black mirrorWhat’s the difference between an emotionally unavailable man and a narcissist? A thin line and someone defining it, but there is a line there nonetheless.

Since I published my ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl which focused on the behaviour of emotionally unavailable men, I’ve had several emails requesting that I discuss the subject of narcissism further because many women do believe that they are going out with a narcissist.

So what’s a narcissist?

For me, someone being a narcissist has always represented someone with excessive self-love, who pretty much fancies themselves.

According to the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) group it’s “An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.”

How do you know if he’s a narcissist?

There are nine criteria of which five need to be met:
1. Feels grandiose and self-importance.
2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success.
3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions).
4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation.
5. Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment.
6. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations. Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others
8. Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her
9. Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
Source: NPD

In general, the points that I’ve highlighted in bold reflect the most common complaints from women about their ‘relationships’ with Mr Unavailable. I’m not a psychologist; I’m just an ‘expert’ on assclowns and seeing things for what they really are. I always say that Mr Unavailables have ‘narcissistic tendencies’ which essentially makes them a hop, skip, and a jump away from being a narcissist, but they often fall short on the criteria notch.

In my ebook, I describe in depth ten core behaviours of Mr Unavailable that enable him to do exactly as he pleases and keep himself emotionally distant. Every single one of these actions are the behaviour of a selfish, egotistical, and often deluded man and they all tie into the three criteria above. For example:

They maintain The Status Quo – Mr Unavailable’s have already defined what you’re going to get from the ‘relationship’. Everything is about managing it back into a safe, comfortable area where he gets exactly what he wants.

They blow hot and cold
– This is how they manage The Status Quo so that you fall into line. All of the blowing hot and cold manages down your expectations and after a while, you feel OK with what he is offering.

Mr Unavailable is a walking contradiction – He sees himself as Mr Wonderful, a great catch even, when in actual fact he’s Mr Nightmare. You don’t know what you’re getting with this guy. Here today, gone tomorrow, back in a few months. He might make references to the future today but if you bring up the future next week, he’ll tell you off for being needy. Whatever role he feels like playing, you are expected to jump to his beat and play along.

Mr Unavailable looks in the mirror and thinks ‘Hmmm, I’ve still got ‘it’. I work hard, I pay my bills, I don’t beat up women, I’m not a pr*ck, I go to the gym five times a week and I think I look pretty good. There are a lot of men out there far worse than me. I am doing the best I can. I’ve just got a lot going on. It’s not my fault. If X would just lighten up a bit, stop busting my balls, and appreciating what she’s got, I might just think about getting serious with her…”

In amongst his various behaviours, Mr Unavailable’s tend to have a stock of women on tap, or what some readers refer to as a Narcissistic Harem. These are the various women family, friends, ex shags, ex girlfriends, acquaintances, women online, other women he’s dating etc, that he turns to get his ego massaged. Not only does he get to convince himself that he must be a great guy because of all of these women giving him attention, but by spreading himself thin he keeps his distance from everyone but always has a woman to ‘fall back’ on.

But what if you are with a narcissist?

Well the first thing I have to bluntly ask is what is in it for you? Women who date emotionally unavailable men do so because it works for them. They get to avoid certain things and these men reflect negative beliefs that they hold about themselves, love, and relationships. Now it is bad enough for these women with three of these criteria to deal with, but if your man makes the grade of five criteria, you need to come up with a plan of action.

If you are waiting for him to change, whether he is ‘just’ a Mr Unavailable or a bonafide narcissist, you are in for a hell of along wait. That wait will extend itself further if you are with a narcissist. You can’t win with a man like this and no matter what you say or do, he will defend himself against your ‘accusations’ and challenge and browbeat you to take his view of things. I would certainly seek some form of counselling and even as first port of call visit the NPD group. Whatever you do, don’t run home and tell him that he’s a narcissist. You have no idea how he will react and it could even be dangerous.

Be very careful of tarring all emotionally unavailable men with the narcissistic brush. I think that some women find it quite easy to casually pin this clinical term to their men because it gives a ‘medical’ reason which can imply that it’s out of his control, which in turn can imply that it’s out of her control, which leads back to the tried and tested route of making excuses for remaining invested. What I will say though as a word of warning is that Mr Unavailable’s tend to numb you to inappropriate behaviour which means that at some point you may unknowingly find yourself with a narcissist. This is why it is important to become aware of the type of relationships you are engaging in, their behaviour, and most importantly your own behaviour and patterns so that you don’t get drawn into these self-esteem, depleting relationships.

As for Mr Unavailable…

Mr Unavailables aren’t necessarily sitting there saying ‘I love the arse off myself’ but it is all one big ego trip where they love thinking that at least one woman that they can habitually ‘fall back’ on loves him. This is why he often keeps coming back or tries to come back because his ego can’t take the idea of someone not being there for him to use for an ego massage. He’ll often disappear though when he thinks that he has at least one other woman out there that will give it a rub. Unfortunately, there is always a woman out there to welcome Mr Unavailable with open arms but the more of us that get wise, is the less there are for them to turn to.

My ebook The No Contact Rule is now available to buy and provides a dedicated guide to getting over someone by cutting contact and injecting some boundaries into your life so that you can move on to a happier you. For a no holds barred guide to emotionally unavailable men, including separated guys that flip flap in indecision, and the women that love them, you can also get Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl. For personal advice or analysis of your relationship/situation, check out my consultation service.

Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter – @baggagereclaim .

Natalie (NML) – who has written posts on Baggage Reclaim by Natalie Lue.


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16 Responses to Are emotionally unavailable men narcissists?

  1. FinallyOverIt says:

    Interesting that you bring up the notion of EUMs having narcissistic qualities. I think that it may not be wise to state this as true for ALL EUMs, however, on a case-by-case basis, I’m sure there are a lot of men who are EUMs and narcissists. My ex-EUM definitely displayed some narcissistic qualities, i.e., he was completely unable to show empathy for me or anyone else. I cried in front of him twice, and he showed absolutely no compassion or empathy for my tears. If anything, he was so extremely uncomfortable with it that if he could have left the room, he probably would have. But as far as the over-inflated ego, thinking he’s the greatest thing on earth, etc., I don’t think that fits my ex-EUM. I think he is a sad, scared, lonely man-child!

    I do agree that compartmentalizing our EUMs into a “personality disorder” makes it easy to think that their behavior isn’t their fault because they have this “disorder” that makes them act the way they do. No, I don’t buy that–I think EUMs are totally responsible for their bad behavior, and are totally aware of what they are doing.

    Any other thoughts?

  2. nysharon says:

    My therapist told me that this personality type is almost impossible to treat. Usually it takes a major relationship/marriage to end before they develope some insight. However, if they are emotionally dettached and they have a high sense of entittlement it won’t matter. My exhusband was in this catagory.

  3. lisaq says:

    If you’re having trouble recognizing NPD, I’d be happy to send a pic of my ex-husband. :D

    Beware ladies, this is one game you can’t win. If you have any doubts about that scroll back up and read #6 and then what NML says about not being able to change this guy. Ain’t happenin’!

  4. Suzanne says:

    I’ve wasted three years on a guy like this, whose behaviour demonstrates that he cares for no-one, only himself. He prevaricates, procrastinates, evades all your questions about where your relationship is going. He enjoys living in ‘limbo land’ and exists on his own planet. Don’t waste your time and energy on him – he’ll sap every bit of self esteem you have. Get shot of him – I have!

  5. Lance says:

    Natalie, I like your 9 criterion of a narcisist; none of those strike me as attractive qualities. I would like to point out there’s a thin line between narcisism and the following good qualities: confidence, boldness, ambition, determination, self love. Most importantly, a certain degree of self love is healthy and even required to be a completed person. Excessive self-love is of course a problem.

    I also don’t think that men who have many female options are necessarily narcissists. Some men are just naturally attractive. Some have just decided to live an abundant lifestyle. It’s totally possible to be humble and have many women in your life. In fact, I recommend it.

  6. Cynnie says:

    I think that my ex-EUM was simply a clown.

    However, any man that doesn’t make you feel good, enrich you or add value to your life is a waste of time. Doesn’t matter if he’s emotionally unavailable, a narcissist, a superhero or a “good lad except” for his (insert excuse here). If you are NOT happy with the dude you need to quit the relationship and be with some one who truly loves and respects you and has your best interest at heart.

    Makes no sense analyzing his personality to determine his species. In the end, you will still be hurt. Does knowing wheter he is an assclown, EUM or narcissist really matter? Does it ease the pain? It doesn’t, so just quit that futile, not going anywhere relationship and make yourself happy!

  7. Delicia1973 says:

    I just read this and thought it was interesting just because my ex would tell me all the time what a great boyfriend he was. I always asked if he was trying to convince me or himself???

  8. Kissie says:

    I agree with you 100% Cynnie! Well said!

  9. Alice says:

    Dear All,
    I have lived with Mr. Unavailable for 12 years, left him, only to meet an Assclown, realized and left him, only to meet and marry a Narcissist ( a real one) It is a fine line between Unavailable and Narcissist, but there is a line. The reality is that Narcissist hate their real self, therefore they create a false self and they fall in love with their false self. They love the image they have created about themselves.
    There is no cure for Narcissists, RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN !!!

  10. Butterfly says:

    Echoing Alice. It is a thin line between EUM and someone who is clinically narcissistic, both are very distinct wake up calls and occasionally are fused – but not always. Besides, some narcissism is required to have a healthy functioning personality.

    The good news is that if you work on the underlying issues which made you susceptible in the first place these people disappear off your radar easily. When an (definitely clinically diagnosable and had actually been diagnosed and in therapy – had I known the signs back then I’d have run very early on aka he was talking about himself in terms from the therapy, which often teaches them how to fake empathy more!) ex finally did the inevitable and threw out the crumb – and it took him some doing to find me to throw it – my response was “well well well you are typical aren’t you” and ignore it completely.

  11. OMG…this site is unbelievably helpful. I was married to an emotionally, verbally and psychologically abusive narcissist for 21 years. Finally got out of that relationship to get into one from an online dating service who turned out to be an EUM. After emailing and im’ing everyday, all day long for two months (he said he couldn’t phone me because if he heard my voice it would kill him not to be with me, as we lived 1000 miles apart —HELLO, big red flag that I totally ignored), I opened up my email one morning only to discover that he was gone. Poof, vanished into thin air. Closed his email account, his online dating account, etc. I did some digging and was able to find his son who I emailed and told him I was extremely concerned about his dad because he told me that he had to go in for a cancer treatment for a brain tumor that had been found and he loved me too much to let me be involved with him in case it was really bad news. Well, long story short, it turns out that he was married. My bad for not picking up on it and allowing myself to get pulled in.

    Fast forward to last July. I reconnected with a guy I knew from my high school that I had had a weekend fling with when we were in college. We hadn’t seen each other or talked in almost 30 years. It turned out that we had an instant connection and were drawn to each other. Unfortunately, he lives 3 hours away from me.

    He very quickly (after a few days) told me that he loved me, that he has always thought about me over the years and was so glad that we were getting together. I went to see him after 2 weeks because he kept telling me that there were some things I needed to know about his past, but he wanted to tell me in person. It turns out that he has been married 3 times, has 2 children, one of which he hasn’t seen in over 3 years, the other he hasn’t seen in a year, but talks to almost daily on the phone. He was in rehab in his twenties for drugs, relapsed in his late 30′s, got clean and sober, then got addicted to prescription drugs about 5 years ago which actually landed him in prison for almost a year. That is the time that ex-wife #2 left the area and did not tell him where she was going, so hence the no contact with his son. Also, because of the felony, he does not have a driver’s license, but is working on getting it back.

    Do you think there were enough red flags here that I should have RUN as fast as I could and not looked back? What was I thinking, except that he had already hooked me into him and had laid it on really thick, and I was starting to fall in love with him. I thought that all he needed was the love of a really good woman who believed in him (because obviously from what he told me, his ex-wives did not do that for him, and they all left him, so it was them, not him).

    We were in constant contact — texting in the morning before work, IM’ing at work all day long, phone calls after work and into the wee hours of the morn. He told me I was his soulmate, the ONE for him, and the others he had made mistakes thinking they were right for him, but it was me he wanted all along. That he had always loved me from that time we were together.

    We got together about once a month, and it was great being together. So comfortable, really like it was meant to be. We started talking about a future together, getting married (even though he is not divorced from wife #3). You know the drill, things started happening where he would promise me something, only to not follow through. Little things like fixing my computer, or big things like taking a trip to CA to meet his family (supposed to happen over Christmas, then Jan or Feb, now no mention at all of it). He was going to come up with a couple of his friends and help do some work around my house (hasn’t). I changed my plans for New Years because he got really upset that I didn’t want to spend it with him, and then he ended up working anyway and didn’t come up.

    Then he started being really tired at night and not being able to talk. Told me the newness of the relationship had worn off and we needed to settle into a routine of less communication, but nothing is wrong with us, of course. Then, this month, he has had lots of things going on at work and at the beginning thanked me for giving him the space that he needed to get through this time, and he wouldn’t have time to be in touch with me. Of course, he had time to be in touch with his friends on facebook. I called him on it in an email, how I needed someone who wanted to be in touch with me, etc. and his response chose to focus on something minor I said about my son and he wrote this huge response to that basically telling me that I wasn’t doing a great job parenting my 13 year old. This from a man who doesn’t see his own kids, in fact, doesn’t even know where one of them is and his reply to me when I talked to him about that and told him he needed to be involved in their lives, told me that he was not going to force the issue, that they know where he is and if they want to be in touch with him then they will.

    Oh, how could I be so stupid!!! I am just glad to know that I am not crazy, and that I am not the only one who has gotten roped in. We had a fight on Sunday, after not speaking very much in the last 3 weeks at all, and he told me that I was not understanding of what he was going through at work, that I could have called him or gotten in touch with him, and that I have not made any effort to come down there to see him. We hung up and I have not heard from him since.

    I am so thankful for this site. I realize that I am involved with an EUM and an AC (love that name!). I know that I need to pull completely away from this and work on me and my self-esteem and why I allow myself to get involved with men who are not good for me. Thanks for letting me vent all of this…it’s good to know that there is a place for this.

    • Gayle says:

      Opening,
      I think there are many more issues than being an AC/EUM, this guy has neon blaring red flags all over the place.

      This man has shown and told you who he is, now it’s time to absorb the info for what it it. Get out, this guy is BAD NEWS!!!

  12. JJ says:

    Hi Natalie

    I wanted to comment on your article where you state that narcissts don’t really like to have sex with their significant others but they jump to have sex with women that they consider a vamp? Is it that they withhold the sex to punish the woman? I am just wanting to see if you could you clarify a bit more on this.. I definitely saw this side to my narcissts ex and they’re were numerous times that we were together that he didn’t want to have sex… How do you go from having sexing every week with this man to none and then before you know it’s three months and then you feeling like you have to almost pay for it by fullfilling one of his needs because narcissists are needy and are only out for what they can obtain for themselves. Is it truly a fact that sex is an issue with these type of men?

    • JJ2 says:

      JJ, my EUM did this to me, too. Dude was in his 60′s, and claimed it was “low testosterone.” Although it could be possible, I didn’t buy it. I felt like I was being “punished.” I also wondered if it was SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but after reading this website, I’m convinced, it was nothing more than EUM.

      The only good thing about my EUM was that he didn’t cheat on me (I’m confident of that, unless one could make a case for trout being a “mistress”). But of course, he held that over my head and claimed he was a “good man.”

  13. JJ2 says:

    My EUM was such a narcissist that it didn’t even occur to him that I was leaving because HE was a jerk! He lived in one state, I lived in another. We had an arrangement where we spent a few months in his state, then a few months in my state. Well, when I went to his state, things weren’t what they were when I first met him. He changed. I tried to leave four times, each time he would say, “Oh give it one more week.” He thought I wanted to leave “because I wasn’t making friends in his state.” The time I actually did leave (5th attempt, I actually did leave), he said, “I didn’t realize you were that unhappy.” DUH! Does the previous four times I tried to leave not give you somewhat of a clue????

    I was sharing a house with him, and I got treated like a roommate. He went his way and just wanted me to go my way.

  14. londonlady says:

    I worked with a guy just like this. This phrase describes him perfectly. ******
    4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation.
    5. Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment.

    The bad part about it was that I spent the better part of 8 months head over heels for this guy. He did flirt alot with me and I hoped and was so sure that we would start dating once my contract was over and I no longer worked there at the end of the school year. This was my mistake in wishful thinking

    when he started pursuing a greater amount of attention from women who lived in the residence at work he really began frustrating me and I called his attention to him always needing attention from women. This is when it all started going downhill between us. He manipulated our friendship by having one (probably more that I don’t know about) of the women in the dorm come to see him at 3:00 am for example and “help keep him awake” during his overnight shift at work.

    he was always on camera by his superiors at work but did not care that it looked unprofessional to always have female students hanging around his security desk during his shift on the weekends in the dorm.

    I told him that it did not look good for him professionally and he was offended and looked at me differently from that point on as I guess another potential enemy that could be out to get him at work. I actually was his supervisor technically.

    I am no longer working there but may see him again as I may work in the same building this summer only.

    What does anyone think is he Narcissicistic?

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!