You are dating a wonderful, charming man and you feel as if you are part of a fabulous, attractive twosome.
Your friends tell you with a touch of friendly envy that you both turn heads wherever you go. Your sex life is incredibly good; you’re compatible in every way. Your parents like him, his parents like you - life is good. There’s just one problem.
He absolutely will not commit to a serious relationship no matter how much you desire it. Any conversation about it is closed before it is begun. He’s what is called a “commitment-phobe”.
It isn’t that he wants to date others, it isn’t that he’s not in a financially good place; it isn’t even that he was badly burned in a past relationship and needs to go very slowly before being able to trust someone again. He’s a great guy who simply doesn’t want to make a serious commitment to you. And it is driving you absolutely nuts trying to figure out why!
The first thing you need to know is that the problem does not lie with you. Some of the world’s most famous celebrities have dated commitment-phobes. That, of course doesn’t make your situation any better, but it’s good to know you’re not exactly the only one who has dealt with this issue.
A commitment shy man is both a puzzle and a challenge to the woman who dates him. Outside of the few who show abusive behavior, these guys are generally nice, well-liked good guys who simply have a hard time “settling down.” While they choose to be monogamous with one woman, sometimes for an extended period of time, the idea of making it permanent is something which they will not do or even discuss.
Some men just want the idea of freedom. This “security blanket” gives them a kind of freedom card and the sense that they can leave the relationship if they want to do so. What commitment? I’m free to go at any time! I’m choosing to be here but it is in no way a permanent situation.
For other men it is more complex, especially when it comes to marriage. The legality of the married state seems more like being in a cage than a love nest.
Past studies from the Bowdoin University Gender Studies Center show that men who shy away from committing to a serious relationship are not personally fulfilled. This means that no matter how content a man may be with his job and life as a whole, there is still something inside him that has not been satisfied and this keeps him from making a permanent commitment such as marriage. He may subconsciously have a desire to do “something more” before he feels personally fulfilled. Perhaps he has always wanted to travel the world, become a pro tennis player, or live in a foreign country on his own. If this isn’t taken care of he feels either the nagging pull to get on with it or a vague regret that his secret ambition will never be realized.
The study concludes with the theory that if a man grew up with a father who was emotionally contained within the family home, yet engaged outside of it with his career and hobbies, it set the standard for a non-committer. He saw his dad as not being fulfilled as a person because his outlets for fulfillment had to met outside a relationship.
Commitment-phobic men do not make good partners in the long run unless your ideas about being together include an acceptance of having nothing binding in your relationship and the real possibility of his using his freedom card when you least expect it.
If marriage to your commitment-phobe is on your mind or you feel it should be a main objective for you both, perhaps you may need to seriously reconsider your plans. You may be dealing with someone who isn’t “personally settled.” As sad as it may be for you to end a relationship with this wonderful guy, leaving him may be your only alternative for a happy life.
© 2012 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
Houghton is the author of the following top-selling books: No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut available on Kindle, Nook, and all e-book venues.
And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First available in both paperbook and e-book venues