It’s Not Just Commitment Phobia: When Your Partner Doesn’t Want To Make Things Official

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Whether it is a dating app or a chance romantic encounter, there usually is a time where things stay in grey-zone in the beginning — undefined, unofficial, and yes, often times, non-exclusive. This could be a beginning of a long commitment with babies and two houses and you guys in rocking chairs on the porch fifty years down the line, or, your partner may be wondering how to bring up that he or she wants to sleep with you, and nothing more.

This uncertainty is anxiety-provoking, of course it is. So, you’ve had your sixth date or whatever, you can laugh until you cry, he or she shared your childhood stories with you, and you’ve confirmed there’s chemistry in bed, too. But are we a “thing”? Most of us are extremely uncomfortable and feel vulnerable in such situations, and we would give up anything to have some sort of guarantee.

(By the way, I would like to note that it is not only men in a heterosexual relationship who has these issues. However, for simplicity sake in this article, I will mostly use a male pronoun.)

So you approach your new romantic partner, gently asking for clarity.

And he gives you some answer about, not being ready. Yes he likes you, he is attracted to you, he thinks you are intelligent and hella sexy, he just is not sure. Can we just… continue as is? See where things go?

Here are some reasons why he or she may be saying this:

  1. You attach at different speeds.

It may simply be, honestly and without underlying motives, too early for your partner to answer that question for you. I do believe that you should be able to accept “I don’t know yet” as an answer at least once, especially if you are aware that you tend to attach fast/early. He does not owe an answer to you if you are looking for clarity solely to calm your anxiety.

But, if you two have spent significant enough “quality time” together (as defined by common sense), and that also included some in depth vulnerable conversations, and you ask for the SECOND time for clarity and he’s still “not sure,” it is probably time for you to move on.

It is either that (1) your paces are so different and he is not willing to change that for you to fulfill your needs a.k.a. he doesn’t like you that much (bad) , or (2) he is lacking self awareness and not being honest with himself or you(worse!). If you don’t want to waste your time, emotional energy, and potentially thousands on divorce lawyer fees later on, move on.

2 . He is afraid to lead you on.

Similar to the previous point, but slightly different — if you have displayed so far that you are easily attached early on, he may be afraid to take any steps or make comments towards making things official. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t think this relationship is poop. He may see potential.

But, from what he has seen so far in you, you might start talking about moving in together as soon as she met your friends once? He will then intentionally hold things back, which, if you are an anxious attachment type, will certainly provoke you to cling on tighter. And this is how, ladies and gentlemen, you can kill a budding relationship. That is why it is so important to work on your anxiety and hold an abundance mindset (see my other article here for how).

3. He has a general fear of commitment.

According to the authors of the intriguing book He’s Scared, She’s Scared: Understanding the Hidden Fears That Sabotage Your Relationships, there are two types of commitment avoidance: Active Avoidance and Passive Avoidance. I will write in much more on depth on these two types and associated fears on another article. No matter which type it is, he or she will often have internal fear that has nothing to do with you.

Typically, they think they will change “when the right person comes along,” thereby not taking responsibility on working on their own internal issues.

No matter how temping, you wouldn’t want to pressure this person into a relationship, even if you can successfully do it. This person might agree to date you with some convincing, but guess what? Dating a reluctant participant in the relationship sucks, as you would be doubting yourself at every corner you turn. Furthermore, he or she will most likely blame you when things go sour. Also check and see if you are probably acting out of your savior complex — that you are attracted to the notion of you being “the one” converting him out of his commitment issues as a validation of self.

Well, sure, there is that possibility that you might be the one. Then be who you are and let him want to change himself, to be with you.

Imagine there is a train, stationary on a track, with engine off. You cannot PUSH that train and then hop on, hoping that the steam will start coming up soon. The train will move for a while but will eventually come to a stop.

Continue to work on yourself. Be that amazing destination that makes the train work so hard to light his engine again. Then, and only then, a truly desired journey can begin.

(Thanks for reading. Please let me know in the comments what topics you’re interested in reading more of!)

Certified Life Coach, Columnist, Health Care Provider, Mother. Seeker of movement and connection. I write about being the best version of ourselves.

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