Can An Emotionally Detached And Aloof Person Change?

Question: Can an emotionally detached, unavailable and aloof person change? How do you go from emotional detachment to being warm and affectionate?

My boyfriend complains that I am emotionally cold and detached; and I 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.

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.

Yangki’s Answer: Yes, an emotionally detached, unavailable and aloof person can change if they want to, and do 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 emotionally 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.

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33 replies on “Can An Emotionally Detached And Aloof Person Change?”
  1. says: Arina

    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?

    1. says: Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng

      Most of the time, it’s something you learn early in life. Cold and self centered 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 centered (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!

  2. says: Laine

    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?

    1. says: Love Doctor, Yangki Akiteng

      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.

  3. says: Quido

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

  4. says: Chikita

    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!

    1. 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.

  5. says: Erika

    I think this also links back to the “nobody can love you until you love yourself” theory. If you love yourself you can openly and willingly open up to somebody without fearing rejection. Knowing that if you do get rejected, you will be fine because you are happy with just yourself if need be.

    1. Before I became a relationships coach, and had experience working with thousands of men and women all over the world, I too bought into the theory that “nobody can love you until you love yourself”. After many years working with thousands of men and women, all over the world, I know for fact that, that theory is not backed by facts in real life.

      You can be loved (very much and unconditionally), even when you do not love yourself. It happens everyday, to men and women of all walks of life.

      It’s not that “nobody can love you until you love yourself”, it’s that it’s hard to appreciate that love when you do not think you are worth it (lack healthy self-love).

      Fear of rejection is a whole other topic that has little to do with loving yourself.

      You can love yourself, and still fear rejection.

      Fear of rejection is a natural survival instinct. In my opinion, someone who does not HAVE any fear of rejection whatsoever has to have an inflated self-image, or even be a narcissist.

      As with all things in life, it’s not that you should never be afraid, but that fear doesn’t stand between you and what you want/desire.

      The trick is in feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

  6. says: DRicK

    OMG! This is the best relationship site ever. I’ve spent three straight days here and I swear it has helped me more than 15 years and thousands of $$ of therapy. I’m more confident than I was ever that I know exactly what I need to do to fix myself and fix my relationship. “Thank you” is an understatement!

  7. says: nattie

    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

    1. 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.

  8. says: Christopher

    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.

    1. 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.

  9. says: Larisa Mendiaz

    Howdy! Would you mind if I share your blog with my AA support group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thanks

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