We hear more and more about women who are in love with men with commitment issues. It does seem as if there are more commitment-shy men out there right now as compared to a generation ago. The ease and abundance of dating apps may be feeding into the problem.
Why commit to one great woman when the next one may be just one swipe away? Let’s take a deep dive into what causes commitment phobia and how to deal with a commitment-phobic man.
What causes commitment-phobic behavior
What causes commitment phobia to develop?
First off, let us be clear. Men with commitment issues will have these issues no matter what woman they are with. It has nothing to do with you. So please stop doubting your attractiveness, your intelligence, your great personality, your loving and generous nature. If a guy is scared of commitment, he displays this fear with every woman he dates.
Men with commitment issues are not born that way. Guys with commitment issues learn this behavior from life experiences such as:
Unresolved childhood trauma, such as witnessing their parents’ divorce, especially if that divorce was ugly and not managed with the child’s interest at the forefront.
Other childhood traumas including the death of someone close to the child, such as a sibling, or the sudden disappearance of a close friend or relative, or neglectful or abusive parenting.
Trauma in adulthood, such as being cheated on in a previous relationship. Having gone through a messy divorce can contribute to men with commitment issues.
Some men just value their freedom so greatly that they have commitment issues but these are not at all issues for them (but they are for the women that love them).
These men have an avoidant attachment style of interacting with women.
If you want to know if you are dating a commitment-phobic boyfriend, look to his past.
Has he never been married or lived with a woman?
Are his previous relationships short-lived?
Does he have a history of moving around a lot, of frequent job changes?
Does he say he doesn’t want to have any roots or ties and talks about his desire to be free to do what he wants when he wants?
There are more signs of commitment phobia that we will highlight later in this article, but if you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, it is likely that you are dating a man with commitment issues.
Don’t despair! We will look at some ways to get a commitment-phobe to commit if that is truly what you would like to see happening in your relationship.
10 signs of commitment phobia in men
Not all men with commitment issues display the same signs. But there is enough commonality amongst them that we have put together this list to help you identify the signs of commitment phobia.
1. Fear as the relationship progresses
Men with commitment issues will be extremely loving and caring at the beginning of the relationship, especially before he feels he has “captured” you and made you fall for him.
Initially, guys with commitment issues are very open with their emotions and expressions of feelings for you. They seem to be 100% invested in you and the future of the relationship.
Be assured; these are real feelings for the man with commitment issues; he is not pretending. But soon, once he feels you getting too close, this will spark fear in him, and he will feel the need to sabotage the relationship.
You will hear mixed messages from men with commitment issues. Men with commitment issues want to feel close to their partner at the beginning, so they may tell you very early on that they love you and talk about a shared future.
But at the same time, men with fear of commitment will also say that they do not want to feel trapped, that they want to explore the world, that they want to “live life to the fullest”, meaning the ability to pick up and move when they feel like it.
3. You’re not introduced to friends
Men with commitment issues do not include you in their friend’s group. If you have been dating for a couple of months and he hasn’t introduced you to any of his friends, it is likely he has commitment issues.
4. No discussion about future plans
Men with commitment issues do not include you in any future plans. Does your boyfriend never talk about living together or getting married? Is he perfectly happy with you, and he keeps separate places and sees no need to combine households?
Men with commitment issues are drawn to busy women who have other commitments. They may seek divorced women with children, knowing that the children will be the woman’s first priority and therefore give the commitment-phobe a lot of time on his own.
7. They woo women actively
Men with commitment issues go way too fast in seducing a woman they are attracted to. They will be very charming and say all the right things to get her to bond quickly. They like the wooing phase of the relationship, but it doesn’t go beyond that.
8. They withdraw gradually
Men with commitment issues will be very affectionate and loving, open with their expressions of love. But once they feel the woman is “hooked,” they will withdraw the very things that attracted her to him.
Men with commitment issues will break dates at the last minute and stop texting as much. They can even end up ghosting the woman when the fear of commitment becomes too intense.
9. Sabotage the relationship
Men with commitment issues will sabotage the relationship. If the relationship becomes serious, with talk of moving in together or marriage, they will start sabotaging it by becoming critical of you, self-absorbed, argumentative, rude, and treating you as low-priority.
The purpose of this bad behavior is to make YOU leave the relationship, making things easier for the man with commitment issues because it “wasn’t his fault that the relationship ended.”
As the relationship progresses, their behavior becomes worse and worse. Men with commitment issues want to be out of the relationship but need the woman to make a move so that they don’t feel guilty.
20 ways to deal with a commitment-phobic man
If you sense you are dealing with a commitment-phobic man, but you want to move ahead with the relationship, you may be asking yourself, “Can a commitment-phobic change?”. It is possible, but you need to tread very carefully to fix commitment issues.
In fact, you may need to be quite stealthy and secretive in order to get a commitment-phobe to commit. Why? Because if he realizes what you are doing, he will run away. Such is his fear of commitment.
Let’s look at 20 ways how to deal with a commitment-phobic man, and maybe even get a commitment-phobe to commit!
1. Keep the relationship out of the bedroom at the beginning
Men with commitment issues will come on strong, with lots of romance and loving emotions. They love to seduce their partners. If you typically jump rapidly into bed, take your time with the commitment-phobe.
Keeping your body to yourself, pacing the relationship slowly is a good commitment phobia treatment and may help move the commitment needle in your favor. Take your time.
Remember: men with fear of commitment will start strong. You need to slow things down and be the one controlling the pace if you want him to commit to you.
3. Stay independent
Act as if you don’t need him. He is used to women bonding quickly with him. If you continue on with your own life, passions, outside commitments, this may change his commitment-phobic ways.
4. See other men
Keep your other dating options open. This sends the signal that you are highly sought-after, don’t need the commitment-phobe, and, if it ends up that you do not move forward with the man with commitment issues, you have other men to date!
5. Take the relationship as it is
Lower your expectations. In other words, this relationship may not evolve into one involving commitment. But if you like this man, accept things as they are and enjoy the moments you have with him. Just don’t expect to fix commitment issues. You are not his therapist.
Realize that you cannot change him, no matter how much investment you are willing to make to be with him. In fact, withholding your love and attention may be the best commitment phobia treatment.
7. Don’t justify his wrong behavior
Stop making excuses for his behavior. He isn’t calling you? Don’t say, “He is just really busy.” Did he stand you up on your last two dates? Don’t say, “Oh, he is so absent-minded!” When he shows you who he is, believe him.
8. Understand your level of patience
Think about your own level of patience. Are you willing to wait it out, to withhold your own loving nature, in order to bring him to a place of commitment? It may take a while.
Take care of yourself first. If the relationship is causing you more grief than joy, it may be time to think about your own well-being and end things. Your physical and mental health is of utmost importance, and only you can take care of it.
To fix commitment issues, communication will be key. See if the man with commitment issues is willing to discuss a possible change.
Ask him if he wants to change. Is he willing to work with a professional therapist to sort out why he is commitment-shy? Is he willing to work deeply on his emotional issues?
11. Communicate your feelings
Share with him how his behaviors affect you. Tell him you are willing to help him feel comfortable with getting close to you. Tell him you understand what may be behind his commitment issues but that you do not represent that same threat. You enjoy his company and do not intend to pull away.
Check out this video to learn more about how you can express yourself in the relationship without inhibitions:
12. Be sure to give him his space
Guys with commitment issues need a tremendous amount of space. You, on the other hand, may want to spend more and more time with him as you feel your attachment grow. Don’t do that.
To deal with a commitment-phobe, you need to honor their need for breathing room and independence. By making him miss you, he will naturally gravitate towards you. Let him figure out his need for you on his own; don’t push it.
13. Be honest and build trust
Men with commitment issues that are rooted in childhood trauma put up walls to prevent hurt. By being honest and trustworthy with them, you show them that you are not one of those people that is going to hurt them. They can allow themselves to take down the walls with you.
14. Be sensitive to their commitment phobia situation
To build trust with your boyfriend, be mindful of things that may make him uncomfortable. He may not be open to doing “relationship things” like accompanying you to your cousin’s wedding or meeting your best friend. You can certainly ask him if he is open to this, but don’t feel bad if he declines.
15. Do as many fun things with him as possible
When you go out on a date, go out. Don’t stay at home, making him dinner and ending the evening watching a film.
Go out and do exciting things, like a museum visit or a boat cruise. He will associate these positive feelings with you, and you will show him that you are vibrant and plugged into the world at large.
Realize his behaviors have nothing to do with you. He is hardwired this way. It isn’t because he doesn’t not want to be with you specifically. That’s his general behavior in any relationship. So, don’t doubt yourself and take the wrong steps to win him.
17. Make efforts if you see a future together
To win a commitment-phobe back, should you want to, work with them step by step. Show them small ways to commit to you, ways that are non-threatening to them. For instance, maybe seeing each other uniquely one night a week is enough of a commitment, to begin with.
Later, when the commitment-phobe is comfortable with that, you can gradually build up to more time together.
18. Respect what they are telling you
When they say that their freedom is important to them, respect their wish. If, however, this is not something you are comfortable with, make your choice.
This relationship has to meet both of your needs, and you should not be sacrificing what is important to you in order to make things work.
Be supportive if he chooses to go to therapy. Don’t grill him on what he talked about with the therapist, but let him share what he is comfortable sharing with you.
20. Be prepared
Know, whatever happens, you will come away stronger. If you end up leaving the relationship, you will have learned so much about yourself. If you end up staying, you will have built up levels of patience and understanding that you never knew you had.
Dealing with a man with commitment issues is not easy. You will feel an entire range of emotions, from not understanding him to finally accepting him as he is.
Hopefully, along the way, you will continue to value yourself and what you seek in a relationship. Never forget: the best relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. Make sure you uphold your own values whatever happens in this relationship with a man with commitment issues.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.