Do Men Fear Commitment, Or Is It Something Else?

why men won't commitThe idea that men are afraid of commitment is universally accepted. Most of us think of it as a given, assuming men and commitment just don’t mix.

But this common perception is fundamentally flawed. Men aren’t really afraid of commitment, and never have been.

I know. That flies in the face of every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. At least half of them feature at least one male character who talks about committed relationships like they’re prison sentences.

Settling down with one woman means sacrificing freedom, excitement, and independence. We’re so accustomed to this theme; it would throw us off if it was left out.

But it’s all wrong. While there is something men are afraid of, it isn’t that.

Of course, most women are under the impression that men are very much afraid of commitment. As a result, when a man resists committing to serious relationship there’s potential for all kinds of confusion. And it’s worse when you are looking for a committed relationship.

You’ve probably experienced this. You start dating a guy who really clicks with you, but things stall out shy of commitment. He tells you he’s not in a place where he’s looking for that right now.

The temptation is to burn bridges with him. After all, if he’s not mature enough to handle a grown up relationship, what’s the point?

However, if you really feel a connection with him, my advice is to avoid writing him off. Here’s why.

Men don’t really have issues with commitment in general. The real fear men harbor is committing before he feels ready to fulfill his side of the commitment.

And really, that makes sense. Or, at least it does to men.

That’s because men have a strong aversion to failing. He doesn’t want to commit to something unless he feels he can “win” and gain your approval.

Many men avoid taking on the role of “boyfriend,” “husband,” “father,” and other roles until they feel certain they can “succeed” in those roles.

For example, he may have a goal of becoming financially independent before he commits to a new role in your life. He may think the new role comes with the expectation that he will provide for you.

He will feel that way even if it doesn’t make sense. It’s wired into a man’s psyche.

As a woman, you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? He spends time with me every day already. Why can’t he just make a commitment?”

why men won't commitAnd again, the answer is that men and women have different instincts when it comes to commitment. For you, it’s the beginning of something new you will grow together over time. For him, it may seem like a promise he’s not sure he can keep…yet.

And that last word (“yet”) is the key. Don’t burn bridges with a great guy when he says he’s not ready yet.

He may tell you it will be many years before he’s ready to settle down with someone. He could be right. Or, he might feel very differently in six months.

So keep communication lines open. Stay on his good side. You never know what might happen next.

P.S. have you ever had a sudden breakthrough with a man? If so, I would love to hear your story. Please click here if you would be willing to share the story of your success.

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13 thoughts on “Do Men Fear Commitment, Or Is It Something Else?

  1. joan said:

    I don’t think men fear commitment any more than a woman fears commitment.
    Not committing to someone means that person isn’t “the one”. So to be honest with oneself and with eyes wide open it is just a friends with benefits relationship.
    There is nothing wrong with friends with benefits unless you want more substance and meaning from your partner .

  2. Laura said:

    I’ve just been dumped after 2 years of relationship by a seemingly nice man. His reason: he’s not emotionally ready, and he feels guilty about wasting my time. I’ve met his friends and family, but whenever I questioned our future, the response was let’s enjoy our relationship and see what happens. We never went on vacation as big family (us & kids from both sides), but we would meet up for meals etc time to time.
    We’re both in late 40s, divorcees and both have good careers. We barely ever argued; and I was convinced we were great match. I haven’t noticed any change in him before he told me we’re over.
    Should I try to talk to him after some time? Or shall I just move on?

    • James Bauer said:

      If your heart will allow it, I recommend you do both, Laura.

      Start dating new people, but leave the door open to communication with him. That way, if he really does become ready at some point in the future, the line of communication with you is already open.

  3. Amy Leonard said:

    So, I have the flip side of this conversation. I met my 1st husband when I was 22 and he was 27. We had everything I wanted in a relationship except the marriage part. I spent years trying to convince him that I was worth it while he kept stalling. It took 6 years to finally get to that point and me starting to move on with my life without an ultimatum. We finally got married but I spent our whole marriage feeling like I forced him, pressured him into something that wasn’t right and questioning did he really want me after all. We had 2 kids together after we were married. I spent 18 years with this man that I felt finally settled for me. I didn’t know my own worth when I was younger. Four months after the divorce I met an amazing man who sees my worth and values me on all levels. I see everyone’s point about giving someone a chance for a while if they aren’t ready. I’ve experienced a lot of anguish over someone not being ready. I’ve now lived 18 months with a man who pursued commitment with me without it being forced. Got engaged and married. And every morning I wake up thinking…and this is how it’s supposed to be.

    • Rose said:

      I so get this situation (18 years) . Got divorced two kids later but have just given up.

  4. Sara said:

    Now I’m little bit confused, because I’v read from so many relationship coaches that if a man says he isn’t ready for commitment, he means it . So as a woman you have to run away, because he won’t change his opinion no matter how long you wait. In the worst case he will suddenly meet other woman, commit to her and even merry her before you can realize what happend.
    But you obviously mean it’s worth to be patient if the guy klick with you really good?
    I’m together with a very charming example of a commitment phobic since 2 years and I’m patiently waiting that he may change his mind and realize that I’m the one and that he not only won’t loose much if he commit, but he would only win a lot. My friends say to me, such men won’t change and I’ loosing my time with him.
    We could be such a great couple, but he just can’t (or doesn’t want) to make me officially to his girlfriend, we are lovers who have great sex and we are best friends too, like he describes our relationship. At least we are exclusive and he’s faithful, because he knows I would immediately break off with him if he would cheat on me, so he isn’t “that stupid to loose me because of some insignificant f*** ( his own words..). Still, I would like to hear that we are officially a love couple and really together…
    One of the problems which are preventing him to commit to me could be, that I’m more successful like he is and I’m earning much more money then he does. When we met, I was freshly divorced and quite broke, bur during the last 2 years I made a big career and I don’t need no man’s money or financial support anymore. But I told him already few times that I’m not a woman who’s looking for a provider, I’m earning enough for myself and I don’t want to depend financially on any man, I had that in my marriage and I didn’t like it. And I’m admiring and respecting him for his work, no matter how successful he is or how much money he makes. The man I love doesn’t have to be more successful then me, I’m looking for other qualities.
    Since I really like your posts and your views about relationships, this post is now encouraging me to continue to wait, although one of my New Years solution was actually to find a partner who would love to commit fully to me…

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Sara. You raise some good points. I understand why you feel your situation is a bit of a gray zone. And I think that’s the best way to look at it. There isn’t a clear answer in your situation. Here’s why I say that.

      You said you are lovers who have a deep friendship and exclusive sexual intimacy. That is the definition of a close romantic relationship. Regardless of what anyone calls it. It is what everyone’s looking for. For that reason, it makes sense to have patience.

      It would be different if he just wanted a friendship without the romantic aspect. It would be different if he just wanted sex but no true emotional intimacy. But since you have the best of both worlds, you can enjoy the relationship while you wait to see what he needs in order to pursue a commitment.

      But here’s where things get complicated. It’s possible that he truly wants to live his entire life free of any promises regarding the relationships he will build in his life. If he is consistent on that point and explains a philosophy of life that supports his decision to be that way, then I suggest you explain to him that you want to continue the relationship but you have to be honest with him and admit that if you find someone else who is looking for the kind of commitment you are, you may pursue that other relationship.


      • Sara said:

        Thank you James! I really appreaciate your answer! I decided to continue this “almost-a-commited-relationship”, but stay open to meet a guy who would have to offer more to me. ( and my guy knows that already, but he said, it’s his risk which he accepts).
        This is actually making me somehow sad, because I feel like I’m already looking for another man ( which isn’t true). Still, deep in my heart, after 2 years I’m not completely happy with my situation, because I think if a man truely loves a woman, he will forget his commitment phobia, no matter how strong it is.

      • Shalini said:

        Hi Sara,

        I am in exactly the same boat as you. I have been dating this awesome guy for 2 years now and I am very clear in my mind that he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, but everytime we have this conversation he says that ” he is not there yet”. He started a new job and is really swamped with it. I see your point that its hard to keep faith. I tell him that he has seen all my sides..if he does not know now then not sure when he would know. Everytime I bring this up he gets very uncomfortable and requests that I be supportive in this really busy time of his. But in my mind I would be motivated to support him and be right beside him through thick and thin only if I knew where this relationship was going. Not sure what to do here.

        Any thoughts James? I really appreciate all your blog posts. All along they have given me immense insight into various aspects of our relationship. After a failed one I never thought I could find a great guy like him and have a sustainable relationship (well atleast uptil now), but your words were always there as encouragement and to guide me in difficult times.

        Thank you!

      • James Bauer said:

        Hi Shalini and Sara. In both cases it seems like you have a good relationship, not something you would want to walk away from. But you may find some additional useful insights in a mini report I wrote about a guy who treats you like a backup plan (or a Plan B). You can find more information about that report here. you have free access if you’re a member of my Insiders Club.

        you might also appreciate some thinking I’ve done on situations where you’re dating a good guy, but he’s really too busy to fully invest in the relationship.

        This second report is not specifically about getting a commitment, but you may find some useful ideas about heating things up.


  5. eman mohamad said:

    Greetings…obsolutely your articles saying the right phenomena when it comes to men’s commitment in relationship..I have been in relationships looking always for commitments but I used to be failure n until now I am single. I agreed next time ill follow what comes out on to the relationship im in with no pressure being committed

  6. KH said:

    That’s great but how long should a woman wait? What if he just doesn’t want a commitment with ME?

    • Sarah said:

      Don’t wait. Be open and receptive to him but carry on with your life and other men.

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