Whenever I sit down to pen something on relationships, it typically comes from a personal place. Truth is, if I haven't personally experienced it, a friend has or I've counseled some clients on the issue. And y'all, when it comes to the term known as "emotionally available" (and unavailable)—bae-bay…I could write 10 books on the topic. At least. The thing that I've personally always found to be so fascinating about emotionally unavailable men is a lot of them are actually pretty nice guys. They're smart. They're fun to be around. When they're actually with you (meaning physically in your presence), they tend to treat you really well too. I think that's how so many of us get caught up—we think that because they aren't abusive, arrogant, or jackasses that they aren't problematic.
That is until we find ourselves super mentally and emotionally (and sometimes sexually) invested in them while coming to the realization that things aren't exactly mutual. Then we see that we've been spending (or is it wasting?) weeks, months, sometimes even years dealing with an individual who had absolutely no intention of getting only but so deep—sometimes only kiddie pool deep, at that. They planned on becoming only but so available. They planned on deciding to commit only but so far. One day, I'll dive deep into why a lot of people—not just men, chile—are opting to be emotionally unavailable (because in many ways, it is indeed a choice), no matter how much a good person may be staring them right in the face.
For now, I just want to make sure that you value your time, effort, and energy by showing some clear indications of what an emotionally available man is like, along with a few signs of how an emotionally unavailable man gets down too.
The Signs Of An Emotionally Available Man
1. An Emotionally Available Man Is Open to Having REAL Conversations
One of my favorite heads-up Scriptures in the Bible is, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." (Proverbs 31:30—NKJV) Not only is it a reminder to not be so caught up in how you look that you don't make sure that your character (and relationship with God) is on point, it also tells us that charm can play real tricks on the mind—and y'all, there are A LOT of charming men out here. To charm is literally to have the ability to attract and to deceive in order to mislead and falsely persuade. And one way a charming guy will do this is by avoiding real conversations.
What I mean by "real" is the article, "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have" that I wrote a couple of years ago. Yeah, a charming guy is going to do all that he can to avoid engaging in that. So, if you're seeing someone who has no problem sharing his emotions, talking about what he desires in a relationship, the mistakes he's made in the past, where he sees himself, relationally in the future and—this is a big one—what he desires to experience with you, in real time, this is a good sign that he's emotionally available—because he is, quite literally, available to share his emotions with you (more on this in a bit).
2. His Life Is “Relationship Conducive”
A part of what it takes to be in a mature relationship is being willing to own up to your own ish. When I reflect on the missteps that I took in many of my past relationships, one of them was being drawn to men who weren't ready and/or interested (because those aren't always or necessarily one and the same) in the kind of dynamic that I desired. That's actually why I penned, "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material" and "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife" for the site. When a man is emotionally available, he tends to have a lifestyle that makes being in a non-casual relationship possible.
Now, I'm not necessarily saying that he's ready to get married tomorrow. What I am saying is he's open to meeting "the one" and if that happens, it won't take a billion years for progress to be made because he's in a "husband potential" space in the sense of things like knowing what his purpose is; being financially stable and responsible (that doesn't mean "rich"; just stable); having closure and clarity about his past relationships; being spiritually mature; being a healthy communicator—you know, things that would make for a solid relationship.
There is a guy that I know who is awesome. He really is. Yet whenever I go to his house, off the rip, I can tell that he's not, what I call, "relationship conducive". You walk in and it screams, "I am absolutely in no rush to bring a woman into this space." That's fine. It's his right. Yet I'll know that when it becomes more warm, less cluttered and a lot less "80s bachelor pad" like up in there, his heart will have opened up a bit more. (I brought this point up to him, by the way. He totally agreed.)
3. An Emotionally Available Man Is Reliable and Consistent
I've said it before and I'm pretty sure I'll say it a billion more times before I close my eyes for the final time. In my 20s, I wanted a man who looked good. In my 30s, I wanted a man who treated me right. In my 40s, I want a man who can fix my car. That last point is as symbolic as it is literal because, something that maturity teaches you is to desire someone who can meet your literal needs and is consistent in doing so. A man who is emotionally available can do just that. What he says he will do—or not do—is what you can depend on. He's not one way with you on Monday and then someone different by Thursday.
Matter of fact, he's so self-aware that oftentimes a woman who isn't emotionally available her damn self thinks that he's being inflexible because he doesn't switch up much when, the reality is, he simply values his character, his word and his reputation so much that he would rather stick to what he said than be convinced to do otherwise. If you know a man who you can pretty much set your watch by, he's a gem. He's usually pretty emotionally available too.
4. An Emotionally Available Man's Relational Track Record Is Sensical, Stable and Mature
Speaking of reputation, you know something that I used to have a problem with? Giving someone too much of the benefit of the doubt. What I mean by that is, while it's one thing for two people to side-eye someone, when all of your homies are like, "Girl, that one right there is a trip", you really should take heed. For instance, there is one guy I know who, when it comes to being a fun date and a cool person to hang out with, everyone can pretty much agree that he's that guy. But when it comes to his dating life? I honestly don't know one individual who doesn't either snicker at the mere mention of his name or find themselves triggered because of how he has BS'd them in some way.
No one is perfect. A lot of us can stand to remember that when it comes to the dating scene. Yet being a flawed human vs. being a colossal wreck are two totally different things. An emotionally available man may have some missteps in his past relationships—again, most of us do—yet he's not going to be out here with tons of drama and trauma left in his wake. For the record, this can include him being someone who hasn't had a lot of serious relationships before or someone who has rarely said "I love you" (I don't know why some women think that a man is only ready for a real relationship if he's had his heart torn to shreds a million times over). His moves are calculated and intentional. His name ain't out here in these streets for being a womanizer more than just about anything else.
5. Emotionally Available Men Express Emotion
Wanna know if a man is emotionally available? HE WILL BE ABLE TO CLEARLY EXPRESS HIS EMOTIONS WITHOUT HESITATION—and yes, I am yelling that. While I wholeheartedly believe that God created men and women to have certain differences in how they see and approach life (argue amongst yourselves on that), at the same time, I also think that some things make us all human, period. And conveying emotions shouldn't be a "masculine" or "feminine" thing—it should be a humanity thing.
This doesn't mean that I expect men to express themselves in the same way that we do but damn—if he's happy, he should be able to say that. If his feelings are hurt, he should be able to say that. If he is disappointed or confused about something, he should be able to say that. If he needs you in his life, he should be able to say that. If he loves you and wants things to go to another level, he should be able to say that—and you should be able to be the safe space for him to say these kinds of things (that's another article for another time, though).
Sometimes, we're out here trying to make things more complicated than they actually are.
To be emotional is to be in a conscious state of awareness that you know what your emotions are, at any given time. To be available is to be ready and willing to do something. If a man is emotionally available, he is literally going to be aware of his emotions and then ready and willing to express them.
At the end of the day, it really is as simple as that.
The Signs Of An Emotionally Unavailable Man
1. Emotionally Unavailable Men Have Sex Easily but Suck at Intimacy
When it comes to this particular point, please make the time to check out, "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner". Because society, as a whole, doesn't spend nearly enough time talking about how sex goes way beyond the physical, a lot of us continue to think that just because a man will have sex with us, many times over, and enjoy it, it must mean that he desires us on a deeper level. Unfortunately, that is not always or necessarily the case.
A couple of years ago, I heard R&B singer Tank talk about how he has (hopefully used to have since he's married now) a habit of having sex with women he barely knows like he is totally in love with him. He laughed when he said it. He's not an anomaly in this way. A lot of folks—men and women—are just like this (where do you think the phrase, "F—k smart, not hard" came from?). And when you give yourself to this kind of person, it can have you believing that there is some sort of intimacy that is being established when it could literally be a "mirage movie" that you've created in your own mind.
That's why I'm big on encouraging people to look for signs of true intimacy rather than merely falling for great sex.
Someone who is intimate with you wants to know about your thoughts and feelings. Someone who is intimate with you wants to spend time with you whether sex—which means any form of sexual activity—happens or not. Someone who wants to be intimate with you can have serious conversations; it's not always about just hanging out and having fun. Someone who wants to be intimate with you has no problem coming deeper into your world than just over to your house when no one else is there. Someone who wants to be intimate with you is open to a relationship—not just a situationship.
If whoever you're currently having sex with is only good at the sex itself, that is someone who sounds hella emotionally unavailable to me. Try and look past your libido to see if, deep down, you see red flags and can't deny that, deep down, you feel the same way as I do.
2. Emotionally Unavailable Men Don't Value Your Time and Feelings
The intro quote, I've shared before that it's one of my all-time favorite relational ones. When the late and great Bob Marley once said, "The biggest coward is a man who awakens a woman's love without the intention of loving her"—won't it preach? A coward is someone who is easily intimidated. A coward is someone who lacks courage. A coward is someone who is fearful. And you know what? Emotionally unavailable men tend to be all of these things. And when someone operates from a cowardly space, they have absolutely no problem with wasting other people's time and feelings. The reason why I say that is because, when someone is afraid of something (or someone), it tends to make them stagnant and when you're stagnant, how can you ever make any progress? Within yourself or with anyone else?
There's a guy I know who's been dating the same woman for at least eight years now; a woman who would marry him in a heartbeat. He is one of the most marriage-phobic people I have ever met. When I say to him, "Don't you fear that you are wasting her time?", he usually says something along the lines of, "We're having a good time right now and, to me, that's all that really matters." To him, that's all that matters. While she definitely has to own the fact that she's staying in this kind of dynamic, I still believe that when a man respects the woman who he's with, he's going to care about not dwindling her days away or getting her more attached if he knows that he can support those feelings in the way that she would like him to. An emotionally available man would (probably) never. An emotionally unavailable one? This is basically a signature trait.
3. For Emotionally Unavailable Men, Commitment Is Not a Priority. Pretty Much Ever.
I've penned articles on the site like "5 Reasons Why You KEEP Attracting Commitment-Phobes", "Here's How You Know He Won't Commit To You. Like, EVER." and "He Loves You. He's Just Never Gonna Marry You. Now What?". Now to be fair, there are some men out here who, just because they don't want to get married, that doesn't mean that they run away from commitment. Some folks are content being in an exclusive relationship without a marriage license and a stroll down the aisle. When it comes to this particular point that I'm closing this out with, it doesn't really matter though; not if you're someone who does want to get married. If you're seeing a guy and he knows that jumping the broom is important to you and nothing ever changes in your relational dynamic, uh-uh…it's time for a shift.
You know, I'm someone who has absolutely no problem with regrets because they are all about remorse. Well, one thing that I regret is literally wasting my time with certain guys in my past. It was a waste because when you put more into something than you get back, that is a textbook definition of the word. And when it comes to emotionally unavailable men, they can spend all kinds of time with you, never ever take things beyond where they are, know that you desire to, and sleep like a baby at night. Every night.
A man who is emotionally available isn't interested in sharing his deep emotions with someone who is here today and gone tomorrow. An emotionally unavailable guy couldn't care less because he's so emotionally shallow in his dealings with other people that he doesn't really feel losing them as much of a loss.
Clearly, I could go on and on about this. For now, I'm hoping this has at least given you a bit of insight. At the end of the day, an emotionally available man is well…available. An emotionally unavailable one is pretty much any and everything…but.
Featured image by Hispanolistic/Getty Images
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood