Guest Speaker

Why Some Cannot Commit


The Symptoms


  1. Commitment-phobic people tend to be extra passionate in their romantic pursuit at the beginning of a relationship.  If a guy he courts you ardently and perhaps even talks about marriage and kids.  Once you become emotionally involved with him though, he starts to back off.  The same can apply to a lady.


  1. Then this person begins to find faults with you.  Can be anything from your hair, figure, friends, family or career.


  1. It becomes more and more difficult to contact.  At work, he/she is always on the phone or in a meeting.   Or leaves the answering machine on and his mobile switched off.


  1. Then there is talk about needing space and more time to herself/himself.  Next up is spending less time with you.  Their work, hobbies, friends and any activity that doesn’t include you become more important and time consuming.


  1. Home and his office are suddenly out of bounds and you are no longer we welcome to visit.


  1. Shows less interest, affection and attention where he is with you.


  1. A reliable sign; stops sleeping over at your house. 
  2. How Does it End?

Slowly, messily and often painfully – for the person wanting more of a commitment.   It may take months or even years for these relationship to finally terminate because commitment-phonic people actually want love and closeness but fear intimacy.  When the committed partner withdraws, hurt, confused and angry he/she begins to chase again.   Reconnects and before you know it, he/she is off again.  This “yoyo” phase can go on for years.

Usually it is left to the committed person to finally end this relationship, frustrated, demoralized by months or years of to-ing and fro-ing.  Don’t be surprised if this individual turns up on your doorstep promising that things will be different from now on!  If you this person back the cycle will usually start again and you will be back to square one.

 How to Cope

Look before you leap.  Infatuation can be heady and can often blur your vision, but you must travel slowly.

Delay sexual activity until you know each other well.

If a person promises too much, too soon, the warning bells should go off.  Watch out for contradictory messages.  If a person says one thing one day and another the next, take everything that individual says with a grain of salt.

If he/she seems to be having problems committing to you, don’t automatically assume it is your fault.  Look at his past relationships and other areas of his life.  True commitment phobics travel light – they have few long-term friends, change jobs regularly, move around a lot and have few possessions.  Many lose contact even with their own families.

If he/she moves in fast and then begins to withdraw and to criticize you, don’t take his disapproval to heart.  Realize that this criticism and the shutting down are ways for her/him to distance themselves from you to feel more secure.

Don’t automatically label this individual a jerk.   Most of the time these people are not setting out deliberately to hurt you.  They are often longing for a relationship but frightened of making themselves vulnerable.  Sometimes in the past, watching their parents or during previous romantic relationships, this individual has learnt that closeness is dangerous, something to be avoided.

Can This Person Change?

Yes but only if he/she realizes that they are the one stopping your relationship from developing satisfactorily, not you.  These people usually fail to realize they have the problem.  They convince themselves that if only they could find the perfect person (or job, home, career or friends), they would be perfectly happy to stay put forever.  They need to accept that there is no such thing as a perfectly fulfilling partner or relationship.  Fulfilment comes from committing, not the way round.

Commitment can be achieved in a series of small steps rather than one great big plunge.  You can both start this by committing to ways of being in the relationship.

Be faithful, honest and learn to support each other emotionally.  These small commitments can pave the way for a successful long-term relationship.  A person who has difficulties keeping small promises is likely to let their partner down on the bigger issues.

ESTHER 600504 

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