George Clooney stunned us all by giving up his die-hard bachelor ways when he proposed to beautiful 36-year-old human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, whom he's only been dating for six months. Given George's long history of short-term relationships, and his oft-spoken admission that he was never getting married again, it was quite a surprise. There's probably more than one past girlfriend shaking her head and wondering what made George finally decide to settle down. So what was it?
For the answer, I turned to Julia Sokol, who, along with co-writer Steven Carter, coined the term "commitmentphobia" in her book Men Who Can't Love, and wrote a plethora of books, including He's Scared, She's Scared, about people with a fear of commitment. Can a man with a history like George's suddenly become the perfect husband? Will he even make it down the aisle?
Julia says that men like George with a history of commitment issues are often narcissists, who are on a never-ending quest for the "perfect" partner. Of course, no one is perfect, but this allows the commitmentphobe a way of getting out of commitment without taking any responsibility for it. Their mantra becomes, "I just haven't met the right person yet."
"But now maybe he has," says Julia.
Given that George has dated all kinds of rare beauties -- from Kelly Preston to Karen Duffy to Stacy Keibler -- what would make Amal so special? Well, there's the obvious. Unlike the majority, if not all, of George's exes, Amal has nothing to do with Hollywood or wanting to be a celebrity.
"She's got her own career, she's established," says Julia. "She lives in London. She's not going to move for him. She's not going to give up everything up for him. It's when women do that that these men usually go, 'Oh, my God.' He's got a lot of built-in space in this relationship. All of that space may be one of the reasons that he felt he could do it. He's not being hemmed in."
Also, it's quite possible that, for once, George was the one doing the chasing. Rumor has it that Amal even turned down several proposed dates. And, at 36 and never married, it's possible Amal is a bit of a commitmentphobe herself.
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"We don't know her history or why she failed to settle down," says Julia. "For all we know, she's the runaway bride. When someone who has a fear of commitment meets someone else who is a little more afraid, and is backing away, that makes it not as frightening. She may be really hard to capture and pin down. Sometimes it's much easier being the person doing the longing than the one being longed after."
Of course, one shouldn't dismiss the reality that George is aging and, at 53 years old, may simply be tired of living the bachelor life. Says Julia: "As you get older, it starts to change. He's starting to see the end."
If there's any advice that Julia has for Amal, it's this: "Stay the way you are. Whatever you're doing, it's working."
So there you have it, ladies. If you're trying to get your own George Clooney to settle down, might want to consider law school. Or at least have your own life.
Do you think George has really changed?
Image via Courtney/Flickr