A Guy’s Take: Men Who Are “Commitment-phobes” post image

A Guy’s Take: Men Who Are “Commitment-phobes”

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,

eric charles

Written by Eric Charles

I'm Eric Charles, the co-founder and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing articles to help people free themselves from suffering and have clarity in their love life. I have a degree in Psychology and I've dedicated the last 20 years of my life to learning everything I can about human psychology and sharing what gets people out of struggling with life and into having the life they really want. If you want to contact me, feel free to reach out on Facebook or Twitter.

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Well this is exactly the point. The guy is “just not that into you…” because he is actually being a commitment phobe: He can’t – I repeat – CAN’T feel love or affection because he closes off (ergo the part where he’s “just not that into you” and probably would jump off a bridge before admitting to himself that he might actually do care). I have seen this with a friend of mine. He was in a relationship for 10 years and never managed to commit (move in together for example). His family and I told him to go to therapy but he always pushes his problems on work and that he is too busy. Don’t let people make you believe he never cared for you. You’ll know if he has or not, you’ll feel it. It’s not just black and white. Either he is in to you or not – life is not that simple. There are traumas one experiences that influence a character and how we handle emotions and confidence. However it doesn’t change the fact that this relationship – if you want true commitment – will end badly and he needs to figure out his problems by himself (preferably far away from you while you look for sb who actually is emotionally available).


Reply May 28, 2020, 1:00 pm


I been in a relationship with a guy for 18 years and I have four kids with me and he texts me and says that he uses the terms don’t wanna be tied down to a woman and not wanting to get married but he claims that he loves you but wanting to sleep around with other woman he tells me he dont have feelings for her i know in my heart I know that’s not love to me can someone please give me little advice on this

Reply May 15, 2019, 3:34 pm


I just went thru something similar for a three year period. Placeholder or not I know deep inside this ‘commitment phobe’ really isn’t a commitment phobe at all. I established early on when he returned after our break up ( in which he had dated another and got dumped), that if we were to iniate something old issue would have to be healed and resolved so that things could get better. I never said anything about commitment and even told this man the greatest thing ever. Let’s establish FRIENDSHIP because that’s what most relationship need to thrive. Guess what he did. LOL. Ran to another relationship as soon as I established boundaries, claim I was trying to manipulate him into being something more. But two weeks later after that he ran into another ‘relationship’. Which again failed because he had lack of boundaries with this girl and what she wanted. He’s also a poor communicator. He tried to run back to me. More boundaries were set into place. He cringed . I didn’t faulter. We were now at ‘friend’ level. No I love yous, no phone calls, no etc. And if he wanted it to be only sex. Then cool. But I wasn’t going to be telling him I love him etc , because in the midst of trying to reconcile the I love you’s ex got in the way of thinking and seeing clearly. Also I had just had a baby while he had ran off with ‘new relationship’. HIS CHILD !!! So these boundaries weren’t only for him and I. But for her. He played this ” we were just friends game ” when he moved on with this new girl out of spite and told me I f’d everything up for us to have another chance. ( that he wasn’t going to give anyways). HAHA!!! I decided to pull back and work on myself and my life and stop the madness , focus on raising our little girl., I still had feelings for him but I wasn’t willing to let him know that much because it seemed like this guy just didn’t want that to me and said he didn’t want anything to do with me when I was prego as well. But as soon as I started looking forward to dating others . He slipped the I LOVE YOU word out over a phone video call to me as I was allowing our new born daughter and him react. I didn’t reciprocate. Days later, he starts the game playing calling more texting more etc…the I miss yall …are you okay ..how’s the baby. I’m still moving foward. However, one day he gets into an accident I break down tell him I love him. In fear that I should at least be real about my feelings for him. That’s then the games started. We were texting every day UNTIL one day he’s says I should move on get over him and he’s found someone else. Im like wow really. He even threw up that he would pay child support and this was a would be a REAL RELATIONSHIP for him, he wasn’t never coming back , this wasn’t a break. It was clear he was trying to hurt me. LOL we hadn’t even been GF/BF in years. Also it’s like he was angry at me for support our child alone as I told him I wanted to raise her on my own. But he could assist and be in her life as her father I never denied him that. Guess what . That relationship faultered. He came back with his tailed tucked between his legs. He didn’t dare ask for us back because the boundaries are there. And even then I set more boundaries.Told him I was done doing this little ping-pong thing because what i was trying to establish with him all along isn’t going to happen he keeps forcing himself into ‘relationships’ to save face from the failed ones plus to hurt me. I didnt care about losing him the boundaries were needed. He has NONE!!! He likes to go with the flow but be in a relationship and I keep telling him that is a RED FLAG. He’s damaged himself , his rep, now and plus he’s a truck driver. I feel sorry for him but I can’t keep sympathizing with him. Commitment phobia or whatever. Some men are just plain self sabotaging and oblivious that they need to value themselves just a much as women. I’m also seeking CS now since he offered and hasn’t been stepping up. His distraction with these women has him blinded on doing the right thing.

With all that said . Ladies take care and pride in loving yourselves . It doesn’t matter if you were the place holder/back burner girl. Set those boundaries. Don’t worry abut him being a commitment phobe etc. You are what you allow to continue. Sometimes we aren’t as watchful because we love more and society has told us to ‘choose better men’ etc..all that clouds our perceptions on if we can ever love someone the right way , etc. It’s a process babies. Love yourself, attempt to love, and if it’s not being reciprocated etc. Then that’s okay. You can heal and move on. Let these men figure out themselves in the long run. Sometimes it’s not you, sometimes it not him, sometimes it just circumstances, cultural programming ( I’m A. American so yeah single mothers in the AA are shunned more than anything and looked down on . AA aren’t really known to marry women much and many of them like to do the player thing). At the end of the day . You’re going to have to let go and do what’s best for you and him.

Reply September 1, 2018, 8:19 am


I have been with my boyfriend for almost 6 years. We’ve always talked about marriage, the kind of life we wanted, where we were going to live, our career goals. He’s the type who is extremely hard on himself and has high expectations and is very sensitive. Very ambition and career minded. Where as I am more laid back and don’t take things to heart and I’d like to say a little more free spirited. He got the job he’s always wanted…well I’d like to say a good start in January and the plan was as soon as he gets his job, we wanted our parents to meet formally and we can stsrt to plan out a wedding for next year. As soon as Feb came around our relationship really took a toll. Everything was an argument and when it came to talking about marriage or a wedding I was always an argument. We both got to a point where we felt like we really lost our spark for eachother and just got exhauated. I was running the show and he just wasn’t on the same page as me. He ended up telling me finally that he wasn’t ready to get married next year and wanted to wait until 2020. I told him if that’s what he wanted then I needed some sort of compromise and wanted to at least get engaged this year and we could set a date for when he wanted and begin to save together. I was ending my work contract in the end of May and it was a stress for him what j was going to do. I just felt like everything was an excuse to not move forward. Everything was great until marriage talk or a plan or setting a date would be discussed. He came and spoke with my parents and told them he wanted to wait until 2020 and they were not ok with it. Were Indian so our process is a little different and parents have a heavy involvement in the wedding process. I think he felt cornered when he spoke with them and ended up agreeing to what they wanted. We carried on and the next step was for our parents to meet and it kept getting dragged and dragged. The parents eventually did end up meeting and everything went well. We had a tentative wedding day and everything. I knew something wasn’t right because the night before he was giving me excuses again about wanting 2020 and I said no. I knew what I wanted and j felt like now is the right time. I was already akrr in the process of interviewing for jobs and j knew I pretty much had one lined up and was going to start this month. (July) everytime is was some excuse like ” we don’t have a lot saved up, or you don’t have a job right now, I’m on contract and I don’t know what is going to happen after its up” it was always something. After our parents met…within 2 days we got into a argument and he basically told me he’s not ready. He doesn’t know when he’s going to be ready and from then until now everything is a circle. I end up trying to reason with him and say why are we waiting and why aren’t you ready. But he just keeps saying he’s not ready. Sometimes the reason is he is unsure of what will happen with his job, and sometimes he’s brought up things like he doesn’t feel like he’s psychologically prepared and sees marriage as chores and responsibility. He also admits he knows it will be fun and knows it’s nothing too drastic of a change. But I just don’t get why he isn’t ready. He just keeps telling me he wants me to wait. And for me it’s like we’ve been together already this long…wait for what ? I’m not asking to get married tomorrow. I’m asking to set a date for next year so we can work towards that at least. He says I’m the one, he says he loves me, he says he’s going to marry me, we both know we don’t want to be with anyone else.or start over with anyone else but juat that he needs time because hes not ready right now.

Reply July 3, 2018, 7:22 pm


The difference between girls and guys is that girls stop waiting for the white knight around the age of 30 and realize they need to find someone they can get along with. Guys are still waiting for the fairytale princess even when they hit 40….They sleep around, tell lies to make it easier, and think they are going to find “The One”. That is, the princess.
Then, they wonder why they are still lonely (not without sex just without a committed relationship) when their real men friends are already married and have kids…
These guys wouldn’t fight for their fairytale love even if they found her… They wouldn’t fight for anything…Will dream about 20 year old girls even when they’re 60 and never understand why it doesn’t work out for them.

Reply January 26, 2017, 5:24 am


What you said is so true and therin lies the difference between men and women. Some men do really have an issue of not wanting real intimacy or any additional responsability in their life. They don’t want the risk or the mess and bother. They live only for their own pleasures. Those are the ones who don’t ever move on to anyone, when the so called place holder leaves them. I think it’s more men than this guy states, as I see alot of older bachelor’s around, more than when I was a kid, for sure. Very rarely do they change and get together with anyone, and they do get that Peter Pan thing of thinking they are stuck in some time warp, while their peers have famlies and grandchildren and they watch from the sidelines. The older men who are divorced are different, and they do go on to have a second family or second love much often. That’s because they could do it in the first place, so it’s possible to do it again. The place holder situations are more with the younger men under mid forties, and that is a horrible trend I see happening too. I guess the bad morality of just using someone, is accepted now as normal entitlement. Really sad, as if you don’t like someone that much, you shouldn’t spend all your time with them. It’s not fair but I think they get their karma in the end.

Reply March 11, 2017, 8:15 pm


This is hands down the most accurate breakdown from a guy regarding this scenario. Having lived it a few times, I noticed it tending again & decided to stop it before I was in too deep. He did feel sine kind of way, but I’m glad I won’t wake up down the line knowing I was intentionally wasting my time!

Reply November 22, 2016, 9:34 am


Irene, I had the same thing done to me as well. The only difference is every time he got too close to me he seemed to run back to his ex wife. She too didn’t help either because she is co-dependent or she pretends she is. In April we got engaged, I thought finally he has made up his mind. We went together got the ring plus wedding ring. a month later, he sends me an email …see no guts cant talk to me because he says I get cross and he cant explain) so he tells me we have to wait and for me to look after my mother (I live with her and she is elderly and we could easily sort something out) . Of course he is talking to his ex wife and she fills her head full of rubbish and plays on being insecure. So a week later I rang him up and we were chatty and it looked like we would be getting back together. That night I get an email, its all off. he blames me for this and that. he tells me he has blocked me on everything, so I cant even talk to him. A couple of weeks later he emailed me to see if I will have a coffee with him, so he can explain, and he said he cant offer me anything, then said if I meet him it might help me. Well I wrote back and told him I told need his help. So emails me back and said no coffee meet. Well I just got so upset, again and thought well I haven’t done anything wrong…So I decided it time for me to move on which was very difficult because I put too much in our relationship…But I had friends out there who supported me..and I started seeing I need to change my thinking and start thing about me not him. Gradually I noticed I was starting to feel better but early stages, in my mind I gave him a month and if I didn’t hear from him I would shut him out completely. 10 days later I get a text from him can I meet him for coffee, I didn’t want to but I did. We talked and I found out his wife was coming weeks ends seeing him..she wants him back..he isn’t sexual to her..but she just wants to get back because she doesn’t want to move on. Few hours later he text saying he enjoyed what we had…he loves me and I may decide to leave him. But we shall always have a bond. Next morning I get txt message with just 3 xxx. next night a call and we talked for 2 hours and he said he will call in a few days time but got one the next night. but this one was nice but he opened up more to me and said…because he is a control freak when he is with me he loses that control and it scares him so he just ends us or distances him self..he told me he has been fighting his feelings for me because of this control thing…He said his ex wife wants to come back, he can manage her but he doesn’t love her and he wants love and all the nice things I give him….so he said he had to make a choice because he cant keep yo yoing with us both. So he decided, What I said…I decided I want you…he asked if I could give him a week so to end with with his ex…I have no idea if he will or not, because he is so weak, and she knows it, she only has to show how needy she is and he goes after her. Well I am going to leave him alone, he needs to work this out for him self.

Reply September 23, 2016, 11:49 pm


So I was in a relationship for 7 months and everything was going great. He was the one that made it official and exclusive relationship after 2 months. He was the one that spoke about the future and told me he was serious about me etc. Not once was I ever pushy or forced anything. He introduced me to his parents. Then shortly after that he started avoiding calling and seeing me but would still message every day. After a month I just couldn’t take all the things he told me seriously as he wasn’t sticking to his word. I sent him one message just asking bluntly if he was actually serious about this relationship he told me he was but he had just been “busy” I never replied back and since then I haven’t heard anything from him (it’s been 10 days). Was I right to ignore him and was this guy messing me around? I’m finding it hard to accept what changed and why did he lie so much about being serious if he wasn’t?

Reply July 12, 2016, 12:32 am


I just spent 4 years in a “friendship” with a man who dated me but never wanted a “relationship” with me. I kind of think there is a bit of a difference in what this article describes and a man who is a commitment phobe. In my mind and commit phobe is not holding out for the next best thing. He leads every woman on with no intent to ever commit to any even “the next best thing”. as long as the commitment phobe clearly states he is not interested in nothing more than something to do then he is alright in my book. It’s the commitment phobes and the users(looking for the next best thing) who omit that tid bit of info from the gate, that are a problem. As a woman I know we can be hopeful and at times think our love is meaningful to people who we mean less to, but it’s important we assume our responsibility in every situation we engage in. My situation was so textbook until it’s painfully embarrassing. I walked away for fear of having to experience him waking away from me someday for “the next best thing”, so I can’t really say if he was a commitment phobe or as this article describes. I purposely look for articles like this and stories of rejection to keep me strong enough to never allow him back in my life. I know that this is a tough experience for anyone regardless of why and who, so I want to say to all the heartbroken ppl To try and heal and move on. There is certainly someone in this world who truly wants to give you all of their love. Best wishes!

Reply July 11, 2016, 10:52 am


This article is harsh but it is SO on point. And about the texting….thanks for the honesty, Mithu. I would rather be hurt and know the truth than be lied to under the premise of saving my feelings.

Reply June 10, 2016, 1:46 pm


This article makes my heart hurt. Been there done that. And even though Ive successfully moved on and happily married, I ache for anyone in this position. Its incrediably painful to be treated like this, and yes there seems to be an epidemic of this kind of douche bag behaviour. Its not the behaviour of a gentleman. A gentleman would not treat someone’s heart this way. He wouldnt lead on someone he was fond of. The person who treats me this way I do believe was a true comitment phobe, as he had never ever had a relationship . But, he also thought he could do better. He push pulled me and hurt me incrediably. I ended up despising him. What was funny is that was three years ago. Recently I ran into him and he tried to pick up on me, until he recognized who I was. He was all drugged out and surely no prize. He looked lonely and on the make. I thought oh well you thought you could do better. Im very glad to be with a kind man and a gentleman.

Reply May 2, 2016, 9:59 pm

Eric Charles

Cool — remember, at the end of the day, you have the ultimate power in a relationship… the power to choose to participate (or not)…

Every day that you wake up and continue to be in a relationship with a man, you are *choosing* to continue participating in a relationship with that man.

You decided to stop choosing that one guy and chose another man, a “kind man and a gentleman” and that works for you. I’m glad.

Reply May 3, 2016, 12:24 pm


We have so much more power than we realize. If someone continues to allow an idiot, to treat them like a place holder, they’re wasting their love on an undeserving parasite. You’re better than that so just dont keep participating.

Reply March 11, 2017, 8:34 pm


I”ve been in a relationship with my so call boy friend for about 7yrs. we live together we slept together did everything, we where like best friend, but the only thing I feel like I’m more of a room mate to him. we don’t hav sex @ all we use 2, he’s never in the mood sometimes I use to get so angry. I have step out on him twice. when we do have sex its allways fast never and never any affection after. I’m allways performing oral sex on him he never does me. its all excuses with him. it seem like he’s getting more than I’m. I started resenting him now I don’t him touching me now he’s sleeping on the couch I want him out

Reply March 5, 2016, 10:10 pm


If you a reading this article – LISTEN TO IT. I was this girl 101%. I was being patient, and being the girl he poured his heart out to. He seemed to really like me, a lot. Thanked me for being in his life. We talked morning noon and night. BUT, I never laid it out to him that I wanted a commitment, because of fear of rocking the boat. He broke up with me for the “better” girl. 3 weeks later, they were in a relationship. THREE weeks. Had I laid it out to him, I would have known then.. and it would’ve been on my terms… and I prob would’ve won him back, actually. Now I’m here, reading advice articles… wishing I would’ve done it sooner… while they make their relationship status official on Facebook. :/

Reply March 1, 2016, 10:16 pm


This completely describes my relationship and situation in a nut shell. I have known my “friend” for the last 5 years and me and her have always been in a on and off relationship. She has always had hope to marry me and is now turned 28 after rejecting other guys for marriage in the hope that she would end up staying with me for the rest of her life. However from me she has always been my emotional crutch, but I never had feelings for her. But my heart kept stopping me. The women has literally gave me all her life and she would die for me if she could but I just cant do the same in return. The fact that I am not giving commitment and her waiting on me for so long has completely ruined her life. When I do try and give a chance and think ok lets get married… I literally can not do it, the anxiety I feel just takes over my life. It feels like my life is over when I end up marrying her and I absolutely hate this feeling but unfortunately that’s how I feel at the same time I can not bare to know that she’s going to be with someone else. Knowing that we spent 5 years together. I am so confused!

Reply February 22, 2016, 10:01 am


If you care about her at all, stop being selfish and let her go. Hurt her now so she can eventually have a happy, real relationship. You don’t have to continue ruining her life.

Reply June 25, 2016, 1:37 pm


Reading that story makes me a little irritated. Let me sum it up real quick: take responsibility, become more mature by seeing a counselor. Your anxieties are there for a reason. Deal with them in a healthy way for God’s sake. Learn who you are deep down and then make decision. This is a form of abuse what you are doing. Yes, she has her issues otherwise she would not have stayed a second in that situationshio. But it’s about you here. Do counseling and soul searching. All the best.

Reply February 2, 2019, 6:07 pm


I was in placeholder relationship and I turned it around. My boyfriend fell in love with me and realized that I was really the “real thing” and “the one” for him even though he honestly fought as hard as he could to stop himself from falling for me…However, I am also a very confident woman and just refused to believe his words when his ACTIONS were showing me that he was falling fast and hard for me…he couldn’t stay away from me even when his family found him a “girlfriend he could marry”…he ended up choosing me over her…

All i can say is if you believe in your own self and listen to your intuition, it won’t steer you wrong. If you’re also patient, you’ll get the love that they talk about in romance novels and yes, love songs and hollywood movies…Robin Hood and Maid Marion come to mind…

Reply July 9, 2015, 12:43 am


I know you probably won’t see this, but I’m really curious how long it took. I totally get what you’re saying about the actions. My boyfriend loves me but doesn’t think he’ll fall “in love” with me. I’m friends with his ex (have known them both forever), and she kind of rolled her eyes and laughed when I told her he said that. I’m guessing she may have heard something similar, lol.

They still live together, but that’s fine with me. They’re not romantically involved. Even if they were, my bf and I are poly anyhow. The ex is monogamous and unfortunately has had trouble with past boyfriends not accepting her situation.

I don’t need to live with him or anything. It would just be nice to hear what I already know, that he loves me. He’s already made pretty clear that he’s not planning on going anywhere any time soon. He agrees that if we each grow, we’re more likely to grow parallel than apart, even if we grow in different ways.

This is the most comfortable relationship I’ve ever had. There’s no push and pull. I’m not crying or anxious all the time. I know he worries that I’ll feel like I’ve wasted my time when/if it ends, but I’m free to find someone else, and he’s not keeping me from that. I do hope that if I do find someone I want to settle down with, that they’ll also be poly and hopefully accepting of my relationship. We’ve been together three years, and I don’t want to give up something this good.

Reply January 12, 2021, 1:03 am


I think my ex-boyfriend was a huge “commitment phobe” and I really need help to accept it and have peace with it. And to move on. My ex-boyfriend and I were together for half a year. We had really good chemistry and had a really good times together frequently laughing and having good conversations. The sex was really good too. Moreover, we didn’t have frequent conflicts..but whenever one of us made the other person upset we were good at apologizing to each other and becoming good again. But then after about 6 months things started to change a bit..I noticed that the more fun we had and the more we connected *emotionally* the harder it seemed to get to see him. He always had a good excuse for only being able to see each other once a week. I got an oppertunity to rent a two-bedroom apartment and I asked him if he thought we should try and live together and after I mentioned this he said no, and that we were going to fast. After this we went two weeks without seeing each other (I needed space because I was upset) and he also didn’t contact me at all. Then, finally we met just recently and we agreed before hand that we wanted to meet and talk about things in order to still make it work. That didn’t happen at ALL though. The opposite happened. I got confirmation for my intuition that he has been backing off since our relationship got better and better. He said that it freaked him out. Moreover, he got even more freaked by out last conversation where I talked honestly and openly about my future desire to create a family and started to look like a small rolled-up ball about to fall off my sofa. He told me that he didn’t want to waste my time as he wasn’t sure if he ever wanted a family etc. However, we agreed it was too early to end it and that we need to give it time. The rest of the night he was quite cold, mean, and had much rejection towards me. So, I ended up breaking up with him the next day for his very bad behavior towards me. Now, I am quite crushed. I don’t know how to accept such an experience and move on rightfully. Please help.

Reply June 18, 2015, 8:11 am


You exited with dignity Isabella and had the strength to recognise that this man’s behaviour toward you was wrong. Leave it at that now and give yourself a pat on the back for honouring your self-worth. I wish I had done similar a few months ago. I left when I recognised the coldness and withdrawal of my boyfriend, but then tried to apologise for ‘not being there for him and recognising his need for space etc’ and ‘begging’ for him back. Don’t do it. The thing that helped me most was ‘The 60-day no-contact rule’. Look it up on the internet. You simply break all contact with him. It really helps. Get on with your own interests and hang out with your girlfriends. At the end of the 60 days you will see him clearly for who he is and will not want him back. If he tries to get you back within the 60 days, you could give him another try if you want, but make sure it is on your terms, not his. He either progresses the relationship, or let him go. The latter might be best, as it is unlikely he will change. Whether Eric’s observation that ‘he just isn’t that into you’ is right, or he is an out and out ‘commitment-phobe’, your number one priority is to protect yourself and recognise that he was not giving you what YOU wanted and needed. It is better to be alone than with the wrong man, and your bad experience will enable you to see the signs if they happen again, and ensure that you develop a relationship with a mature man who wants commitment. Hope that helps :)

Reply June 18, 2015, 12:36 pm


You did the right thing! I am a guy in the 7th month of a relationship that is exactly like the one you described and this post describes..
The only difference is that one night she talked about moving together and future I got cold on her because I am very unsure about her but very emotionally attached and I love spending time with her.. but she did not dumb me like you did to your ex..and I wish she did because that would have given me the chance to be alone and understand if she is the one or not!..
I am very confused it really sucks!.. Its not about being “man enough” to make the decision..because she now operates on the basis that we are exclusive to each-other and we are because am too attached to hurt her feelings so I won’t cheat or anything like that. All the being said I still admit that even though I put her in the “place holder” position (am not enjoying using the term) I cannot stop thinking about her when she is away ..I keep thinking “is she really going to make me fall all the way for her”..and the idea of me telling her that I just want to stop seeing her crushes me to pieces!..I have not ever been so comfortable with someone like her but I was not sure from the beginning I always felt we are just different but everything from conversations, laughs , sex , happiness has been great and on the same level it did not drop for the last 7 months..

Reply September 20, 2015, 11:37 am


It doesn’t matter how you frame it in your own mind or in words, you are precisely describing a commitment-phobic man in this article, though you say few actually fit the description. The commitment-phobic man is so immature (or messed up) that the ‘pseudo-girlfriend’ with whom he has formed an emotional bond is not enough for him. He has to keep looking for the younger, slimmer or whatever woman..his ‘ideal’ woman. A man with emotional maturity will recognise when he has formed an emotional bond which will last the course. No woman will ever be ‘good enough’ for the commitment-phobic man in the end. Get the hell away from this man and find a proper grown-up. Or, treat him as a ‘pseudo-boyfriend’ back, take whatever you can from him..sex, temporary companionship etc and keep looking for your ideal man, because it isn’t him. No doubt he can’t help being like this, but he does not deserve your undying devotion.

Reply June 18, 2015, 6:05 am


This is SO true. I’ve been dating a commitment phobe for the past three and a half years. In the beginning he came on strong, then after about 6 months, he started to change. I thought it was his job (he’s an airline pilot) so I just kept going along with it, very patiently (and with my entire heart and soul), I might add. In Jan 2014, after a nice exchange of Christmas gifts and a discussion about the future (we had never really discussed the future) he bolted. I didn’t see him for nine months although, I made several attempts to contact him (he would respond on occasion but kept things very brief) but with no real success. I finally wrote him a very long letter in November 2014 just finally telling him how I felt and that I needed to move on with my life and wished him well. In Jan. of this year, I heard from him and we met up . We have been seeing each other on a monthly basis (we live 1.5 hrs apart and both work for airlines and I’m a single parent of one as well) and communication had been pretty consistant when we weren’t together. Anyway, I noticed he was on a dating site but not anymore (he cancelled in March) and things were going good. However, the last few times I saw him, he was becoming critical of little petty things I did (i.e. how I put my salad dressing on my salad) which he had never done before so I just started to get a feeling that he was going to bolt again. I saw him 10 days ago and we had a very nice time and that was the last I heard from him. I noticed he left part of his uniform for work at my house so I texted him twice (within a 5 day timeframe) and he never responded. I then made one last attempt with a text and asked him if he was going to do “this” (disappearing for no reason) to me again and and he responded immediately and said, “Sorry if I don’t feel like talking every second of the day.” Whoa. Ok. Keep in mind, I had only texted him twice in those five days prior and that was because I wondered if he needed his work pants. I responded and told him that I’ve done nothing but respect his space and needs and don’t need to be treated this poorly and that was that. I’ve heard nothing else from him. Clearly, he got freaked out again or met someone else. I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore though because I have FINALLY realized that I deserve better. He will miss me b/c deep down he knows I’m the most stable relationship he’s ever had but by the time he realizes it, it will be too late. It already is. I still love him and have to stop myself from contacting him but I know that the best thing for myself is to move on. He’s got serious issues that stem from childhood and I know it’s not just me. He dated a woman whom I believe he truly loved, for six years and they never discussed marriage and she left him for someone else. So, while I think he believes the grass is always greener, I also do believe he is a true commitment phobe. I need to move on, as hard as it is, but I feel like I will never feel for anyone the way I feel for him but I also know that there has got to be someone better out there for me. I’ve passed up so many opportunities to be with decent guys but for some strange reason, I keep hanging on to him. Time to let it go. Fingers crossed.

Reply June 24, 2015, 2:45 pm


You sound very bitter Carrie

Reply August 27, 2015, 8:06 pm

Brandy Marie Austin

No she doesn’t bitter. It’s true. It’s describing a commitment phobe. NOBODY is enough for men like this…a woman is only the princess for moment…until he thinks he’s found THE ONE…then the cycle continues because his beliefs are rooted in fear and unrealistic expectations.

Reply April 24, 2017, 2:43 pm


yup. basically what i’ve been doing. i just treat him as he is. a temporary sex fix haha. i dont think he ever will have the balls to say that to my face and i wont help him. ive already given him chances to talk about it many times. at this point, i kinda dont care. i already know that this is not a guy i would ever fall for, nevermind love. maybe i’m more of the guy in this scenario? haha that said, i would never commit to someone i don’t see potential in, and i think you’re spot on. thanks for your comment.

Reply December 26, 2015, 5:45 am


You only can connect with similar level of values, remember internet has pushed the world open you can try all available opportunities abd you never get where you want and you think life is easy that wayBUT you never get where you want, you dont upgrade you just stay still, you are just an audience. Marriage is an upgrade of single live, you need a good money to run a marriage, women have changed in money earning department, you need uograde to envision todays men and women living in harmony, most advice are obsolete cause only the most genuine, kind and wise will be dare and focus enough to upgrade w that vision, the rest are just audience no matter how deep media tries to analyze it.

Reply March 7, 2015, 11:47 pm


This might true for SOME guys, but I have met men that genuinely don’t want to settle down with anybody. These men themselves flat out say, “I’m not a commitment kind of guy. I would rather have sex than date.” If someone is telling you that, believe it. If a man knows that he can get numerous girls, why would he want to be exclusive with just one girl?

Reply February 2, 2015, 11:19 am


Hmmm I have to disagree with this. Of course, this is true for many men. And I think often you can tell if the guy really, truly, likes you or not.

I’ve been in situations where I’m like OK this guy is just dating me. He’s not really sure or that into it. And that’s totally fine as I can sense the connection isn’t that strong. Which makes me usually end it or pull away.

However I have been with a couple of guys who are ALL OVER IT like white on rice. I really like you, holding hands, calling/texting all the time, etc. Both of them came from very dysfunctional households (drug addiction and alcoholism). All of a sudden they flipped. Overnight. One got demoted at work. And another literally went missing for a day. In both cases, there was a strong connection.

I’ve had one guy leave and comeback (we ended up staying together for awhile). And one of my friends had a guy dump her after 3 months b/c he didn’t want anything serious. He returned a year later and they’ve since gotten married and been tight ever since.

I know another guy who is rich and gorgeous (he’s a male model) and can’t find a girlfriend to save his life. And trust me he tries.

So yeah you could be a placeholder or he really might just be commitment phobic. It really depends on the situation. At the end of the day ladies, you know in your gut if someone really likes you and disappeared or was just using you because he was bored. I’ve been in both situations and they’re quite different.

Reply August 1, 2014, 2:23 pm


Real eye-opener you got there, Eric!

I’m in a similar situation as this with a guy called T.
Summary: T. gets engaged and living together, girl turns cold, T. dumps girl, T. looks for support with a friend (me), T. starts a relationship with me but never commits (no titles, all happens in secret). I am patient, T. dumps me after a month or two. T. does a bounce-back girl for less then 2 weeks, stays single a few more weeks, starts “real” relationship with a better option. T. and I get back in touch as friends. T. commits to girl, girl dumps T. after almost a year. T. reaches out and I support him, not ruling anything out but not reaching out myself. When T. learns I’m moving on with someone new, T. reaches out more and asks me to “wait for him”. Not being over T., I stupidly accept. T. quickly turns cold (not seen each other in weeks) and we end up fighting. T. claims he’s not acting unusual.

So after giving T some space, he texted me “now what?”. I knew by this point that I probably was in a placeholder relationship and needed to make a change. This is also when I came across this site and realized I had to learn to be happy on my own, working on that now. So I texted T. back that being exclusive felt forced for us and I wanted to date others (of course going both ways), and otherwise I would rather be just friends. He said “fair enough”. I have dated 3 others since, 1 of them is really making an effort but it’s still fragile and I still have so much stronger feelings for T. Once T. asked to do a co-op on a game, but I told him I had plans. I also make hints about the dates on facebook so he knows I’m not bluffing with the dating. I’m not contacting him other then an occasional like or comment on facebook. He starts talking to me once in a while but hasn’t asked to meet ever since we’re dating. But is it because he’s lost interest or thinks his chance is gone (knowing I’m dating some others)? Or is it just not the right time for him (he’s been fired recently for the first time and still hasn’t found a job).

It seems like using the ‘walking power’ strategy isn’t working here. To be clear, I really am giving my other dates an honest chance and really will walk away if any of them become serious (which I have told him too). I just think, knowing I have been needy and I myself wasn’t ready for anything real earlier, that this is his first chance and he deserves at leas one “real” chance.

Do you think there’s anything left here or should I dump him alltogether?

Reply October 5, 2013, 8:49 am


Eric all of your advice is exactly what I needed. Your insights apply directly to the relationship I have with this guy I have been seeing these past few months. He has been going through a lot of issues with work and he has been getting more and more depressed. We started hooking up months ago and he never made any commitment but now I realize that I was a crutch for him. He would always call and text after his bad days and he would always tell me how much he missed me.
After he stopped responding to me I found myself really frustrated that he could just drop me like that. Since reading your advice I have realized that what we had was never going to turn into a healthy relationship in the long run. Instead of sitting around pissed off at him, I am going to give him the time he needs to get his life together and be there for him as a friend.

I feel bad if I don’t wait for him to get his life together so we could maybe work something out but at the same time, I need to get on with my life as he does with his.

Thank you for all of your incredible insights!

Reply March 3, 2013, 10:56 pm


I would only call this ‘brilliant’ insight if the women you’re addressing are needy, marriage hounds who indiscriminately partner up with anyone willing to give them the chance to become what you call ‘placeholders’. If anything, this advice is suggesting women should wait around until the man whose family and friends they’ve developed a relationship with, moved in with, and invested time, sometimes money in makes his call on whether or not the relationship is valid. Instead, you should be advising these ladies to DROP THE LOSER who depends on them to drag them out of some emotional black hole so he can be more attractive to someone else. Also, I think there is no blanket answer to address this. It is assumed that when you’re with someone for a number of years, or even 1 year, you at least gain some sort of idea of whether or not your partner wants to be married someday or not. If you know that your partner DOES want to be married and you’re spending 5 years with them, only considering them as a ‘placeholder’, you’re a sociopath. You’re more than just weak, you’re in need of a considerable amount of therapy. “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.” <— This little gem should be for men who are with women they use for emotional support but never want to truly commit to. This is a two way street.

Reply January 21, 2013, 6:22 am


Eric, great point on ‘commitment phobes’ – a construct invented possibly by a psychologist, but quite likely also by someone who wants to sell lots of books about relationships and why we suck at them etc
I get asked all the time why men won’t commit, and it boils down to 3 reasons
1) He’s too lazy to. This I find applies a lot. He’d have to change his facebook status, tell all his friends that he’s now ‘off he market’ (oh the embarrassment!), delete all the numbers from his phone from previous relationships/one night stands that he’s kept hold of. You know, ‘just in case’. This all takes EFFORT, man!
2) He’s too comfortable. As you’ve said, most of the time the girl will hang in there, hoping he’ll change, that suddenly he’ll see the light and jump into ‘commitment mode’. Never happens
3) He’s a nice guy and doesn’t want to hurt her. That’s his excuse anyway when his friends ask why he doesn’t leave the girl he’s always complaining about. In reality he’s a wimp.

Reply January 19, 2013, 8:38 am

Vivian C

Is there any chance to be in a relationship like this but with someone who you ARE exclusive with? And pretty serious in fact.

Reply January 18, 2013, 5:12 pm


Dear Readers,

Can someone please tell me why a man can spend hours texting you, then it all goes quite and you hear nothing??? Why is that?

Reply January 16, 2013, 1:08 pm


From a guy’s perspective, I can tell you but you won’t like it….
(I’m assuming that during the hours he was texting you, you were replying. I’m also assuming that you replies were much longer than his. Correct me if I’m wrong)
He had nothing better to do. This is simply the way guys are, they’re like children. They latch onto any prospect of quick and painless fun and will invest any amount of time to try and turn that prospect into something more solid. Much like a very persistent and desperate salesman who has only a week to hit his monthly target, he’ll chase down any leads, no matter how unpromising, and phone/email/text them constantly to try and hook that lead, especially if he’s not a very good salesman and all his colleagues are racking up results left, right and centre. It’s possible you, Cala, were his one and only ‘lead’ for that week so let’s assume that is the case. If so, plenty of vested interest and texting til the thumbs fall off (any actual phone contact in that time?) But now it’s all gone silent. Which means he’s lost his phone, he got scared off by something you said in your replies, or he’s moved on to the next lead. You’re yesterday’s news. Sorry Cala.
Tip for future reference – texting should occupy only a VERY small percentage of contact a person should have with a significant other, potential or actual. If he’s not texting or ringing to arrange the next meet up, he’s wasting your time.
Hope that’s useful!

Reply January 19, 2013, 8:30 am


Great article, completely agree with you throughout, however what about the commitment phobes of men who are IN an exclusive relationship but never want to get married? When i saw the picture i thought the article was going to be more about men who you can get the relationship with, ( i even live with my bf) but those who say they never want to get married? an article about that type of phobia would be great too :)

Reply January 16, 2013, 6:56 am


A great post with insights I need now. I am in a relationship like that. I’m with a guy and we spent good quality time together and he is really emotionally dependent on me. I kinda fulfill part of his life dream as well. But he doesn’t want an exclusive relationship with me though I’m way prettier than his dates before and have a good career too. He just believe we will fall apart in terms of a longer relationship, which kinda hurts my pride.

I know it’s pathetic to admit it but I am in a “placeholder relationship”. Part of the reason why I still haven’t let go of him is that I just moved to the city and have no friend and family here and I didn’t find someone I really like. I will put myself together and walk out of it soon.

Thank you, Eric

Reply January 15, 2013, 3:48 pm


brilliant & to the point! I love it..
of course there are some exceptions..but we’re all the rule unless proven otherwise :))

Stacy M..I think those men have some issues..I won’t be attracted to a man who says he’s not good enough for me
If he don’t feel good enough then I know I can do nothing to fix it..he & he only can..
plus I just think it’s a polite way to say I’m not into you..

Reply January 15, 2013, 3:30 pm

Stacy M

It’s not always that a man is looking for something “better”. I have had men who felt that they were not good enough for me and that they would pull me down. Sometimes they just feel like you’re not a good match for a future. They may feel that you are too attractive, make too much money or somehow are better than they deserve and they just don’t feel like you will stick around long term so they don’t let themselves get emotionally attached. It isn’t always that they think you aren’t good enough for them.

Reply January 15, 2013, 2:34 pm


Gotta agree with Georige on this one, a man who feels threatened by a woman who has more money/better job/higher status than him suffers from self-esteem problems. I had no problems dating richer girls during my single period. Say, for example, I was poorer than you but I wanted to date you, I would be interested in what value I can bring to the relationship which may not be money, but other things like emotional support. If I think I’m deficient in some way I’d be finding ways to make up that deficiency. Partnerships are not necessarily equal, but both parties bring something to the table.
‘I’m not good enough for you’ is just a polite way of saying ‘ I don’t want to hurt your feelings while I dump you’. Kudos to him for at least thinking about your feelings!

Reply February 3, 2015, 7:08 am


What about this? It seems kind of strange to me….

He started off fast but then tells me that he is really into me and that he needs to take it slow. I agreed to take it slow but here’s where the problems lie. Every time he gets too mushy and opens up emotionally to me, he backs off. When I am unavailable or upset, he chases me profusely but when I forgive him and become available again, he backs off again. We are not sleeping together. He made it very clear that taking it slow also means that we get to know each other before any sex is involved so I know he is not using me sexually. He is very affectionate and wants to cuddle and touch me a lot. Lots of PDA, kissing, and holding hands and he’s the one who initiates it, but he stops himself from doing anything more than that.

He keeps in touch with me everyday but seeing him is like a game of chess. I have to be aloof and uninterested in order for him to want to see me. If I am happy about seeing him, its a no go..he will somehow cancel our plans. Last time, I was mad at him and he immediately wanted to see me. And when I was unavailable because of work, he wanted to see me a lot. But when everything is ok, he is too busy with work and can’t find any time. When we see each other, he is very affectionate and nurturing and never wants our time to end. He is actually the one who insists that we hang out longer so if we meet for an hour he wants it to be for 3-5 hours instead. I have to tell him that I have to go home and he tries to stop me a lot saying he doesn’t want me to go. He also makes plans for us to do lots of things together and seems really excited when we are together but he rarely follows through once we are separate. He introduced me to his friends and they seem nice to me. He says that his friends like me a lot. He did say a few things that made me think that he had trust issues because another woman used him for his money and took advantage of him.

Honestly, I have friend-zoned him at this point. He says that he is willing to compromise and meet me half way because he wants us to work but it seems really hard for him to do that.

I kind of feel sad for him. I know he likes me a lot and he knows that I like him too. Our chemistry seems genuine since we have very similar interests and enjoy the similar things. I’ve decided to try and date other people. But I am sad that we can’t find a balance, I really do like who he is when he’s just being himself. I think he used to be a wonderful guy before what ever made him into this.

What are your thoughts?

Reply August 24, 2015, 2:47 pm

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