- Pooja Parikh Traveled Across The World For The HS Diagnosis That Changed Her Life Forever
- What To Do If Your Partner Is Afraid of Commitment
- 12 Ways A Real Man Will Prove He’s Not Afraid Of Commitment
- News Flash: Fear of Commitment in Men is a Myth
- Get My Best Tips And Advice Free In Your Inbox
- The Many Faces of Attraction
- Creating The Right Emotions
- Guys Reveal The Honest Reasons They’re Actually Afraid Of Commitment
- People change.
- “What we want” is rarely “what I want.”
- Even the most amazing girl can get boring after a while.
- The beginning is more fun.
- If you don’t have a desire for children, there’s literally no point in marriage.
- Divorce can screw you financially.
- You never know how your feelings are going to change in the distant future.
- Getting emotionally attached to someone who might leave is scary.
- Married men don’t seem happy.
- There’s too much temptation.
- Marriage makes breaking up so much more difficult.
- Seeing other unhappy people is scary.
- Why So Many Men Struggle With The Idea Of Being In Long-Term Relationships
- 1. His mental health took priority.
- 2. He’s got his own issues.
- 3. There just aren’t enough hours in a day.
- 4. A lack of experience.
- 5. Times are too tough.
- 6. Independence tastes too sweet.
- 7. It feels like leading her on.
- 8. Loss of a great love.
- 9. It costs too much.
- 10. Why fix what isn’t broken?
- 11. Issues with self-esteem.
- 12. He just doesn’t want to be in one.
- 13. They go against the very essence of his nature.
- 14. They’re just too much of a hassle.
- 15. The timing is bad.
- 16. Trust is hard.
- 17. Society says it’s OK not to be in one.
- 18. They’re not worth it unless she’s “the one.”
- 19. He’s got too much emotional baggage from the past.
- 20. They can be more trouble than they’re worth.
- 21. Better to be no one’s boyfriend than be an awful one.
- Men vs. Women
- Needs vs. Wants
- He’s Just Not at Your Level
- The Truth About Why Guys Are Scared Of Commitment (As Told By Guys)
- Why Do Some Men Have Commitment Issues?
- What to Do About Your Man’s Commitment Issues
- Six Things Men Wish They Could Tell Women
- 15 Realistically, Men Have More Options
- 14 Fear of Abandonment
- 13 They Feel They Are “Wasting Time”
- 12 Just Plain Misogyny
- 11 Millennial Culture
- 10 Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys
- 9 Serious Baggage
- 8 Work and Other Priorities
- 7 His Friends Are Still Single
- 6 The Physical
- 5 He Just “Doesn’t Feel It”
- 4 Too Much Pressure
- 3 Lack of Trust
- 2 Simple Fear In General
- 1 It’s Not External, But Internal
- Are You Dating a Commitment-phobe? (Top Signs He’s Afraid of Commitment)
- Is He Afraid of Commitment Or Afraid of Committing To Me?
- 1. He’s been badly burned in the past.
- What You Should Do If You’re Dating a Commitment-phobe
- The Biggest Reasons He’s Afraid of Commitment:
Pooja Parikh Traveled Across The World For The HS Diagnosis That Changed Her Life Forever
Shaun Menary / Lightstock
Men are not actually afraid of commitment, they are afraid of something else.
Men require intimacy and emotional connection, much more than women. They are conditioned to suppress their feelings, and their girlfriends are often the only way they can get in touch with those parts of themselves. While men may fall in love rarely, they fall harder and faster than women. Sure, men can be little hoes and fuckboys too, but once a man’s heart is broken, it takes much longer to heal than that of a woman.
If a man tells you he is afraid of commitment, or if he broke up with you without any closure, it’s easy to label him as a commitment phobe or an asshole. The truth may be that he is actually not that into you, and while this is a hard pill to swallow, you should accept it. I know you want to be the one special girl who saves his effed up heart and changes him for good, but assume that you are the rule and not the exception. People only change by themselves when they are ready and convinced of it by their own experiences.
Women assume that their boyfriends or almost-boyfriends are the men that they will eventually marry. Sometimes men do fall in love, but usually they just get laid for awhile. Men will have sex with anyone as long as they can, and so they will sleep with women below their league. Don’t be delusional and fool yourself into thinking that he had commitment problems. He just didn’t like you enough to commit to you.
In the second instance, if you felt a strong mutual connection but it still didn’t work out, chances are that you both could have been something great, but he was too immature to handle it. Maybe he was cheated on by his ex, and was afraid of falling in love again (You should let him go, you are not a rebound). Maybe he thought being a little shithead would make you want him more. (If that did make you chase him then you’re immature as well, and you’ll both probably deserve the confusion of heartache) Maybe he’s so used to being an asshole, he doesn’t realize that the problem is not external, but within.
You see, men like that, they think that the problem is you, or their freedom, or their job or anything else, but it’s not. The problem is with him and him and him.
Men are only afraid of their freedom, if you make them the center of the entire universe, and the sole reason for your happiness. If you have healthy boundaries, your own interests, and good self-esteem, then it is not his freedom that he is afraid of losing. After all, adventures are much more fun when shared with someone special.
Such men are deathly afraid of stopping the chase. They fear finding out that the person they’re with may not be perfect, because it reveals the imperfections in themselves as well. True intimacy is hard work and they’re afraid of the skeletons they might discover in their own closet. Such men may believe they want a real relationship, but only put in five percent of the effort rather than the full 50 or even more, and foolishly expect something fulfilling and satisfying.
They’re waiting for the one who is good enough for them, but no one will ever be. The magical void they’re hoping to fill will be empty no matter which girl they’re with. This is because the only person who can fill this vacuum is himself. A man who does not respect women cannot respect a real relationship. He thinks he’s a good guy by telling you he’s not looking for anything serious. He’s better than the scum that lead you on, but he’s still not a nice guy. He’s an immature idiot who doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, and you’re better off without him.
You should want and need a man, not a boy. A man who is responsible with his masculinity, respects a good woman. So make yourself into someone you are immensely proud of, and your real deserving man will find you, I promise.
What To Do If Your Partner Is Afraid of Commitment
- Have a discussion about why he or she fears commitment. To fully understand why your partner is apprehensive about fully committing to you, have an honest conversation about it. After all, being completely open and forthright with each other is a cornerstone of a serious and long-lasting relationship, and if you’re seeking to have this kind of deep connection, it’s imperative that you both discuss the basis for their fear.
- Look out for red flags. Once you have a conversation about their fears of commitment, you will be able to better recognize if your partner actually wants the relationship to work out or if they are using a fear of commitment as an excuse. For instance, if your partner is giving you no indication that he or she wants to commit to you and beat this reluctance, then you should take him or her at his or her word—or lack thereof. On the other hand, if your partner is seeking your support and/or the support of friends, family, or a therapist to deal with these apprehensions, this is an excellent indicator that he or she’s serious about working toward having a serious relationship with you.
- Decide what’s right for you. It’s also imperative that you consider your own feelings, wants, and needs are when dealing with a partner who’s afraid of commitment. If he or she is interested in having an open relationship with you but you’re not comfortable with this arrangement, you should be honest about it. If they really want to be in a relationship with you, they may compromise their view for you; if not, this may be a good point to end your relationship without having more hurt feelings.
12 Ways A Real Man Will Prove He’s Not Afraid Of Commitment
Being in a committed relationship isn’t always easy, but it’s still something a lot of us want. We get it— the freedom of being single can be pretty appealing too, and it’s not like we’re dying to rush into a commitment, either. But there always comes that point where you’ve been dating a guy for a while and you want your relationship to progress, and it’s a hell of a lot easier if he’s not trying to fight it at every turn. Commitment isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something you want, you need a guy who can prove he’s not afraid to take the plunge with you. How can you tell if he is?
He actually makes plans for the future.
Not only will he schedule time with you in advance to make sure you don’t already have plans, but he’ll talk about things that aren’t happening for months. When he talks about his future, he automatically assumes you’ll be around for it, and he has no problem saying it out loud.
He tries to include you in his day-to-day life.
It’s not unusual for him to text you about what he ate for lunch or something funny a co-worker said in a meeting. He always asks how your day went and isn’t concerned about seeming too eager to talk to you anymore— he’s all in, no point in hiding it.
He wants you to have relationships with his friends and family.
He assumes you’ll be accompanying him to most family-related functions, and he always invites you to his friend’s parties. He wants you to feel comfortable around them and consider them your friends too.
He wants to have relationships with your friends and family.
He makes an effort to do nice things for your friends, like buy your recently dumped BFF a drink to raise her spirits. And he does more than force small talk with your family— he actually wants to get to know them.
He’s interested in your opinion on the big things.
If he’s not sure what to do about a difficult work problem, or he’s having issues with a a friend, he never hesitates to talk to you about it. Not only is he open to your advice, he actually takes it sometimes.
He’s fine with making compromises.
All relationships require compromise. You can’t always both get your way every time, but if you’re both willing to sacrifice a little here and there for the greater good, you’ll be just fine.
Good communication is important to him.
Granted, communication isn’t a strength for a lot of guys. They don’t like talking about their feelings too much, but as long as he’s willing to open up when it really matters, getting through the tough times will be a lot easier.
He keeps his promises.
Not just with you, but with everything. A guy who is capable of sticking to his word will be a lot less likely to say things he doesn’t really mean, or rush into things he isn’t ready for. Generally, you can be confident that what he says is what he means.
He isn’t easily influenced by what everyone else is doing.
Some guys just default to being single, or settling down, because it’s what all their friends are doing at the time. But he’s capable of making his own decisions even if it means deviating from the crowd.
He doesn’t play games.
You’re rarely wondering what he’s thinking because he’s a pretty straight shooter when it comes to where you stand with him. He wouldn’t bother stringing a girl a long, because he has no interest in wasting time. Yours, or his own.
He knows what he wants.
Whether it’s dinner, a new job, or a new girlfriend, he knows exactly what he’s looking for. He’s past the phase of trying everything once, and once he’s decided it’s you he wants to commit to, he won’t be wishy-washy about it.
He knows he’s lucky to have you.
He knows a catch when he sees it, and he’s definitely not going to take you for granted. He knows if he’s not willing to commit, he could lose you, and that’s the last thing he wants.
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Courtney Hardwick By day, Courtney is a digital marketing copywriter living in Toronto, Canada. By night, she’s a freelance lifestyle writer who, in addition to Bolde.com, contributes regularly to AmongMen.ca, Complex.ca and SheBlogs Canada. Want to chat about relationships, Stephen King or your favorite true crime podcast/documentary/book? She’s on Twitter @courtooo
News Flash: Fear of Commitment in Men is a Myth
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If you’ve found that the men you date always seem to be “commitment-phobes,” then it’s time to start considering that you also might be doing something that triggers the common male response – to RUN.
If you’re casually dating a man, and it’s been a while and you still haven’t had “the talk,” you might be in for trouble when you do.
Get My Best Tips And Advice Free In Your Inbox
- What to do if he is distant and seems to have fallen out of love.
- Word-for-word love scripts to help you bring him closer than ever before.
- The secret psychology that makes him want to commit for life.
- The magic power you didn’t know you had to make him want you.
Because this is the exact moment when lots of women accidentally kill the attraction and interest that was building and turn a man off from a more committed relationship.
Isn’t that crazy?
By trying to talk to a man about your relationship, you actually end up making things worse, and then he withdraws.
It doesn’t have to work this way.
The truth is, most men want relationships but they’re straight-out terrified of committing to the wrong woman who they feel is going to make life harder for them.
When most women end up talking about or wanting a commitment before a man does, it almost always creates negative conflict and unnecessary heartache – even if he seems to have a great connection with you.
“There’s a huge difference in being a woman a man will spend time with, or being the kind of woman who makes a man feel so incredible when he’s around her that he doesn’t ever want to be without her.”
So what do you do when he says things like “you’re amazing,” but he just can’t commit to you?
The Many Faces of Attraction
When a man is always complimenting you, what he’s telling you is that he is very attracted to you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he wants to have a real, committed relationship with you.
Here’s where a lot of women get confused. And I don’t blame them, actually. Men can be confusing.
One minute you’re “amazing” and the next minute, they’re pushing you away. What’s up with that?!
He’s probably having doubts about a long-term relationship with you. He may be asking himself if it’s the right time. If you’re the right woman. If his life would be better with you than without you.
When he’s with you, he has doubts about your relationship for whatever reason. But when he’s apart from you, he realizes that the experience he really wants with a woman isn’t so easy to find.
For some reason, he’s just not feeling what he needs to feel in order to make the conscious decision that you’re “the one” for him.
There’s a huge difference in being a woman a man will spend time with, or being the kind of woman who makes a man feel so incredible when he’s around her that he doesn’t ever want to be without her.
The difference is all in the EMOTIONS he feels when he’s with you.
Creating The Right Emotions
Here’s something quite simple: men want to feel good around you. When you’ve built up enough “good” experiences with a man, he’ll want to have more of that in his life and keep you around. You want to create a positive, fun, exciting and interesting environment that he wants to be a part of. So how do you do this?
- Keep your early interactions with him short and fun. Avoid serious topics, and keep the conversations interesting.
- Focus on creating a better moment in the present instead of thinking about what’s going to happen in the future. If you make now good, the future will be even better.
- Stay in control of your emotions. When you’re overcome with emotions, stop and think. Don’t feel the need to blurt everything out.
- Be playful. Challenge his thoughts and character in a playful way instead of prosecuting and criticizing.
In my eBook Catch Him and Keep Him, I explain what kind of an emotional experience a man needs to have with you to want to commit to you and how to trigger that all-important EMOTIONAL ATTRACTION in him.
No matter how much you want a relationship to work, or try to make it work from your end, a man has his own reasons and his own timeline for committing to one woman.
Download your copy here: Catch Him And Keep Him Risk-Free Trial. Try it risk-free for seven days and read everything you need to know about how a man will give up all other women for you. Remember, unless he feels emotionally attracted to you, a man won’t commit to you no matter how nice, smart, hot, or great you are.
- What to do if he is distant and seems to have fallen out of love.
- Word-for-word love scripts to help you bring him closer than ever before.
- The secret psychology that makes him want to commit for life.
- The magic power you didn’t know you had to make him want you.
Guys Reveal The Honest Reasons They’re Actually Afraid Of Commitment
At some point in all of our lives, we’ve been rejected by someone who was “afraid of commitment. “
Personally, I just thought it was a bullshit excuse used by people who couldn’t come up with a better reason as to why they just weren’t that into someone. But apparently, there are men out there who are, like, actually legitimately “afraid of commitment.”
Don’t believe me? Take it from the men themselves.
Read along as these 12 men admit what it is about commitment that leaves them so afraid:
Things change, people change, i shouldn’t have to hop through hoops to no longer be with a person that I am not totally in love with or into anymore. Even with a long term relationship you tend to feel stuck cause you invested so much time, but at the end it’s a lost cost fallacy
“What we want” is rarely “what I want.”
Because ‘what I want’ has to become ‘what we want’; but ‘what we want’ is very rarely ‘what I want’. Source: LTR, engaged, homeowner… All my fears have come true.
Even the most amazing girl can get boring after a while.
Because variety is something that I always desire, there’s noting more fulfilling than the first, second, third or maybe even fourth time I have sex with a girl. I’m not afraid of being hurt as much as I am of being trapped in a situation where I can’t have that anymore. Even the most beautiful and stunning girl loses something special after some time passes. Maybe that will change as I get older and once I’ve had more experiences. That is why right now I’m chasing experiences and commitment makes me uneasy
The beginning is more fun.
I like sexual diversity, flirting, and many perks of single life. Also, I love the whole ‘early dating’ phase with a new girl when you get to know and discover who she is. Commitment (or monogamy) prevents me from doing these things and I hate having to rule out such an appealing part of life.
If you don’t have a desire for children, there’s literally no point in marriage.
Because I’ve seen far, far more brutal divorces and unhappy excuses for marriages up close than ‘good marriages’. As someone who does not want children, there is literally no point at all to it.
Divorce can screw you financially.
Divorce is so common, and I hate seeing how one person in the relationship gets screwed financially, and I don’t want to be that person.
You never know how your feelings are going to change in the distant future.
I’m not afraid I just don’t see it as worthwhile. What do I get out of committing? Also I don’t believe I can make a promise about how I will feel in the distant future
Getting emotionally attached to someone who might leave is scary.
I feel like no one could ever truely love me and because of this, I refuse to get emotionally attached to anyone for fear of them ever leaving my life.
Married men don’t seem happy.
No married man that I know well has ever explicitly encouraged me to get married. I know a bunch of married men who have advised me to never get married. I’ve gotten this advice from people; jokingly, seriously, from a drunk advisor, and from a sober advisor. I prefer to learn from others’ mistakes.
There’s too much temptation.
Because I see a lot of other girls that I’d love to fuck throughout the day and I’m not ready to ignore all of them. Plus you might start to annoy me.
Marriage makes breaking up so much more difficult.
I’ve been engaged. I thought I was ready. I thought we were ready after five years together and we were going to be together for the long haul. We went through a rough patch and she ended up finding solace in someone else instead of working on things like I pushed for. I look back at that time and think that if we were married how much more difficult the break up would have been. I don’t want to be stuck if someone else suddenly decides they don’t want me anymore.
Seeing other unhappy people is scary.
I was never afraid of commitment. I was afraid of marriage, because so many married men I knew were unhappy, but were financially trapped because they couldn’t afford divorce.
Why So Many Men Struggle With The Idea Of Being In Long-Term Relationships
This actually makes a whole lot of sense.
One of the worst feelings in the entire world has to be the one you get in the pit of your stomach when the man you’re dating and, possibly, falling in love with “suddenly” decides he doesn’t believe in committing to long-term relationships — with you or anyone else — and pulls the plug on what you had been certain was your “forever.”
Breakups, in my humble estimation, are never easy, and they are particularly awful when you are deeply in love with a man who ends a relationship you believed was moving along quite well.
Rejection is hard to cope with no matter what, and when it comes from a person you trust and love, it stings worse than lemon in a paper cut.
When a man decides he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you anymore, it’s totally normal to assume it must be all your fault.
After all, you’re the person he’s leaving, right? Clearly there has to be something wrong with you for him to wake up one morning and just plain stop loving you, right?
There are many reasons men and women both decide to end romantic relationships, and believe it or not, whatever your broken heart might be telling you right now, very often the reason a man wants out of a relationship has zero to do with you.
In fact, in many cases, the heart of the matter is that the person doing the leaving never really want to be in a committed relationship for the long haul to begin with.
Women — and I hate making generalizations, but I’m going to make one right now — have better communication skills than men do, period.
This means we also tend to do things somewhat better when it comes to breakups. We’re ready to talk things out. We’re ready to cry on the phone with our ex for hours as we break down all of the reasons we’ve come to the decision that this relationship will simply never be what either of us deserve.
Men, and again, I know I’m generalizing (but with good reason), aren’t always super articulate when it comes to explaining themselves and their feelings to women.
Breaking someone’s heart isn’t easy, and if you want to see how fast a man can run, ask him to explain to you why he dumped you. You’ll find yourself talking to a dust cloud in his shape in no time at all.
Of course, when a man doesn’t explain his reason for breaking up with you, it’s not only frustrating and painful, but it can make it even more difficult for you to find the closure you need in order to heal your heart and move forward to a place where you’ll feel confident enough to search for love again. Without that closure, you can find yourself second-guessing every single thing about yourself, weighing and measuring everything you’ve ever done to see if THAT was the reason your ex walked out.
Recently, though, one redditor asked the guys on Reddit AskMen, “Why wouldn’t you want to be in a relationship?”
The responses men gave might be just the thing you need in order to gain some insight and make it easier for you to move on.
Here are 21 reasons men on Reddit gave to explain why men sometimes find themselves struggling with the idea of commitment and long-term relationships, even when they’re falling in love.
1. His mental health took priority.
“At this point I really don’t want to be a burden on any more people than I already am. I’ve got to get better mentally before I think I’d be able to handle being in a relationship.”
2. He’s got his own issues.
“Relationships make me miserable because of my trust issues.”
3. There just aren’t enough hours in a day.
“Lack of time. Sorry, but school comes first.”
4. A lack of experience.
“I have never been in one (32 years old) so I’m very worried about getting into one and having no idea what I”m doing. I feel very far behind and with no knowledge of what being in a relationship is like that I’m concerned I’d mess up a lot and hurt whoever I was dating.”
5. Times are too tough.
“I’m financially and emotional strained at this point and don’t feel like it’s right to bring that on another person.”
6. Independence tastes too sweet.
“The freedom part gets me a bit. Like in someways I’d be happy to give up some freedom, but in others it would be a very weird and a bit of a shock to my system.”
7. It feels like leading her on.
“I want neither marriage nor kids.”
8. Loss of a great love.
“Wife died a year and a half ago. The thought of dating someone else still feels like cheating.”
9. It costs too much.
“Because men have to invest exponentially more than they get out of a relationship.”
10. Why fix what isn’t broken?
“I honestly am having so much fun with my life as it is. Im completely booked with work and personal projects/hobbies and don’t really want to give anything up. Maybe if I meet someone special I’ll change my mind, but I enjoy the way things are now.”
11. Issues with self-esteem.
“I’m obsessed with my physical faults, and I can’t go 10 minutes without looking at a mirror checking for things that are going wrong. So the idea of being in a relationship where these physical faults could matter to someone seems very unappealing to me. A friend won’t care if I lose my hair but a romantic partner might. A friend won’t care if I start aging terribly but a romantic partner probably will. It’s freeing to just say to myself that I’m never going to be in a relationship again because I don’t have to worry about so much stuff.”
12. He just doesn’t want to be in one.
“Maybe you don’t have the time for one or you simply don’t have an interest in one. Relationships are nice but they are hardly a necessity.”
13. They go against the very essence of his nature.
“Well, I’m aromantic so there wouldn’t be a point.”
14. They’re just too much of a hassle.
“I like my life and getting is easy. All a relationship would do is cost me money. Also I’m not leading someone on thinking I’m going to marry them and have kids or some stupid decision like that.”
15. The timing is bad.
“Cause I’d have to have the “what up I’m a transsexual girl and I’m gonna transition” talk with her eventually. Unless she’s bisexual, in which case I could still date her indefinitely.”
16. Trust is hard.
“An authentic relationship requires trust and vulnerability, but trust is easily broken. People are, on average, increasingly untrustworthy.”
17. Society says it’s OK not to be in one.
“It is acceptable today to have multiple casual relationships.”
18. They’re not worth it unless she’s “the one.”
“I don’t want to be in a relationship just to be in one. It isn’t like crossing a finish line. I’m at the point where I don’t want to waste time in a relationship with the wrong kind of girl for me. And within 1-4 dates, and conversations, you can figure it out if the she’s not the right one. I’m too old to raise an adult now and teach them how to pay bills, save money, take care of themselves physically, and live up to their responsibilities.”
19. He’s got too much emotional baggage from the past.
“Abandonment issues/worried about becoming dependent on someone’s presence in my life, and then them leaving me.”
20. They can be more trouble than they’re worth.
“If the person didn’t make my life easier, more enjoyable and more fulfilling, I’d rather not be in a relationship with her. I’ve had some very good relationships, but I don’t assume that I’ll always get as lucky.”
21. Better to be no one’s boyfriend than be an awful one.
“I am so productive and busy I’d actually be a boyfriend. I’d need a girl with a borderline “stay at home mom” schedule and good luck finding that in your mid 20’s and in this economy.”
Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango’s Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.
“You don’t need me,” my now-ex said, all casual and matter-of-fact. We’d been talking about the real meaning of commitment and all the reasons he didn’t feel he could truly commit to me. In the pause that followed came this seemingly disconnected statement.
He was right, of course, from a purely practical standpoint. I didn’t need him; if we split, I would be fine. I could pay my own bills and support myself. I was obsessed with my career, which was moving full speed ahead. I had a supportive family, my health was in check, and my life was generally in order. I didn’t “need” him. Or anyone. But I wanted him. Wasn’t that enough? In fact, wasn’t that better?
He didn’t seem to think so. Eventually, he broke up with me. He didn’t know what he wanted in life: maybe grad school or an out-of-state move to start over. He was stubborn about his independence, he told me, though I sensed he resented mine. He said I was a little too settled. “You are so sure of yourself, Jenna,” he claimed. “It’s a good thing. But you are going to scare men.”
He also once said, “There are so many things I want to give you, but I’m not sure where my life is going yet.” I remember him saying this to me with a faraway look, like he was performing an open monologue to himself. What if I’d never asked for those things? I thought. What if I’d never asked you to have those answers? It took me years to understand these were expectations he placed on himself.
Men vs. Women
More women than men are now graduating college, and they are significantly likelier to have a bachelor’s degree by age 29. For the first time in history, more American women have bachelor’s degrees than American men. We are thus flooding the workforce, demanding equal treatment and equal pay, outing injustices that might hold us back. And in relationships, more women are breadwinners than ever before; the number of family units with female primary or sole breadwinners has quadrupled since 1960. This is a big shift for millennials, who are watching these changes happen, aware that times have changed since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ day.
That doesn’t mean old societal expectations have completely fallen by the wayside, however. They still play a role in dating between men and women — subconsciously or consciously. For my book on dating and relationships, I talked in depth with many men who date women, and most told me that they still felt pressure to “establish themselves” and “provide.” The data backs up their feelings: In December, the Pew Research Center polled Americans on gendered expectations. Male and female survey respondents said they felt the two biggest stressors for men were still “supporting their family financially” and “being successful in their job or career.”
As I started to collect my own data on why modern-day relationships worked out or didn’t, “having your life together” was a big deal for men especially. I learned a lot of heterosexual men still want to be a full contributing partner — someone who has the capacity to support a significant other financially and practically if needed, and someone who brings home at least their fair share of the bacon in a dual-earning household.
My female interviewees commonly reported hearing refrains like “I’m not ready” and “You don’t need me” from their male partners. Maybe you’ve heard it, too. In an Instagram poll for Man Repeller readers, 72 percent of participants reported they had been told “I’m not ready” in the context of a relationship. Some 78 percent said they’ve had a relationship or connection thwarted due to “bad timing.” And around 62 percent of those participants said they had dated guys who, they felt, were turned off by their independence, paycheck or career.
But per recent survey data, in almost direct opposition to such anecdotes, straight men claim to want just what these women offer: a partnership with someone smart and self-sufficient. (So did my ex, for that matter, before our commitment conversation.) But if that’s the case, what’s going on here? Well, for one, needs and wants are different things, and timing is a crucial element of modern-day relationship success. I have a few theories.
Needs vs. Wants
For millennials, “I’m not ready” is not a line or excuse, but often a reality of dating and falling in love. And here’s where one of my basic theories on modern relationships comes in. I like to illustrate it using some classic psych, a.k.a. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the gift from 1943 that just keeps on giving.
As humans, we move all over the hierarchy every day. All the time! But in general (and as the theory goes), all needs must be fulfilled eventually, and when a need is unfulfilled, it’s activated and we’re motivated to work on that need until it’s met. Typically, we work from the bottom up. Physiological and safety needs come first (you’ve gotta survive) before esteem and love (to help you thrive).
Enter modern-day romance and relationships: Hey there, idealism! What they say about our generation is true. Not only do most of us want to explore and expand personally, but we want couple-with-your-best-friend, do-life-together loves, too. Partnership is a beautiful concept, surpassing a mere “relationship” or even “marriage” as a thoroughly modern aspiration. For those of us in pursuit of a relationship, we’re more often than not looking for an equal partner — a “team” dynamic.
If we check the hierarchy, then, for us modern daters, love is not just support and belongingness (level 3), where it might have slotted back when commitment was more about baseline stability than anything else. Today, men and women alike repeatedly told me they wanted a partner who “makes them better.” We are a generation focused on self-actualization: fulfillment, satisfaction, reaching our highest potential (level 5, peak #goals). Fantastically, true modern partnerships (or at least our idea of them) can and should help us self-actualize, elevate us, and help us become our best selves. But we need esteem — level 4, knowing who we are and what we bring to the table, having most of our basic needs checked — to create the type of relationship where we’re able to grow in the same direction.
This can apply to any couple, opposite-sex or same-sex: When one person is lower in the pyramid, there is less headspace for love (level 3), especially of the makes-me-better, self-actualizing variety (level 5) because he or she must first tend to self-esteem (level 4). But while this applies to all relationships, I’d argue it applies quite consistently to modern men forming opposite-sex partnerships — especially those for whom the pressure to “succeed,” “provide” and conform to a gender role was (sometimes subconsciously) impressed from a young age, changing and intensifying the markers by which they measure self-esteem. The resulting landscape, as I see it, is one wherein men are often stuck on the bottom levels of the pyramid a little bit longer.
He’s Just Not at Your Level
Of course, not every man or woman follows the same trajectory, nor do we all measure our pyramids in the same way. Some have stepped far outside the mold that society laid out and figured out what works for them as individuals. Hats off to the men and women who so beautifully juggle career and love, or those who have decided to fully embrace their single status because it brings them more joy or makes them feel like their most actualized selves.
But for those of us who seek companionship, gender norms and socialization can still have quite a dramatic impact on the pursuit of love. Among the people I interviewed, many men described a pressure-filled, hyper-rigid climb toward “success” before they could feel confident enough in themselves and their abilities to enter a relationship. Many women, on the other hand, described feeling more free to define success on their own terms, granting them the flexibility to move through Maslow’s pyramid with more ease and patience, believing they could work on themselves and a great relationship at the same time.
Whether you participate in this particular narrative or not, people have been theorizing for years about why straight men don’t commit or pursue relationships as readily as women. One of my least favorite theories? “He’s just not that into you.” It’s a popular explanation, and it can work as an excuse for literally anything a guy does, from canceling a date to avoiding a text to breaking up with you. But in my view, it doesn’t encompass the very real and nuanced reality of how we build lives and loves. I watched this explanation gaslight some of the coolest, brightest women I knew. It wasn’t that they couldn’t believe a guy wouldn’t be into them; it was that they couldn’t believe they sensed a great connection and could be so wrong about how it would all play out. When connection after connection failed to pan out, they concluded they weren’t enough — and often set out to change themselves in pretty fundamental ways. I hate that.
I’d like them to consider another explanation: Maybe it was him, and maybe it was timing, and maybe he was struggling to deal with the relationship as a result of simple psychology. For example, if he’s working on gaining a steady source of income after a career change (level 2: safety needs) while you’re working on a promotion at work (level 4: esteem), or he wants a casual relationship (level 3: love and belongingness) while you want that modern-day, growth-oriented partnership to hit every continent or start a side hustle together (level 5: self-actualization), maybe the tough truth is he’s just not at your level.
A straight guy friend told me he thinks he subconsciously struggles to date women who are ahead of him. I once tried to set him up with a good friend of mine — smart, pretty, driven, insightful. The full package! I thought it’d be a great match; they even had the same “out there” taste in music. He talked to her for months but couldn’t make solid romantic moves in her direction. “That was a good match,” he admitted to me years later. “But I was intimidated then. I wouldn’t be today.” Ahh, growth. As for her? She moved to D.C. to work in advertising and, by all accounts, has one of those committed, inspiring partnerships I mentioned earlier.
“Someone in the same place in life,” my friend mused. “It’s hard to find.” And so is modern love. The good news is, although fulfilling relationships may seem rare among the oodles of options we have today, they may ultimately prove more powerful tools for personal growth than “ideal” relationships of the past. And in even better news, for women, there’s more opportunity for fulfillment on the road of life than ever before — whether we’ve found a love that lasts or not.
Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; art direction and infographic by Emily Zirimis.
The Truth About Why Guys Are Scared Of Commitment (As Told By Guys)
It’s not him, it’s you.
Men do not have a very good reputation when it comes to commitment. Like, let’s be real. Men and commitment go together about just as well as me and Spanx (read: not very well at all).
Women are often perceived as being desperate to bag a man and make him commit to her. That’s why every single time you’ve asked a guy, “What’s going on with us?” after three months of dating, he ends up looking at you like you’re just minutes away from chasing after him with a rolling pin.
While neither of these perceptions are universally true, they are a cliché for a reason: how many times have you heard a heartbroken friend reveal that her relationship ended because her man was afraid of commitment? How many times have you overheard a man call a woman “crazy” for wanting him to agree to settle down with her?
I have definitely dated men who are afraid of commitment before. I’ve definitely also been the girlfriend who is like, “OMG JUST SAY I AM YOUR GIRLFRIEND, WEIRDO.”
Then again, the shoe has also been on the other foot. I’ve dated men who leapt to committing to me like a house on fire, which left me either delighted or slightly panicked. Both are totally reasonable reactions, guys. Relationships can be hard, and the easy path isn’t always clear.
Whether or not a man is ready to commit isn’t something that we can just vastly generalize, it varies from man to man. When one guy on a first date used the word “soulmate” with me, I seriously considered pepper spraying him and fleeing from him into the night, margarita still in hand. However, when my boyfriend Rob told me he was falling for me on our second date, it just felt right.
With that in mind, I polled a group of anonymous men to find out why men are afraid of commitment, what they think about the hype, and how they relate to the cliché and the reality of commitment. It was a fun time.
I learned four really important things in the process about why commitment seems to chase men away:
1. It’s not the commitment, it’s the girl.
This is one of the most common answers I got when I talked to men about why they feared commitment.
Almost without exception, every man I polled gave me a few reasons a man might not want to “take the plunge” in a relationship.
He would then follow up those fears by explaining that very often, what a woman perceives as the man being able to make a romantic commitment is actually the fact that he is unable to commit to her.
It’s tough to be subjective in our interpersonal romantic relationships. Hell, it’s borderline impossible.
But you feel like he just won’t ever commit to you, it is a tough thing, but you do need to ask yourself: is it commitment he fears, or does he know he doesn’t want that kind of commitment with you?
2. Blame the baggage.
Many men I polled are divorced. Many men I polled have been in a string of long-term monogamous relationships.
All of them had prior experience with a romantic partner that went south. Some men were survivors of domestic violence.
So, if a man has experienced a long, drawn-out divorce that’s left him spiritually and emotionally bankrupt, that’s the kind of baggage that might make commitment something he is wary of pursuing, even if he cares about you.
The same can be said for the men whose romantic relationships left them feeling jaded about romantic love.
We all have our baggage, this is theirs.
3. Can you say “trust issues”?
Trust was a word a lot of men used when I asked them about fear of commitment.
Every man polled seemed to understand that a commitment is founded on trust — that’s a pretty awesome start! Glad we’re all on the same page.
However, men who suspect that their girlfriend is cheating, or men who have been cheated on before, can find it harder to trust their partners, which makes them unable to make that big leap to a more serious commitment, like marriage.
You don’t have to be a cheater or a suspected cheater for a man to not trust you.
His own baggage, and/or any lie you’ve told him (no matter how big or how small) could affect how much he is able to trust you, and how quickly.
4. He’s just not ready to make a commitment.
Some of the men I polled were quick to tell me that a “woman would have to be pretty special to get me as her man when I’m in my sexual prime.”
That’s bro for you: he isn’t afraid of commitment; he just isn’t ready for it.
Be it immaturity or his own plans for a romantic future, commitment isn’t for everyone.
Sometimes it isn’t fear that’s holding men back, it’s an active decision that they have made.
Commitment just isn’t for them.
Want to know more about why men are scared of commitment? Read all of the responses I gathered below:
- “Anytime I’ve feared ‘commitment’ it’s been because I did not trust the person I was going to commit to.”
- “I usually feel like they want to much too soon. I’ve dated a lot of girls who just won’t give things time to develop. To me, that’s a red flag and will make me close off a little more and make it harder for the lady to get my trust.”
- “Even when you do start a long-term relationship, there can be a lot of uncertainly about whether this is going to work out, which messes with your head. For some, it leads to them having problems having a serious relationship because they are afraid it will go south at some point and what the consequences of that will be.”
- “Opening up to someone can be a tough and scary thing for people. It takes putting a lot of trust and faith into another person to truly open your entire world and soul to them, so it can be difficult to really have a secure relationship out of fear of being rejected for who you are.”
- “It’s not commitment we fear. It’s commitment to you.”
- “I don’t fear marriage. I fear divorce court. It makes the cost of breaking up too high.”
- “I’m only 21 and I’m already wary of who I’d date because of how much I have to lose. In Australia, if you live together and buy white goods (washing machine, fridge ect) you’re classified as a defacto relationship. If she can prove she’s lives with you for six months in a relationship like that, she can claim dependency.”
- “I fear both divorce and if I happen to have children with said woman. It can turn very very badly if it’s a bad breakup/divorce.”
- “I fear making the wrong commitment, not making commitment.”
- “A girl broke me because I invested too much in her, and I never want that to happen again. I let my guard down and suffered.”
- “At least for me, it’s been a lack of faith in the other person. I can easily commit to someone I want to, but not if I don’t feel like it’s the right person.”
- “You’re presuming a long-term relationship is the end-goal of life and a good thing. I’ve seen it work out, but I’ve also seen very good men broken and shrivel into withered husks of their former selves.”
- “Just look at the relationships around you and see the number of times a person who has always seemed completely trustworthy cheats or does something horrendous without any warning, usually breaking hearts. It’s hard to believe in such a thing as a completely secure relationship when you see/experience that kind of thing. Have you ever been blindsided by something horribly cruel by someone you trusted absolutely? It jades people.”
- “I will get so involved with that person (prioritizing them mentally) that when/if they eventually say or do something that damages my ego or makes me sad, it will dull my sense and destroy the way I work toward my ambitions. While the goal of stability is great, suitability in my view requires maintenance. And the constant maintenance and fear of the relationship breaking is what scares me the most.”
- “As a good-looking guy I know there are options out there, and I like to keep them semi-open in case things go sour with a current S.O. If i get too committed to someone then I can’t keep options open, because I’m not going to be flirty with girls if there is someone who would not want me doing that.”
- “I think fear of commitment is really fear of what you might be passing up on. Imagine if you were buying a car, but you knew you might have to drive that car forever or, if you got rid of the car, it would be a terrible ordeal with lots of battered emotions that could take years to get over. Making that choice to pick just one would be excruciating. Some amazing car might come out next month, or the car you want now might have a major defect you don’t know about yet. You might decide you don’t like the color but once you’ve taken it home, you can’t change those things. You’re locked in, maybe forever. That’s terrifying even if you KNOW there’s no better car (or person) in the world than the one standing in front of you right now.”
Related: The 5 Types Of Men You Should Never Fall In Love With (EVER)
- “It’s either the idea of having variety or that we don’t know about committing to you in particular. Settling down with one woman in your sexual prime takes something pretty special.”
- “Probably been burned so many times by the person they thought was “the one” and eventually lost confidence in their ability to judge character. Also, peoples’ tastes change all the time… it can be really scary to make a life-long commitment to someone only to realize two years too late that you made the wrong choice and now you have to live with it because society will look down on you if you make the hard although honest decision to divorce. That being said, the glorious feeling of a good relationship is worth the initial fright. Some people just have a hard time taking that first step.”
- “Every case of “fear of commitment” that I’ve seen is actually a guy not wanting to commit to a particular girl.”
If you’re dating a guy who doesn’t seem to want to take your relationship to the next level, you are probably wondering, “Why do some men have commitment issues?” Understanding the reason why your guy fails to commit will help you make the decision of whether you should stay in the relationship or move on.
Why Do Some Men Have Commitment Issues?
When thinking about the reasons why men have commitment issues, it’s useful to look at the guy’s past relationships with lovers, family members and friends. The experiences in these past relationships often affect future relationships, especially in the area of commitment.
Fear of Rejection
Many men have a difficult time fully investing their emotions into a relationship because they have experienced rejection. They may have felt strongly for someone, only for that person to love him back but then walk away or a person didn’t care for him as deeply as he did and that caused deep hurt feelings.
Fear of Changing His Ways
Some men become comfortable in their lives and they don’t like change. A man with this fear won’t want to move on to a new stage in a relationship because that means a change in his life. While it may be better than the life he has now, he doesn’t know for sure and that is what keeps him from moving forward.
Fear of Failure
Some men think committing themselves to a relationship means they must meet certain expectations. These men are usually perfectionists and don’t want to enter into a situation in which they know they might not be able to excel. For this reason, they avoid commitment because they don’t want to fail.
Many men grow up to think they don’t need anyone for anything. They are expected to take care of themselves and not depend on anyone, especially a woman. While some men may view relationships as a way to care for someone else, others view it as having someone take care of them. This keeps these types of men from committing to someone.
Some men have a huge commitment to the lives they have created for themselves. A man in this category may be highly successful and could have reached a level in his career that makes him financially secure. Some men are not willing to share this success in fear that their significant others will take advantage of them.
Fear of an Identity Change
Not only do men fear that their lives will change, they also fear their identities may change. Men have a certain image of what it means to be in a committed relationship or be married, and this image usually produces a certain type of person. If the man doesn’t see himself as being that type of person, he is not willing to enter a committed relationship due to the fear that he will become that type of person.
Keeping Options Available
Some people who are always looking for the next best thing will not commit because they don’t want to close the door on other opportunities. They don’t want to settle down because they always wonder if there is someone else better for them.
Men who have commitment issues in one relationship may have already committed themselves to someone else. If men who have problems with letting go of past relationships never really uncommit themselves, it makes it impossible for them to commit to someone else.
What to Do About Your Man’s Commitment Issues
Men with commitment issues are afraid and many of them are unwilling to change. They are set in their ways and have lingering issues from past relationships. Discussing the reasons why they may have commitment issues can open the door to explore ways to resolve the conflict they have inside themselves. If he is afraid his life will change dramatically, you can suggest that you try the next level of the relationship and see how it feels. If it’s not comfortable for him, you can promise to go back to the way things are now. Chances are, the change in your relationship is not as bad as he anticipates and he may be surprised at how much better it is.
Of course, practicing marriage is not as easy to do. If your man is unwilling to commit to marriage, you need to decide if you want to wait or move on to someone else. However, before you do decide, consider couple’s therapy because it is a great way to explore his commitment issues and find resolutions in your relationship. Why do some men have commitment issues? There are several reasons. The key to getting past the inability to commit is to find out which fear your man has and address it accordingly.
“Men are pathetic garbage,” a friend of mine texts me after finding out their noncommittal ex-whatever lied about seeing other people.
Since my first kiss, I’ve been slowly, painfully drowning in the unbearably polluted sea of Millennial hookup culture. Submerged in the era of “seeing someone” but never dating, driving myself insane coming up with reasons why every damn guy I end up liking won’t commit, or rather, can’t commit. Between the ages of 14 and 17, I would cry every night about being single. This is surely my own problem — we don’t have to get into my intimacy issues here — but it feels bigger than that too. I see the same patterns played out in my friends’ lives. The unwillingness to commit seems embedded in the culture of middle-class, college-educated Millennials.
I hate when ppl say “men r dogs” bc dogs are extremely loyal creatures and are down to commit to u
— eve peyser (@evepeyser) January 31, 2016
Our networks are forever expanding. There’s never been more choice when it comes to dating: Tinder, 3nder, Bumble, Hinge, Happn, work, school, mutual friends, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, bars, parties, gatherings, Xbox live, Pokémon Go, OkCupid, Match, eHarmony, fan fiction message boards, conventions. And it’s no coincidence that such tremendous choice can leave us paralyzed.
Men, however, have the upper hand when it comes to making romantic choices. Because as much as I don’t want to admit it to myself, there is quite literally a “man deficit.” College-educated straight women looking to date similarly educated men have a very hard time finding a mate: One-third more women than men have college degrees. In The Daily Beast, Emily Shire explains the argument financial reporter Jon Birger makes in a book he wrote about the dating gap,
The gap’s impact on dating for straight, single women is exacerbated … because men with college degrees are consciously or subconsciously aware that they are in scarce supply. They take advantage of their rarefied status by holding off settling down and enjoying the market of riches.
Applying economic principles to matters of the heart doesn’t sit well with me because human emotion is far more complex than statistics. From my experiences and observations as a single woman in New York City, Birger is right. And I want to know why my amazing, beautiful, and talented straight female friends are forever casually dating and subsequently getting their hearts broken by a bunch of — excuse me for editorializing — whiny ass softboys who can’t commit.
I’m aware that fear of commitment is not a man’s problem; it’s a people problem. Chances are, even you have felt those pangs of fear at the beginning of a new romance, the anxiety of the person you’re fucking wanting to be more serious than you want to be. “Across age and gender, I see a wide variety of ways people struggle with the intimacy and vulnerability that comes with committing to a long term relationship,” licensed social worker and psychotherapist Cate Desjardins tells me.
Because of gender roles — in many ways, a woman’s worth is still determined by her relationship status — and the man deficit crisis we’re currently facing, I wanted to explore it culturally through the personal experiences of straight men. So I decided to ask. Five Millennial men (with varying degrees of self-awareness) explained to me why they have so much trouble with commitment.
“THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE”
Joe* — a 22-year-old man who identifies as being afraid of commitment — attributes his phobia to “the illusion of choice” and growing up in New York City, where women outnumber men. “Instead of fighting with and working it out,” he explains to me, “maybe it’s better to just break up and find someone who you won’t fight with.” This is a stance women are less likely to take when dating because that whole “finding someone else” thing is way harder for us. As of 2014, the United States population is 51 percent women and 49 percent men. While a 2 percent difference might seem minor, there are approximately 6.5 million more women than men in the US. Joe doesn’t have “the illusion of choice;” he really does have a lot more options.
Still, statistics don’t really explain — or at least not satisfyingly so — why my last three ex-whatevers never wanted to make the leap into coupledom. (Arguably no answer to such questions will satisfy me.) But actually talking to men like Joe, men who are open about their fear of commitment, could offer a somewhat more fulfilling answer. You don’t have to fall victim to statistics; instead, you can fall victim to the twisted psychology of select Millennial men that reflect a larger pattern in our culture. (LOL!)
FEAR OF ABANDONMENT
Jonathan*, 29, tells me a big part of his commitment-phobia is due to really bad relationships he’s had. “The woman I dated for two years broke up with me over AIM on my birthday,” he tells me. “She ended up dating my then-current roommate of three years, like, three months later. They’re married now.” He’s grown wary of commitment because “once you’ve been on so many dates over the years, it honestly becomes hard to tell if someone is even going to be a long-term match anymore,” which is entirely understandable, but also pretty self-defeating.
Todd*, 23, tells me the reason he doesn’t commit is because he can’t get himself to sincerely believe that “someone will like for more than just a short-term sexual encounter.” His fear of his partner’s fear of commitment fuels his own fear. Cate Desjardins explains, “Fear of abandonment and fear of commitment are not necessarily two distinct things but really different aspects of the same issue: insecure attachment,” she tells me. People develop insecure attachment when they repeatedly have relationships that are “unstable, inconsistent, unpredictable, or otherwise unsafe.” Basically, Desjardins affirms something we probably already know: people fear commitment in relationships because of their past trauma.
George*, 23, tells me his last relationship ended because his ex was too emotionally demanding. He says this is a pattern: He often — without being conscious of it in the moment, he tells me — misleads the women he dates into thinking that perhaps what they have could turn into a relationship because he aspires to possess the emotional capacity for something more serious. After consistently hooking up with a woman for either a few weeks or months, George begins to feel like the relationship “is taking away from other responsibilities.” He, in short, values his friends, family, and career more than he values a potential relationship; that’s what he wants to invest his time in. “I tend to quickly become emotionally unattached and push them away,” he explains. “This has always ended terribly.”
Not wanting to “lose time” is frequently cited as the reason men don’t want to commit. Phil*, 25, explains, “What if this thing ends up being wrong and I’ve lost X number of years doing it?”
I’m intrigued by this idea of “wasting time” in relationships because it seems like a much bigger “waste of time” to have a string of half-assed uncommitted relationships. Obviously these fears are not necessarily rational, but evaluating whether relationships are worth having using the metric of time seems painfully futile.
Christopher*, 27, puts it another way, “Commitment a weird human construct; I find the risks insurmountable. What if I’m with someone for 50 years, and then she meets someone else? Not only will I have wasted 50 years, I’ll look stupid for letting her pull one over on me.” Christopher’s fear of wasting his time is entwined with what he identifies as his “broad streak of bitter misogyny.”
“I know I’ve hurt women by being sweet and affectionate while ‘secretly’ not intending to be their boyfriend/husband/feudal lord,” Christopher tells me. “Though I also feel bad about it.”
In fact, Christopher feels angry for the ways in which he’s been “shamed” for his commitment-phobia. Explaining the origin of his misogynistic fear of commitment, he tells me he was bullied by “mean girls” in school who called him a “lame, gay nerd.” When he started kissing girls — disproving their gay nerd theory — these alleged “mean girls” changed their tune, calling him a slut. While Christopher tells me that his therapist connects his commitment-phobia to other elements of his childhood, he says he “prefer to think it’s just the slut-shaming.”
Desjardins tells me this fear of wasting time is another manifestation of insecure attachment. People like Christopher who have a history of relationships where they are made to feel “unlovable or repeatedly rejected” are more likely to have anxiety about losing time. After all, a committed relationship is a huge risk if you think it’s going to end with you being abandoned or rejected.
Still, what does it even mean to waste your time versus not waste your time? We get to decide whether our experiences have value, and even if a relationship doesn’t last, it doesn’t mean you wasted time. Chances are you learned something. You grew in some way. Something unique and important happened in your life. Nothing is forever.
My ex-whatever once asked me if I wished I could Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind our relationship — a sci-fi movie where a couple erases their memories of each other after a bad breakup. At the time I said yes, but fuck that. Failed relationships have value, even if it comes along with heartbreak and anger. At the very least, you learn something about how to be with someone else, about who you are and what you want.
IS COMMITMENT-PHOBIA A “PROBLEM”?
The women I’ve spoken to — the ones who are usually on the receiving end of this commitment-phobia — generally view this pattern of behavior as a problem. But most of the men I interviewed had a different take. Joe told me that he doesn’t view his fear of commitment as an issue but instead wants to work on being “honest and straightforward with the women” hooks up with. “That way there is no misunderstanding,” he explains.
Christopher, unsurprisingly, doesn’t view his unwillingness to commit as an issue. Instead, he fears settling down and reaching the point where he throws in the towel and says, “I’m too tired to go out anyway, stay with this old bag the rest of my life, and think about younger women during the sex we don’t have.” While Christopher’s analysis of his issues with women is, in his words, bitterly misogynistic, he’s certain about the type of commitment-free life he intends to lead. It’s not like imposing a committed relationship onto him will “solve” anything; he’s just not cut out for that boyfriend/husband life.
The rest of my interviewees — except for sweet Jonathan! — effectively told me that while they would love a long-term relationship, they’re not interested in actually changing their behavior. Rather, it seems like they’re waiting around for the woman who will inspire them to act differently. And that’s legit! The men I interviewed are in their early and mid-20s, perhaps they’re just not ready. The average age of marriage for people in the U.S. is steadily increasing. According to the 2015 Census, it’s 27 for women and 29 for men. The way our culture understands sex and commitment has evolved. And in the era of Tinder, you don’t need a girlfriend to get laid.
Desjardins tells me that she doesn’t believe Millennial hookup culture is the cause of commitment-phobia; instead, it’s “the newest sort of symptom or manifestation” of a much older problem: the conflict between our fundamental desire for closeness and intimacy and our natural fear of vulnerability.
F ace our fear of commitment
U nderstand eachother’s needs
C are deeply for one another
K ill all of our enemies
— Summer Anne Burton (@summeranne) May 24, 2016
People might be less willing to settle down, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want closeness and intimacy. A method we’ve figured out to reconcile our desire of closeness and intimacy with our fear of abandonment is through casual hookups. Desjardins has found with her patients that “people, without always being aware of it, will pursue a hookup to feel close with someone, and then end up feeling lonelier than before because the hookup was temporary or not fulfilling the emotional needs.”
Hookup culture might’ve been born out of our fundamental need for intimacy and fear of vulnerability, but it is surely not the solution for everyone. Still, one study conducted by Saint Mary’s University in Halifax asked 475 Millennials — a mix of people who have friends with benefits, date casually, date exclusively, or are engaged or married — how satisfied they were in their relationships. People across relationship types reported similar levels of satisfaction. So perhaps the grass is always greener?
So instead of viewing some Millennial fear of commitment as a problem that needs to be solved, it’s more useful to investigate these issues as a reality of human existence. It isn’t solely the fault of a “man deficit,” anyone’s fucked-up childhood, or Millennial hookup culture. Commitment-phobia in both men and women is destined to be around forever; in the meanwhile, let’s commit to being more introspective, and most of all, treating the people who we fuck with respect regardless of how serious the relationship is.
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Eve Peyser Eve Peyser is a writer from New York City whose work has been featured in The New York Times, VICE, Rolling Stone, and New York Magazine.
Six Things Men Wish They Could Tell Women
It’s a vexing issue that has plagued humankind–or at least womankind–for millennia: What really goes on in the mind of a man? What exactly is he thinking?
These questions probably first came up in the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed Eve for eating the apple and getting them evicted from Paradise. “What was he thinking?!” she likely asked. And women have been asking the same question ever since.
While it would take volumes to cover everything men want to tell women, here are six of the most prevalent things:
“I am not afraid of commitment—I just need to be very, very sure.” It turns out that all this business about men being commitment-phobic is mostly myth. A recent study chronicled in USA Today ran with the headline, “Not so afraid to commit after all.” The lead paragraph read, “Men are more likely than women to prefer marriage over lifelong singlehood and in many ways are as interested in serious family relationships as women, according to a new study.” In the survey—which included 12,000 men and women ages 15-44—respondents were asked, “It is better to get married than go through life single?” The results: 66 percent of men agreed compared with 51 percent of women. Set aside presumptions and preconceived ideas about men and commitment. If a fabulous woman came along, most men would be thoroughly delighted to commit for a lifetime.
“Yes, I have feelings. It’s just challenging to express them.” Men are often characterized as insensitive, unemotional, and oblivious to anything a millimeter below the surface. That may be true for some men, but emphatically not true for most. The fact is, our society encourages men to suppress their feelings, holding up as the role model for manhood the strong, silent type. More personally, most guys didn’t grow up with a father who understood his emotions and knew how to express them. Wise women know that men have lots of feelings—and allow lots of space to process them and lots of grace in figuring out how to verbalize them.
“Of course I have testosterone coursing through my body, but that doesn’t mean I’m a sex-crazed maniac.” The caricature of an average guy is this: He is so overpowered by his sex drive that he can’t possibly put his overheated passions in neutral for even a moment. Yes, there are some men who think about sex every second of every day. But most men—and this may come as a surprise to you women—consider sex as something that should happen at the right time, under the right circumstances, and absolutely with the right person. In our diverse and open-minded society, lots of people have different perspectives about how and when sex should occur. The point here is to debunk a prevailing cultural myth: not every man is a raving sexaholic. Most men would say this: “You’re darn right I’m interested in sex, but don’t stereotype me as a slobbering Neanderthal who is powerless to control his urges.”
“Everything you’ve heard about the male ego? Yep, it’s true.” Think of a man’s ego like a balloon that can be gradually inflated, carefully deflated, or burst with one quick strike of a needle. The first two options are acceptable; the last one usually ends very badly. No man wants to admit it, but a strike to the ego may as well be a gunshot to the heart. It can be fatal—at least to relationships. If a woman wants to woo and win a man, she will have to become an ego aficionado. She’s got to learn how to bolster her man’s self-esteem while, when necessary, speak the truth in love—very gently.
“I need freedom and independence, and I’m afraid you’re going to become my prison warden.” Men fear being trapped, stuck, penned in. This has to do with the whole commitment-phobia thing—most guys keep one eye on the exit door until they’re sure, absolutely sure, this is the woman they want to settle down with. And that woman usually has become skilled at knowing how to hold proper boundaries while letting her man enjoy his independence. Wise women give their partner ample space, before and after marriage.
“I want to be able to discuss my desires, concerns, and opinions without fearing an emotional reaction of hurricane proportions.” Men have lots of things they would like to say to their partner, but they often hesitate and hold back. Why? The potential emotional onslaught! If a man wants to express his opinion about his partner’s unflattering outfit, her lack of organizational skills, or (gulp) the ten pounds she recently put on, he’s likely to worry about the response he’ll receive. You may have noticed that most women are quite emotive, and many react strongly to perceived criticism—even if the man in her life does not intend it as criticism. It’s true that some men could use a lesson in tact and discernment when conveying their opinions on sensitive issues. But it’s also true that many men would be more willing to share their thoughts if they knew doing so wouldn’t prompt a nuclear explosion.
Now’s your chance: Men, take a moment to add your own “What’s he really thinking?” item by leaving a comment. And ladies, tell your fellow readers what else you think might be lurking in the minds of men.
Women have been attempting to get inside the heads of men since the dawn of… well, man. We’re living in an age where it’s much more covenant to simply have casual fun rather than relationships or even simply date. It’s not like how it was 50-years ago when a single woman who was past the age of 25 was considered a spinster, but it’s still more desirable for men, who are past 25, to still be bachelors. We live in an age where cozying up with someone is just a click away (Tinder, Bumble, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc, etc) so men don’t feel like they really need to commit to just one person. But what is REALLY going on in their head when it comes to not being able to commit? Psychologically, that is. Here are 15 reasons why men can commit from a psychological standpoint.
15 Realistically, Men Have More Options
In 2017, statistically, there are more college-educated straight women than there are college-educated straight men, which creates a dating gap because these women desire someone who has the same level of intellect as them. Emily Shire summed up this particular dating gap in The Daily Beast: “The gap’s impact on dating for straight, single women is exacerbated… because men with college degrees are consciously or subconsciously aware that they are in scarce supply. They take advantage of their rarefied status by holding off settling down and enjoying the market of riches.” Basically, one of the reasons why men won’t commit is because it’s all a numbers game and men assume that they can get more action based on statistics, so committing to just one woman is pretty much moot.
14 Fear of Abandonment
We’ve all heard this one before and quite frankly, we all tend to roll our eyes when we do hear it: He has a fear of abandonment. Like women, some men have been hurt so harshly in the past that it boils over into their current relationship and they’re afraid to get THAT close to another human being again. Some men also find it difficult to believe that women actually want them for more than just a short-term good time. Cate Desjardins, a psychotherapist and licensed social worker explained this to Cosmopolitan magazine: “Fear of abandonment and fear of commitment are not necessarily two distinct things but really different aspects of the same issue – insecure attachment.” These insecurities come about when men have the same sort of relationships in a constant fashion. Past trauma really does affect their futures.
13 They Feel They Are “Wasting Time”
At the start of a new relationship, many men commonly freak out a tad because they believe that investing in a brand new relationship, that they’re taking time away from other responsibilities. Sure, a new relationship needs to be nurtured and handled with kid gloves, but some men feel that that would pull their focus away from other things like their friends, their career, their family. If this is the case, most men will become unemotionally attached and start to push the woman away. They jump ahead too soon with thoughts of “what if I put years into this and she only ends up leaving me in the end?” so they break it off before it can even have some room to grow. It’s just plain irrational thinking on the man’s part.
12 Just Plain Misogyny
It ALL comes back to this: plain and simple misogyny. We would all like to say that the world still isn’t a misogynistic place, but the entire Donald Trump era is ushering in an entirely new (and by new, I mean really, really, old) breed of men. Heck, take a look at the Harvey Weinstein scandal going on now. Men just don’t want to make a commitment to a woman because they simply don’t have to. Instead, they believe that if they’re straightforward and honest about just wanting some fun rather than a relationship, that makes them a better person. They would rather have multiple women rather than just one because that’s, quote, “every man’s fantasy”. These types of thinkers don’t see spending years on one woman as a “waste” because if they end up getting bored, they can just usher in someone else.
11 Millennial Culture
2017 is nothing like it was in 1987 and Millennials are nothing like Baby Boomers. We don’t really find marriage, well, necessary. This goes for men as well as women. Dating sites like Bumble and Tinder give this generation easy access to the casual “hook up” scene where when we get lonely, company is just a swipe away. This tends to go on throughout our 20s and into our early 30s with little to no consequence – at least, that’s what the men think. Some people are saying that this culture is the actual cause of commitment-phobia, which is more so just our fear of vulnerability that clashes with our desire to be needed. Just because men aren’t ready to settle down just yet, doesn’t mean they don’t covet that closeness of another person (hence why Tinder and other dating sites are so popular) they’re just too afraid to take that next step.
10 Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys
We were all taught in 5th-grade health class that girls tend to mature faster than boys. The age that girls’ brains begin maturing is age 10 while boys usually have to wait until they reach the age of 20. The science was even verified back in 2013 by Dr. Marcus Kaiser of Newcastle University. “Completely by accident, we found there is a difference between boys and girls in terms of development,” the doctor said. “We found that the brain begins to prone neural connections which it does not think are important. Previous studies have shown that the brain does a lot of reorganizing during puberty, there is greater activity during this time. But it was rather unexpected to find that these changes were starting much earlier in girls in comparisons with boys.” So, fundamentally speaking, men are usually ten years behind us women emotionally, despite age.
9 Serious Baggage
When we carry around a lot of baggage in our personal lives, it can weigh us down and feel like an anchor tied around our ankle. This goes double for men. When a man carries a great deal of baggage in their personal lives that mainly consists of incidents from his past, they can fear that it will affect a new relationship, so they tend to avoid it all together. Maybe they were left at the altar? Or went through some serious emotional trauma in their childhood – anything can be used in this capacity. Some men like using their emotional baggage as a reason not to commit, however. Sure, they’ll use it for sympathy and perhaps a hookup or two, but it really comes in handy when a man is attempting to run from commitment.
8 Work and Other Priorities
I’ve known more women who use their careers as an excuse to avoid commitment, but men also do it too. It’s pretty hard to balance so many different priorities in your personal life, so how come so many other men are able to do it? However, there are some careers that demand more attention than others, and perhaps a man just doesn’t have the energy to invest in the emotional toll that being in a serious relationship requires. If they were just looking for simple hookups, they’d use the career excuse to get out as fast as they can the following morning, but if it’s the career that is consuming, they won’t even have time for hookups. Sure, if love comes along, he’ll eye it, but in the long run, their work and the other priorities will win out.
7 His Friends Are Still Single
Usually, married couples like to be friends with other married couples because they all have similar interests – the same thing goes with single people. Single guys like to go out and party with their single friends, picking up women at the bar or club like a predatory pack of wild hyenas. If the men are still fairly young, and everyone in the group is single, they will shy away from being the first in the group to settle down. Some men have said that while they would never want to be the first to break away and get into a committed relationship, they sure as heck have a ton of respect for the last single man in the group. This is typically how men acted as boys when they would be involved in a group – no one wanted to be the first to do anything that caused them fear. And, like I said before, boys tend to mature at a slower rate.
6 The Physical
You may not want to say it, but a great deal of a young relationship is based on the intimacy factor, otherwise known as the physical part. Sure, if you have both a steady intellectual, emotional, AND physical connection, your relationship seems pretty stable. However, it comes down to basic cardinal needs – sometimes men just don’t want one woman in their lives in an intimate manner. Yep, it’s only interested in getting into a girl’s pants then moving on to the next woman. If this is the case, a woman usually feels it right off the bat and should go with her gut instinct and back away slowly. Psychological factors can play into his need to fill some void with intimacy from a different woman every night, and it can stretch as far back as his childhood (possibly repeating the same mistakes as a father figure).
5 He Just “Doesn’t Feel It”
They made an entire movie dedicated to this very thing: He’s Just Not That Into You. Sure, we women like to put all on the psychological components when it’s just as simple as “well, I like you, but not enough to commit”. Absolutely no woman wants to hear that – it’s a massive heartbreaker and a tough pill to swallow for a woman. She’ll constantly think that if she did this or that the relationship could’ve been salvaged in some way. And it’s even worse if the man says he’s just not ready to commit NOW and ends up diving head-first into a relationship with someone else shortly afterward. No matter how hard it is to hear, it’s always best if he is honest and says he’s not feeling what he should feel for you in order to get into a committed relationship.
4 Too Much Pressure
The constant pressure of really anything can make a person break – it’s science. If a man is going to commit, he’s going to do it on his own time. I’ve had friends who put the pressure for a commitment on the guy they’re involved with only to have it blow up in their face in the end. If something is brought up on a daily basis, it sounds like nagging (actually, X out that “sounds like” part – it’s nagging) and this will irritate a man to no end. And, if he does eventually give in and make a commitment, it will always be in the back of your mind that you forced his hand and if the relationship really is genuine or not. This will eventually wear on both of you until the relationship eventually implodes. Men don’t like to be pressured – period.
3 Lack of Trust
Trust in a relationship is a two-way street and always has been. Throughout history, women have been given a bad wrap in the trust department. Greek mythology portrays us as man-eating sirens or unforgiving goddesses. There was really never a kind middle ground when it came to women in literature. So no wonder some men panic a little before jumping into a committed relationship. Like women should do, if a man doesn’t completely trust you, he doesn’t see a future with you. You need to be completely sure that you’re able to trust each other fully or you don’t need to be in that relationship in the first place. There’s no such thing as “well, I SORTA trust them”. Men feel the same way about women. If he can’t trust her, he’s not going to commit.
2 Simple Fear In General
It’s not just simple fear of abandonment that men have to worry about – it’s all his fears in general when it comes to women. Fear of intimacy, fear of compromising, fear of giving up their single life, fear of change – basically, just fear. If he’s never been in a long-term relationship before, all these fears can boil over at once and flood a man with feelings he’s never really faced before. It can be emotionally crippling and overwhelming for a man from a psychological standpoint. If they had a rough childhood in addition to all of this (like he came from a broken home) then you really have a lot on your hands. It’s almost like trying to ease a frightened animal out from under the bed – you have to do it carefully and with no sudden movements or you’ll end up spooking them.
1 It’s Not External, But Internal
We’ve heard it all before when it comes to a man who can never commit: “I’m just trying to find the right woman”, but he’s been attempting to find that “right” woman for years now and just hasn’t committed. He likes to claim that it’s simply the women he’s been dating, but he’s the only common denominator in the equation. A lot of men can’t see that they’re the problem and they keep pointing the finger at the women they’re dating (or just pretty much point a finger at women in general) when they really need to take a long hard look at who THEY are on the inside. Perhaps seeking therapy is the answer, so they can get down to the root of their issues if they truly want to commit in the future.
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Are You Dating a Commitment-phobe? (Top Signs He’s Afraid of Commitment)
One of the biggest phobias women have when it comes to dating and relationships is dating a commitment-phobic man (see what I did there?). The fear is real and is what keeps our guard up and our eyes wide open for anything that looks like a bad sign.
Well here’s the good news. Most men are not commitment-phobes. I would say that term only applies to a teeny tiny portion of the male population and when a guy truly has that phobia, it will be obvious.
So what about the rest? What about the guy you were dating for a while who seemed super into you but just didn’t want to be “official?” What about the guy who is so sweet and attentive and always there for you, but immediately clams up and emotionally withdraws anytime you mention meeting his family or taking the next step in the relationship? What about the guy who always has a reason for not committing … he’s stressed at work … he wants to wait until he’s more financially stable … he’s having family issues … as soon as the busy season is over … as soon as summer is over … etc. etc.
MORE: 5 Major Signs He’ll Never Commit
Well look, some people do have real fears when it comes to commitment. Fears aren’t the same a phobias, fears can be abated with time. A phobia runs much deeper and can’t always be reasoned with.
Almost anyone who has been dating for a while has some level of fear when it comes to relationships. Maybe it’s because we’ve been hurt before, maybe it’s because we’re afraid of going through another breakup because we all know how brutal those can be, or maybe our trust has been battered too many times and we just can’t let our guards all the way down.
This is how to know if your guy truly is a commitment-phobe, or if he just has commitment fears.
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
Does he spend time with you as often as he used to? (Question 1 of 15)
Is He Afraid of Commitment Or Afraid of Committing To Me?
So first things first. A lot of guys are wrongly deemed “commitment-phobic” when the truth is … they just don’t want to commit to that particular girl.
I know it hurts. I’ve been there and I lived it so trust me, I know! I dated a guy for eight months who refused to call me his official girlfriend, and I justified it by saying he’s just “commitment-phobic” and needs more time to get himself and his life in order. But really, all he needed to cure his “commitment-phobia” was the right girl because when she came along, he dropped me and committed himself to her exclusively within a matter of weeks!
MORE: Definite Signs He’s Not Serious About You
The fact is, a lot of the time we fall into “placeholder relationships” and unfortunately, both parties aren’t usually on the same page. A guy might meet a wonderful girl and he might really enjoy her. He’s attracted to her, he likes hanging out with her, and he thinks she’s great … there’s just something missing (and it could be a number of things) and it’s holding him back from committing. But he really likes her, and he thinks if he sticks it out a little longer then maybe something will change, maybe he’ll feel differently, maybe it will all just click. But it doesn’t.
Eventually, he either meets someone who does fulfill his emotional needs in the way Placeholder never could, or Placeholder girlfriend gets tired of waiting around for him to be sure about her and leaves. Or he realizes that his feelings for her aren’t going to change and he leaves. So basically, it almost always ends in heartbreak.
It’s pretty easy to know if you’re a placeholder girl. If he acts like your boyfriend but won’t officially make you his girlfriend, you’re in a placeholder relationship. Again, he doesn’t have bad intentions. He does really like you and he wants to want to commit himself to you. He just can’t. It might just not be a match and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you or that you’re flawed and unlovable and unworthy. It just doesn’t fit.
If a guy won’t commit after a certain amount of time, or he flat out tells you that he can’t be in a relationship right now, believe him. You need to take it at face value and just leave. If he really likes you, and it really is some deeper fear that’s preventing him from committing, he won’t let you go easily and he will snap into shape. If he lets you go without a fight, he was never all in, to begin with.
If a guy is afraid to commit it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s incapable of love or connection. It means he has a lot of anxiety when it comes to deepening a relationship and this prevents him from taking that next step. And this anxiety can have some very real causes.
MORE: 4 Ways to Make Him Commit to You
Now let’s take a look at some common reasons a man might genuinely be afraid of commitment.
1. He’s been badly burned in the past.
It has been observed that men have a harder time healing from breakups than women. Men aren’t as capable or used to handling difficult emotions and they don’t have the same support systems that most women do.
Instead of talking or out or crying it out, a lot of men internalize the pain and try to push it aside. They suppress their feelings or try to hide from them but distracting themselves with work or random hookups. But pain doesn’t go away just because it goes unacknowledged. It will stay with him until he properly deals with it.
If the end of a relationship was marked by a huge breach of trust or a major betrayal, it can be even worse. For example, a friend of mine was dating this guy who seemed perfect in every way and he was clearly crazy about her. He just wouldn’t make it official. But she couldn’t quite walk away because he really was a gem and he clearly cared about her deeply. Eventually, he told her that his ex-girlfriend, who he had been with for six years, was secretly a stripper and escort on the side. He felt hugely betrayed and just needed more time before he could officially commit … and eventually he did.
Sometimes you have to look at the larger context. But you need to put limits on your compassion. If it’s clear this guy won’t be ready to commit anytime soon, and if what you want is a commitment, then you’re wasting your time by staying. Yes, it’s hard to walk away from a great guy, but what is the point of being with a great guy when you can’t even have him in the way you want?
And like I said, if he’s really into you and really likes you, he won’t just let you go without a fight.
MORE: Signs You Might Be Dating a Commitment Phobe
2. He feels pressured
Here’s the funny thing. A lot of women get so nervous about their guy not committing that they pressure him into it, which makes him even less likely to want to commit. Had she not brought her fears into it and just let things evolve naturally, he probably would have committed much sooner!
No one appreciates being backed into a corner. We all need to feel like we have ownership of our lives, not like we were forced into making certain choices. When you pressure a man, you take his choice away. Now he has to do things your way or you’ll make him suffer and this may cause him to resent you.
No man will ever appreciate being pressured into doing something. So just let it be and let things unfold more naturally.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever talk about where things are going, but there is a right way to do this so that you aren’t making threats and piling on the pressure. (Read this article for more: How to Have “The Talk” to Define Your Relationship)
3. He is afraid of being vulnerable
Being emotional and vulnerable doesn’t come as easily to men as it does to women. Men are at a disadvantage here because they enter the realm of emotional disclosure much later in life, whereas women have been sharing their emotions freely with their friends since early childhood.
He might just be afraid of revealing his innermost thoughts and feelings. Maybe he opened up in the past and was badly hurt.
Maybe he just doesn’t know how to go to those places and needs you to guide him. Maybe he feels ashamed of who he is deep down and doesn’t think any woman will accept his true self. All of these are very common, and it just takes patience and empathy on your part to help him through that. Think of yourself as his tour guide through the foreign and often scary realm of emotions.
However, do not ever fall into the role of being this therapist. If he has significant emotional issues, then he needs real help and he needs to take responsibility for them and deal with them. Your love won’t be enough to cure him.
MORE: Man Decoder: The Truth About Why He Won’t Commit
4. He’s afraid it won’t last.
Like I said, most men don’t take breakups lightly. It’s hard and devastating on many levels. He might be afraid to commit because if you’re never someone’s boyfriend you can never be someone’s ex-boyfriend.
I know it can seem like guys handle breakups seamlessly, but that’s usually just a front. They also feel pain deeply and it’s scary to take that risk again. There is a huge risk to our ego, our sense of self, our ability to trust, and sometimes these fears can hold him back from really committing to you.
5. He’s afraid of being stuck in a bad relationship
If you’re a regular ANM reader, then you’ve heard me say this line before. Men aren’t afraid of relationships, they’re afraid of bad relationships. They’re afraid of being in a situation where they feel trapped and uninspired and can’t be their true self. They’re afraid of a woman who is always going to pick fights because of her own insecurities. They’re afraid of being that guy — and every guy has that one friend who is like this — who can’t ever just do his thing because his girlfriend needs hourly updates about what he’s up to.
Men also have fears of being the bad guy. He doesn’t want to commit to you when he’s unsure and then find someone he is sure about … and then have to break your heart. Men know women get attached more easily and he really doesn’t want to be the bad guy who is going to hurt you. This is why men sometimes proceed with more caution when it comes to commitment.
MORE: What to Do When He Says He Doesn’t Want to Be in a Relationship
6. He’s had childhood trauma or abuse
Now, this is a more serious and complex issue to navigate. Sometimes terrible things happen to innocent children at the hands of people they trust. And these things can make an indelible impression and cause a lot of psychological damage.
The only way around that is a good therapist. You can’t fix these things on your own most of the time. If he had a traumatic childhood, then you aren’t going to undo it by just loving him hard enough. The young brain is so impressionable and when certain beliefs get wired in there, it is incredibly difficult to undo and often requires a skilled professional.
You can’t ever be a man’s therapist. If he has trauma, encourage him to seek professional help.
MORE: Ask a Guy – If He Won’t Commit Now, Will He Ever?
7. A troubled family dynamic
This can go along with childhood trauma or be totally unrelated. All kids handle things differently. While one sibling may be unaffected by his parents’ divorce and be able to have healthy, happy relationships, another may be deeply affected by it.
Or maybe one parent was emotionally absent or made one too many promises they couldn’t keep. Children are fragile and impressionable and these things can really have an impact. If someone never saw a healthy model of what a healthy relationship should look like, they may have significant fears and doubts. They may have bad associations with committed relationships because all they’ve seen is relationship failures.
Again, this isn’t something that’s easy to fix and may require the help of a professional.
What You Should Do If You’re Dating a Commitment-phobe
First and foremost, don’t make the mistake most women make in these situations by putting the guy first. You need to put yourself first here. Yes, I understand that he’s a wounded bird that needs healing, and you can support him, but you can’t do it at the expense of yourself. Waiting around for a guy to commit in the way you want is never a good move and usually will end in heartbreak for you.
MORE: 8 Signs You’re Dating a Commitment-phobe
Ultimatums and pressure will only push him away, but sticking around just makes you a pushover. So here is what to do:
1. Take it for what it is. Don’t invest in a fantasy of what could be, look at what is right now. Would you be OK if nothing ever changed? Is this relationship fulfilling you, or are you hoping it turns into something else at some magical point in the future?
2. Set a deadline. Like I said, sometimes a man just needs a little more time. If you obsess over the state of the relationship you will just transmit an anxious vibe and that will prevent things from evolving further. Instead, just set a deadline (and you can keep it to yourself) and then just be present in the relationship and see how it goes. Enjoy your time with him and see what’s there. Then when the deadline comes you can re-assess.
3. Back off. It’s hard to realize the value of something that is always there and readily available. Give him some space to pursue you. Pull back a bit to give him that room. It will also make him feel a little more free in the relationship, which all men appreciate. You’re also giving him the freedom to choose you instead of shoving yourself down his throat and saying, “Please pick me!”
4. Focus on yourself. Focus on being your best self and not on fixing him. That is always a guaranteed recipe for getting the love you want. Focus on building your self-esteem and self-worth. This will arm you with the strength to walk away from situations that can’t give you what you want.
I hope this article clarified whether you’re dating a commitment-phobe and showed you the best ways of dealing with it. But there is more you need to know. There will come an inevitable point in a relationship where a man asks himself: Is this the woman I want to commit myself to? His answer will determine everything. Do you know what inspires a man to commit? Do you know what makes him see you as a long-term partner? If not, read this next: The #1 Things Men Desire in a Woman
Does he spend time with you as often as he used to? (Question 1 of 15)
The Biggest Reasons He’s Afraid of Commitment:
- He’s been badly burned in the past
- He feels pressured
- He’s afraid of being vulnerable
- He’s afraid it won’t last
- He’s afraid of being stuck in a bad relationship
- He’s had childhood trauma or abuse
- His family dynamic is troubled