Can a Man with Commitment Phobia Commit?
One of the most common scenarios I am most sought after for advice, is about the guy who has commitment issues. I'm talking about the one that has been hurt by love in the past and is actually capable of long term relationships. There are many articles out there on the varying degrees of commitment phobia, especially about the perpetual bachelor whose longest relationship is 3 months. We won't be discussing those. Actually, these guys are best to stay clear from. It is rare for them to have a George Clooney moment and actually get married.
I am continuously asked if a man who has been hurt in the past is capable of committing himself to one woman. The short answer is yes. These men may be afraid of commitment, but it doesn't mean that they won't commit. It means that they will take longer to do so, if at all, and they will be extremely cautious.
I have a very good client who was in a similar situation. She gave me permission to share her story (names and places have been changed) She had met David on a dating site. They met for coffee and hit it off. Jen and David couldn't be more opposite. He's a very success lawyer with high end clientele. He has a fancy car, expensive clothes and good taste. He was taken to the cleaners by his ex. Since then he has only had superficial short term flings with various women from similar circles. Then he met Jen. She's a yoga instructor who just opened her own studio, she dresses more on the hippy side of things, rides her bike everywhere to be more environmentally conscientious and lives a pretty simple life. She also has been hurt in the past by a series of bad relationships. They are the polar opposite of each other, with being afraid of commitment being their only commonality.
When they met, sparks flew and they had amazing chemistry. They made plans to see each other again the following week. He then seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Jen who is very easy going, at first was a bit confused, but quickly forgot about it and went on doing her thing. Then one day out the blue he contacted her, she was a bit surprised, but agreed to meet with him again. They went out had a great time and then radio silence again. This went on back and forth for some time. She enjoyed his company, but didn't take things too seriously and just went with the ebb and flow of things. Until one day out of the blue he showed up at her studio with a soy chai latte (she couldn't believe he remembered from a date months before). He drove across town, losing billable hours, to bring her tea just to say he thought she could use one and left quickly thereafter. Once again it was sometime before she heard from him again. Even though she liked him and had commitment issues of her own, she was at the point of giving up. This back and forth was becoming frustrating with barely any progress. She wasn't exactly sitting around waiting for him. She had been going on dates during this time and as she assumed he was doing as well. However, during this experience she started to realize what she wanted and even though it scared her, she was ready for a bit more. About a month after their last date he showed up out the blue with this beautiful bouquet of forget me nots. He then told her that he didn't want to see other women, just her. However, he had fears because of his past experiences. She suggested that they just take it day by day then, while only seeing each other, no pressure lets see what happens. He didn't hesitate in labeling her as his girlfriend. Ironically, she was the hesitant one.
During their courtship David had a lot of things going on in his personal life, a sick family member and lots of drama. Topped off with his demanding work schedule, it didn't leave him much room for anything else. The only thing he had time for in his life was something casual and fun. His ex hurt him badly and left him being overly cautious about entering any relationships. He enjoyed his lifestyle, even though on a deeper level he felt something was missing. When he met Jen she took him by surprise. She was unlike anyone he had met. Over time he found that she was who he thought of when life got crazy, she made him feel sane again. Unlike other women he had dated, she never gave him a hard time for his prolonged absences, nor did she ever question him or ask for explanations. She accepted him for who he was, with no expectation of change. She somehow seemed to sense when he was having a particularly rough day and she'd send him messages that left him smiling the rest of the day. He had spoken to other women and maybe gone out a few times, but it didn't go further than that. There was always something lacking, they weren't her. Aside from having fears of repeating history of relationships past; he realized he didn't have the time to dedicate to a relationship, yet, as he got to know her he knew he'd regret not perusing things further with her. His fear of regret became greater than his fear of commitment.
It turned out to be the perfect relationship for both of them. They are what I call free range people. So, even when they spend lots of time together, they have the comfort of knowing they can do their own thing without incident. With his busy and demanding job, sometimes they would go two weeks at a time without seeing each other. This didn't bother Jen, as she was preoccupied trying to establish her yoga studio. They trust each other and their relationship functions perfectly. This type of relationship may not be traditional, it may not work for others. That's okay because it works perfectly for them. They still feel they have the freedom to do things and be together at the same time. They are perfectly imperfect.
Such endings are rare. Unlike many women, Jen gave him the space he needed, didn't have expectations of a particular outcome and let things happen. She never gave him ultimatums or pressured him in anyway. She just went with the flow of life and wasn't afraid to move on from something that wasn't working for her. By being easy going, she alleviated some of his greatest fears, making it easy for him to want to move forward. Allowing him to see that being in a relationship was possible for him as well. Relationships are not all the same, what works for some, won't for others. That's perfectly okay, ask long as it works for both people and they are happy, that's all that matters.
There are a few examples of why men fear relationships. The most common reason is the fear or repeating patterns from previous relationships. This could be anything from constantly fighting, to bad sex, never having time to themselves, feeling claustrophobic, infidelity, or to being used financially or a combination of everything. They may fear losing their freedom as their experiences with women in the past demanded 100% of their free time. There could be many other reasons as well that stem from other types of life experiences. One way they allow themselves to feel safe in the dating world, is to tell themselves they are only looking for casual fun. As soon as a woman displays actions to solidify these fears they move so fast all you see is the trail of dust behind them. These men aren't hopeless, they just need a specific type of personality that shows them that not all relationships are the same.
How to get the commitment phobe to commit? I wish I could share some magical formula with you. I will tell you this, they will tell you right from the start that they are only looking for something on the casual side of things. If you are a woman who wants more and needs lots of male attention, move on. You will save yourself a lot of heartache. If you are a woman who is perfectly fine with something casual, has her own life and is okay with allowing things to flow with no exception of an end result, then go for it. You might be pleasantly surprised with an amazing guy in your life, or at the very least an easy going something that may have not end in anything, but you never lost sleep over.
The most important thing to remember is that you can't change anyone. It's important to be yourself and maintain your own life. If a man who has commitment issues happens to fall for you, he will man up and make sure he captures your attention, because even he knows how rare it is to find a woman who doesn't want to make them run from a commitment, but towards one.
Love and Light
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