s not an ideal match if he is judging your behavior and asking you to become a different person.
You will never live up to his ideal. It is better to get out early and find a man who is willing to accept you as is.
When you have a strong sense of self you are better equipped to pass on the guy who is controlling and has too much emotional baggage for a relationship.
You can’t say or do the wrong thing with the right person. When you connect with the right person for you the two of you will navigate through the challenges that arise by working things out together without demands or diminishing one another’s self-esteem and self-worth.
4. He doesn't respond well to your feelings
Many men are not as in touch with their emotional life as women are. They can have judgment about how emotions are expressed.
When a man is uncomfortable with your emotions and tries to argue with you about how you feel or downplay your response, he may have too much emotional baggage for a relationship.
You create a connection with another person by sharing your feelings. So a man who is unable to share his emotions or doesn’t want to hear about yours is not a good match to create a lasting loving bond with. A man who can’t handle your emotions certainly can’t handle his own.
The right man will hold space for you and your emotional life. A man who can allow you to feel however you feel without taking it personally or downplaying your experience is worth investing your time in and getting to know more deeply.
5. He gets defensive when you make requests
A woman who is in her feminine is not a passive woman acquiescing to a man’s desires. She is responsive to him. She may have to make a request that he do something differently.
For example, if he is not one to open your car door or be chivalrous and this is something you like, make a request to see if he is willing to win your heart.
How he responds will let you know if he has too much emotional baggage for a relationship.
If he agrees to your request and makes an effort to please you, then this is a man who is interested in a relationship with you (not just any woman). When you make requests you find out if you’re just convenient, or if he really cares for you.
He may believe that a woman should open her own door and the two of you may not be a values match. If that is true then you can agree to part ways amicably.
Be wary of a man who gets defensive when you make requests. He is showing you what he will be like in the future when the two of you face challenges together or disagree.
Not every man is going to be an ideal match for you or be willing to aspire to meet your needs and wants. If you don’t ask then you won’t discover if he is willing to stick it out with you for the long-term.
6. He has trouble apologizing
Everyone makes mistakes in a relationship. You can get triggered and behave badly and so can he. You both may say hurtful things that you don’t really mean in the heat of the moment.
The truth is it sure sucks being human sometimes.
An emotionally healthy individual takes responsibility for his behavior and apologizes. He may even offer to make amends.
Someone who has too much emotional baggage for a relationship will have trouble taking responsibility and apologizing. Notice what happens when you share with him how his behavior has affected you.
Does he express remorse? Does he apologize? Or does he justify and defend his bad behavior?
If he can’t take responsibility, let him go. The last thing you need is to be in a relationship with a man who behaves like a child. It’s not your job to fix him or teach him how the world works.
Dating like a grown-up means you are both willing to work to be better together.
7. He shuts down in conflict and won't work through problems
Most people are conflict avoidant. It’s common to dislike drama in a relationship. Constant conflict can be a sign that the two of you are not compatible.
However, conflict is a natural part of two people in a relationship together. After all, you are in a relationship with a completely different person than you. You each have different strategies for dealing with stress. Navigating the differences is one of the keys to long-lasting love.
Conflict can be a doorway to a deeper connection when it is expected and handled consciously. You both have to be willing to work through the challenges that arise for a deeper connection to occur.
If he shuts down in conflict and refuses to discuss the issues, then he has too much emotional baggage for a relationship. Avoiding conflict and negative emotions is a sign of someone who is afraid of doing the deeper work together.
Making the effort to work through conflict will bring the two of you closer together and create a bond that can’t be broken. Being willing to talk about the hard stuff is a sign of someone who is emotionally mature. This is the type of man you can weather any storm with.
8. He doesn't respect your boundaries
The bad math of a Hollywood movie romance tells us that 1 + 1 = 1. Co-dependency is built on the belief that you need someone to "complete" you.
You are a whole and complete person who will be in a relationship with another whole and complete person. The two of you will create a third entity: the relationship. This is also bad math, however, it does make clear the equation for long-lasting love: 1 + 1 = 3.
A healthy relationship is one where you realize that there is a boundary where you end and he begins.
A man who doesn’t respect this boundary has too much emotional baggage for a relationship. He can be clingy or needy. He will confuse his feelings with yours. He may even blame you for when he feels badly.
A man who doesn’t have boundaries will want to jump right into exclusivity before he even gets to know you. He may rush into sex and declare his love over-enthusiastically.
Setting and keeping clear boundaries will scare away a man like this.
Healthy boundaries are most important in an intimate relationship because in the beginning the chemical high has us looking at a stranger with rose-colored glasses.
The inevitable power-struggle stage will occur with any person you’re in a relationship with. It is the natural individuation that must occur between two people.
Keeping healthy boundaries will steer you clear of a man who has too much emotional baggage for a relationship.