"Stories" from the Collective (YOU)

Boyfriend's Commitment Phobia?

by Melani 2448
(London, UK)

I need help in my on-off relationship with my boyfriend; I need him to commit to our relationship as I want a family and time is running out for me...

QUESTION: Desire To Start A Family But Boyfriend Has Commitment Phobia...

MORE FROM Melani...

Hi, I've been with my boyfriend 2 and a half years - the last year was very rocky with us splitting up a number of times. We still love each other and found it difficult to be apart, so decided a couple months ago to give the relationship a proper go, to try living together and save to buy a house/start family etc.

He moved into my flat a month ago but his bags remain unpacked and we've argued a lot. When I try to make plans for the future and talk about booking holidays, looking at properties, mortgages etc. he is uninterested and gives me reasons why buying a house/having kids is difficult and complicated.

I am 36 and he is 35. I really want to start a family and he wants kids but says he is not ready and that we have to buy a house and he needs to change his career first... But he does nothing to make it happen. I already own my flat and think it's possible for us to buy a house together and have a baby, but feel like he is trying to fight me by coming out with negative excuses. He doesn't like to talk about the future unless I push him... since he is scared of commitment, he even admits to having commitment phobia.

It's making me really unhappy! I never know on a day to day basis whether we're making a go of it or not (I've caught him online searching jobs near his home town and checking out work in Australia). He is here in person but I don't sense any enthusiasm for our relationship.

Should I stay with him and give him time to decide if he can commit? After 2.5yrs he should know if he's ready to settle down or not but it just feels like massive pressure to him. Time is precious since I will be 37 this year and don't want to ruin my chances of having a family.


"When women hold off from marrying men, we call it independence. When men hold off from marrying women, we call it fear of commitment."
-- Unknown

This inspirational quotation comes to my mind, when I read your question 'Melani'. It's not gender-neutral, alas, and it seems to 'know' the answer to the particular fraught situation that you and your boyfriend find yourself in (whereas only you and he know the answer to your problems, in truth - outsiders can only 'suggest' at possible meanings and outcomes).

Still, I think it sums up where you both are. Your boyfriend doesn't 'feel right' about the relationship. And neither do you. But you have different ways of handling that discomfort. He seems to want to hold back, edge around things until he feels more comfortable. You seem to want to push on ahead, and take comforting (to you) and committed actions.

Breaking up is a hard thing for both of you to do, as is working out where this 'discomfort' comes from. But the discomfort IS there - the on-and-off nature of your relationship confirms it!

My sense is that it's going to take courage from one of you to change the dynamic of this relationship - really change it. Either one of you decides to break up, and completely commit to breaking up (i.e. no more contact at all, and move on), or one of you (you, probably, 'Melani') commit to doing your relationship in a different way - to make the relationship space more 'comfortable' for your boyfriend.

Carrying on as you are, to me anyway, is only going to lead to more of the same... i.e. to a non-fulfilling, un-committed relationship of emotional struggle and strife rather than the committed relationship that leads to marriage and family that you know you want!

I'm sorry for where you both find yourselves, and wish the both of you the wisdom, heart and courage to find a way out of where you are right now.

And I hope others (especially women) will also provide you with answers, even if they differ from mine.


Overcome Your Insecurities: Here's How!


Comments for Boyfriend's Commitment Phobia?

Questions to Think About
by: Paula Renaye


Steve has really covered things well for you so I'm going to talk about being in a similar situation. Doesn't mean my outcome will be or should be yours, just something to think about.

I had a five-year on-off thing with Rebound Guy--the man I jumped into a relationship with after my 25-year marriage ended. I was in your shoes--wanted the commitment because it was what I needed to feel safe and happy--and he did not because it made him feel very unsafe and it simply wasn't what he wanted.

The bottom line for us was that we had way bigger issues than just the act of committing to each other. Like your situation, my guy was doing specific things that showed me he was not capable or willing to do what I wanted. And, more importantly, I was very unhappy and spent many, many, unhappy hours every day worrying about how I could fix things.

We were living together and had started building a house, but things just stopped. He always had some "good" excuse on why we couldn't work on it when we had time, and the weeks quickly turned into years.

Long story short, I finally had to face the fact that I was never ever going to get what I wanted--not the house (really, it was the home and family that I desperately wanted) and not from the relationship.

That realization didn't come quickly or easily for me. As long as I still believed that there was a chance, I hung in there. My friends kept trying to convince me that there was no future in what I was doing, but I refused to see it. I only saw the things I wanted to see and heard what I wanted to hear. And if forced to acknowledge something I didn't want to, my reaction was to try to convince him otherwise: "Yes, you really do want to marry me and here's why!" I can't tell you how long I lived on the hopes of "if only…"

So, here are a couple of questions for you:
• What does your perfect relationship look and feel like?
• How many items on your list does this relationship fulfill?
• As things are right now, in this moment, are you happy?
• What would it take to make you happy? What changes would have to occur for this relationship to be exactly what you want?
• How many of those things are changes that you have control over?

And, one last question. It's from my book, The Hardline Self Help Handbook, and I ask it to people over and over--not to mention that I use it myself more often than I'd like to admit! Here it is:

• Would a person with high self-esteem and self-respect do what I'm doing? Think what I'm thinking? Tolerate what I'm tolerating.
• Then detail why or why not.

Once you go through that sequence of questions in a brutally honest fashion, you should have more clarity about your situation and what you need to do about.

Just remember, you do deserve to have everything you want in a relationship. Don't settle for anything less!

Paula Renaye
Hard Line Self Help

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