Commitment phobia – that is what we call the fear of settling down with one partner. It is said to be more common in men but that is not to say there aren’t some female commitment-phobes out there too!
Well, we can’t say commitment-phobes have absolutely no reason to be the way they are. Some have witnessed their once happily married parents go through messy divorces while others have childhood memories of terrible physical and emotional abuse on one of their parents. That said, others have flimsy excuses like fear of the unknown, which I find is not acceptable.
Now, you have met a great guy whom you have been dating for some time. Things are going pretty well but – yes there is a big but – he does not seem too keen on moving things towards a committed relationship. You do not know if he considers you a potential life-long partner. You are not even sure if the two of you are dating exclusively or not. Any attempts to discuss it yield little or nothing at all.
If you find yourself in this confusing situation, arm yourself with all the information you need to be able to tell when he really wants to commit but is still trying to gather the courage to take the step. Here are some tell-tale signs he loves you but is scared to commit.
Signs He Wants To Commit But Is Scared
He Is Happy Where He Is
It would be wrong to deny that things are going great. The two of you spend almost all your evenings and weekends together and enjoy them all. He thinks you are a great girl, you think he is a great guy. But that’s it! The relationship is stagnant. Even when you try to push things along towards some form of commitment, he just won’t budge because that will disrupt his comfort. He would rather not deal with the agreements (and disagreements) and increased involvement that commitment brings with it.
He Makes You Pay for His Ex’s Mistakes
His ex-girlfriend cheated on him and he is not over that betrayal. He is afraid to commit to you because you might hurt him the same way. Committing to you makes him vulnerable and he is afraid of being hurt again. This is a clear sign that he wants to commit but is still stuck in his past. The only way to deal with this is to have a candid conversation about how the past should not dictate your future. Help him get over the pain from his previous relationships so that both of you could move on to more serious, committed grounds.
He Is Still Thinking About It
In my opinion, it really should not take him long to decide if he wants to be with you or not. He should know what he wants and be able to quickly decide if you fit into it or not. Granted, there may be other factors to consider and maybe some issues between you which need to be ironed out before he can decide. However, on the whole, if he takes too long then he probably does not know what he wants – and you do not want to be with someone who has no idea what he wants, especially when it comes to you!
His Parents Are Off Limits
A commitment-phobic man is not in a hurry to introduce you to his parents. You are sure they are alive and well plus he has a pretty good relationship with them – but they know nothing about you! When he visits them, he goes alone. Any hints at accompanying him are quickly shot down. Introducing you to his parents creates the impression that the two of you are in a committed relationship and he would not want to give anyone that impression, especially not you.
He Runs Away from Adult Talk
He is the sweetest, most romantic man you have ever met but the idea of sitting down to discuss and solve a problem as a couple gives him the creeps. When there is a decision you need to make together and you bring it up, he is out the door to attend to a sudden ‘very urgent’ matter. He is happy to postpone any ‘serious couple talk’ or skip it altogether. If this is familiar, then all he loves is the idea of being in love with you. If you decide to stay and try to make it better, give it all you have. If you decide to leave, move on and do not look back.
He Can’t Get Himself to Say the ‘L’ Word
If you have been dating for only a few weeks, you obviously would not expect him to use the ‘L’ word. If it has been several months, maybe a year or more and he has not said the words “I love you” then maybe there is a problem. More so if you say it first and he responds with a shocked blank look and can’t get himself to say he loves you back. Or worse, he responded with a polite, awkward “thank you”.
Okay, in his defence, maybe he is practicing extreme caution. He feels saying it will be rushing things when it is best to take it slow. That would make sense if it has been a couple of months. If it has been a year and more… maybe not. Uttering the word ‘love’ will make things real for him. He knows it will make you expect commitment which he does not want to deal with. Make an effort to put him at ease and see if it helps to strengthen the relationship. If not, maybe letting him go is not such a bad idea.
He wants to stay in the Here and Now
Do not get me wrong, I am not talking about those times when you both just want to get lost in a fabulous moment. For sure, those are great times but there is a reason the word ‘moment’ is in there. Because it is not supposed to last long or become seemingly permanent. After a while, you have to get back into the real world where we all plan, hope, and dream of the future we want. He is completely blank when you mention the future – totally visionless about what he would want to happen in the coming years. He is probably blocking all these thoughts because he is too scared of responsibilities which come with commitment. He associates commitment with arguments and grief. As far as he is concerned, it is much easier to maintain the relationship as it is now – lots of fun, no responsibilities and very little trust is necessary.
He Keeps Sending Mixed Signals
When the two of you are together, you have an amazing time. You get on exceptionally well and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. So it would not be outrageous to expect that the two of you will keep in touch by calling each other, text messaging and the like. But nope! As soon as you part, you do not hear from him for days, maybe weeks. Strange right? But not so strange for a man who is running away from something he wants but is too scared to admit it. He likes you but calling you often is admitting that to himself and to you. It might force him into a place that demands some kind of commitment, which he is too terrified of or not ready to be at yet.
He Is Afraid He Will Scare You Off
If you suspect that this is the reason your relationship has suddenly stagnated, do a little digging. Find out from him, his friends or whoever is willing to tell you why his past relationships ended. If he has had several relationships which did not end well, he may be afraid the same will happen with you. Even if he cares about you and wants to commit to you, he may be afraid the proposal of commitment might scare you off. If he has had his self-esteem battered in previous relationships, he may secretly feel that he is not good enough for you.
He Does Not Tell You What He Is Up To
Even newly dating couples tell each other where they are, who they are with and what they have planned for the weekend. It comes naturally to share your life with someone who is in your life. If your man prefers not to tell you who he is hanging out with on a Friday night, not because he is out with some other girl (he is probably watching a game with the boys), he is battling with something in himself. He is afraid that giving you this information amounts to commitment and a loss of freedom which he does not want.
It might take a while for him to get comfortable sharing his life so give him time and space. Go about your life as usual and let him know being with you doesn’t mean he will lose his freedom. But if it persists for too long and he is still unwilling to share the details of his life with you, maybe you are not as special to him as you think you are.
He Is Never Willing To Compromise
It goes without saying that a successful relationship takes compromise and compromise takes maturity. We all have our own routines and rhythms but if he is totally unwilling to break his routine to accommodate you, he might have a bit of growing up to do. It is up to you to decide if you want to hang around and wait for him to grow up a little or find someone else who has already done growing up.
His Family Does Not Know You Exist
You have met all his friends, he has met all of yours. Everyone knows the two of you are a couple. Even though you have no doubt that he loves you, it is strange that he has not introduced you to any of his family members yet – not even his closest siblings whom he has talked to you about. You can only guess that maybe you are not quite the kind of girl his family would approve of, or perhaps that there is a ‘perfect’ girl his family would like him to be with. If this is the problem, maybe he is gathering the courage to face all the disapproval when he finally does introduce you.
It might help to be patient, give him time to work through whatever is keeping him from making the introduction. If it becomes clear that there is really no obstacle and he just does not want to introduce you to them, then that is a big red flag waving in your face.
Is he really with you?
So you have posed the dreaded ‘where is this relationship going?’ question to him and he somehow managed to wiggle out of it without giving a solid answer. He does not want to talk about taking the relationship to another level because he is comfortable with it as it is. ‘Why are we trying to fix something that is not broken?’ He is with you but you are never quite sure if you are actually together.
Responsibility? No thank you
Okay, so he is a real piece of eye candy, is one of the most caring people you know and knows how to keep it hot in the sack. It is a big fat tick on all three. The only problem is that he is all about fun. All he talks about is the best holiday destinations which you must go to, the newest restaurant in town, and the hottest new pub around the corner. Of course, he cares about you. He includes you in his plans as far ahead as next week and that’s about it for him in terms of future plans.
Now you are wondering if there is any point in staying in a relationship where you are the only adult. Give him some time and see if he grows up enough to build a future together. If he does not, you may end up making all the decisions for both of you for the rest of your life. Worse still, making his decisions for him as well. Ask yourself, is this what you want?
Long Awkward Silences
You have spent the evening together, maybe had a nice dinner or went dancing. Now you have both just plopped yourselves on the couch. He goes silent for a long awkward moment and you can’t help but wonder what is going on in his head. There is probably a whirlwind of mixed emotions going on in there. He wants to tell you how much he likes you, how much he enjoys your company but he can’t get himself to say it. He is afraid of being judged or afraid that you might not feel the same way. Maybe he feels like he does not deserve you. On top of all that he is terrified of the idea of being in a relationship. Yeah, that’s a lot of thoughts to be swirling around in someone’s head at the same time.
Try daring him to be honest with you and with himself. Make him feel free enough to unload his dilemmas and tell you exactly how he feels. The sooner he opens up to you, the sooner you both will begin to build trust in each other.
Every Man Has a Prince Charming In Him
When you are dealing with a man with commitment phobia, it is difficult to know when it is best to wait it out and when it is time to throw in the towel. I have come up with 3 questions which you should ask yourself. Answering these questions will help you think through the most important aspects and hopefully come to a decision.
1. Agree On Boundaries
When your man is struggling to deal with the fear of commitment, he can do hurtful things to you in an attempt to protect himself. Even if you are willing to help him work through his fears, that is no reason for him to hurt you. Agree on boundaries which must be respected by both of you. Ask him to be honest about how you can help him feel safe so he won’t feel the urge to run away from you all the time. Let him know he can’t just wake up and give you the cold shoulder then apologize three days later. Neither of you should have to bend over backwards to accommodate the other.
2. Does He See Himself Ever Getting Into A Long-Term Committed Relationship?
Sorry to break it to you but, if he has no intention of ever getting into a committed relationship, you are wasting your time. He is probably just using fear of getting hurt as an excuse to drag you along. If he does hope to get into one someday, this hope alone can be enough motivation to overcome his fears.
On the other hand, he may harbor hopes of getting into a committed relationship but not with you. If that is the case, appreciate the honesty and move on.
3. Is He A Man Of His Word?
During the course of the relationship, he has probably made you some promises to keep you hanging in there. If you have seen him honor promises in other situations then that is reason to believe he will keep his promises to you. If you have seen him dishonor his word to others, you probably will not be an exception.
Fear of commitment is a real problem for some people but it does not mean that it is not worth working through it with your partner. Men go through different phases at different times in their lives. Younger men want independence and freedom and then gradually develop a desire to settle down. Older men are more willing to get into committed relationships as long as they do not feel controlled by their partners.
If fear of commitment is part of the equation, do not give up just yet. Treat it as you would any other fear. Expose him to it in small doses and let him take baby steps towards a full commitment. Compromises are inevitable though they do not mean that he has to give up his independence. Assure him that he does not have to stop doing the things he likes to do just to be with you. Being with you simply means he has a place where he can always feel safe, secure, and free from judgement.