Emotionally unavailable or asshole?

I’ve read the book “He is not that into you”. What an interesting book, I must say that I agree with some parts, however, this concept that if the man doesn’t do exactly what we want him to do then he is simply not into us and he is being an asshole and playing us, is a concept that I found cruel and a bit general.

It made me wonder about my own life. I was seeing a guy, who has appeared in some posts, and I have described him as emotionally unavailable. Was he playing me? The book made me think: How did I not see the fact that I was a fool and he was being an asshole because he was making me believe he was into me when he actually wasn’t?

Well, that is a (long and) difficult question. So what better way than to go to the source: men! I decided to ask different men whether they agreed that when a man is distant it means he isn’t into the other person.

My first source? The guy I liked! “But of course he is going to disagree with the book because he was playing you!”. Ok you might say he is biased but let’s give him a chance to answer. He is a man who has proclaimed to be emotionally unavailable. He ticked all the boxes for this survey.

Surprise: he disagreed with the book! He explained his situation and for the first time in a long time I felt like his friend again, not his... whatever we were for a brief time. As I mentioned in the post “We can’t control our feelings but we can give an answer, right?” he was a long time friend.

Let’s hear him out: he had gone through a very bad break up. Two family members had passed away. At the same time he had to move city due to work. Quite a cocktail right? He explained that it wasn’t me that had done anything wrong, but that he felt he needed to get better and heal in order to offer good things to the other person.

Now, if this was a woman needing some space and time because she felt she couldn’t give her all to a new relationship and proclaimed to be emotionally unavailable due to all the chaos in her life, would we assume she is an asshole and playing with us? Probably not.

So, why do we do it with men?

The book gave a lot of situations where men were playing the girl, some of them I agree with, others, not so much.

At the end of the day, can’t life get in the way and just be bad timing?

A few days later I went out for a coffee with Lucy and Anna. “Girls, how do you know if a guy is truly emotionally unavailable or he is being an asshole?”

Lucy, being the sweetheart that she is, said that the key is the way they look at you. If they look into your eyes when they are explaining their situation (why they are being distant) then they are being honest. However, if they don’t look you in the eyes, they are lying and thus playing you. Interesting... Was she right? Probably yes. But you can always meet an excellent liar and then how do you differentiate an asshole from an emotionally unavailable man?

Anna agreed that the way they look at you is key to know if they are being honest or not. However, she pointed out the relationship troubles she was having. She was getting to know a guy who would always look at her in the eyes, yet she couldn’t figure out if he was being an asshole or was simply emotionally unavailable.

Another man I interviewed is a close friend of mine, Charlie, he said the following “I don’t think men are emotionally unavailable. Maybe they’re not available all the time but that’s just a choice that person makes. An asshole is someone being mean on purpose”

A million questions went through my mind: “So imagine someone is dating a man and the man says to take it slowly because he is emotionally unavailable right now because of the chaos in his life and he feels emotionally exhausted because of this or that. How can a woman know if that is the truth or if he is being an asshole and playing with her, just wanting to get laid and not get into a relationship? How can someone know the difference?

To which Charlie replied: “The simple answer is that you can’t. A relationship is built on trust. But using an excuse as being “emotionally unavailable” to get out of talking about relationship stuff is usually because he doesn’t want a serious relationship and says something like that to quickly change the subject. However, if they’ve been dating only a few months, it might be too soon to have that conversation and then you might use that reason (excuse) to calm things down without jeopardizing something that could turnout to be something more serious a bit later."

And that got me thinking:  Is being “emotionally unavailable” just an excuse to not get into a relationship or can a man be emotionally unavailable and just want to take it slowly?

“So it is an excuse to take things slowly, they are not truly emotionally unavailable, they are just not that into the woman just yet? I asked.

“Exactly” he said. And there it was! The truth the book was saying. Was I wrong to believe someone can be emotionally exhausted? 

Suddenly he stopped and said: “I don’t think there’s a simple black and white answer because it all depends on the circumstances of that relationship and the two people involved”

“So, let’s see if I got it right, you say that being emotionally unavailable is a myth and an excuse most of the times but that there is a gray area where sometimes, one in a million cases, it can be true?”

“More than one in a million”

So there it was! Charlie was actually agreeing with me: sometimes it is used as an excuse but sometimes it is actually true.

I then talked to a psychologist, I wanted to have a professional point of view. She explained that sometimes the situations in life, especially grief, can leave us emotionally exhausted and tired and we might feel we are not ready to give our all and thus take things very slowly. In other words, we become emotionally unavailable and thus act distant when we actually are into the other person. She recommended watching the movie “When Harry met Sally” and explained that even though it is a romcom, sometimes timing is everything.

In other words, being “emotionally unavailable” can be an excuse used by an asshole, or the truth, or an excuse used by someone that doesn’t know how they feel about you just yet but they want to continue seeing you to find out.

Due to everything happening in his life, I believe that my ex-whatever was being honest with his reply and I thank him for it. I believe he is one case in the gray area. Due to the beautiful answer he gave to me, we have been able to continue being friends after being whatever we were, because he wasn’t being an asshole, he is emotionally unavailable right now.

But, if I think more about it, even if being emotionally unavailable is an excuse to take it slowly, it is not necessarily something bad, they might not be playing with you, but trying to be honest by using a term to say that for now, things should go slow, but they wish to find out what the future holds. Not everyone falls in love at first sight, people sometimes need time.