Are Men Truly Commitment Phobic? - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 11, 2014

Are Men Truly Commitment Phobic?

Kyle felt happy in a giddy kind of way these days. He had met Taylor in one of his classes at school, and since that first time they talked over a cup of coffee, all he thought about was when he could see her again. Kyle had fallen head over heels for other girls in the past, but his relationship with Taylor seemed to be “of a different quality.” For the first time in his young life – Kyle had just celebrated his 26th birthday – he didn’t totally focus on the present, but began to fantasize about being with Taylor for the long haul.

Kyle himself was surprised by his change of attitude. Prior to Taylor he had often thought he wasn’t “commitment material.” He was happy with his life and with his freedom to pursue everything he wanted, without having to consider how his decisions affected another person. Now, what he thought earlier as a “burden’ was looking more and more like a gift that kept giving him wonderful experiences and that he desperately wanted to hold on to for life.

In our society, the popular view is that women want commitment and men try to escape it. This view seems to continue to be ingrained in our understanding of female and male attitudes about commitment, even though for every report that reinforces this view there is another one challenging it.

So, is Kyle’s attitude about wanting to commit to Taylor an exception, or not?

Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons that make men cautions about making long term commitments to romantic relationships. Some of these reasons apply to both genders; some are more specific to men.

There are four broad reasons why men – and women I must add – may at times be reluctant to commitment to a long term romantic relationship.

1. Laws of attraction.

Both men and women (94% of people surveyed by Popenoe & Whitehead in 2001) list being each other’s “soul mates” as the # 1 requirement in an ideal partner. Attraction and desire to commit for the long haul thus seem to have to do with the specific person who is the object of these feelings and not with a general attitude about relationships, as was the case with Kyle. The stakes being very high and difficult at times to achieve, it is possible that people – and men in particular – may want to be 100% sure they are with the right person before they commit.

2. Societal pressures.

Men feel less pressure from family and friends to settled down than women do, in general. They tend to see marriage as having to grow up and be responsible. While all of this is rapidly changing, men still see themselves as the providers and the ones who have to sacrifice having fun with their friends for the benefit of the family.

3. Physiological reasons.

Women have to deal with their ‘biological clock’ that puts pressure on them to have children while they are fertile. Even though today more women have children without being married and, indeed, without a partner, or may choose not to have children, most of them still seem to want a stable relationship and children in this order.

4. A person’s history of attachments.

How we become intimate in romantic relationships arks back to early childhood experiences of closeness and love to the primary person who took care of us. If we were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where we felt loved, attended to by a person who was emotionally attuned to our needs and where we felt physically and emotionally safe, we develop trust, comfort with emotional and physical closeness, as well as good self-esteem and self-worth.

As adults, we are able to develop and maintain healthy and balanced emotional relationships. If we were raised in a less than ideal situation, we tend to keep at a “safe” distance from the people we love, becoming commitment-phobic or are so insecure that we constantly need to be reassured by our partner, becoming needy and clingy. While this applies to both men and women, men have to break away from mother in order to grow up, and may suffer from this more than girls do.

If you are a woman currently in a relationship where your mate doesn’t seem to feel any urgency to move to the next step, what can you do?

Here are a few suggestions:

Do not put pressure on him to commit to you by complaining, pleading or threatening, but act in ways that make him feel he WANTS to be with you. When a woman can make a man feel free to do what he wants, he often wants her. When a man feels pushed into a corner, on the other hand,  he will be more likely to get out of that corner.

Do not let your partner know your biological clock is ticking. This is, after all, your problem, not his. He may feel used and manipulated by you in order to achieve your goals and objectives, not necessarily joint ones.

Talk about your future together as being exactly the same as the present. Men at times shy away from what they foresee as a bunch of responsibilities and sacrifices, with little return for them.

Remember that men want to be valued and made to feel unique (don’t we all?) So, focus on making your relationship as happy as you can for both of you. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should put your life and goals on hold forever, waiting for your partner to make up his mind about whether or not to commit to your relationship. So,

Give yourself a time frame. This is the length of time you are willing to wait without pressuring your partner about the future. Make sure that this time frame is tolerable and fair to you. After that and until its expiration, try not to think too much about the future, but stay in the present and enjoy it. Do not let anxieties about the future take away from what you value and find precious in the now. The happier the present, the more we want to preserve it and maintain it for many years to come.

About Dr. Daniela Roher

Dr. Daniela Roher

Dr. Daniela Roher lives in Arizona where she has a private psychotherapy practice working with individuals and couples who want to achieve their goals of living more fulfilled lives.

To know more about Dr. Daniela, visit her website, www.droherphd.com.




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