Is being emotionally broken readily evident at the start of the relationship?
He’s the man of your dreams: handsome, smart and hard-working; the life of the party when out with your friends and super-charming at Sunday lunch with your parents. You love him, and yet… You feel like there’s definitely something missing. You know he’s been hurt in the past, and now it almost feels as if he isn’t ready to love you in the same way that you love him.
The first thing you need to do is think back on the time you two met for the first time and ask yourself… was he always like this? Perhaps you thought the coldness he showed on the first few dates was due to the natural awkwardness of meeting someone new, or that his inability to move forward with your relationship was only him playing hard-to-get.
However, it could also be that he’s been silently showing signs of emotional damage from the very start of the relationship. If that’s the case, there might be more to it and it’s important that you start thinking about the situation a bit more seriously. Even if you missed the first few signs, it’s not too late for him to acknowledge his issues and try to get better.
What are the possible reasons my man is emotionally damaged?
Every human being is an intricate universe all on their own, and just as every experience in your life has shaped you and made you become the person you are today, the same happened with your man. The reason for his emotional damage may lie in a past relationship or maybe even a traumatic childhood.
Perhaps he’s already told you about that breakup that left him in shambles. Or maybe he doesn’t talk about it, but you know his relationship with his parents is complicated and there might be more to the story than what he tells. Sometimes it’s easy for people to pinpoint the exact moment emotional damage was inflicted on them, but for others, it takes a lot of effort in therapy before they’re able to determine the cause.
If you’re starting a relationship with a man who you feel is not as emotionally available as you, or who has been emotionally damaged in the past, you may not want to believe that he’s actually broken. However, the first step you must take for your relationship to get better is to be able to recognize the signs that he’s been emotionally hurt in the past and might be bringing that issue into your current relationship.
What are the signs of an emotionally damaged man?
These are some of the signs your man is damaged emotionally:
He feels scared to make the first move
If a man has been hurt before, he will most likely avoid reliving that kind of situation. That’s why he will really think it through before taking any kind of step forward in a relationship with another woman.
You feel like he doesn't trust you
You’ve been confiding everything in your guy and telling him all about your life, even things that happened before you two met. However, he’s still silent about a lot of things and isn’t as open with you as you are with him, giving you clear signs that he just doesn’t trust you that much.
He has self-esteem issues
Even if guys try to hide it well, they also struggle with self-image and self-esteem problems. If your man has low self-esteem, it might stem from emotional damage that happened to him in his past. This is a hard issue to tackle: his self-esteem level will probably be impacting every aspect of his life negatively, not just your relationship.
He doesn't want to label your relationship
This sign is a tricky one because there are other possible reasons why a guy wouldn’t want to immediately label your relationship or make it official with you. However, if you already suspect he’s been emotionally damaged in the past, the reason why he’s straying away from labeling your relationship is probably because it brings him bad memories of a previous one.
How do emotionally challenged men show their love?
One thing you must always remember is that even though your man is unable to show you the type of emotional availability you want, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. A man who is emotionally damaged is completely capable of loving you back, but his love might be showing in a different way. It’s important to be able to read him so these demonstrations of love don’t pass you by.
Here are some ways in which your man may be showing you his love:
He lets you lead the way
He doesn’t feel confident enough to call the shots himself, but he tries to show you he cares by letting you pick which restaurant you’ll have your dinner date in or which movie you’ll watch the next weekend. It might be hard for him to show his true feelings, but he’s still trying to make sure you’re happy.
He tries his best when he's around you
Even though his emotional baggage is getting the best of him, he’s still putting on his best behavior and trying to be the best version of himself when he’s around you. It’s probably really hard for him to overcome his issues, so this deserves praise.
He builds up your self-esteem
People who struggle with self-esteem and self-love issues will try to overcompensate by complimenting the people around them and trying to build their confidence up. The compliments are nice, but what he’s really saying with his actions is that he never wants you to feel the way he does, and that’s even nicer.
He's willing to try and get better
The fact that your man understands that he has emotional damage that needs taking care of is already a huge step forward. If he’s taking matters into his own hands to try and make himself better, that’s the biggest proof of love he could give (both to you and to himself).
How do I become a better partner for an emotionally damaged man?
What can you do when you’re dating an emotionally damaged man? Should you try to help him? Is it best to let him figure it out on his own? The best thing to do is to try and look at the situation transparently and analyze it before deciding which is the best way to help. This is always a tricky issue, but with a little patience and empathy, you’ll be able to overcome this hurdle.
First, the number one thing emotionally damaged men need is understanding. The fact that you’re reading this article and trying to accept him is already a big help for him. A lot of relationships end before they’re given enough time to flourish only because one (or both) of the people involved won’t try to acknowledge their partner and the baggage they come with.
Once you both get a grip on his issues, and after he has decided he needs help, you can be there for him by allowing him to rely on you during his process of getting better. You can also be of help by researching good therapists in the area, useful articles, help groups and other resources that might speed up his emotional healing.
Should I try to “fix” him?
It’s highly likely that your first reaction when you came across this article was, “I’m finally going to learn how to fix my man!” Well, the truth is… He’s the only one who can fix himself. Nobody knows him as well as he does, and that’s why he must take it up as his own personal challenge to try and heal himself.
There’s a good chance that nobody (apart from you) knows about his struggles, so your presence will help tremendously. While he’s in the process of healing from his emotional damage, the best thing you can do for your man is to just be there for him as his personal support system. Also, remember that being someone’s rock during this process is hard and daunting, so make sure to be kind to yourself as well.
Dating an emotionally damaged man might be a challenging situation, but it’s not the end of the world. By being able to recognize the signs, reading your man’s unique love language, and, most of all, understanding him, there’s a good chance you will both overcome the issue together.
Keep in mind that, while love is a team sport, getting better and healing from past traumas is a one-man job. It’s important for you to support your man while he’s striving to get better, but always remember that the motivation and drive to do that must come from himself. And, most importantly, don’t forget that you should take care of yourself first and foremost.
Good luck on your journey!