Monday September 1st 2014

Can An Emotionally Unavailable and Cold Person Change?

Question: May be you can help me. My boyfriend complains that I am emotionally detached and wall him off at times and not let him in. He says that when we’re in public I come across as very unfriendly and unapproachable. I’ve been told by other people that I’m cold and aloof and not caring enough. Obviously there must be some truth there.

But when I try to express my emotions he says I’m too emotional. He says I excessively and constantly dwell on things and won’t let go. I grew up in an environment where people weren’t very emotionally expressive except when angry and can stay angry for a few months and even years. I guess learned to be like that too.

Can an emotionally unavailable and emotionally cold person change? I’m trying to find a way to be more emotionally available and express how I feel calmly and not be emotionally cold. It is something that I would like for myself.

The Love Doctor’s Answer: Yes, an emotionally unavailable and emotionally cold person can change if he/she wants to, and does what it takes to change.

I’m not going into the “psychology” of why you are the way you are. You may need to see a therapist for that.  But I can give you some effective practices which you can put to work right away.

1. Know and become intimate with your emotional self

You might want to try spending time in quiet meditation or reflection focusing on giving yourself warm love and connecting with the range of emotions inside of you. This may require you to adjust and change your belief system regarding feelings and emotions. If you find this hard to do alone, find a mentor or trusted friend to share your insights with.

2. Spend plenty of time with each other

Spending time “with each other” is more than spending time together — going out on dates, doing hobby activities, watching TV or cuddling etc. Turn off all the “doing” and share openly about how you FEEL about things that are most important to you.

3. Share your deepest dreams and deepest fears

This includes things you’ve never told anyone. Allow him the opportunity to decide now whether he can or can’t love you for who you truly are. If your relationship is to survive long term, you need to trust that your boyfriend will not use the information you share against you in some way.

This takes wisdom to know what information to divulge/aspects of yourself to give to who, when and how.

4. Allow yourself to be emotonally vulnerable

Most people confuse vulnerability with weakness. In actuality, being vulnerable does not involve the actual experience of harm. True, there is a chance that you’ll be criticized, rejected, taken advantage of or even hurt but you can not be truly loved if you can not open yourself to be loved.

Increased intimacy in both senses of sharing intimate information and of admitting deep emotions goes hand in hand with increased vulnerability. Once you accept that even love can be lost or given up if it creates more pain than happiness, you are more able to share your core desires and deepest parts of yourself without expecting anything in return.

5. Last but not least, don’t rush anything

Emotional health and maturity isn’t easy to achieve. It takes time and it takes some energy. As you practice your new behavior and strengthen your ability to become an emotionally available and emotionally expressive person, the emotional connection will become stronger, and deeper, and will be more likely last.

Related Articles:

Starving For Emotional Intimacy?
The Emotional Ingredient That Instantly Attracts Men And Women
9 Proven Ways To Get Your Man To Emotionally Open Up To You
The Real Secret Of Emotional Intimacy And Great Sex

Readers' Questions and The Love Doctor's Answers...

31 Responses to “Can An Emotionally Unavailable and Cold Person Change?”

  1. Sammy says:

    Thank you, this is exactly the advice I was looking for. Very helpful.

  2. drhoward says:

    This article resonated with me. For most of my life I didn’t show my emotions and never let other people’s emotions affect me. But once in a while the emotional floodgate opened. I especially reacted very strongly to anger. My ex-wife left me because she could not handle the blowing hot and very cold.

    I‘ve been in therapy for two years and trying as much as possible now to express my emotions and appreciate and understand the emotions of others far more. I have a new woman in my life who is natural with her emotions and it’s helping me experience the depth of my feelings. I have a long way to go, no doubt about that but I’m just thankful that I can feel and express genuine human emotions and connect with someone on an emotional level.

  3. I’m happy for you, and thanks for sharing your story. It’s stories like yours that give hope for those experiencing a smiliar challenge. Once again, thanks.

  4. Shotzi69 says:

    I know someone is going to call me “emotionally cold” and try to give me “advice”, so I’ll just let y’all know I like me the way I am. :)

    I have an aloof air about me that women find attractive. My “hot/cold”, “want you/don’t want you” approach always sucks them in. I’m currently seeing this woman who is much older than me. She is the one always making plans and suggesting things to do. We spent the weekend together and had so much fun – we talked, laughed and enjoyed a physical connection that was intense. For the upcoming week, I’m going to completely ignore her, and only call once or twice. I also date other women and she knows it, but I keep her completely out of the details of my personal life.

  5. You ARE emotionally cold! Seriously… :)

    But I give it to you. There are people who are into “hot/cold” and who find the high stress of “want you/don’t want you” quite challenging and stimulating. The “aloof approach” can sometimes work (I say “sometimes”) in the initial stages of attraction but beyond that one has to either be REALLY smoking hot, filthy rich, insanely magnetic, movie-star famous, or all of the above to be able to carry it on beyond a few encouters.

    The “aloof approach” also doesn’t work on all women/men. It’s mostly appealing to those seeking a flighty relationship, have low sense of self-worth, have needy tendencies or have a thing for high-drama.

    Most people looking for a drama-free, deep emotional connection find it annoying and frustrating — and run in the opposite direction!

  6. Mohit says:

    Emotionally, I’m pretty cold and have a real problem with expressing how I feel to others. I usually give off the wrong impression. Deep inside I‘m a much warm hearted person than I appear. It’s like there’s this dark wall between me and everyone else and I just can’t connect with people.

  7. If this is how you generally feel with everybody including friends and family then I suggest you talk to a counsellor or therapist. It’s one thing to have a problem expressing how you feel to the opposite sex because of fear of giving off the wrong impression (that I can help with) and another thing to feel disconnected from people in general. You really should seek help, because you’re missing out on one of the best things about being a human being — connecting with other human beings. I wish I could be of more help.

  8. Miss says:

    Hmmmm…I can relate to the hot/ cold “aloof approach”, I do it myself. Yes, men/woman are intrigued but at some point it has to stop. Its very exhausting and there comes a time when you want more and want to give more! There’s usually something deeper thats going on personally(with the person that gives off that approach), I know for certain I am. I have a hard time expressing my feeling and emotions as well. I tend to ignore my emotions and feelings as much as possible, and then eventually have alot of tension and fustration built-up.

    I am very atrractive young lady and tend to be naturally seductive. But how can I portray a less exotic mannerism? I was molested as a child and again as a teenager and never told anyone. At times I feel thats why I can’t connect, and then disconnect from all my male relationships and friendships.

    I have faith that eventually one day I will be able to connect again.

  9. I don’t think I fully understand what you mean by “portray a less exotic mannerism?” Please help me understand.

    It’s very possible that being molested as a child and again as a teenager — if this has not been addressed in a “healing way”- plays a huge role in your inability to express your feelings and emotions in a healthy and bonding way.

    Faith and hope is good to have but it helps to also do something about it. Talk to somebody — a counsellor or spiritual mentor. You seem like a very likeable person and it’s sad that you can’t share that “gift” of likeability with someone special.

  10. Anita says:

    I tend to be aloof with men especially if I am attracted to them. I just completely shut down and run in another direction if we are in the same room. I really want to stop this behavior since I am almost 50 and am afraid to be in a relationship although I really want to have someone special in my life.

  11. What do you most fear will happen if you’re in the same room with a man you’re attracted to? What is it about relationships that makes you afraid of being in one? Where did you learn to think/feel/believe what you fear? How bad do want to stop this behaviour? These are some of the deeper questions/issues that you need to address. It’s one thing to want to stop a behaviour and it’s another thing to actually do something to stop it.

  12. Laine says:

    I love my boyfriend of 2 years very much but showing affection doesn’t come to him naturally. He does try, but I can see he’s doing it for me, which is why I love him even more. Is It possible to get him to be more emotionally and physically affectionate because he enjoys it not just doing it to make me happy?

  13. I believe it’s possible and that you can help bring it out of him. Try to be more creative with those things he is already doing while encouraging him to try something new. Because neither of you can predict how he will react to something new, make it a point to ask him how he feels. Reinforce what feels good and eliminate what doesn’t. If you do it gently and lovingly, you may well be able to draw him out of his comfort zone and show him what else he’s missing.

  14. IMessedUP says:

    my ex-girlfriend expected me to be more affectionate than i felt up to sometimes. she said that i didn’t do enough to show that i love her. i am conservative in my affection it’s how i was raised.

  15. Roza says:

    I think people born with emotions.
    and I think they can do change but not to much
    Some people just have Passion, some dont

  16. Very true… Psychologists say we’re born with basic emotions (Fear, Sadness, Anger, Surprise, Joy and Love). Sometimes due to childhood or adult psychological or physical trauma some people lose the ability to experience these emotions. The good news is that much of these damages can be reversed. Sometimes with just psychological counselling.

    I think what you’re referring to “just have passion” is how we FEEL and EXPRESS these emotions. Some people tend to feel more deeply and express more strongly than others. Some people prefer “muted” expression and other prefer “passionate” expression. I guess it all comes down to what floats one’s boat… :)

    How much one can change how one feels and expresses emotions depends on a lot of factors – personality, culture, social surrounding, external inspiration/provocation etc.

  17. Arina says:

    I am a very cold and self centred person but I am despaired to be nice , tender and to give attention to others. Is it something you are born or I still can change?

  18. Most of the time, it’s something you learn early in life. Cold and self centred kind of becomes your “default” traits. Some people continue it into adulthood because it’s either the only way they know how to or there is some sort of “reward” for them being cold and self centred (why would they want to change????).

    Since it’s something that was learned – whatever can be learned can be unlearned. The only exception – at least from what I read – is if something happened to your brain to cause you not to be able to have/experience certain feelings the way the rest of us do, then you need more than just “unlearning” the behaviour. Other than that, if you really want to change, you CAN CHANGE!

  19. Rick says:

    I wasn’t raised to spontaneously express my feelings. It took me a lot of work to learn how to let myself be known and spontaneously express my feelings. I love that feeling when a connection is made.

  20. Good for you!!! (:

    I read it somewhere that authenticity or genuineness is the stubborn refusal to let the self travel incognito!

    The sad part is that many of us are travelling through life incognito. No wonder no one recognizes our feelings, needs and ideas.

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    One can definitely see your heart in the work you do. The world needs more people like you.

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  24. Christopher says:

    I recently come across this article while trying to figure out what might be causing me to be unable to let my girlfriend in. I’ve been fighting with this issue for years, but knew next to nothing about what might be causing it. I read a few other articles about Emotional Unavailable people before this one. This is the only one that has offered a positive outlook at all about this personality issue. I’m in dire want to right this and make it so I can let her in and have a much better relationship with her. I’ve done more than my share of damage to this relationship because of my inability to simple express my emotions openly. Recently we had a big fight and I am in fear that there is nothing I can do to stay with her. I love her and losing her is not something I wish to do, but if I’m just going to continue to hurt her I’ve come to the realization that I may have to let her go. After reading this article I got started following the steps left for the original person that left the question. I did feel a bit better after and found what emotions I have issues with when it comes to myself. Mainly this are emotions of joy. All the other emotions come easily, but that one seems to avoid me so.

    We talked for awhile this morning and I told her about ‘Emotionally Unavailable’ the best I could and even read the article to her. Afterwards I told her how this all me feel and how afraid I was about this problem I had. I know that I need help getting over this, but I also know this all falls back on me in the end. I just had to ask if there is anything else I can do to catch myself when I get like this.

  25. I don’t think just “catching yourself” will help you completely be emotionally available. In any case, “catching yourself” works on the same energy as holding back when you should be “FEELING” whatever emotion that you should be feeling. The emotion of joy is especially difficult to just “catch yourself” because it’s an emotion tied to many other emotions. My advice is find a good experiential Therapist — one who’s approach is rooted in expression of emotion as opposed to “control” of emotion. A really good therapist can help you see why you feel you need to “control” or block the free flow of emotion and learn how to feel without “thinking” emotion. A good therapist can also help you work on all the other emotions and mental filters that are making it hard for “joy” to flow through.

  26. Chikita says:

    My b/f is a wonderful father and provider but he is also cold and doesn’t have feelings. He does all the romantic stuff but I just feel like he’s doing it to please me but doesnt feel anything for me. I’ve told him so many times that he is a cold person and if he doesn’t change, I’ll leave him and take our daughter with me. He just looks at me and doesn’t say anything or walks out of the room.

    I understand that men are rational and are trained not to feel but this is really getting to me. I adore him as the father of my child, but I can’t be with a man who feels nothing for me. Please help!

  27. You keep telling him he is cold and doesn’t feel anything, and expect him to show his feelings. Not going to happen.

    “Men are rational and trained not to feel” is too much of a generalization. There are irrational men and there are men who are too emotional just as there are rational women and women who don’t readily show/express emotion. It depends on upbringing and the environment one was raised in.

    Some men may not express feelings/emotions as some of us women would like but just because someone doesn’t show feelings/emotion or show it in the way we want doesn’t mean they do not feel. Except of course when we’re talking of a psychopath — and you haven’t said your b/f is one.

    May be if you stopped telling him he is cold, he’ll actually become more comfortable expressing his feelings — his OWN WAY. Only then can he feel the need to “change”. But if you can’t “accept” him just the way he is right now, it’s best to find yourself someone else who expresses himself the way you want.

  28. Quido says:

    Listen to what the love Doctor is saying about when you demand that a man express MORE feelings. It actually backfires on you causing him to express LESS to you and shift his focus to someone or something else.

  29. nattie says:

    This article really struck a cord in me. I actually printed the advice so i could refer to it later. I have that exact problem and ive often been told that while im a woman i have a rather masculine dislike of emotionality of any kind. the strange think is i keep going for guys that are a little too in touch with their femininity. Im beginning to think all guys are like that despite the common view coz o matter how bad the playbpy i go for ultimately i end up being the spoil sport when they get all emo

  30. Glad you found the article helpful.

    What I think is referred to as “masculine dislike for emotions” is not so much a dislike but rather a fear of emotions — and has nothing to do with masculine or feminine. Fear of emotions is a social construct (has to do with how we were raised, the society we live in and our life experiences). Masculine and feminine are about consciousness — or even spiritual beingness for want of a better word.

  31. DRicK says:

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