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How To Be Emotionally Available To Your Partner: Men’s Guide

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Apr 9, 2024
How To Be Emotionally Available

Are you looking to unlock the TRUE and FULL potential of intimate relationships? If so, you NEED to find out how to become emotionally available… And you’re in luck. Because today, I have just the thing for you. I am going to teach you how to be emotionally available to your partner. So keep reading!

What is emotional availability?

“Emotional availability (EA) refers to the ability of two people to share a healthy emotional connection, and it thus elucidates the emotional and dyadic quality of relationships.”

PubMed research study.

In more everyday terminology, emotional availability is how receptive someone is to giving and receiving different forms of emotional intimacy. The key here is reciprocity.

Being emotionally UNavailable on the other hand involves discomfort in being emotionally vulnerable, or receiving the emotional vulnerability of others. In the most severe cases, emotionally unavailable people do not even know what they are feeling. Let alone how to express or explain it.

Am I emotionally unavailable?

heart and brain connecting

Most of us believe that we are emotionally available and emotionally intelligent.

Yet, according to Gottman’s research, only 35% of men are emotionally intelligent.

When examined, men’s subconscious patterns, beliefs, and behaviors prove otherwise. This is because these things lie within the murky realms of the subconscious mind. That is to say, they are outside of our conscious awareness. And hence they are hard to identify and heal.

Therefore we can see that the truth about us is an entirely different story from what we believe about ourselves! 

If your partner, or past partners, have been complaining that you are emotionally unavailable, or difficult to reach, then this article is for you.

Today, we’ll first look at some signs and symptoms of emotional unavailability that you might not have considered or recognized in yourself before.

Second, we will examine some simple yet effective steps you can take for how to be emotionally available.

The ripple effect of becoming more emotionally available

The benefits will emulate outwards and seep into all areas of your life. Everything will be transformed by working on this.

Such is the ripple effect of emotionality, connection, and unconditional love.

Could you do with some more emotionality, connection, and unconditional love in your life?

The emotionally unavailable man: a rising trend

A decade ago, only 5-10% of people who sat down in therapists’ offices were men. Now, this number has risen to 50-60% (source: The Emotionally Unavailable Man, Patti Henry)…

… And a huge proportion of these men are self-identifying as emotionally unavailable partners.

The modern man is becoming increasingly aware of his feelings, mental health, and the importance of emotional connection.

The pain of having (and of being) an emotionally unavailable partner

Woman crying support

And this is no coincidence. Their girlfriends are complaining that they can’t connect!

For a woman, being with an emotionally unavailable man, and hence unable to show emotional vulnerability or form deep emotional bonds, is hugely painful. Yet, unfortunately, these characteristics tend to show themselves once she is already attached to, or in love with, a man.

The indescribable pain of being a woman with an emotionally unavailable partner

For a woman, her own emotional experience of being in a serious relationship with an emotionally unavailable man is fraught with relationship anxiety, emotional pain, and suffering.

These feelings and experiences are extremely obvious.

There is no hiding from them. And the lack of emotional intimacy greatly impacts the emotional health of the woman.

Women tend to suffer more when they have an emotionally unavailable partner than men. This is because women tend to be more emotional than men. This is both due to biology and their more intuitive, sensitive feminine energy.

… A woman’s emotional range and her ability to feel, perceive and experience emotions are all much greater than men’s! Hence for a woman who is particularly in tune with her emotions, trying to have a relationship with an emotionally unavailable partner can feel like being locked outside of a warm house on a cold winter’s night.

She wants to connect with him. Every cell in her being yearns for and craves it. Such a woman wants nothing more than for her man to open up to her so that she can nourish him with her boundless feminine love.

How women hang on in the hope of their partner one day becoming more emotionally available

Angry-blond-woman-with-cellphone-in-hand-emotional

Now and then, she gets a glimmer of warmth. This creates some hope, which keeps her hanging on in desperation and a state of hope that one day, he’ll open the door and invite her in. But that door remains firmly shut, and the intimacy she craves is locked away, painfully out of reach.

Many women can cling to hopes of their man one day opening up to them for years and years. Only to realize that he never will. One day, they wake up in the morning and are slammed with the sudden realization that not only are they miserable inside their romantic relationship. They are also and have always been, totally alone in it.

And I hate to tell you guys, but being emotionally unavailable can also make the sex kind of meh. This is because it creates sexual intimacy issues.

The pain of BEING the emotionally unavailable man

And for the man, being emotionally unavailable pushes deep emotions into places where they cannot and will not be acknowledged. Serious relationships don’t tend to last very long. And are usually fraught with tension, disagreements, misunderstandings, and miscommunications.

That last one – miscommunications – is particularly damaging. The foundation for all healthy, stable relationships is communication. But when you are emotionally unavailable, your emotional literacy and range are greatly diminished.

This kind of man may lack any healthy relationships in his life. Emotional unavailability does not only extend to romantic partners. It also impacts all long-term relationships, including those with friends and family members.

Someone emotionally unavailable may not even know it. But they would undoubtedly feel its impacts. Emotional unavailability creates a certain distance between you and everyone else in the world. Emotionally unavailable people often feel like an outsider looking in.

They might, in some way, perceive the wall that is blocking them from truly connecting with other people. But because they are so very disconnected from their feelings, they probably wouldn’t know what was causing it.

Emotional unavailability and dismissive avoidant attachment

Emotionally unavailable people tend to project a certain kind of image of themselves out into the world.

The image says:

“I am fine. I am amazing! I don’t need anyone, and I am fiercely independent.”

This is where the link between having a dismissive avoidant attachment style and emotional unavailability comes in…

The two are linked due to their over-emphasis upon independence, and a tendency to view their own needs, or those of others, as a sign of weakness. Hence they put their independence above all else, and they encourage it in others, too, including their romantic partners.

If you know that you have a dismissive avoidant attachment style (often stemming from mommy issues in men), you are probably emotionally unavailable.

One quick thing to point out here…

Just because you are emotionally unavailable, this does not necessitate having a dismissive avoidant attachment style.

For some men, emotional unavailability is a temporary state of being. But a dismissive avoidant attachment style is not temporary. It points to how your brain is wired and impacts you throughout your entire life, and all of your relationships.

The anxious-avoidant trap

Unfortunately, dismissive-avoidant partners often end up with anxiously attached partners. This creates something known as the anxious-avoidant trap.

Easy to fall into, and very hard to climb out of. If you are someone with an anxious attachment style reading this article to try and understand your avoidant partner, have a read of this article I wrote about healing anxious attachment.

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9 signs you may be emotionally unavailable

In case you aren’t sure whether you are emotionally unavailable or not, here are some more signs of an emotionally closed partner:

1. Never making plans

Being someone who doesn’t like to make plans ahead of time, and arranges everything ‘spontaneously’ or at the very last minute.

2. Stonewalling

One of John and Julie Gottman’s four horsemen of the apocalypse, stonewalling pretty much equates to ignoring, or dismissing your partner. Ever find yourself saying “Really…?” or “Yeah?” or “mmhmm” a lot in response to your partner? This is little more than ignoring them!

3. Random patterns of communication  

Do you sometimes respond to text messages and calls immediately, yet other times, you take hours or even days to get back to people? This inconsistency comes hand in hand with being emotionally unavailable.

4. “I don’t like labels”

Ah, the infamous words that make every woman’s stomach drop and her guts sink when she hears them (Ladies reading this – you know what I mean!).

Emotionally unavailable people tend to hesitate (understatement) when it comes to commitment, and to defining a relationship. Avoidance of doing so is a way for them to maintain emotional distance. Despite the level of entwinement with their romantic partner, they will be reluctant or refuse to use any labels.

5. Inability to describe or talk about their emotions

This one is kind of obvious. But also kind of not…

Some men think that talking about what they think is the same as talking about how they feel.

But there is a large distinction between the two. And they have a rather different energetic output.

People who are less emotionally available tend to be less able to discuss a topic with emotional depth and clarity.

If you find yourself using the words “I think” when your partner has asked you how you feel about a certain subject, you just might be emotionally unavailable.

6. Adverse to conflict

Another sign of emotional unavailability is an extreme adverseness to conflict. People who struggle with emotional connection may feel like the world – or their relationship – is ending when there is a conflict.

7. Leaning on humor or sarcasm to deflect tension

Connected to the point above, emotionally unavailable people tend to lean on humor and sarcasm (a form of passive aggression).

8. Longing for other partners outside of the current relationship

Another trait among people exhibiting emotional unavailability is that they tend to crave other partners.

9. Enjoying the chase, and then losing interest

Emotionally unavailable partners tend to be addicted to the thrill of the chase. Whilst there is uncertainty about the feelings of their object of affection or desire, they are deeply attracted. Once that uncertainty has gone away, the magnetic pull subsides.

Some psychologically-inclined people would say that being addicted to the chase is a sign of feeling not good enough deep inside. Whether or not this is true, it is an unhealthy pattern that is holding millions of people back from a healthy, soul-connection relationship.

How to be emotionally available to your partner

emotional intelliegence chart

So, have you just realized that you need to learn how to become emotionally available to your partner?

If you truly love your partner or your wife and want to heal your relationship, then I am about to give you 11 ways how to be emotionally available to your partner.

The behaviors of someone who is emotionally distant affect everything. So it is well worth giving these techniques a go, even if your relationship has to end regardless.

1.  Make emotional availability your goal

Read: make emotional availability YOUR goal. Not your wife’s goal or your girlfriend’s goal, but YOURS.

This may mean having some honest conversations with yourself. Think about all the ways this trait has damaged your past relationships. It has likely prohibited you from achieving real depth with anyone. Even yourself.

Shadow work exercise: writing task

You can start by writing a list of all of the adult relationships you have had which were negatively impacted by or fell apart due to your emotional unavailability. Write down the names of the individuals concerned and what happened in the relationship. Be honest about how your inability to be emotionally open may have destroyed any chance of true intimacy.

This will no doubt conjure difficult emotions. But the goal of shadow work prompts is to acknowledge all parts of ourselves. So that we can shine a light upon our darkest corners to heal them.

And particularly when trying to become more emotionally available, you need to start learning how your darkest emotions feel on a deeper level. This is so that you will eventually be able to communicate them to other important people, instead of suppressing and holding everyone at arm’s length.

2. Acknowledge what hurt you in your childhood

couple being sweet

ALL of our patterns come from somewhere. When we are born, we are a blank slate. And our experiences in our tender early years color us.

We react and respond to different things based on what we experienced in our families of origin. When we were at our most impressionable.

An emotionally unavailable individual will typically recall a happy and idyllic childhood.

But none of us had a completely perfect childhood. We ALL experienced some kind of childhood trauma.

Again, use a writing task to explore the contrast between the image of your childhood and reality. During this task, write down everything that you lost. Recall each painful experience that you had. Use as much detail as possible.

This may bring up some painful emotions and difficult feelings related to your parents. You may feel distressed.

But by spending time reflecting on the areas in which your own needs were not met, you are coming face to face with the root cause of your emotional unavailability and relationship issues.

This is a critical part of moving on from your emotionally distant way of being. It will heal your mental health, introduce emotional vulnerability, and help you to have a healthy relationship.

3. Accept and embody that you deserve good things

This one is a follow-on from the one above.

Get that pen out again, my dear brother. And write another list of everything that you want from your existence on this Earth.

Make sure to center it around things that being emotionally unavailable is prohibiting you from having. It could go something like this:

  • I deserve to have a healthy relationship
  • I deserve to be free of mental health conditions that keep me suffering
  • I deserve to feel boundless joy and unconditional love
  • I deserve to connect with my wife on a deep emotional level
  • I deserve to have fun
  • I deserve to feel true security in my marriage and romantic relationships
  • I deserve to not have one foot out of the door in all of my relationships
  • I deserve to practice opening my heart and soul to the person that I love, without feeling afraid of being judged, laughed at, or misunderstood

4. Watch sad romantic films, and see if you can feel some sadness

We all need a little creative inspiration sometimes. And for someone to whom the ability to connect and love deeply does not come naturally, it is necessary to witness others doing it.

Even if this conjures up feelings of “blergh” <insert puking noise> inside of you, just do it. And you might be surprised how much you can connect with the characters and the story.

There are multiple aims here. The main aim is to get inspired for how and why to bring a little more love and connection into your world. And the other aim is to (hopefully, possibly, maybe) feel something towards the characters. Shedding a tear or two at a sad romance film is a beautiful way to start feeling the emotions that lie dormant within.

Not everyone cries at movies. But for those who claim that they don’t, this is usually due to being emotionally unavailable. So it is also a good test to see where you are on your heart-opening journey.

I watched Avatar 2 recently, and cried 3 times! There is nothing to be ashamed of about crying. Most women will respond with deep empathy, and it can elevate your relationship.

“Big boys don’t cry” is the biggest and most damaging myth of our time. Upon it, we can place the blame for so much pain, suffering, and poor relationships.

5. Make more eye contact

Love diversity and couple with heads together

The eyes are the window to the soul. And if you want to connect with your woman soul-to-soul, heart-to-heart, you must connect eye-to-eye. This is a crucial element in how to be more emotionally available. You can quite literally feel your partner’s emotions with sustained eye contact!

Disclaimer: some men are good at making and sustaining eye contact despite their emotional unavailability. Do not let YOU fool you. Be honest with yourself about whether you have trained yourself to be comfortable with eye contact as a way to deceive others into thinking that you are more present than you are.

Take note of your current level of comfort with eye contact. The goal is to become more comfortable. 

If you are only able to make eye contact 5% of the time, aim for 30%. If you are comfortable now with 60%, take it up to 80%.

You won’t make it up to 100%. That would feel weird to both parties and is a key trait of a sociopath or a psychopath. That’s not what we’re aiming for, guys! 😀

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6. Take action to have more fun

Most emotionally unavailable men have lost touch with having fun. A big part of how to be emotionally available is connected to enjoyment and things that you like doing.

Invite more fun into your life. Take ACTION towards actually having it.

7. Experiment with conflict one-liners

Couple argument on sofa

A major red flag for emotional unavailability (AND a dismissive avoidant attachment style) is a refusal to enter into a state of conflict.

If this is you, then it is important to dive into these treacherous waters, to realize that they are, in fact, not so treacherous.

But don’t dive right into the deep end! This will overwhelm you and make conflict even more terrifying, resulting in MORE avoidance of it, rather than less.

Start small by practicing one-liners. And try to abide by the golden rule of non-violent communication by keeping the word “you” out of it. Stick to “I” instead, and focus on your feelings.

Example:

“I feel overwhelmed and smothered when I’m not allowed to go out with my friends on a Saturday night.”

If you make a concerted effort to focus on YOUR feelings. Instead of the actions of the other person. They will most likely take it well and respond sensitively.

8. Do one thing per day that demonstrates love towards your partner

Man with flowers

This exercise will get you in tune with how good it feels to be loving. It will also demonstrate how your loving behaviors affect your partner positively.

For 7 days in a row, you must perform an action that demonstrates love. This might be something like buying them flowers, giving them a foot massage after a long day of work, or taking control of the grocery shopping that day.

When you do this, you will experience all how meeting the emotional needs of your partner can make you feel good. And also heal your relationship.

9. Take up a meditation practice

Mature man with digital tablet using  meditation

If you have never meditated before, then now is the time to start. The benefits of meditation are endless. Especially for relationship work and healing!

Meditation can improve your relationship by creating a space in which you get to know yourself better. Without distraction.

When you meditate daily, you become more familiar with the voice of your ego. You will therefore become better able to identify feelings, actions, and behaviors that come from the ego. Versus those that align with the values of unconditional love. Note: these behaviors will never come from both of these places!

To gain the FULL benefits of meditation, you need to practice for more than 5 or 10 minutes per day. 40-60 is ideal. But I know that this is quite intimidating. So it’s OK to start at 5 and then work your way up.

Tantric meditation technique

The tantric meditation technique that I teach my clients is quite special. This is because you are moving energy rather than just focusing on the feeling of the breath.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Sit with your eyes close in a quiet, calm space, where you will not be disturbed
  2. Place your hands, palms facing up on your knees
  3. As you breathe in, imagine a ball of white light resting in your heart space (anahata chakra)
  4. As you breathe out, visualize this light moving up through your throat, and third eye, and resting just above your crown (sahasrara chakra)
  5. Breathe in, and move the white light down to your heart again

Repeat for 5 minutes per day for one week. Then crank it up to 10 minutes for one week. And then 15, until you reach 40 minutes per day.

Read my article on tantric meditation for men here. If you are curious about tantra, you can find out more about other tantric techniques, such as sexual transmutation and how to become one of the very few multi-orgasmic men.

Meditation is a wonderful way of cultivating self-compassion, which most emotionally unavailable people lack.

10. Ask your partner to write a list of hurts

Pen and paper on wooden background

Ask your partner to write a list of all the things you have said or done that have hurt them. Along with the behaviors or words you did or said, they must also record how it made them feel.

Ask them to be completely honest. They must not miss anything. No matter how small or trivial they think, it might be to you. Note: if they are a new partner, this won’t work. So skip it.

Your reaction to this list is paramount to the success of the technique!

You must not(!) belittle or patronize your partner. No matter how ridiculous you consider the list and any of its contents to be. This would be a form of emotional gaslighting. And that is a big nono.

The proper reaction to this list is to go through it and identify whether someone has ever done any of these things to you, and how it made you feel.

They might not have done the same thing. E.g., standing you up for a date without texting (or calling at all to let you know that they weren’t going to show up).

But they could have treated you in the same way, which would have created the same baseline feeling.

In the above example, someone may not have stood you up for a date. But they might have done something else that created the same baseline feeling. In this example, the feeling of being irrelevant, invisible, and completely disrespected.

11. Enroll in therapy or coaching

Two kinds of therapy are particularly helpful with how to be emotionally available.

The first is emotion-focused therapy or EFT.

Emotion-focused therapy is a particular therapeutic technique that helps individuals to gain a stronger sense of self-identity by becoming more familiar with their emotions.

It places a large amount of emphasis upon:

  • Where do emotions come from, and what causes them
  • The necessity of emotions for living a fully human existence
  • How emotions can produce or influence certain sets of thoughts and behaviors

You can find out more about EFT and find a local practitioner here. If there is no one in your area, then try online therapy.

The second is commitment therapy, which does what it says on the tin.

You might need this therapy if your relationship history is fraught with hesitation toward being in a committed relationship.

A commitment therapist will explore with you all how commitment is scary to you, and help you to become more open to it. This is a large part of how to be emotionally available since most emotionally unavailable people are terrified of long-term commitments.

Conclusion

So, we have seen how being emotionally unavailable can be hugely detrimental to both the emotionally unavailable person and everyone around them.

It is particularly damaging to their romantic partner. And even more so if that partner is a woman. This is due to the large disparity between the emotional capacity and range of a woman vs. that of a man. Meaning that women already feel a great deal more than men do, and indeed a great deal more intensely. So to pair an emotionally intuitively feeling and emotional woman with an emotionally unavailable man is nothing short of cruelty!

If you want to have a harmonious and deep relationship, then you must learn how to be emotionally available to your partner. There are no ways around this.

To do so, you should try all of the above techniques. I am in no doubt that they will move the needle towards emotional availability. And they will enhance your connection with your partner or with women in general.

How to be emotionally available to your partner – through tantra

But if you want to take things to the next level. That is, the metaphysical level, whereby you and your partner are intertwined in the energetical, magical realms, then look no further than tantra.

As touched upon above, at its most basic level, tantra is about moving energy. But when employed inside of a relationship, tantra can help bring about an unbreakable bond between you and your partner and create unparalleled levels of love, intimacy, and connection. It can also help you to have the BEST sex of your life!

Curious to try out what Tantra can do for your emotional availability and your relationship? Try my free training here.

I have worked as a men’s coach for years, and have personally guided many couples to have the best and most intimate relationship of their lives.

It’ll just take an hour of your time. And I promise you’ll learn something completely new, and possibly life-changing from it.


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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

I am the founder of The Tantric Man Experience™, a pioneering transformational coaching program for men. With over 1500 hours of certified tantra training in India and Thailand and 7 years of experience helping hundreds of men worldwide save their marriages and reignite passion in their love lives.

I have over 8 million views on YouTube and have been featured on VICE and Newstalk Radio for my life’s work - helping men unleash their full masculine potential.

My holistic FLT method seamlessly integrates ancient tantric philosophy with my modern expertise in relationships, sexuality, dating, and men’s health.

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