It’s a long-standing joke. A woman starts with the “where is this relationship going” talk and her boyfriend’s eyes suddenly glaze over – or get that “deer in headlights” look. The piece of lint on his arm, the leaky faucet, or taking the dog out for a walk immediately becomes code-red priority. His eyes dart toward the nearest exit as he mentally calculates the probability of fitting through the bathroom window.
Guys, I’m a woman but I get it. I’m on your side. And research that we’ve conducted at Queendom indicates that many men who avoid commitment have legitimate concerns about the consequence of pledging their life to someone.
Collecting data from 496 commit-phobic men who took our Fear of Relationship Commitment Test, our study uncovered several commitment fears. For example:
- 72% of commit-phobic men believe that a being in a relationship will interfere with their goals and ambitions.
- 86% are afraid of losing their identity or freedom, while 76% are worried about losing their privacy.
- 55% don’t want to have to put their partner’s needs before family and friends, and another 69% don’t want to have to their partner’s needs before their own.
- 73% feel that being in a committed relationship is just too much work.
- 81% are afraid of spending the rest of their life with the wrong person.
- 73% believe that committing to one person will prevent them from meeting someone better.
I can sense some eyebrows raising, because these particular commitment concerns seem egoistical and selfish, but can we blame someone if they don’t want to have to overhaul or change their life to make someone else happy? We’re often told that it’s important to make sacrifices for others, but I’m sorry – it shouldn’t be done to the point where one person’s needs and goals are consistently deferred. Ask your partner to give up too much, and he (or she) might not want to stick around in the long-term.
And for those who are not convinced that these are valid reasons for wanting to avoid commitment, consider this: 72% of commitment-phobic men won’t commit because they’re afraid of getting hurt, and 75% are afraid of getting too attached to someone. Honestly, I think it’s time to cut men some slack.
And there are other personal commitment fears that our research uncovered:
- 48% are afraid that their partner will leave them for someone better.
- 66% are worried that they won’t be able to live up to their partner’s expectations.
- 70% have difficulty trusting people.
- 73% are worried that their relationship will end in divorce.
- 80% are afraid that being in a committed relationship won’t be as good as they imagined.
- 75% are afraid that they will mess up the relationship somehow.
So if there are people out there who want to use Valentine’s Day as opportunity to talk commitment, I offer the following tips:
Dealing with your partner’s commitment fears
- Don’t put him (or her) in the pressure cooker. It’s the familiar song and dance: You want a commitment, your partner doesn’t. The more you push, the more he pulls away. Like any living creature, your partner may feel extremely threatened when cornered. Remember that just because he doesn’t want to commit to you, it doesn’t mean that you’re not loved or are not worthy. There may be other valid reasons behind it, like a fear of getting hurt.
- The many faces of commitment. When a partner commits to you, he isn’t just becoming a part of your life alone; there’s your family, friends, pets, hobbies, job, co-workers, boss, quirks, habits, and way of life. No small feat. It requires taking on several responsibilities and making many sacrifices. Therefore, going from a life where the only person your partner had to worry about was himself to taking on your entire world can be a really huge leap – something that he may find quite overwhelming and intimidating. Try to be a little more patient and tolerant of your partner’s fears.
That being said…
- Know when it’s time to walk away. You’ve been patient. You haven’t pushed. Every time your partner said, “Soon,” “Maybe,” or “I don’t know,” you backed off. So how long should you wait before throwing in the proverbial towel? Some people, if given enough time and space, may come around eventually and agree to commit. With others, you may not be so lucky. The problem is that there is no set deadline as to how long you should wait – it’s all a matter of how you feel. If you get the sense that your partner may never come around or that you’ve already wasted enough time, then perhaps it would be best to let go and find someone who is on the same commitment page as you.
Dealing with your own commitment fears
- Run through your track record. Maybe you were in a committed relationship in the past and ended up terribly hurt. Or perhaps you experienced first-hand through parental divorce or the dissolution of a loved one’s marriage how painful an unsuccessful commitment can be. As such, it’s perfectly understandable that you would hesitate a little before taking that plunge. However, just because it happened previously, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen again. Think of it this way: In 10 years from now, what’s going to bother you more: The fact that you took a chance on commitment and it didn’t end up working out, or the fact that you didn’t take a chance on commitment and therefore, never found it what could have been.
- Beware the “Cinderella Effect.” You pictured never-ending romance, walks on the beach, and making breakfast together, but what you got was an “I love you” rain-check, quickies in the morning, and TV dinners watching re-runs. Now you’re left feeling confused, disappointed, and all the more adamant about boycotting the whole commitment idea. The problem isn’t that the joys of commitment are just a bunch of hoo-hah; rather, your expectations of what it involved may have been a little unrealistic. This doesn’t mean that you should set low expectations of married life; just accept that it’s not always going to be a fairy tale or honeymoon.
- Don’t knock the benefits of relationship counseling. For some people, a fear of commitment can actually become a full-blown phobia. If your fear of commitment is so extreme that you find yourself completely pulling away from your partner once things start getting serious, some counseling to get to the root of your fears and anxiety could prove to be very beneficial. Relationship counseling isn’t limited to married couples.
To all the men scrambling to get last-minute gifts or reservations, I sincerely wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!