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Author Topic: Discussion The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male

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Discussion The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
OP: May 14, 2020, 03:55:08 AM
I have been struggling for a very long time with a man that ( in my experience ) is emotionally walled off, unavailable or is unaware of his own emotions. I have heard this same complaint from every women I have this conversation with and if you actually google it, there are 5 million articles about the "emotionally unavailable male". It seems common-place or normal or "just the way it is ".  I tried to accept that in my marriage as I saw the same struggle in everyone around me. That is not to say that men with high emotional IQ's and ability to share their emotions do not exist..I am positive that they do, I am just not married to one of them.  I came to accept that about him, perhaps that was a mistake.

One of my deepest hurts when my husband had an affair was he apparently "needed something emotionally"  and never confided or talked to me ...he went to another women.  So, this emotionally stoic man that held his emotions under lock and key, was ALWAYS "fine", denied being angry, sad, upset, depressed ( or any other emotion) emotionally exploded and went to another women to get whatever it was he needed. Never said a word to me about his distress and never has. He went to someone else. Whether or not he got his emotional needs met in his affair is unknown by me. Something kept his there for the better part of a year.  That action was the deepest cut there is for me.

My husband has returned and still very cautious and fearful of emotional vulnerability . I was hoping that this would have changed and he would be " a completely different and new man". No. He is not. He has " improved" but … is emotionally a stand alone kinda of man. If I ask him "are you upset?  Are you angry ? Are you sad? , 90 % of the time he will deny any of these emotions.  So, the conversation usually end there as this man needs nothing ...he is "fine". No need to apply empathy or support as he "needs" none of that. He is FINE afterall. This is one way connection never happens, empathy is never given and it feels like rejection at some level. It hurts. 

We had a conversation recently about empathy. He has been known to say/complain that he “never gets anything “.  Hmmmm?. I assume he means emotionally. How exactly you offer empathy to an emotionally closed man is something I am not understanding. If I were to try to “ put myself in his shoes “ , and his “shoes are just FINE and there is no emotion or need “ …what is there to give? . You essentially put yourself in their place and feel what they are feeling, but if they do not communicate what they are feeling … where are the shoes? I have no other option when he insists he is fine , than to believe him.  Trust me , there is no way he will admit he is anything but “fine”.  The message sent is therefor I ” need “ nothing.  And these are the same men that complain that they “ get nothing”.  What I do know is the feminine spirit is hugely damage when a man constantly needs or requires nothing from a women.  That has been my experience. I see no opening to apply empathy, support, re-assurrance …or any emotion involving nurture. My husband needs very little from me …and then complains that he gets “nothing”. 

He implies that there should always be empathy ( he does not say anything outright) . He implies that because of his past ..childhood trauma, abuse , very difficult history … empathy should be there because of his background.  No matter what he says ( I am FINE) , he really may not be and may need compassion and empathy .  His background is the very reason he cannot be vulnerable, name his emotion etc and it is safer to always be fine.   But being fine and denying emotion is rejecting empathy or emotional support.. atleast that is my reaction. There is no connection to someone who apparently does not need anything.

It is all extremely complicated and difficult. All our emotions, our histories and emotional personalities collide into a huge reactive mess . The pain of his affair is something I feel at some level every single day … EVERY day it is there.  The damage from his childhood is there every single day and keeps him locked emotionally. But that is not my responsibility or my fault. If you are unable ( for whatever reason) to show your emotional needs … then how do you have the right to complain they are not being met??   I have to become an expert at “assuming “ what he needs ( and I can do that to some degree) but he does not have to become accountable to identify his emotion, his needs and find ways to communicate them?   I believe a HUGE number of emotionally stunted or avoidant men are or become MLC’ers. How do you emotionally meet the needs of emotionally unavailable men ( or wives) when they seemingly have none or at the very least deny them. I know that a huge number of LBS are dealing with these emotionally damaged men… just how do you do that?  And why even try?  Do we "settle" for this ? Do we accept that it is just the way it is with these  men? 
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Married April 1985
5 children
Bomb Drop April 2013
Thrown out of house August 2013
Affair discovered November 2013 (i guessed who)
Home December 3 2013
The Journey Of Reconciliation .. is for the brave .

Anger is like a candle in the wind ... it blows out the light of all reason.

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#1: May 14, 2020, 05:22:46 AM
Whew Barbie,

My H sounds like yours. Everything was fine until it wasn’t. He had no emotional needs until he went and met them somewhere else with someone else.

For I am approaching it is that H talks about his emotions through work or interactions with people at work. That was my “in” so that was where I directed my validation of feelings. I validated him for feeling frustrated with his boss, or being angry at so and so, or for feeling like a failure when the numbers weren’t what they wanted them to be. Gradually (after endless months) he opened up about more stuff....but really it took about 8 months of just validating his feelings about work and boring every day stuff. And he wouldn’t ever say feelings he would say “I want to punch so and so in the face” and I would validate that it was perfectly reasonable to be ANGRY with so and so because what they did was wrong or crossed a boundary or whatever.

It helped H figure out that he was just reacting to every single emotion he had without thinking, that he DID HAVE emotions, to learn to label and name those emotions and to feel heard.

I don’t know if any of that helps. It took me a long time to see it and a very long time to be able to recognize when it was happening.
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Me 38
H 38
Wallower/Chaos kid
EA discovered 3/31/2019
BD March 31 2019
He left 10/6/2020
Status: I’m done. Stbxh remorseful, texts and apologizes a lot, is in therapy and several treatment teams.
“God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his.” C.S. Lewis

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#2: May 14, 2020, 05:36:51 AM
Well, I fear I was one such man to some extend on a point of life....At least if the stories W has told carry seeds of truth. And I think the stories of MLCrs do. At least in their universe, and maybe in others too on varying degrees.

Yes, I was oftentimes all OK when or if W  asked if something was bothering me. Or then I hours later told about the pain in my back or whatever had been troubling me.

But the thing is that... I did feel emotionally all OK at the moment W asked. It was true to me. But of course the outside world was able to see/judge from my behaviour I was not (say hello to mr.grumpy and you know what I mean).

What helped me... I've learned to use the birds eye view.... Because emotions "lie", I try to observe my actions/ behaviour from the outside, and if I notice some bad behaviour (say hello to mr.grumpy) that I have on my mental checklist, then I start poking deeper.  And this poking of deeper then creates the emotion (not awareness of it, as the emotion is not there yet).

I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I actually found this approach on one of the psychology books. And it works.

And yes, this is a more common with us men.... But I have seen women who do this too (W included).

It does have name as well... sidekicks with many mental health issues, but also with some physical conditions (mine is on the list, and I think it is one of the things why W says I changed when I got ill. For my docs it took about 4-5 years to find meds that truly put illness under control, and likely it is the time I was mr.grumpy).

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« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 06:10:43 AM by AlvinTheMaker »
At time of BD.... Me: 43, XW: 41
Kids: G19,G18,G14,G12,S5
Together - 20½ Years, Married 19 Years

BD ("I don't love you"): Feb 2019, 
BD2 ("I don't want to fix this marriage."), Mar 2020
D filed May 2020, D finalized Dec 2020
I have moved on, and am in new relationship.

Lessons from Stoicism and REBT helped me to exit the chaos zone and become a better person. 

"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. - Epictetus"

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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#3: May 14, 2020, 05:58:03 AM
I think, talking normal life, men probably are more emotionally unavailable, but in a MLC I believe most of them are like that, male or female.  I see no difference.
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A quote from a recovered MLCer: 
"From my experience if my H had let me go a long time ago, and stop pressuring me, begging, and pleading and just let go I possibly would have experienced my awakening sooner than I did."

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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#4: May 14, 2020, 07:12:49 AM
Well the wall is up for a reason. I think you would have to examine how he was prior to BD because life hasn't been normal since and now he is really emotionally unavailable.

I got tired of money conversations. Everything out of her mouth was a money issue. I came home from work and it was money. I went to work and there would be all day long texts about money.

On my day off. Guess what ? More money problems. Mind you, I had no money problems. I was dealing with hers.

So I became "I am Good" and just developed a deaf ear. Yes I was still available and engaging, however, the split second I heard anything about money that wall went up instantaneously and I shut her out.

Oh my goodness, KIT just destroyed her kitchen. That would be my problem to fix on my own.

To further complicate matters I never heard the end of it when I spent money on landscaping projects, planted a garden, brought something for myself. LOL, if I brought sneakers for myself then why didn't I buy the 2 boys any.

Oh you got a haircut Watcher, nice, now look at your son's head.

So she just became the person who complained about money to me. I had to solve the problems and I grew tired of it.

I would say what was bothering me and she was dismissive. She shot my concerns down constantly. Oh you have no concerns Watcher, lol. I don't believe she liked an emotionally available man, just sayin.

Now there is this crisis. He has no excuse for being emotionally unavailable nor for any of his behavior since BD or what led to BD. That is on him.

Personally I think female LBS can get away with a frying pan to the side of the head. However, I guess violence cannot be endorsed.

So I would attempt to see where he has an interest or hobby in order to get around that wall. Maybe he has a work issue he really detests. Some issue where you can be a united front. A team.

That was always my biggest complaint. We were not a team. More importantly, I felt we weren't a team. Again she dismissed it.

He has to learn to trust you. He doesnt trust you and that is no criticism btw. I want to make that clear. That's why I usually stay on my thread as we all have delicate situations.

Mine would talk to me about gardening and she got around my wall. Today if she ever talked to me, running would be another way around it.

I like to talk and be engaging. I like to be heard. No one wants to feel dismissed.

Even when we had T@G's it was about money and I just wanted to run for the door. Again she has the money problem and not I.

Yes he has his childhood issues and what he has done to you during his crisis on his plate. If you want it then your going to have to find a way around the wall.

I think he obviously has different walls. However, he has one specific to you and that's the one you need down.

I'm going back to the safety of my thread now.
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#5: May 14, 2020, 07:22:25 AM
Hi Barbie-

Great insights for sure.  I know we are all different.  I'm just being honest, mine has operated just like his father before him as a walled off village.  Unfortunately, no I wouldn't be able to settle for this again if he returned.  I too kept asking if everything was OK?  If it was someone else or didn't want to be married any longer?  "No, it's all good." 2 months before he was  caught.  I will never believe the silence again. I am now triggered by the stoic face.  That is deal breaker for me.  If he can't emotionally make himself available or operate in truth, I don't want to be the only one out there giving and not feeling he is trying.  I would hope he learns it's a risk for anyone to open up.  I don't want to feel raw and exposed like that ever again.  Just my p.o.v. for me.   :)
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#6: May 14, 2020, 07:35:39 AM

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real

This is the start to "Hurt" sung by the late great Johnny Cash. A little while back, I wrote a post to you and managed to lose it. Probably sitting ins someone's junk email file or just disappeared. I am not trying to make excuses for your h, but based upon the post you have made about him, I can easily see how his childhood and adolescence forced him to disconnect from his emotions.

He grew up separated from his mother, lived with a violent alcoholic father, and spent many of his teenage years in temporary living situations  that did not enable him to build the emotional connections. Instead he learned to focus his energy into action and work.

I think in the beginning, you accepted him and felt some sense of obligation regarding his troubled past. After all, you married him with the knowledge of his past. All was fine until he betrayed you. I know the pain of that betrayal. Now, the acceptance and the obligation of the past are done. He returned, but the new relationship rules have been changed, not by him-but you.

Now to be fair, I always thought of reconnection being this huge emotional high. The MLCer returns to professing their true love for the LBSer and how sorry they were for all the pain they caused. The LBSer wiping the tears of joy welcoming them back into their lives. So the Hollywood story ends there. Instead, the MLCer returns home more like a washed up disshelved rat and the LBSer really contemplates even letting them through the front door let alone back into the marriage. Even after letting them back in, the MLCer often is a wreck, doesn't want to discuss anything, and just wants to act as if nothing happened at all. Kind of like the Dallas season where Bobby died, it was just a dream.

I know I am probably stating a lot of facts you really already know. So, I am going to go off topic a little. The root of the issue really lies with you. You stood by this man for years while he delved into work and did his thing, then he betrayed you and left, now you take him back for what? Its really like selling your old beat up car, having remorse, and buying it back at a higher price.

In the end, I think its your new boundary. If you can't ask or explain you needs, I can't meet them and you can't complain. It's like going into McDonald's and staring at the menu, someone asks me if I want something and I say, "I'm fine" then two hours later complaining that I'm still hungry and no one has served me.

One thing I have learned over the years, you can't control anyone. Believe me, this is coming from someone who thought he was in control of everything. You are in control of you and you are still moving forward. Life goes on. If he wants to stay stuck on a deadend street, that is his choice. You just need to stay on the freeway of life.

((((Hugs))) and more ((((Hugs)))


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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#7: May 14, 2020, 07:44:28 AM
The root of the issue really lies with you. You stood by this man for years while he delved into work and did his thing, then he betrayed you and left, now you take him back for what? Its really like selling your old beat up car, having remorse, and buying it back at a higher price.

In the end, I think its your new boundary. If you can't ask or explain you needs, I can't meet them and you can't complain. It's like going into McDonald's and staring at the menu, someone asks me if I want something and I say, "I'm fine" then two hours later complaining that I'm still hungry and no one has served me.

One thing I have learned over the years, you can't control anyone. Believe me, this is coming from someone who thought he was in control of everything. You are in control of you and you are still moving forward. Life goes on. If he wants to stay stuck on a deadend street, that is his choice. You just need to stay on the freeway of life.

I could not have said it better myself.  I think Readytofixmyselffirst is right on target.
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The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#8: May 14, 2020, 09:01:13 AM
This thread is speaking to me today particularly what Barbie and Watcher said.  It is the wall and how we react to the wall.  My H's went up a long time before BD and he refused to speak about it, lost in his own worlds, said everything was fine.  So we compensate and accept the wall, we try to climb it a few times, and we fall, like Humpty Dumpty so a bit shattered we stop and accept the wall.  What I find most incredulous is that we were then blamed for the wall. 

Barbie, my heart goes out to you, trying once more to get through that wall--perhaps a secret door, rather than a full scale assault over the top.  Mine has been gone for a long(ish) time, so I am not the same girl.  Yours came back soon, which we all cheered, but I understand what you said about perhaps needing more time.   Hugs.

What Watcher said rings true--

I think he obviously has different walls. However, he has one specific to you and that's the one you need down.

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M 30 years at BD, together 34

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Re: The Emotionally Unavailable MLC Male
#9: May 14, 2020, 10:57:15 AM
Excellent discussion, barbiedoll; I recognize so much in your share and thank you for opening the dialogue.

Before I was married to D’s dad, he took me on a trip to a city I’d always wanted to visit. It was for my birthday, a big deal birthday, one of the decade birthdays. It might have been amazing, but for various reasons, it kind of wasn’t.

First, it turned out that his best friend from high school lived there, with a new fiancée. The high school friend was so boring, and the fiancée was younger than we were and a real pill, unaccountably arrogant and difficult to have any real conversation with. They weren’t my people, and only one of them was known and only to one of us. But staying with them made the trip cheaper, so that’s what we did.

It turned out that the best friend had the same exact birthdate as mine. :/ That was fun. *cough*

The friend and the fiancée threw a big swanky dinner party at one of the city’s hottest restaurants. Their local people turned up for it and I had one of the most annoying and uncomfortable nights of my life. And I’m previously a bit of an “IT GIRL”, and usually mix very well with others and in places like that. But those people were impossible to enjoy and while one of them hit on me with bizarre hostility all night, another aggressively went after the man who had brought me there, as if he’d come especially to see her. I’ll stop there because honestly, you don’t want to hear the rest of it. If not for the fact that we ultimately did marry and have a beautiful amazing daughter from it, that night and trip were massive red flags, like, THEY GLOWED LIKE THE FIRES OF HELL, and I might wish that I had heeded those stark signals and run for the hills upon returning home.


I think that women just natively have language for emotions and anything else because from such a young age, we are constantly required to live fully in our bodies. So we know when there’s blood coming, when it’s with us, when it’s late, what all the signals are of menstruation and pregnancy and miscarriage and menopause. And if we are mothers, then we also know to pay attention to every minor twitch or rhythm or anomaly in the bodies or moods of babies and children and teens. Fathers do this to some degree also, but mothers may have the more natural or explicit aptitude for it. It doesn’t make anyone better or superior or whatever; it’s just a different skill set or strength. We won’t talk about how it goes deeper maybe, if anyone was traumatized in childhood, except that maybe there are two sides of that — the one where reading another person’s body language or tone or moods is a survival mechanism that works, and the other where ignoring or dismissing or automatically not registering anyone’s verbal and nonverbal expression is also a survival mechanism that works.

I’m the kind for whom reading everyone and everything is what explicitly works. H is one for whom it is so painful and frightening that he can’t. Like, ever.

It’s sad, because he is really, really smart in so many other key ways. And before MLC, he was very able to express his deepest stuff to me, and did so with abandon. And now he isn’t and doesn’t. Or, he tries from time to time. But I am so mad at the 2500 miles and years of distance and replacement, that I can’t really hear or register him fully. I mean I can’t even see him, he doesn’t telephone, and as of last November, I have no idea where he even lives. There’s an ambiguity about it but there’s also so much unresolved confusion, and so much anger.

I’m not sorry, at the moment.

barbiedoll, what I want to say here is that I think when a man (or anyone) is like this, when they’re “FINE” even you know they clearly aren’t — when they turn to give their disclosure to some jackass third party, I think they do so without much conviction or commitment. My sense of it is that they unload on the outsider because that person is “safe”? Because that person has little meaning to them, comparatively, and will neither judge them nor be around long enough to really understand how the piece that is shared fits into the overall puzzle of that Self. And because that third party is originally without history and therefore both “new” and also meaningless, once it susses out that there is a problem with or disconnect in the narrative, it’s easier to ditch that connection too.

When h was here four years ago, he avoided looking at key decor in the then-new house. I had two framed artworks that I was so pleased to show him, and to tell him why I loved them, and he literally turned his face away from both. I asked him gently why, later. He said almost painfully that he didn’t look at certain things in case they were then taken away from him and he might never see them again.

It was one of the most honest and confusing things he’s ever said to me. And all I know from it really is that his inner pain runs deep channels and twists I know absolutely nothing about. And here I thought that *I* had it hard.

What I gather from experience of h is that the people he discloses to are like so many throwaway accounts. He can be anyone when he tells stories to them. The only person he can be with me, is himself. The present Self, a past Self, or some yet to be manifested future Self. But always only himself. He knows I know most of the pieces of him. He also knows I will hold all aspects accountable or in grace, or both.

Some people legitimately do not understand how to receive love, and they may legitimately fear it. Having loved, especially having loved him, I understand that fear a bit. I know you do, too.

I’m not sure how we get around it. I once tried the Human Design approach for his design type and asked only yes/no questions and was, for a while, satisfied with those blunt or gruff answers. Sometimes I rephrased a more open-ended question so many times in the same conversation that it was like trying to get the horse to drink, which amazingly he finally did. If I can find that chat in the deep archives, I’ll paraphrase it sometime here for you. It was like pulling teeth but it was successful and I don’t think it was bad or codependent or anything else negative for me to do, because it did work. The only trouble is that it’s tiring for the questioner, and it’s hard to keep up that style long enough for the answerer to register that it’s functional and can be streamlined to make it easier on both.

Communication dynamics are a discipline and maybe that’s what marital counseling is about — the showing up together on routine schedule for a structured and different or better kind of dialogue. Sometimes it seems really damned unfair that we should have to “learn” how to just even *talk* to our spouse; you’d think that after years or a decade or three together, we both would know how to have a normal and reasonable conversation. But life throws all kinds of junk into the mix. Dialogue gets cluttered with so much else.

On throwaway accounts: during that birthday trip with the man who would eventually be a husband, then D’s dad, then ex-husband, the best friend’s fiancée took us out of state to a big deal antique fair. On the long drive up in the dark, she drove with my partner sitting shotgun, and me alone in the back seat listening to them talk as if I wasn’t even there. That was a red flag too; it doesn’t make any sense to me even now.

At a gas station in the dark, I stopped breathing as the man who would eventually be my first husband told a total stranger that his last name was fabricated by his father for reasons no one understood. And that his name at birth had been something entirely different. I had known him and his father both for something like five years by then, and had never heard this story even once. I thought he was lying. But you know what? It was the truth.

He told it to some woman who was a total nobody to either of us, as if it was nothing. And it wasn’t something he wanted to talk to me about, after we returned home. Instead he bugged me for years about that trip and said wasn’t it a good trip?

Well, yes and no.

In the many years that have passed — 20 or more, with a brief marriage and a long divorce at the midpoint — I have at least realized that some topics aren’t to be discussed. Not because we are not important enough to discuss them with or to, but because we are *too* important.

If that makes sense. It flies in the face of what I had always wanted and expected of intimacy, but I understand it better now. I think what I have learned during the MLC hurt is that some hurts are really unsayable, unspeakable, and painful enough that maybe they are better left unsaid. I’ve learned that too — that I don’t have to make sure “you” understand 100% and every facet of my pain. It’s weird to describe it like this, but, it’s *my* pain. Sometimes I want to keep it all to myself, not to hoard or wield it for any reason, but just because I am still working on how to understand the ways it inhibited or defaced other aspects of my life, and whether that is still important, or why.

I didn’t ever think that a marriage was about two very self-contained persons living a life in daily and nightly tandem. If anyone had made that clear, years ago, I might never have wanted marriage as much as I did and still do. But I think now that self-containment seems the better and healthier idea. I don’t want to be responsible for managing anyone else’s past hurts anymore. I get that h has those, that I have them, that we all do. Just, at a certain point we have to be the manager of our own inner stuff, or else the train derails and it feels almost impossible to get back on a healthy track.

Sometimes I recognize that what D’s dad said then is still true — that my inner world is pacific. He meant it in the proper noun sense, like the ocean. But it was wordplay and all the definitions and intimations hold true. I think it’s true of every person alive. The inner world and history of a person, and its experience of itself, is so vast and deep and wide, and we can’t really manage it for them. Only the Self itself can do that well.

barbiedoll I hope you can have some peace in giving his self authority fully over to him. I know it hurts when the loved one confides in someone other than us, and that it’s unfair. But maybe it is just because we are far too important to show these doubtful or dark inner parts to. At some point, hopefully, there is a stirring to awareness in the MLCer that we can’t be in the dark much longer.

I’ve read for years on the EUM; I wish I could remember the title that worked best for me. It was by a woman who I think is in the UK. If I remember it, I’ll PM you. What I do know is that there were signs of emotional unavailability or lack of emotional intelligence early on, and I worked with those for several good (if touchy) years, and then MLC began and there wasn’t emotional availability anymore. Just a sh!t ton of emotional lability, which is not great to receive.

It made me wonder if in MLC, any third party gets “the best” of the MLC spouse...for a *time*.

Ultimately the real Self does factor in, and so does familiarity, and then the resultant discomfort of being known more fully. This discomfort is either something that Self is going to get used to, or keep running from.

My prayers are that your h learns to sit comfortably in being known by you. And also that this will happen without you having to become so tired by the effort of it; that a time will come when it is easier for him to trust and let down his habitual guard and just be present with you in a mutually good and continually rewarding way.

I know this was long and thank you for reading it; your thoughts give mine a reason for being.

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