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3 Guys Share What It Means When A Man Is Emotionally Unavailable

As women we’re told to run from emotionally unavailable men. And as a woman who was burned twice by their type, I definitely learned how...

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Emotional unavailability is a label we assign to men who shy away from commitment.


These men partake in the conventional song and dance of most relationships: the good morning text, the occasional outing aptly titled as a “date", the late night calls where they offer an ear to the women they're involved with – because let's face it, they are involved.

For all intents and purposes, it is a relationship.

You are together.

But you also aren't.

Seemingly Emotionally Available Man might interject the easy flow of your first date getting-to-know you conversation or third date connection-fueled banter with the conflicting reality of where he is in his life at the moment. There is where he reveals to you, “I'm not ready for a relationship" or other language that paints a similar portrait of lack his of readiness. To which you think to yourself, “Well, why the hell did this dude present himself to me as if he wanted to pursue something with me?"

You don't want to retreat from him based on his status of emotional unavailability.

He looks available...

He acts available...

Why isn't he available?

I don't believe emotional unavailability is a one size fits all phase of life. I think it involves circumstances and limitations that differ from man to man, and I don't believe it's necessarily the demise of a relationship.

As women, we're told to run from emotionally unavailable men.

And as a woman who was burned twice by their type, I definitely learned how to run. But when I encountered an exception to that rule, I began to wonder how true this emotional unavailable stigma we place on millennial men of today's dating age really was, especially if they continue to try to date.

Is it them having their cake and eating it too?

Or is it trying to make a conscious effort to become available?

I asked three guys about their experiences with dating during periods of emotional unavailability and here is what they revealed:

What does it mean when a man is emotionally unavailable?

Richard: Whenever I've been emotionally unavailable, it was because I was not where I wanted to be in my life. It's usually during times where I am focused to the point of having blinders on. I am trying to get my degree, I'm trying to get a better job, I might have been unemployed at the time, in search of a good job. I might have not had a car. There are a lot of things that can make me feel less of a man.

If I don't feel like a man, I can't be your man.

Jason: I don't necessarily believe in conventional relationships at this juncture in my life. I'd say I'm emotionally unavailable now. I go on four or five dates a week with different women. I'm emotionally unavailable because I have a lot of options. Nothing has caught my attention yet.

Karem: I'm emotionally unavailable in all of my relationships. I've never not been emotionally unavailable. It's just how I am naturally. Unless you're my family, I will have a hard time connecting and opening to you in that way.

Will you commit to a woman when emotionally unavailable?

Richard: Definitely. I try not to date until I'm in a good place in my life, but I still might see women for other things (laughs). I can't commit to people when I don't feel like I'm bringing my best self to the relationship.

Jason: Yes and no. There have been one or two times in the past where I committed to a woman. I wasn't completely in the relationship, but I wasn't out of it. I was focused on her and only her. I was getting there. She left me though, got tired of my “games". Now, I don't bother to make the attempt to be available, so now it does stop me from committing.

Karem: No. I've had girlfriends and was very committed to them in those monogamous relationships. Because it's how I've always been, I can separate not feeling ready to be open with my emotions from committing to one person.

What does commitment look like when you are emotionally available?

Richard: I think commitment takes a certain level of emotion. So if I'm not available to you emotionally, it's not a commitment in the least. I'm not open to receiving what you have to give nor am I open to giving it. When I'm emotionally available, I'm committed. I make an effort towards you whether it be romantic dates, carving out time for you every day in some form or other, fulfilling your emotional needs – doing more than just fucking you.

Jason: When I am emotionally available, I feel that I am different. I don't always say that I'm different but I expect the woman that I am dealing with to appreciate my efforts and attempts to be close. I don't want to have to say “I love you" as much as I want her to understand my actions say that. When I'm emotionally unavailable, I don't care about any of that. I'm in the situation for myself, whether it be for companionship at an event or in my bed at night.

Karem: For me, I don't think there's any major difference. If I am committed to you, I am committed to you. My last girlfriend and I were together for 2 years and I wasn't emotionally available at all until two months before we broke up. I was on the phone with her and just felt the sense of relief. Like wow, I am myself with this person. So up until that point, maybe even in the future, commitment has been the same to me either way.

Is there a difference between a man being emotionally unavailable and a woman being emotionally available?

Richard: I think women assume the role of being the more emotional one out of the two of us. Not to say that men aren't emotional, because I am very emotional, but I find myself not equipped to deal and I run away. I'm afraid of them sometimes. I don't think women look at their emotions quite like that. I think readiness differs between us because in situations where I'd run, she stays and endures.

I don't want to approach anything half-assed and I think if I'm not where I want to be, I'm not ready.

Thinking about a relationship before that is out of the question for me, but a woman, I think she sees a challenge and is willing to battle the odds.

Jason: The difference in our readiness or our levels of commitment is portrayed by the difference in how our life cycles work. Men have the ability to have romance for a longer time. The older men get, the more women want you so we have more options and they get younger and they get finer.

Karem: I think it's more based on the commonalities of your gender roles. A woman might know at the age of 9 that she wants to be married. Guys don't realize they have to get married until they are 19 or 20. A woman might have a 10 or 11 year advantage with how they feel about significant life moments and how they deal with those feelings. I'm still 10 or 11 years behind you.

Is there anything that would make you become emotionally available?

Richard: I make the choice to become available in my dealings with women. I either put myself out there as someone who is available and ready to be open to a relationship, or the woman I've encountered forces me to step up out of fear of losing her.

Jason: I'm not sure. (Laughs) I've never thought about that. Maybe meeting someone that challenges my perception of the world? Maybe when I'm over this ride. Until then, I ain't about that life.

Karem: With my ex, I learned that it takes me being truly comfortable enough to feel like myself. I don't think it even registered to me as a conscious choice. It just happened.

Have you ever dated someone who was emotionally unavailable? Did you continue to date them or did you walk away?

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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