Is Your Boyfriend a Commitment-Phobe?
Here’s how to tell if he's afraid of marriage
There’s a common myth that men fear commitment. The truth is, you simply can’t generalize. Some men fear commitment, but so do some women.
Regardless, if you are dating someone who is afraid of commitment, it’s better to figure it out sooner rather than later.
Our dating experts share their best tips on how to tell if your boyfriend is a commitment-phobe.
Taking the risk
“Fear of commitment is actually fear of loss. Making a commitment means taking the risk that it won't work out. Some people, who may have been hurt or rejected before, protect themselves by hanging back and not committing. It doesn't really shield them from anything but being satisfied in a relationship. Others don't commit because this relationship isn't “perfect” enough—another excuse to avoid taking on the responsibility of commitment. A good relationship is scary, because there's a lot to lose if it goes bad,” said Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences.
Unfortunately, the only way to get someone like this to commit is to leave.
“As long as he gets to be with you, there's no reason to commit. If you don't leave, you're making it easy for your partner to stay uncommitted. You will run a risk, because even after you leave, your ex may not come asking for a commitment. In that case, you'll find out what you probably should already know. There's not enough love there for him to commit to you,” Tessina said.
Reasons for this fear
A man may be afraid because he doesn't want to get hurt again, so he resists feeling committed. There are four other reasons for being commitment-phobic, according to Tessina:
- He has such an exaggerated idea of what his ideal match would be, he rejects women for small flaws, and holds out for his fantasy woman.
- His parents had a bad relationship, and it frightened him, so he's guarded.
- He could be really attracted to men, and not ready to admit it.
- He watches a lot of online porn and it has distorted his view of love and commitment.
“If your guy never wants to make a definite date by asking, ‘would you like to go out Friday night?’ and just wants to come over to your house on the spur of the moment, if he doesn't make an effort to keep in touch (you should not be making all the effort) and he doesn't seem to think about the future, he's probably just using you as a reserve and he’s not really interested. To have a real relationship, you need a different kind of guy,” she said.
What to look for
When you are dating someone new, and trying to determine if they’re commitment-phobic, don't look for the surface stuff such as looks. Find a guy with character, which you're more likely to find out if you are socially involved with him before you are personally involved with him. Don't be too easily available. Your interaction should be like a tennis match. He volleys, then you do. Never send a lot of shots over the net in a row, she said.
Some men who won’t commit are narcissists, because they never can find anyone good enough for them.
“These men regard women as possessions, trophies, not as people. The man is only looking from his own point of view and has no empathy or real capacity for love or commitment. If you're looking for a commitment, avoid these men at all costs. It's okay to date more than one man until you find one who is as willing to commit to you as you are to him. Keep looking around until you find a keeper. Stay away from online dating, where men get the impression that the supply of women is endless, and they don't have to earn a relationship. Instead, get socially active in groups and clubs, classes and sports, and meet people face to face. You're more likely to be able to tell the difference between a good guy and a good advertiser,” she said.
And then other men who do this are generally good guys, but they’re just not that into a woman.
If you suspect you’re dating a narcissist, start dating other men. This will make the commitment-phobe get himself together and consider the woman more valuable. But not every guy will come back. “Some guys won't commit no matter how valuable
they think the woman is,” Tessina said.
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