When a woman asks if you can change an emotionally unavailable man, she is usually seeking the answer ‘yes’. It’s not something with which women in happy relationships concern themselves that much.
This means you are already at a disadvantage.
You are in an unfulfilling relationship, but you dream of paradise. And you’re certain that paradise is within reach, if only your boyfriend would open his heart and see what is his for the taking.
If I could just make him see how good we could be together
If I could make him talk to me about how he feels
If I could just motivate him to change
Something that should be spontaneous and fulfilling is turning into a job. A work in progress. And you’re the only one working on it.
How Did You End Up Here?
Let’s take a step back and think more deeply about what it really means when you talk of trying to change an emotionally unavailable man.
The first thing to realize is that you are treating him as a child. He’s not. He’s an adult; and he’s not going to change just because YOU want it.
The truth is that people don’t change unless THEY decide to do so.
Has he given you any reason to believe he wants to change? Probably not.
Now it’s not that change is impossible. Of course, he can change; people change all the time. But there’s always a reason, a trigger. Something that convinces a person that change is necessary or would be beneficial.
But it gets worse. Because right now, here YOU are, trying to change him.
Take a minute to see it from his point of view.
He has a woman available to him when he wants her. Because she wants to make the relationship closer and more intimate, she showers him with attention to show him what an amazing girlfriend she is. He accepts the attention but keeps her at an emotional distance so that his own life doesn’t have to change.
What’s not to like?
Meanwhile, there you are, waiting for the thunderbolt moment when he realizes that it’s love: you are The One. Que the soaring violins!
Why You’re Unlikely to Change an Emotionally Unavailable Man
But what you are really doing is hoping for a miracle; because then you won’t have to face up to some unpleasant realities.
You won’t have to accept that you have wasted your time and romantic energy investing in him
You won’t have to take any of the blame
You won’t have to find someone else
Remember, he’s not a child. And it’s not for you to decide what he wants, or what is best for him. Anyway, it’s really what you want, and what is best for you, isn’t it? And that’s why it’s not going to change an emotionally unavailable man into one who connects with you.
What does make people change?
Usually it’s when something life-changing happens, which makes it impossible to go on in the same old way. They must change or go under. But you won’t change an emotionally unavailable man while you’re always there, the fallback girl, available when he wants you.
A home truth must be faced.
You can’t change an emotionally unavailable man; in fact you can’t force anyone to change. You can only change yourself.
Think about it. Instead of putting your happiness in the hands of man who is pretty cavalier and careless with it, you will be taking it back into your own hands. And that’s where it belongs.
This is positive action. And there are excellent reasons for doing it. Here are a few.
The Longer You Stay, The Harder It Becomes to Walk Away
There’s no doubt about it: for lots of people, dating is a bit of a hard slog. Talking about his part as Sam in Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks called it ‘a necessary evil’. So when you’ve found someone you think could be right for you; your first instinct is to try to make it work, rather than facing the ordeal of cutting loose and having to go back on the dating scene to find someone else.
And so you go on, investing in a relationship that isn’t really what you want: but the longer you go on trying, the harder it becomes to admit you’ve wasted your time and emotional energy. You keep telling yourself that things will ‘come right’ in the end.
Well, they might. But if you are constantly chafing in a relationship that is unfulfilling, it’s unlikely. Tell yourself you are worth more than that; and learn to move on.
Bad Experiences Are Self-Perpetuating
Has this happened to you before?
It’s amazing how many women go on making the same mistakes: choosing men who keep disappointing them, often in strikingly similar ways. If this isn’t the first time you have tried to change an emotionally unavailable man, then you need look at your own attraction triggers to understand why it keeps happening.
Why are you attracted by these men?
How quickly do you recognize the type?
Why don’t you realize you are wasting your time and walk away?
When you develop a behavioural pattern, there is always a reason. Work on understanding your reasons, so that you can change your behaviour. Get professional help if necessary.
You Are Using Your Romantic Energy On a Man Who Is Unworthy Of It
A good relationship is one which makes both partners feel happy and fulfilled. But you are neither. You are putting in 80% – 90% of the effort, and he is putting 10%, maybe 20% on a good day.
This is an unacceptable use of your time and energy. Pull back and wait for him to make more effort. It he doesn’t bother; it’s an indication that you need to move on.
Your Confidence and Your Self-Esteem Are Being Destroyed
People derive their sense of self-worth from how other people treat them. And when a man treats you as dispensable, it undermines your confidence. This makes you feel less worthy of a good relationship, and means you cling more desperately to the inadequate one you have.
It’s a downward spiral.
You feel less attractive and desirable
You become needy and clingy
You stop believing you could do better
Telling yourself you are a strong woman doesn’t help, because you know a strong woman wouldn’t put up with such treatment. So don’t just tell yourself, BE a strong woman.
He Doesn’t Want You Enough To Make Any Effort To Please You
When a man genuinely wants to please a woman, he’ll go all out to do so. If you’re having to tot up his positive actions to convince yourself he’s serious, you are in trouble.
Don’t overanalyze. Keep it simple.
Does he ask you on a date?
Does he ask you to be his girlfriend?
Does he want you to meet his friends and family?
Does he tell you he wants to be exclusive, and not see other people?
If he’s not doing these things, the message is loud and clear. He’s happy to be with you now, casually, but he’s not thinking exclusive, let along long-term.
He’s not too shy, too uncertain or just too bashful to ask. There’s no ulterior motive. He’s just not that much into you.
You’ll Never Find Mr Right If Your Life Is Being Consumed By Mr Wrong
One of the worst things about being with Mr Wrong is how it consumes your energy and skews your perceptions. The longer you stay, the more committed YOU (not him) become to the relationship, and the more reluctant you are to cut your losses and leave. And every day those potential losses become bigger, as does your emotional investment.
And every day your boyfriend does a little bit less to keep the relationship going. He doesn’t have to make any effort, because YOU are doing it for him.
And every day your confidence is being sapped and your self-esteem falls a little further; so that you feel less worthy of a good relationship – and less inclined to take the risk of leaving.
But wait…There is a final irony here.
What If You DID Manage to Change an Emotionally Unavailable Man?
Right now you are placing your happiness in his hands, making it conditional on your being able to change an emotionally unavailable man. And the real reason you want him to change is so that he can love you the way you want to be loved. It’s a selfish reason, and love does not flourish among selfishness.
If he does ever change, it won’t be because he has suddenly recognized the value of the love you have been pushing on him in order to extract a return. It will be because of some huge event; an event that leaves him with different priorities and wanting different things.
But YOU will still be the same woman; the woman who fitted into his old life. Now he wants something different; and that probably means a different woman.
One who personifies all his new ideals
One who is the best fit he can find for his new life
…and almost certainly NOT YOU
You are diminishing yourself by clinging to a sub-standard relationship, not just in your own eyes but in your boyfriend’s eyes too.
What’s the solution?
Give yourself some love. Loving yourself is not selfish, on the contrary it is the first step towards being lovable to others. Stop trying to force a reluctant or indifferent man to love you, and love yourself. Focus on your friends, career, and hobbies and start to feel positive about life.
Give yourself some time to rebuild your self-esteem, and then see if you still want him. You may find that your efforts have given you higher standards, which you now realize he can’t fulfil. And you may have boosted your value in his eyes, too; enough to inspire him to make more effort.
If you still believe he is The One, then find out to rekindle your relationship in a way that works for you.