Asking yourself “do emotionally unavailable men change?” is a lot like wondering if watering a dead plant will bring it back to life.
Imagine walking in your neighborhood and seeing your neighbor, who has this beautiful garden, spend all her time with a hose over the one lifeless plant. She’s got a beautiful garden that she needs to take care of and maintain, but she’s laser-focused on watering the dead plant.
Do you know what happens when you spend all your time watering a dead plant? You neglect the beautiful garden around you that you need to water and take care of to maintain. As time passes, you realize that the beautiful garden is now gone and you have nowhere to turn. So what do you do? Stupidly, invest even more in the dead plant with the hope that it will come to life. You can’t stop now.
Even though your intentions are good, by continuing to water a dead plant, you’ll end up doing more damage than good. You’ll drown the dead plant and be made to feel crazy (and look crazy to everyone else) for drowning it when in reality, all you wanted to do was just come around, give it some unconditional love and be “good enough” to bring it back to life.
I used to go after potential because I used to equate being a used and in-demand doormat with people wanting me. And as long as I was with a man who had potential, that meant that my itch to get validation could be scratched (validation in the form of me being good/hot/important/cool enough for him to want to “come to life” with all I was watering). And because this kept me so busy, I always had a valid excuse for not taking action in my own life.
One thing that always made me continue to water dead plants was this innate fear that the second I stopped watering, it would suddenly combust into an award-winning rose garden and someone else would step in and reap the benefits of my love, dedication, investment, and hard work.
Do emotionally unavailable men change? Do they? I needed to know. I’ve had emotionally unavailable exes move on from me that are now are married with kids and seem to be everything that they weren’t with me.
Did they change? What did I miss? Why wasn’t I good enough to elicit “the change” in them?
Here’s what I’ve realized and learned when it comes to “do emotionally unavailable men change?”
- Babies, marriage, and engagements are all wonderful, but they aren’t markers of emotional availability. Last time I checked, you could obtain a marriage license, buy a ring, have a baby, and still be emotionally unavailable.
- There are some emotionally unavailable guys who change; everyone is capable of change. This is generally due to something MAJOR happening that makes it impossible to keep operating the way they do. Most of them never change. They don’t have the ability to self-reflect.
- Waiting around, watering a dead plant, hoping it will change is like hoarding trash in your house and never referring to it as “trash” just because it’s not in the trashcan. Stop living in a dirty house and toss the sh*t.
- If they kept engaging in hurtful behavior, it’s because that’s who they are. And they have no problem being that way! This has nothing to do with you. They were this way before you, with you, and will continue to be this way after you.
- You should never have to tell the person you’re with what respect, honesty, loyalty, and communication mean.
- Piece of sh*t people don’t just magically transform into people that are capable of empathy, love, loyalty, communication, respect, and commitment just because they are no longer with you.
- If you think he’s changed, it’s more likely that he’s just morphed into what is required in the moment so he can get his needs met. With emotionally unavailable guys, it’s their world and we’re just breathing their air.
- Emotionally unavailable guys are unable to empathize. And without the ability to have genuine emotional connections and zero empathy to tap into, the only thing left is the ego and these guys are ALL about the ego. Often, when they seem to make a big change or, if they move on and get married or start dating someone new, it’s because all of their bros have settled or they feel like it’s “the next logical step.” It’s never as deep and substantial as you think.
- To change, you have to want it. You have to be able to take accountability, responsibility, and you have to be able to be vulnerable enough to view yourself and how you’ve behaved in a not so righteous way. He’s nowhere near this. Genuine change takes time (that you have wasted enough of).
Your time is so much more valuable than betting on the unrealistic potential of a dead plant coming back to life.
+ If you need further and more personalized help with your relationship, please look into working with me here.
All Emotionally Unavailable Articles
This is a complete list of articles I have written on Emotionally Unavailable.
Am I Emotionally Unavailable? How To Tell & What To Do
Emotionally Unavailable Men: What Do They Do After A Breakup?
Is He Emotionally Unavailable? 15 Signs Your Guy Is Emotionally Bankrupt
This is so true with men and friends too. People have to WANT to change. You’re so right!
This is the guy that just broke my heart when I email u. He has been telling me all this things pretty much making me feel it was all my fault he didn’t keep his promise and broke my heart. I have to admit I’m afraid of him moving on I know he will faster than me and I know I won’t be able to see him with someone else. Btw he wants to be friends with me according to him he still considers me a great friend ????
Paola- I am literally in the SAME situation. These blog posts have been my saving grace. It’s hard, but I’m getting stronger every day with the help of coming back here and reminding myself that I deserve better. We both do!
Yes, I was in a 13-year relationship, and he made me move out. He feels he was done wrong. I read messages where he was writing a girl around thirty-years younger than himself. Baby, Love you, and things like that. That was all okay though. He offered her an assistant job & told her he could give her job making good money. Invited for her to come down. She mentioned to him, Don’t forget me… he says, I tried, but I can’t now. I’m sure all of those messages are innocent. She told him that it is a peaceful night and he replies back by saying he likes peaceful nights but that is his second favorite thing. I guess, all of that was okay though. I apparently made his life miserable, I am a narcissist, no empathy, etc. He is now remodeling the home, in which he would never do anything to in the entire 13-years. A fireplace (with dimmers), paint, new windows, new gutters, trees removed, new-nice furniture, other nice items you can think of. I’m thinking to myself, really? I just feel like crying my eyes out.. It is all of my fault in his eyes, but between his family and himself thinking a certain way… well.
I don’t know… I am thinking to myself, when will he realize to place blame on himself for once?
One person told me earlier today, he let go years ago, and now it is your turn to let go…. It hurts, but truth is truth.
Thank you so much for this. It’s been 3 months since our final breakup and he was already back with some girl he used to hookup with, within 3 weeks after our breakup. I have been torturing myself wondering if that “great” guy he kept promising me he’d be – that she now got him. Even though in the past 3 months he hasn’t admitted to anyone he is with this girl. But in my mind I have him all of a sudden being loving, caring, affectionate, making her a priority….is that at all possible?
Saw your post. Please help me. Heidi has posted my pain. What if he has changed for her? I left him Because he was a cheat and he was so upset but now he’s with someone else who he told me he loves.more than he ever loved me. She got on the phone too. He was so hurtful. What if he has changed for her ..is the man I so wanted him to be with me. we were together for five years. I loved him very much.
Thanks for reading 🙂 I promise you – decent people that are capable of love, respect and honesty do not just transform into jerks because they are graced with your presence. I feel you pain and you’re not alone. Keep coming back here to the blog. xxxx
Love you more and more with every new post I read and screenshotting what really hits home for me when I’m at my downtime again and again. You are truly amazing and inspire the real me to come out of hiding! God bless you hun!!
I love your analogy of watering a dead plant – it gives me visual of what I was doing with this man. And it got me thinking about another perfect analogy that really resonates with me. I love to go to the casino and play slots – it’s one of my few indulgences, and I make no apologies for enjoying it. And sometimes I actually win! So, here’s why pursuing an emotionally unavailable man is like playing the slots:
When you arrive at the casino, you’re optimistic and excited. You haven’t lost any money yet, and all of these shiny machines with the potential to pay off big are luring you in. It just takes that one lucky spin to make you a winner! As you start putting money into one machine after another, you start to feel anxious and annoyed that these f-ing machines are just taking your money and only paying out enough to keep you playing, and to keep you believing that they will eventually pay off. Especially if you’re “stuck” on one machine – you just KNOW this machine is overdue to pay big, and you don’t want to leave this machine that you’ve invested your time and money into, only to have someone else sit down right after you left it – and hit the jackpot! After all, you certainly don’t want them to get the benefits of all YOUR blood, sweat, tears, and money. So you end up leaving the casino broke, annoyed, and disappointed in yourself that you did it AGAIN. And you just know that someone else got the jackpot that YOU worked for.
This irrational thought process is what keeps you coming back to the casino – and playing the same machines, hoping it will eventually pay off, because you know it CAN. But “possibly” doesn’t mean “probably”. If you play long enough, the house always wins.
Lisa! Yes yes YESSSSSS! I LOVE this! Can I use this (and obviously credit you by your first name), in a future post? Amazing!!! You get it! xoxo
I’m on a bit of a commenting spree today so I apologise in advance! How do you accept that the emotionally unavailable guy that doesn’t want you now has a new girlfriend? It’s just a bit confusing because he displayed all the signs of being unavailable (obviously I’m not faultless either) but now that he has a girlfriend it makes me wonder whether he really was unavailable or whether it was just me that he really didn’t want.
I love that topic for a blog post! I’ll have it up soon xxxxx
I want to share this with you because I have read comments from a few girls with the same fear I had a few days ago…
I found this jerk (my ex) with his new flame sleeping in his bed, and of course I said to him: how could you…? I was shocked… And he told me he loved her, and that he has become the man I alwayd wanted: serious, in love, sweet, caring, etc with her. He was SO VERY cruel, so I felt horrible, (I cried, destroyed pictures, got drunk, cried more…) but then I thought…why in the world someone who is really caring and considerate (as he wanted me to believe he was) would say something so nasty as that?? He knew for all the pain I was going through.?? NO WAY.
He is the same selfish, narcissist, egocentric and unhappy person I was with, and the more I read these articles and the comments, the more I proof this theory.
Happy people wants you to be happy, unhappy people is cruel and wants you to feel bad and regret what you did, but in the deep of their heart they know we are much stronger and better and actually that is the reason why they say ugly things to us, because they know we will fly away and they know we will find happiness far from them.
Yes! Thx u so much Celtic XOXO
Thansk again… Natasha please talk about what to do if you allow your ex who cheated on you a second chance and he again does the same thing…. How to heal the second time
Wow. I wish that we could get a drink and talk in real life. Reading this the past two days has gotten me out of a mini funk. You are awesome.
I would love that!! Thanks Jen 🙂 RIGHT back at you. xx
I just have one question – what about the women these guys marry and have babies with? Are they ok with the crappy behavior and just know how to ignore it well? Are they less sensitive to certain things? Or are they perhaps desperate for a man (any man)? Are they dumb and/or oblivious or are perhaps fucktards themselves? All of the above? Thoughts? 🙂
I wish that I could elaborate further and answer your question, but I have too much to say to type it all out not enough hands to type or hours in the day.
I will definitely try to write a post about this soon though! LOVE the topic/idea. Thanks for the recommendation!
All my love to you soul sister. Thanks for your love and understanding.
You’re not alone xo
I’ve just come across this page and would also be interested in an anwer to Yelena’s question.
I was married to an EU man for 5 years and didn’t know that his problem was being EU. I thought that if I worked hard at the marriage then I would get back some kind of affection, respect, validation. Wrong ! The more I gave the more he took.
After 4 years I could stand it no longer and started calling him out on his behaviour.
His response was to start an affair with an employee 10 yers younger than him and I divorced him.
He married her 4 years later when she was pregnant and they have now been married 20 years and have 2 kids.
Either he has changed (doubtful) or she must have an amazing capacity for tolerating his $hi££y behaviour.
She was 30 when they married so possibly her biological clock was ticking and she saw him as the last chance to have a family. who knows?
Thanks for a great website!
I’m so happy that the blog has helped! 🙂 Will definitely write a post on this soon. Thank you for being a part of this tribe. xx
This is exactly what I needed Natasha!! After 6 weeks of watering my “dead plant of a guy” I finally gave up. He had been saying again and again that he wanted to catch up but every time I tried to make plans he had a million other excuses. It got to the point where I said forget it. And you know what? He didn’t even try to make a plan.
So here I am now, having wasted six weeks of time and energy not mention how emotionally drained I am and I can’t thank you enough for this article!
Hopefully now I’ll be better at spotting a dead plant when I see one, and rather than trying to revive it, I will just walk on by!
Yes. You. WILL.
Thanks Caitlin! 🙂 I’m happy and honored to help. XO
Hello to the Tribe – The analogy of taking care of the beautiful garden and not wasting time watering a dead plant, really hits home for me as I recover from an Emotionally Unavailable Narcissist. Instead of a dead plant, I think of the EUN in my case as a pot of silk flowers: pretty from a distance, attracting plenty of onlookers, but unable to respond or grow to whatever water, sun and fertilizer you provide them. The EUN in my case is handsome, charismatic and surrounded by friends who overlook (and thus enable) his emotional cruelty. I thought something there was something terribly wrong with me for being the only one who was bothered by his behaviour. Then, I realized that fake flowers may suit some people and some purposes, but not the kind of relationship I’m seeking.
Oh boy, you mentioned that watering a dead plant for too long can make a person look crazy? Well, send me to the loony bin because I have been watering a dead tree off/on for 6 years (YEARS!). I’m the gal who craves emotional connection yet simultaneously seeks out drama/chaos. He’s the insensitive guy with commitment issues and the emotional depth of a puddle..
This has all occurred during a time in my life when I’ve been working to find myself after a major life trauma. I’ve been entirely dependent on the approval of others for my sense of self-worth.
While he and I have cycled through the hot/cold, love/hate sh*tshow, I have neglected my own life.. I now am in my early 30’s, have only a couple of real friendships, and a family who thinks my behavior is insane (which…it kinda is).
Just over a month ago I completely cut him off. Blocked and deleted.
I have faith that I can succeed this time because of the frequent Oprah style “Aha” moments I have as I read your blog and the “No Contact Contract”.
I have worn the label of “victim” for waaay too long. It is time to accept reality, own my worthiness, and create the happiness I’ve been so desperately seeking.
THANK YOU for your incredible guidance and wisdom. And thank you for helping me see that he only shines because I’ve been gracing him with my light.
I can do this.
I want to hug, high-5, and take you to lunch all at the same time. I am in tears as I type this. I wish that I could express just how many people you are giving light to, inspiring to stay strong and have their own back by sharing your experiences and journey.
I am so happy to have helped. It’s what I live for and I have definitely been there.
You can do this because you ARE doing it. And you are never alone soul sister.
I love you and really hope that I can meet you in person one day soon. Thank you for existing. XOX
Laura — thank you for sharing your story. I just ended a five year relationship with a a toxic person who I’ve bent over backwards for because I too did not believe in my self worth. I preach a lot about self love and acceptance but for me, I’ve been running away and avoiding doing the inner work I know is so important, using the excuse of fixing men who have conditioned me to become a doormat. Now that things are over he’s texting me everything I wish he could’ve said before. It’s killing me not to respond, but I’m trying to finally claim my self worth, as much as it’s killong me inside. The fact that I’m more sad than angry after everything he’s put me through is also telling of how damaged I’ve become. I hope you’re holding strong. I’m trying to as well.
Wow, my husband of 38 years left our marriage 6 months ago and won’t tell me why except to say “we grew apart, have nothing in common”… It’s not true. He pulled away. We lost a child 6 years ago, he would be 31. My husband never dealt with it. he won’t communicate. I’ve been asking him to come back, begging him to go to counselling, sending him articles. I’ve now realized that I am dealing with a terribly non communicative man and I’ve been watering a dead plant as you described it for 6 months. Time to let it do what it’s going to do and pay attention to what is around me. It’s hard. This gardener has been focused on this dead plant’s need for her whole adult life. Met him at 17, engaged at 19, married at 22. We are both 62, hard to begin again. I’m so hurt and lost, but going to try and leave him alone.
My dear Susan,
I wish that I could hug you right now. You are not alone. I am so incredibly sorry for your losses. Please keep coming back here to the blog and if you need more personalized help, I am happy to set up a call.
All my love to you, soul sister. Xox