I’ve had a few discussions with women about “commitment-phobic men” recently. That is, men who have a “fear of commitment” when it comes to relationships.
The typical scenario where a woman will label a guy a “commitment phobe” is when he’s been seeing a girl for a while – they spend the majority of their time together, they eat together, they sleep together and so forth….but he won’t commit in an official sense. That’s usually when they’ll come to me looking for answers.
Well, let’s get into this…
First, I can tell you right off the bat that he’s not a “commitment-phobe.” That term was invented by some psychologist to diagnose .0001% of the population for a very specific, extreme condition. However, as with nearly every psychological diagnosis, it gets slapped on everyone the moment it becomes popular…
I’m ADD. I’m OCD. I’m biploar, and on and on and on. Enough with the amateur psychological diagnoses. Let’s look at what’s actually going on here.
Most likely scenario: The placeholder relationship.
This is an instance where I have to be blunt. It’s not that he’s afraid to commit to the girl… it’s that he’s (and I cringe to type these words) not that into her… but into her enough to have her companionship, emotional support, and sex.
When it comes to all things sex and companionship, a guy will say, “Sure, if you’re offering…”
Problem is, guys typically have a terrible gauge on whether or not they’ll catch feelings for the girl. For most guys, he won’t catch feelings for the girl as long as he never looks to her for emotional support.
Once a guy starts leaning on a girl emotionally, he starts becoming attached to her on an emotional level. Now the girl who he only intended to keep around to keep from being lonely becomes this pseudo-girlfriend.
On the one hand, he cares for her and wants her around. After all, he feels better when she’s there versus when she’s not.
On the other hand, he feels that he can do better… and he intends to. The rationale he makes in his head is that once he “gets himself together” (that is, he starts actually doing the things in his life that he intends to do), he’ll break things off with his not-girlfriend all good and tidy and go for the girl he actually wants to be with.
The only problem is… most people go their whole lives intending to do what they’ve always wanted to do, but they never get around to it.
Instead, in these instances, men fall deeper into their “not-girlfriend” relationship.
The girl supports him emotionally and faithfully acts as his crutch so that he can find his strength and become the man he’s always wanted to be. She aims to bring him comfort and relief from his painful and tragic life.
What ends up happening is he becomes dependent on her to be his emotional crutch. Instead of getting stronger, he gets weaker and more attached to this girl.
So months or years go by and the girl just figures (even after all this time) that if she just loves him enough, he’ll be strong enough to love her back. At this point, she’s in deep too – she’s invested so much into a relationship that she hopes will someday happen, but has yet to ever make its debut into reality.
So now we’re at this point: Girl has poured months or years of love and obsession into this guy, hoping he’ll one day come around. Guy has become emotionally dependent on the girl for her love and support, but he knows in his heart that the situation isn’t what he actually wants.
And here’s where it gets really perverse: On some level, both parties know that if the guy gets into a place of true emotional strength and independence, he’ll leave the girl. It’s subconscious in most cases, but I’ve seen it play out enough times that it’s prevalent in these situations.
What ends up happening is that the guy will make sure the girl has just enough hope to keep chasing him. The girl will make sure that he’s as emotionally dependent on him as she can get him to be.
In these arrangements, you’ll notice that when one side starts to stray, the other side will undermine them.
If the guy starts getting himself together, the girl will find some way to subtly undermine his progress – usually through comfort, but sometimes through less pleasant means.
If the girl starts to give up on him, he’ll find some way to subtly give her hope for some kind of future. After all, he doesn’t want to lose his emotional crutch/sexual outlet security blanket – then he’d be not only emotionally weakened, but also alone.
Said simply, both sides will do things to entrench the other side exactly where they’re at.
So how does it all end?
Typically…. heartbreak. What usually ends up happening is that sooner or later, the “better thing” the guy was waiting for appears and the moment it does, he disappears.
If you’re the guy, this isn’t such a bad situation since he was able to enjoy a cozy comfortable pseudo-relationship in between.
Moreover, he can always say, “Well, we were never in an official relationship. What did you think was going to happen?”
Which brings me to my point…
I don’t know what happened to this culture… I don’t know if it was Hollywood movies, music, TV, an ever-increasing sense of entitlement, a decline in social perceptiveness across the populous… but let’s nail this down.
If you’re seeing a guy for a few weeks, everything is up in the air – just relax and let things run their course without being worried.But if you’ve spent the majority of your free time with a guy for the last couple of months – you eat together, sleep together and support each other emotionally – and he’s making no effort to lock you down… then you’re in a “placeholder relationship.”
To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that IF both sides are on the same page. Unfortunately, I have yet to see an instance where both sides are on the same side.
Which brings me back to things I’ve said again and again…
You’re single until he specifically locks you down and says you’re in an exclusive relationship together. Until then, you’re single and shutting down your options or effectively removing yourself from the dating pool will hurt your chances of getting into a relationship, not help them…
People who have great relationships didn’t bet on a losing horse and magically turn him into a winning horse. A winning relationship is a great relationship from the start. – In almost all cases where I get questions, it’s because the woman knows the answer to her question, but she doesn’t want to believe it. She wants to believe that her fantasy will come true in a hopeless scenario. My advice: stop betting on losing horses. Romantic turnarounds were invented by Hollywood precisely because they’re an impossible fantasy. Stop with it already.
Don’t make your relationship the source of happiness that you then, in turn, bring into your life. Source your happiness from your life and bring it into your relationships. – Easier said than done, but it is one of the key secrets. The people who “parasite” all the happiness of their life from their relationship find that the well runs dry very quickly. Whereas the people who love their lives and bring that energy to their relationship make the relationship better and better, stronger and stronger.
Hope it helps,