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7 Signs a Man Loves You But Is Afraid to Accept His Feelings

If you’re used to thinking of men as strong and tough, it can be surprising just how scared they can be of being vulnerable and falling in love with you. Sometimes they’re only afraid to admit their feelings to you. In other cases, they’re not even able to admit them to themselves.

Of course, that can make it hard for you to know where you stand. If the guy you’re dating can’t or won’t admit his feelings for you, what should you do?

In this article, I’m going to show you some of the hidden signs that a man is in love with you but isn’t ready to admit it, why he might struggle to talk about his feelings, and what you can do to make things easier for both of you.

Key Takeaways

  • Lots of men are uncomfortable talking (or even thinking) about their feelings
  • If he treats you with love and care, try not to worry about whether he’s said the words
  • Avoid putting him under pressure. Instead, focus on making him feel emotionally safe

Common Reasons Why a Man Is Afraid to Accept or Show His Feelings for You

1. He’s been hurt before

One of the biggest reasons why a man might be afraid to show his true feelings about you is that he’s been hurt before. Maybe he opened up to someone else he cared about and was shot down painfully. Maybe an ex said that she loved him and then cheated on him.

Whatever the thing that hurt him, he’s not properly dealt with those feelings. Rather than dealing with the pain, he’s doing everything he can to avoid experiencing it again. That’s understandable, but it makes it much harder for him to take his walls down and let you in.[1]

2. He’s afraid of rejection

Some people are so afraid of rejection that they will avoid meaningful relationships rather than risk being rejected.[2] Opening up to someone and being honest about how you feel about them makes you vulnerable. Men who are afraid of rejection will pretend to themselves that they don’t really love you to avoid feeling vulnerable.

These men will also often sabotage their relationships, especially when things start getting serious.[3] They might pull away or stop replying to your text messages, for example. Often, this is a sign of an avoidant attachment style.

3. He doesn’t think you feel the same way

Couple sitting on a bench talking

Sometimes he will hide his feelings from you because he doesn’t think that you feel the same way about him. He really wants to be with you but he thinks that telling you about his feelings will be coming on too strong. He’s worried about scaring you off.

4. He’s not good at dealing with any feelings

Men in our society aren’t often encouraged to talk about their feelings.[4] They might feel able to be proud and happy when they do well in a sporting event or be able to express anger when someone cuts them up in traffic, but they don’t often get to talk about a wider range of emotions.

When we don’t talk about emotions, especially from a young age, it’s hard to understand or accept those feelings. Some men bury their feelings so deeply that they struggle to access them even when they try.

There are examples of men having to work really hard to learn how to cry again because they've suppressed their emotions so deeply.[5] This doesn’t just happen for negative emotions. He might struggle to express his love, affection, and desire for you.

5. He’s worried that you’re not in a good emotional place

Some men will hold back on telling you how deeply they care about you if they think that you’re dealing with lots of other things at the moment and they don’t want to add to it. You might think that being told a man loves you would always be a good thing, but they might be right that it’s not always the right time.

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a bad relationship, for example, you might need to focus on looking after yourself and not worry about someone else’s emotions. Finding out that a close friend or casual dating partner is deeply in love with you might be too much to handle.

In this case, he’s not worried about his own feelings as much as he’s hiding his feelings to protect you.

6. He’s still getting over someone else

Alternatively, a self-aware man might realize that he’s falling in love with you but also know that he has a lot of other emotional baggage to deal with before he’s ready to act on his feelings.

He doesn’t want to muddy the waters with you or promise more than he can really follow through with. This is a great sign that he respects you and takes his feelings about you seriously. He’s also unusually self-aware and emotionally intelligent.

7 Signs a Man Loves You but Is Afraid to Admit It

1. He always wants the best for you

Men who love you want you to be happy. If your man is secretly in love with you, he’ll want to offer advice and support to help you achieve the things that matter to you. He might be rooting for you to get a promotion at work or offer to help you study for exams.

In some cases, he’ll want the best for you even if that makes things difficult for him. He might suggest that you accept a promotion that would be great for your future even though it means that you’d have to move away from him. He’ll hide his sadness and focus on your needs.

2. He makes vague plans for the future

A man who loves you wants to make plans with you and imagine sharing his future with you. A man who is scared of those feelings doesn’t want to feel tied down to promises he isn’t sure he can keep.

These two conflicting emotions come together in a series of very vague plans for the future. He might talk about how amazing it would be to travel to an exotic island “someday,” or mention how it “might be fun” to get a dog if you ever lived together.

These plans fulfill his desire to think about a future with you without including any form of actual commitment. If you’re keen to move your relationship on to the next level, they can be quite frustrating.

3. He spends a lot of time with you but then pulls away

When we love someone, we want to spend time with them. Even when he’s struggling to accept the way he feels about you, he still wants to be near you. His love makes him spend lots of time with you. His fear then kicks in and leads to him pulling away.

“Pulling away” can mean different things. He can physically pull away, spending less time with you all of a sudden or being less physically affectionate. He can also pull away emotionally. This means that he’s still physically with you but he’s less emotionally involved.

In this case, he might not ask you as many questions about how you’re feeling and he’ll stop talking about himself. Where he might have been telling you funny stories about his childhood, for example, he’s now avoiding anything that might show signs of vulnerability.

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4. He uses synonyms for love

A man who loves you probably wants to tell you, even if he doesn’t quite realize it yet. He’ll often use other words to try to express his feelings without using the big, scary “love” word.

He might tell you that he adores you or that he’s infatuated with you rather than saying that he loves you. If he’s feeling really brave, he might say that you’d be an easy person to fall for. All of these are his way of starting to express his feelings without triggering his fear.

5. He always makes time for you

Happy couple having a drink

We’re all busy these days, with the combination of work, families, hobbies, and our social lives. Who we make time for in our lives tells us a lot about who’s important to us. If your man always makes time for you, it’s a strong sign that he loves you, even if he’s too scared to say it.

There are lots of different ways that he might make time for you. Usually, this is about spending time together. If you have a weekly date, for example, he might refuse to allow anything to change that. If that’s impossible, he might still make time to call you to tell you he’s thinking of you.

6. He’s there if you’re struggling

A guy who loves you will be there to support you when things are rough if he possibly can. He’ll change his plans and drive for hours to help comfort you or make you feel safe. He’ll often be even more affectionate than usual and he’ll show his loving side.

This is mostly because he’s able to put his fear to one side because he knows that you need him. He’s so busy worrying about you and thinking about what you need that he stops caring about his own fear of rejection or making himself vulnerable.

If he’s there for you when you’re struggling, he’s showing you that he loves you even if he can’t say the words.

7. He constantly justifies his feelings when he says something loving

A guy who is afraid of his own feelings will often accidentally let those feelings slip out in conversation and then have to frantically justify or explain them away. For example, he might completely forget himself and say “I love you” only to panic and follow it up with “I mean as a friend.”

He might also tell you that you’re really important to him or that he’ll always be there for you, and then justify himself by explaining that this is just because you’d do the same for him or that it’s because of something nice you did in the past.

Deep down he wants to express his love. It’s only once he’s done it that he panics.

How to Talk to Him About It: 6 Tips to Help Him Overcome His Fear

1. Make it clear that you’re not pushing for more

The first step in helping a man to overcome his fear of expressing his feelings is to remove as much pressure as you can. The more he feels expectations and demands from others, the harder it is going to be for him to feel safe enough to open up and be vulnerable.

Let him know that you’re not asking for anything to change. This conversation isn’t your way of asking for more commitment. You’re not pushing him to take your relationship to the next level. You just want to know from him what level he thinks you’re currently at.

2. Tell him how you feel about him

Some of the biggest obstacles to men talking about their feelings are often a fear of rejection or thinking that their feelings aren’t reciprocated. Deal with both of those fears at once by telling him how you feel about him.

This doesn’t need to be a big, dramatic event. You can make it really low-key. For example, you could say:

“I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but I do want you to know that I love you. I’m not asking you to say it back or expecting anything to change. I just wanted to acknowledge how I feel.”

If that feels a little bit too brave, why not take a leaf out of his book and use euphemisms and synonyms? Telling him “I completely adore you” gives him a pretty clear sign that you care about him, without using the word love.

3. Show him absolute respect

A man who’s in love with you but is scared needs clear evidence that you’re not going to use his feelings against him or put him under pressure. This is especially important if he has an avoidant attachment style, as he might be worried about losing his independence and autonomy.

Help him overcome his fear by treating him with absolute respect at all times. Don’t assume that he’ll spend his free time with you. Instead, respect his autonomy and ask for the time together that you want. Don’t tell him what he should or shouldn’t do. Respect his right to make decisions for himself.

4. Encourage him to have boundaries

Woman having a serious talk with her boyfriend

You probably already know the importance of boundaries, but have you ever thought about how much you need your partner to have boundaries as well? Encouraging your partner to have firm boundaries helps to build a strong relationship as well as making him feel safe enough to express his feelings.[6]

One way to encourage him to have strong boundaries is to ask permission before doing something that might be a boundary. For example, you could ask him how he feels about public displays of affection before kissing him in front of friends. Or always ask whether it’s a good time to visit rather than telling him you’re coming over.

5. Be appreciative of the ways he does show his feelings

Showing his feelings is really difficult for a man who loves you but is afraid. It takes real effort for him to show you how he feels. Show him how much you value the efforts he’s making by being appreciative of the ways he goes out of his way to make you feel loved.

6. Avoid ‘testing’ him

When you’re pretty sure that your man loves you but he hasn’t yet said the words, it can be tempting to find ways to ‘test’ how he feels. You might get a friend to try to seduce him to see whether he’s really going to be faithful or pretend to break up with him to see whether he wants to win you back.

Please don’t do this. These kinds of tests are cruel and he doesn’t deserve them. He’s already struggling to express his emotions. Manipulating him in this way is going to destroy the trust he’s struggling to show. This can destroy your relationship and damage him deeply in the process. Just don’t.

FAQs

Is avoiding admitting the feelings an indicator of commitment issues? 

Lots of men who don’t feel able to admit their feelings for you are afraid of commitment, but that’s not the only explanation. He might desperately want to be in a committed relationship with you but think you don’t feel the same or be scared of rejection.

Can this behavior create problems in the future relationship? 

If a man is scared to talk about how he feels about you, he might struggle to communicate other emotions later in your relationship. This can make it difficult for you to resolve arguments, for example. Alternatively, he might have learned not to be afraid of his feelings.

How to know if he's afraid or shy to speak up about his feelings?

A man who is shy or afraid to tell you that he loves you will usually still try to show you with his actions. Deep down he wants you to feel loved and cared for. If you feel loved when you’re with him, he probably does love you.

Conclusion

Dating a guy who’s afraid to love you takes a lot of patience. You need to give him the love, respect, and space he needs to learn to deal with his feelings and be able to express himself. The good news is that you know his love is real. It takes a deep love to push him to overcome his fear.

Was this article helpful? Do you have a better sense of whether your man is secretly in love with you but scared to commit? If so, share this information with any friends who might be in a similar situation, and let me know in the comments how you’ve dealt with a man who is afraid of his own feelings.

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6 Sources:
  1. Descutner, C. J., & Thelen, M. H. (1991). Development and validation of a Fear-of-Intimacy Scale. Psychological Assessment, 3(2), 218–225. https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.3.2.218
  2. D’Cruz, J. (2020). Rationalization and self-sabotage. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x19002231
  3. Peel, R., Caltabiano, N., Buckby, B., & McBain, K. (2019). Defining Romantic Self-Sabotage: A Thematic Analysis of Interviews With Practising Psychologists. Journal of Relationships Research, 10. https://doi.org/10.1017/jrr.2019.7
  4. Emslie, C., Ridge, D., Ziebland, S., & Hunt, K. (2006). Men’s accounts of depression: Reconstructing or resisting hegemonic masculinity? Social Science & Medicine, 62(9), 2246–2257. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.10.017
  5. Perry, B. (2023). Cry, Baby. Broadleaf Books.
  6. Whitfield, C. L. (2010). Boundaries and relationships : knowing, protecting, and enjoying the self. Health Communications, Inc.
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