Many of us suffer from mild commitment issues, but a true commitment phobe is a person who suffers from intense inner conflict and fear due to his past experiences in life. In the beginning of a new relationship, a commitment phobe is completely baring his soul about his negative past. His commitment phobia is often related to something that he experienced in childhood like a father who was never there, or a serious form of abuse that he has not been able to deal with in adulthood.
If you know what to look for ahead of time, you will realize that a commitment phobe’s behavior is quite predictable, but it will appear irrational to you the first time you experience it. A quote often attributed to Maya Angelou says, “When people show you who they are believe them.” In relationships of this type, actions should be taken into consideration moreso than words. Although the signs may be subtle, a person with commitment phobia will reveal bits and pieces of who he is to you in the beginning.
A man who is a commitment phobe will cause a woman who is normally quite secure to doubt herself, and even to question who she is as a person. You may begin to think that you are doing something wrong, but in fact the problem is that you are enabling a commitment phobe to do what he does best. Often the best thing you can do is to recognize your own self worth and be willing and able to walk away. If you believe you are a commitment phobe, or you are involved with an individual who may be, check out these key signs of relationship problems.
Desire to Move too Fast. You just met and he is telling you how he feels you are soul mates. You tell him things are moving too fast, and he patiently waits for you. He pursues you diligently, as if you are the one thing that will complete his life. He pursues you in a way that no other person has pursued you before, but something is not quite right in terms of his behavior. His feelings appear to come from a place of sincerity, but you find yourself doubting him. Listen to your intuition, it is certainly there for a reason. Once he has gotten what he desires in the form of a relationship, he will appear to withdraw from the situation.
History of Infidelity. A commitment phobe may have been in numerous long term relationships, or even married at some point. Although he may try to hide it from you, he has cheated in the past and is not capable of being committed to anyone until he obtains help from a person who is professionally trained in dealing with this behavior.
Prince Charming too Soon. A commitment phobe can be extremely charismatic and romantic in the very beginning. He enjoys the thrill of pursuing a serious relationship with you, but once he has you his own inner feelings of being trapped will kick into overdrive. With a true commitment phobe the goal of the relationship, becomes ensuring that his needs are met all the time. After the initial “wooing” you will notice that he appears extremely self-centered, and cares very little about your needs and desires.
Contradictory Behavior. He says he loves you, but his actions contradict this statement. He is routinely lying to you or hiding things from you. He feels the need to lie to you about insignificant things like where he is going or what he did that day. You may even notice that he tries to rewrite his own history, which will be one thing one day, and a week later it may be something else. Lying provides him with a sense of security and space from the world. Lying is like a toddler’s security blanket for him that he cannot be without in his life.
Everything is Your Fault. He justifies a lie by saying that he felt the need to lie, because you would have reacted a certain way. He claims he knows how you will react, but you have no history of reacting how he says. In some situations you may even have a conversation with the person, he says one thing and your repeat it back to him, and he then denies making the statement.
Preoccupied with Fantasies of Self. Life for him should be on the grandiose level of what he sees on the screen at the movie theater and he reflects narcissistic characteristics. He believes he should achieve immense power and success so other people will view him in a superior way. He often goes after the woman who he views as a trophy, because she represents an ideal he created in his head, of what he needs in his life. Love for him is the same way, where he thinks it should be total perfection. When it does not fulfill the unrealistic ideal he created in his mind, his need to escape kicks in for him.
All a Game. “He loves me, he loves me not.” One minute he is in love with you, and the next minute he wants to run away because he feels trapped by the relationship. You did not say or do anything to induce this behavior, it is something that comes from within his own psyche. A commitment phobe loves playing mind games, and it provides him with a sense of personal satisfaction. If you ask him about his behavior he will become childlike and rebellious in an unusual way. Often he will reverse anything you say and make it into your issue. Nothing you ever do is good enough for a commitment phobe.
Low on List of Priorities. At one point he treats you like you are the center of his universe, but after a short period of time he makes it clear that you are at the bottom of his list of priorities. He makes it clear that the time you spend together will be based upon his needs and his time only.
The Saboteur. He purposely works long hours to the point where you never see him. He uses work or an extracurricular activity as an excuse for why he has no time to spend with you. It becomes apparent that he is trying to spend a longer time away from you. All the signs are there that he does not want to be in a relationship, but he probably says that nothing has changed and he still loves you as much as ever.
Behavior Worsens. A commitment phobe will normally not end the relationship because he is so conflicted. He will act out by lying more and more and becoming increasingly distant. If he does end the relationship he will return weeks or months later, and beg for a second chance with you swearing that he has changed and is fully committed to you. It is like a cycle that never ends. He receives the fulfillment he needs as he pulls your strings like a puppet.
Reflections and Questions
Many men who are severe commitment phobes not only suffer from this type of irrational fear, but also from a type of personality disorder. If you make the choice to become involved with a man like this, you have to realize that a tough road lies ahead of you. In the end it is often a losing battle that more often than not can result in you being deeply affected, and hurt by the commitment phobe. Ultimately, other people will often not understand what you are experiencing, because in public and even with his family, he presents a charming facade.
It is possible you are the type of person who has a long pattern of becoming involved with a guy who needs you emotionally. The dynamic of your relationships may be that you are always trying to fix someone else. If this is the case examine why you pursue these types of relationships that lack balance. Is it possible that you are also suffering from some degree of commitment issues, and you subconsciously pursue relationships with men who you know are not long term relationship material?
If you sincerely want to be in a substantive long term relationship, the first step to getting there begins with you. Do not continue to make the same self-defeating choices you made in the past, unless you are sincerely happy with them.
A commitment phobe can change, but the odds of it happening are slim to none. For the change to occur the commitment phobe has to be a strong individual who desires to change deep within himself. In most situations, the assistance of a trained professional is necessary, in order for any real change to occur in his psyche.
He’s Scared, She’s Scared by Steven A. Carter and Julia Sokol; M. Evans & Co, 1995
Men Who Can’t Love by Steven A. Carter and Julia Sokol; M. Evans & Co, 1987