We all know that guy who just can't seem to commit. Perhaps he's pushing 40 and his longest relationship has been six months. But he'll still tell everyone who'll listen he's ready to settle down and have six kids. He really does believe it!
But commitmentphobia, as it was first coined by authors Steven Carter and Julia Sokol, who wrote Men Who Can't Love, can strike at any time. It could be the guy who doesn't call after a date even though he showered you with compliments. It could be after the first time you sleep together. It could be after the wedding or the third child.
Here are 12 signs you've got a commitmentphobic dude on your hands:
Intensity of commitmentphobia varies, but these guys all have one thing in common. When commitmentphobia strikes, all they want to do is get away from you! No matter that they may have spent months or even years courting you. These guys can be tricky to spot because they may pay lip service to being in love, while at the same time, their actions make you wonder.
1. Date and dash. If you've ever been puzzled by a guy who seemed totally into you on date one and then disappeared without a trace, have no fear. He is not dead in the gutter. He's a commitmentphobe who worries that calling up to ask you on a second date -- even if he really wants to -- means you will expect marriage.
2. Prince Charming. Perversely, commitmentphobes are often the ones who sweep you off your feet and want to get serious right away. They may even say you're "the one" or drop hints about marriage on the first couple of dates. These guys apparently live in a complete fantasy world -- and so long as everything is fantasy, they feel fine. Let any of it become reality, however, and that's when they start to panic.
3. Sex. Some commitmentphobes will disappear after the first time you have sex. Don't think it's anything you did wrong. These guys get so freaked out by the intimate bond that sex can create that it feels like you've suddenly snapped the steel jaws of an animal trap around their legs. Now they just need to go somewhere quiet and gnaw it off.
Some commitmentphobes won't panic until the middle of a relationship, when you're finally letting down your defenses and start to expect that he's going to follow through on his many promises.
4. (Lack of) PDA. He treats you like a princess at home alone but like a total stranger out in public or around your friends or his.
5. Compartmentalizing. You might be forbidden from certain parts of his life -- like meeting his work colleagues or his old college buddies. He may refuse to admit he's in a relationship on Facebook. He may not introduce you as his "girlfriend." He may not take you home for major holidays. You feel like you're in a secret relationship or he's ashamed of you. In reality, he knows the more he integrates you into his world, the harder it will be getting rid of you if he wants to.
6. Time boundaries. He may start putting boundaries on his time -- for example, while he used to drive an hour each way to see you every night, suddenly it's too much trouble, and he can only see you on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. He's always got excuses as to why he can't see you -- work, illness, family.
7. Walking. Oddly, guys who are commitmentphobic will often refuse to keep pace with you when you walk -- they'll walk far ahead or lag behind. Holding hands while you walk is often a problem for him.
You'd think by the time a guy gets married, that would prove he's not afraid of commitment. Sadly, this is just when some guys realize it.
8. Distancing. He may start distancing himself immediately after the wedding -- not being emotionally or physically available.
9. Sex. Whereas he once had to have you twice a day, now he has excuses as to why he doesn't want sex.
10. Affairs. A really good sign of commitmentphobia.
11. Mixed messages. One day, you're the love of his life. The next, he can't stand you.
12. Fault-finding. Once you were perfect, now nothing is remotely good enough. Often he will harp on something you can do nothing about -- like your age, religion, family lineage, or children -- and that he knew about when he got into the relationship.
Don't expect that a commitmentphobic guy will necessarily want to split up or get divorced. On the contrary, he may be so scared of commitment that he can't commit to any decision. He will just behave in such a way that forces you to take that step.
And don't be surprised when, after he's lost you, he comes around begging, pleading, and crying for another chance. Once you're not putting any demands on him, his anxiety lessens and he suddenly feels free to miss you and care about you again.
Carter and Skokol posit that guys like this rarely change. If you've got yourself in the middle of a relationship with one and you don't want to give up, the best bet is to give him as much space as possible -- forever.
Have you ever been with a commimentphobe?
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