“He’s So Vain”: Five Clues To Recognizing An Emotionally Unavailable Man

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When I was in college, I had a massive crush on a guy whose mere presence rendered me speechless. We were in the same friend group, as well as being appointed student ambassadors for the University we attended. Often at official events together, I dreamed about what it would be like to become a couple. Henry was smart, good-looking, oh so nice, and the life of the party. Every time I saw him, I swooned all over again.

BUT…I didn’t seem to have the same effect on him.  While Henry was cordial and kind to me, he clearly was not interested. Convinced I could persuade him to see the benefits of dating me, I asked him to be my escort for homecoming. He said yes and we had a great time, but still nothing followed. Determined to turn things in my favor, I started dating his best friend. That didn’t last because, after all, it wasn’t the best friend I cared for. It was Henry. But rather than making Henry jealous, the fact that I was dating his friend just made him happy for me. I think he was genuinely sorry when the friend and I broke up!

Years later, Henry married, had a family, and went on to have a productive life and career. And of course, I got over Henry, but not without some head scratching about “what went wrong”.


During those years in my early twenties when I was actively dating and trying to understand men, I told my grandmother the Henry story. “Why don’t you think he was interested in me?” I asked. Her answer stopped me in my tracks: “Because he just wasn’t!” she said, firmly. “And you missed the signals.”

Wow! My grandmother’s truth finally crystallized the situation for me. There had been signs all along. True, Henry wasn’t like others who might have ghosted, gaslighted, or breadcrumbed me (to use today’s terms of unacceptable dating patterns). If he had behaved badly, it would have been easier to get the hint. But he was nice, and that’s what fooled me.


The truth is that almost all of us have. And sometimes, the risks and the stakes are very high. For example, I have an accomplished female friend who almost exclusively dates married men. Why? Because they aren’t emotionally available, and she prefers not to be entangled.

But if it’s a real relationship you seek, learning the signals of emotionally unavailable men will keep you from wasting your time, spending energy on games, and exhausting your emotions.


  • Unsatisfying communication an emotionally unavailable man will not stay in touch on a regular basis. You might hear from him sporadically or with little consistency. And knowing how to respond to him will feel confusing to you.
  • Lack of attention to you the emotionally unavailable man will be more about him than about you. He won’t keep track of what you last talked about, he won’t remember what big things are looming for you, and he won’t offer you emotional support.
  • Failure to reciprocate – a man who isn’t interested won’t “return the favor”. If you ask him out, he won’t necessarily arrange a date in return. Whatever you do for him, he may not do for you. The relationship feels one-sided (like my story about Henry.)
  • Playing the victim men who aren’t emotionally available are often mired in their own problems. It could be work, old relationship issues, personal insecurities, or any number of “larger than life” issues which keep them from having time for you.
  • Relationship “stall” – men who don’t want to get involved may spend time with you, but they aren’t actively moving the relationship forward. You don’t enter their world. You don’t meet their family or friends, know much about their lifestyle, or understand where you fit in. The relationship doesn’t progress.


Being aware of the signs from men who can’t be available to you will save you heartache and time. You will develop appropriate boundaries and be free to pursue dating people who value you. And most importantly, having that clarity will protect your self-worth.

Dating an emotionally unavailable man diminishes you. It strings you along in ways that sap your mental health. Don’t let that happen! Remember that you are in the dating driver’s seat.

Let me know if you recognize men you have dated among the emotionally unavailable. I would love to hear from you with your thoughts and questions. Write me at kate@katesomerset.com.



  • Kate Somerset

    Kate Somerset is an author pen name for the book “Mom…You Just Need to Get Laid: The Adventures of Dating After Divorce”. Following a divorce after 24 years of marriage, and thirty years of being deeply rooted in professional and volunteer roles in Texas, Kate took a chance on a new life in New York City. She immediately fell in love with Manhattan and the many opportunities it offers. Kate’s book about 15 true dating experiences in New York City is an honest, humorous, and inspirational look on how to give yourself and romance a second chance. One of the most universal struggles faced by all of us – building effective social connections – is the focus of Kate’s monthly column for The Three Tomatoes. Published by Brooklyn Writer’s Press, the book and Ebook are available on Amazon. An audiobook produced by The Three Tomatoes is on Amazon and Audible. Learn more about Kate at www.KateSomerset.com.

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