Dealing with an emotionally distant partner

Dealing with an emotionally distant partner can be very challenging. Being in a healthy relationship is what men and women desire, but sometimes, things don’t go as planned. If you are dating or married to an emotionally unavailable person, you probably feel that your needs and wants in the relationship aren’t being met, and you may express more affection, care and commitment than you receive.

5 Nigerians shared their coping methods with emotionally absent partners.

Michelle: I don’t express my feelings to my husband because he doesn’t care

I have been married for 12 years now but I don’t feel safe expressing my true feelings to my husband. This is because whenever I poured out my heart to him or told him things in confidence, he would not be interested to hear them. He had a way of dismissing my feelings that it hurt so bad. He doesn’t listen to me. He doesn’t care about my feelings. He doesn’t consult me before he does anything. I was just like a piece of furniture at home. So, over time, I just stopped going there. His quick temper and fault finding made me scared to open up even when I was hurting.

Gradually, our marriage became one of basic everyday exchanges with each of us finding other ways to try to get our deeper needs met. He does his own thing and I do mine and peace reigns at home. I don’t know where he goes and what he does and he doesn’t know mine too. This is not the kind of marriage I wanted for myself but I am coping well because my friends are always there for me.

William: She has always been emotionally distant

My recent girlfriend has issues with displaying her emotions. Once in a while, she is capable of true intimacy but tends to withdraw when life becomes difficult for her and neglects the important people in her life.

I have been able to confirm that she has always been like this and it’s a problem rather than a choice. Once she emerges from the emotional hole, she is ashamed and embarrassed by what she herself admits is rude and unacceptable behaviour. But then, she still can’t bring herself to redeem herself or reconnect out of fear. I have had enough.

I understand now that her feelings for me are strong and genuine, but self-preservation and fear of getting hurt seem to be more dominant. When I told her that I can’t be with a woman is emotionally distant whenever challenges come, she cried but my mind was made up. I had to let her go. We recently parted ways and it was the best thing for both of us.

Miriam: He was always emotionally guarded

After 10 years of marriage and three children, two of which have special needs, I have only just realized that my husband is emotionally unavailable within three years. He has problems opening up about issues bothering him and I am tired of doing the work alone of trying to build what is left our marriage.

I later found out he was having an affair. He has made slight changes, helping me out in the kitchen, taking care of our kids without my asking, buying me gifts once in awhile, and asking me to dinner, but the emotional connection is still lacking.  I am wondering if we will ever get there. The connection was there but now that I look back, he was always emotionally guarded. I also didn’t need him to be as open as much prior to us getting married.

We have been through a lot together. I needed him emotionally. He wasn’t able to give that part if himself to me. He withdrew and dug himself into work more. He was already a workaholic. He used the excuse of our growing bills and then found this other woman to hide behind my back to vent to her about me wanting to spend more time with my husband. Their affair was hidden from me for about a year. After all that we had been through together, this was the biggest slap in the face. I am giving up on him. He won’t open up to me, but he does that with some stranger.

Alice: He blames me for his failures

I am married to an emotionally unavailable man. But it is even more than that. Somehow, he blames me for his unhappiness. I gave him my opinion about some business that didn’t pull through and he resents me for it.

We have three children. Later on, he lost his job. That was the first and last time I saw him shed a tear. He promised to do his best to take care of us. What he actually did was slip into a depression and refused to work for over five years. He became rude and distant emotionally.

He did start working again but when home, he plays video games the majority of the days and shows no interest in me. I have cried, begged, screamed, I have tried ultimatums, all to no avail. Nothing will influence him to even address my grievances. I am stuck and I am trying to not slip away into a depression myself.

Dayo: She prefers to sleep alone instead of being intimate with me

My wife is emotionally unavailable and we have been married for 3 years. I knew from the start that she had some issues but I didn’t realise the enormity of them until it was too late.

I love her a lot but she’s not reciprocating. I have tried almost everything to make her see that I can deal with her emotional issues but she’s adamant. She’s uncomfortable whenever I express my feelings earlier in our marriage. She would recoil instead of telling me what she truly thinks about something or the challenges we are facing.

Recently, she told me she’s no longer attracted to me because I have a big belly but I think this was just in an effort to detach and avoid intimacy. I have tried reasoning with her, but she has made up her mind to let me be. She prefers to sleep alone instead of being intimate with me. Even when we make love, I feel like she’s far away. I am heartbroken.




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